by Carlie Saint-Laurent, RDN

Did you know headaches, specifically migraines, effect 12% of the adult population?  This equates to 30 million adults! This negatively affects the productivity of the economy, significantly. Migraines occur between the ages of 10-40 and wean after 50 years old.  Headaches can be accompanied with nausea, vomiting, vasospasm, sensitivity to light or sound, increased coagulation, and visual disturbances.

Let’s first  note the different types of migraine:

1)Migraines with aura (MA), also known as classic migraines,  are headaches causes by visual and sound disturbances.

2) Migraines without aura, also known as MO, which is more prevalent.

Awareness of the type, severity, and the symptoms of the headaches could help us provide better recommendations for clients.

The possible causes and associations of  migraines are; decreased sleep and food intake, fatigue, stress, anxiety, melatonin disturbances, exposure to light, celiac disease, women on their menstrual cycle due to lowered estrogen levels , and certain medications and supplements like black cohosh, ephedra, and sibutramine.  Furthermore, a BMI greater than 25 increases risk and/or worsens migraines.  It’s important to keep in mind that headaches can be multifactorial and vary case by case.

Supplements and herbs that have little to no evidence but may help:

  • magnesium
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • riboflavin
  • ginger
  • red pepper
  • evening primrose
  • feverfew
  • red pepper
  • Melatonin
  • vitamin D


Nutritional considerations:

  • Keep a Diary/ record of foods consumed with onset headache. This can provide your Family Food Registered Dietitian with valuable data.
  • Monitor symptoms aftereliminating a potential food trigger from diet
  • Detect any onsets with foods containing tyramine, histamine, nitrites, nitrates, aspartame, monosodium glutamate, phenylethylamine, and sulfites
  • Get adequate sleep/relaxation and overall self care (exercise, smoking cessation, meditation, ect)
  • Regular mealtimes and patterns, as skipping meals can lead to headaches
  • Moderation of caffeine, According to the American migraine foundation, coffee consumed sporadically can reduce migraines and recommends less then 100 mg of caffeine.

Possible headache-causing foods

Caffeine: Soft drinks, coffee, tea
Fermented foods: Red wine, chicken livers. Sauerkraut
Fruits: Bananas, figs, raisins, some citrus fruits
Histamine-containing foods: Avocados, aged cheese, spinach, tomatoes, yogurt cider, dried fruit, eggplant
Ice cream: If sensitive to the cold
Monosodium glutamate (MSG)  
Nuts, peanuts, soy foods: May contain vasodilators
Processed Meats: Hot dogs, bacon, ham, jerky, corned beef, salami,
Sulfites: Shrimp, dried fruits packaged potato items, salad bar items
Tyramine: Fish, chocolate, soy sauce, cheese, alcoholic beverages, processed meats
Vegetables: Onions, pea pods, lima beans



Escott-Stump, S. (2015). Nutrition and diagnosis-related care. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.

Halker, R., Ailani, J., Dougherty, C., & Slavin, M. (2016). Migraine and Diet. Retrieved from

Shaik, M. M., & Gan, S. H. (2015). Vitamin Supplementation as Possible Prophylactic Treatment against Migraine with Aura and Menstrual Migraine. BioMed Research International, 2015, 1-10.

Whitney, E. N., & Rolfes, S. R. (2011). Understanding nutrition. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.


By Jessie Funchion, MS, RD, LDN


Back to School… 

It’s that time of year! Summer is practically over and school is back in session. A healthy lunch can be tricky with kids, so here are some ideas to get you started.

First option – school food. While cafeteria food rarely gets a great rap, these days school lunches are strictly regulated and actually must require a specific combination of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and dairy in order to qualify for federal reimbursement. So, while they may not be the tastiest options, school provided lunches are relatively well balanced and nutritious.


Second option – packed lunch. Couple things to keep in mind…

  • Think Food Groups. MyPlate is the latest food graphic published by the USDA, and can make a great guide for parents as they pack lunches. Try to include at least 3 of the 5 food groups at each meal.
  • Pack at least one fruit or vegetable.
  • Keep it simple. School lunches are not the time to get adventurous and introduce a new food to your child. Try to pack mostly foods you know they will like, and maybe one riskier pick.


Here are a few ideas…


1)    Healthier PB&J – Instead of spreading sugar-packed jam or jelly, try mashing fresh berries or slicing banana onto the nut butter instead. If allergies are a concern, sunbutter is a safe nut free option. Whole grain bread has more fiber than white bread, which will make it more filling.

2)     Quesadillas – Choose whole-wheat tortillas, low fat cheese, and a protein source like black beans or grilled chicken. Bonus points for sneaking in some veggies! Kids love hand-held food, and quesadillas hold up relatively well overnight.

3)    Veggies and Dip – If veggies are a tough sell, try packing a dip or spread such as hummus, salsa or yogurt-based dressing. These dips provide flavor without a ton of extra fat or salt.

4)    Skewers – The options are endless here. A classic combination is tomato, mozzarella and cucumber, but you could make skewers with chicken, tofu, and any fruit or vegetable your child likes.

5)    Pasta salad – Grain based salads hold up well in a cooler, and can be eaten chilled or at room temperature. Pick a pasta shape your kid will like, and mix in vegetables and protein source like chickpeas, chicken or cheese.

6)    See our Pinterest page for more dietitian-approved ideas.


If some of these seem a little adventurous, parents may find it helpful to get kids involved with the packing process. While this will take a little extra time at first, kids are more likely to try a food if they’ve picked it out themselves or even helped prepare it. Kid friendly tasks include mashing berries, ripping up lettuce or spinach leaves, sticking fruit on a skewer, or stirring dressing into a pasta salad. Picky kids often require repeated exposure to food before trying it, upwards of 30 times! So we encourage parents to be patient, continue offering new foods, and get their little ones involved with the process.

by Heather A. Goesch, MPH, RDN, LDN

Though you may know what a healthful diet looks like for your child, getting him or her to eat it is not always a success. If you have children, particularly toddlers, chances are you’ve experienced the mealtime battles, tossing out perfectly good food (or cleaning it off the floor and walls), and then stressing about adequate nutrition.


Fussy or “picky” eating can be incredibly frustrating for parents, grandparents and other caretakers. Whether it’s a food jag (eating only one or a couple things for an extended period) or the more extreme refusal to eat anything, toddler and preschool-aged children are learning to exert independence and test boundaries.


One oft-prosed method in which to overcome these issues is for parents to stand their ground, putting pressure on children to eat the foods presented. But new research published in the journal Appetite suggests that pressuring is not an effective approach.


This University of Michigan study followed an ethnically diverse group of 244 two- and three-year-olds for a period of one year. The researchers compared parental tactics to the children’s growth and how picky eating changed during that period, and found that both the kids’ weight and picky behaviors remained stable regardless of parents pressuring them or not. One curious finding, however, is that strong-arming at the table may instead result in damage to the personal relationship between parent and child – certainly not the desired effect.


As parents and caretakers, we are responsible for providing nutritious options for our children in a safe, welcoming environment. Here are several ideas to encourage mealtime acceptance in a healthy way:


·       Involve children in gardening to help them learn where food comes from and how it grows.

·       Encourage kids to select a new fruit, vegetable or whole grain at the grocery store or market, then find a recipe and prepare it together.

·       Talk with children about the colors, shapes and sounds a food makes when you break or bite into it.

·       If you have access, a farmer’s market is a great place for kids to explore new things and learn about new ingredients.

·       Schedule meals and snacks at roughly the same time daily – kids thrive on routine and consistency.

·       Turn off the TV and other devices to eliminate distractions.

·       Model good behavior yourself by offering and trying a couple of nutritious options at meals.

·       Be creative and make mealtimes about togetherness and fun at the table.

·       If your children are a bit older, talk about nutrition and why the foods offered are good for their growing bodies.


When kids develop healthy habits early in life, the benefits will last a lifetime. Picky eater or not, give a few of these ideas a try to promote acceptance, minimize mealtime battles, and to help your child learn to appreciate, even love, nutritious food.




Connecting with Kids Through Food Art, Food & Nutrition Magazine

8 Ways to Get Picky Eaters to Become More Adventurous, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

Expert Tips to Get Kids Eating – and Cooking – Healthy Foods, Oldways

Three Tips to Teach Food Literacy to Kids, and Carrot & Raisin Citrus Salad, Eating Rules

Free Childhood Nutrition Resources, Jill Castle, MS, RDN




Lumeng JC, Miller AL, Appugliese K, Rosenblum N, Kaciroti N. Picky eating, pressuring feeding, and growth in toddlers. Appetite. 2018;123:299 

By Jessie Funchion, MS, RD, LDN


What is fasting?

A partial or total abstention from all foods or a select abstention from prohibited foods.


 What are the different types of fasting?

1)    Intermittent fasting – cycle between periods of eating and fasting. A common way to do this is to alternate days, for example fast for 2 days a week (only eat one meal, 600-800 calories) and eat as usual for 5 days a week.

2)    Gentle Fast – Examples include avoiding food between meals (~4 hour ‘fast’) or overnight (~12-16 hours).

3)    Caloric restriction – This involves eating a reduced calorie diet, as low as 600-800 calories a day for an extended period of time.


How long as fasting been around?

Fasting has been used in various ways for thousands of years! There’s documentation of various spiritual and philosophical writers from centuries ago using fasting as a means of gaining mental clarity or spiritual enlightenment. Various religious also incorporate fasting, such as Islam during Ramadan.


Why would someone fast today?

In addition to fasting or avoiding certain foods for religious or personal beliefs, there is a growing body of research to support the use of fasting for various medical conditions. One key finding is that calorie restriction can actually change the way genes are expressed in normal cells. It appears that during fasts, cells can better repair themselves! This is due to an upregulation of antioxidants and DNA repair pathways. Subtext: Fasting may actually slow the aging process of cells.

There is also some research to support the use of fasts for weight loss and weight management, blood sugar regulation and type 2 diabetes, cognitive health and cancer. What’s unclear is if the benefits are simply from the reduction in calories, or the actual fast, meaning going several hours without eating.


What should I eat during non-fasting days/hours?

A normal, balanced diet. In the studies that showed health benefits from fasting, participants ate a maximum of 125% of their calorie needs during non-fasting days or hours. So while they may have overeaten slightly, participants were not gorging themselves when they broke the fast! If anything, overeating in excess will likely negate the positive benefits of the fast, and eliminate any potential calorie deficit for the day or week.


Who should NOT try fasting?

Anyone who falls into the following categories should NOT try fasting:

·      Pregnant or nursing

·      History of eating disorder

·      Underweight

·      Pediatric population

·      Type 1 diabetes

·      Medically unstable

·      Cognitive decline

·      Cancer cachexia


Should I try it?

Like any diet change, adherence is key. The benefits of fasting are likely to disappear once a person stops fasting. It may be helpful to accomplish a short-term goal, but long-term maintenance and the changes you make after fasting are likely to be more important.



Dietitian Central Webinar: A Primer on Fasting by Lindsay Malone, RD

Today’s Dietitian: Fasting Regimens for Weight Loss

by Heather A. Goesch, MPH, RDN, LDN

Maybe you live in a coastal region at risk of hurricanes and flooding. Or an area susceptible to powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes or wildfires. Or perhaps a part of the world that deals with heavy snow and damaging winter weather. Although the types and names of storms are unique to different locations, all have the potential to become violent and destructive.


The good news is that better detection technology has resulted in improved advanced warning in many situations. Regardless, planning is important for personal safety and, in the worst-case scenarios, it can be critical for survival. Ahead of potential natural disasters, assemble an emergency supply kit with enough supplies to last for at least 72 hours after a storm.


Building an Emergency Nutrition Kit

In addition to a family emergency plan and stocking flashlights, medical supplies, a hand-crank radio and extra batteries, remember nutritional needs for the members of your family, including pets.


Include the following in your basic emergency nutrition kit:

·     At least a 3-day supply of non-perishable food per person and pet

o   Food for infants

o   Fresh fruits and vegetables that do not require refrigeration, such as apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, stone fruits and tomatoes

o   Dried fruit (preferably low-sugar or no-sugar-added to prevent excess thirst)

o   Nuts and seeds, and/or nut and seed butters that do not require refrigeration

o   Protein bars or fruit and nut/seed bars

o   Ready-to-eat low-sugar granola or low-sugar dry cereals

o   Whole grain crackers, pitas, tortillas, breads or rice cakes

o   Ready-to-eat canned vegetables (low-sodium or no-salt-added if possible, to avoid excess thirst), fruit (packed in water or fruit juice), beans, lentils, meats and seafood

–  Never eat foods from cans that are swollen, dented or corroded.

–  Don’t forget to have a manual can opener handy!

·       At least 1 gallon of water per person and pet per day for a minimum of 3 days or both drinking and sanitation (i.e., washing hands, dishes, brushing teeth, etc.)

o   If you need to prepare infant formula, use bottled water. Water that has been boiled and cooled to the correct temperature should be used only if necessary.

o   Additional beverage options could include: instant coffee, tea and cocoa; packets of sugar-free flavoring; powdered milk; pre-made protein or meal-replacement drinks that do not require refrigeration; or drinks with added electrolytes

Other emergency nutrition preparedness considerations:

·       Choose foods you and your family like and will want to eat.

·       Avoid foods that cause excess thirst (as indicated above).

·       Keep special dietary needs for both human and pet members of your family in mind.

·       Consider storing items in airtight plastic bags or containers that are then placed in a portable plastic bin or waterproof bag for extra protection.

·       If evacuation may be an option, depending on the type of storms in your area, consider preparing a second portable kit to keep in your car or near the exit to grab on short notice.

·       If bunkering down at home, fill your bathtub with extra water for cleaning or flushing toilets should access to water be lost or become unsafe.

·       If you lose power before, during or after a storm, these steps can help save money and keep your family and your foods safe.



Food and Water in an Emergency, FEMA

Food Safety in the Home After a Hurricane and Flooding, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

How to Safely Feed Your Family During a Severe Storm, Food & Nutrition’s Student Scoop blog

18 Crucial Foods and Health Supplies You Need Before a Big Storm, Health Magazine

Best Foods to Stockpile for an Emergency, Real Simple Magazine




1.       Laseter, E. Hurricane Preparedness: Healthy Eating Tips to Ride out the Storm: Cooking Light Magazine. Published 8 September 2017. Accessed 22 July 2018

By Heather A. Goesch, MPH, RDN, LDN

Foodborne illness – a disease, usually infectious or toxic in origin, caused by agents that enter the body through the ingestion or handling of food – affects an estimated 48 million Americans annually, hospitalizing approximately 128,000 people and causing about 3,000 deaths [1].

An event in which two or more people get the same illness from the same contaminated food or drink [2] is considered an ‘outbreak,’ and when crossing state lines, it becomes a ‘multistate outbreak.’ These multistate outbreaks are not uncommon in the US, and already in 2018 nine major outbreaks have already been investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Recent sources include Kellogg’s Honey Smacks Cereal (salmonella), pre-cut melon (salmonella), shell eggs (salmonella), romaine lettuce (E. coli), and pre-made chicken salad (salmonella) [3-7]. These five outbreaks alone sickened a total of 663 individuals, resulting in 259 hospitalizations and six deaths.


Risk of food poisoning is increased in pregnant women, young children, older adults, and individuals with compromised immune systems [8]. During the summer months, regular high temperatures, outdoor gatherings, and storm-related power outages are all factors that may promote bacteria growth on foods.


Common symptoms* of foodborne illness include:

·       Diarrhea and/or vomiting, typically lasting 1 to 7 days

·       Abdominal cramps, nausea, flatulence, bloating, indigestion, bloating, and appetite loss

·       Chills or sweating, dehydration, and fever

·       Joint or back aches, dizziness, fatigue, and lightheadedness

*Time between exposure and symptom onset can range from several hours to one week.

But no matter the time of the year, your age or life stage, foodborne illnesses can be prevented in most cases with proper food storage, handling and cooking procedures.


To help prevent development and spread of foodborne illness, here are a few simple tips [9]:

·       Before and after preparation and handling of foods, always wash your hands, cutting boards, countertops, utensils and cooking surfaces.

·       Properly rinse or scrub fruit and vegetables under cool running water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten (e.g., citrus fruit, melons, pineapple, kiwi).

·       Do not rinse meat or poultry – this may spread bacteria and increase illness risk.

·       Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs from other foods in your shopping cart or basket, grocery bags and refrigerator.

·       To avoid cross-contamination, designate one cutting board for fruit and vegetables and a different one for raw meat, poultry and seafood; use separate clean utensils for both, and wash hands between related tasks.

·       In the refrigerator, keep the temperature at 40°F or below, ensure foods are stored inside within two hours of cooking, and aim to keep leftovers no longer than 3-4 days.

·       Never defrost foods at room temperature. Instead, safely defrost overnight in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave.

·       During cooking (and reheating), food is safe to eat when it reaches an internal temperature high enough to kill any potentially harmful bacteria that may cause foodborne illness.

·       At outdoor gatherings, keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. (Specific guidelines here.)

·       If you aren’t sure how long a food has been sitting out or has been kept in your refrigerator, and whether it is still safe or not, follow the rule: “When in doubt, throw it out.”

·       If you are among the aforementioned high-risk populations, avoid these potentially hazardous foods.


Contracting a foodborne illness can be a possibility but it is not a foregone conclusion. Keep yourself, your family and your friends safe this summer and all year long by practicing smart food safety.




Your Meals are Tasty, But Cook with Safety, Family Food, LLC

Food Safety at the Grill, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

The Rules of Separation at the Grill, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Tailgating Food Safety, USDA




1.       U.S. Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Multistate Outbreak. Accessed 7 July 2018.

2.       U.S. Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Multistate Outbreaks. Accessed 7 July 2018.

3.       U.S. Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Mbandaka Linked to Kellogg’s Honey Smacks Cereal. Accessed 9 July 2018.

4.       U.S. Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Adelaide Infections Linked to Pre-Cut Melon. Accessed 9 July 2018.

5.       U.S. Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Braenderup Infections Linked to Rose Acre Farms Shell Eggs (Final Update). Accessed 7 July 2018.

6.       U.S. Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Multistate Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 Infections Linked to Romaine Lettuce (Final Update). Accessed 9 July 2018.

7.       U.S. Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium Linked to Chicken Salad (Final Update). Accessed 9 July 2018.

8.       U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Food Safety: It’s Especially Important for At-Risk Groups. Accessed 10 July 2018.

9.       FIGHT BAC!® Partnership for Food Safety Education. The Core Four Practices. Accessed 10 July 2018.

Quick Meals: Veg-Style!

By Jessie Funchion, MS, RD, LDN


Most of these ideas…

  • Take about 15 minutes to prepare
  • Use a mix of convenience foods and fresh foods
  • Have at least 3 food groups
  • Are around 350-450 calories (subject to portion size/appetite!)


1)    Breakfast for dinner

  • Whole wheat toast with 1/3 avocado and fried egg (5 minutes)
    • Make it vegan – sub ½ cup white beans and smash with avocado to make a guacamole like spread
  • Clean out the fridge frittata (30 minutes) – use any vegetable you want.
  • Cereal (Kashi Barbara’s, Nature’s Path) low-fat milk of choice, ½ cup fruit (1 minute)

2)    Semi-Homemade

  • Asian Noodle Salad: Noodles (soba/udon), Baked Tofu or frozen edamame + Slaw Mix + Sesame or Teriyaki dressing (15 minutes
  • Tip: Throw shelled frozen edamame into your boiling noodle-water for last couple minutes
  • Israeli Salad: Israeli couscous, cucumber, tomato, feta cheese, white beans, capers, lemon, olive oil (15 minutes)
  • Bi Bim Bap – frozen rice, tofu, fried egg, frozen or fresh vegetables, Gochuchang sauce (15 minutes)
  • Banza Pasta (15 minutes)
  • Red sauce w/ frozen vegetables
  • White sauce with garlic, spinach and goat cheese (recipe)

3)    The Freezer is your Friend

  • Vegetable Frozen Pizza + Side salad (20 minutes)
  • Check the calories and make sure to keep ‘pizza calories’ to less than 300, which is usually 1/3 the pizza
  • Trader Joe’s Vegetable Stir Fried Rice (5-10 minutes)
  • Tip: Add extra edamame and frozen vegetables for a more filling meal
  • Chana Masala (5 minutes)
  • Add extra drained/canned chickpeas to maximize protein and minimize the heavy sauce + frozen rice

4)    Simple Sandwiches (5 minutes)

  • PB & J or fruit slices on whole wheat bread
  • Veggie Sandwich: Hummus, roasted red peppers, arugula, onion, etc.

5)    Hearty Snacks (less than 5 minutes)

  • ½ cup black beans, ½ cup corn, salsa + Triscuits or Flax chips
  • Yogurt Parfait: Low fat greek yogurt, 1 cup fruit and 1/3 cup granola


In order to execute these super quick meals, set up your pantry for success by stocking up on these staples:


Proteins: Canned beans, eggs, prepared tofu, frozen edamame, peanut butter, hummus

Grains: Frozen brown rice or grain mixes, whole wheat bread, whole grain cereal, whole wheat or bean based pasta

Frozen: fruit/veg mixes, 1-2 frozen meals or pizzas

Dairy: low fat milk or unsweetened soy milk, yogurt

Sauces: 1-2 flavorful sauces such as Teriyaki sauce, salsa, Gochuchang


In addition to these staples, try to purchase 3-5 varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables each week to supplement these recipes with. But if that’s tough to do, frozen fruits and veggies work too.


By Heather A. Goesch, MPH, RDN, LDN

We’re a generation of doers, with seemingly endless to-do lists between work, chores, sports practices, and social engagements. Then there are worries about traffic, finances, and various other little inconveniences that add up. In addition to being worn out and frustrated, elevated levels of stress can take a heavy toll on both our mental and physical health.


Common symptoms of stress are irritability, lack of focus, muscle tension, headaches, anxiety, GI issues, lethargy and insomnia. Research also shows that individuals who suffer from high levels of stress have a greater likelihood of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, depression, weight gain, heart disease and various other chronic illnesses – increased risks due in part to excess production of the stress hormone cortisol as part of our natural “fight or flight” response [1].


While many of life’s daily challenges are often out of our control, certain nutrient-rich foods can actually help reduce the body’s stress response. In fact, food “directly effects the structure and function of your brain, and ultimately, your mood [2].”


Here are some nutrients that improve the body’s ability to handle stress [3]:

  • Antioxidants and phytochemicals, among many other beneficial functions, promote a strong immune system and decreased inflammation throughout the body. Particular stand-outs that help diminish the body’s response to cortisol include bright yellow, orange and red produce rich in vitamin C and beta-carotene; dark red, blue and purple produce rich in anthocyanins; as well as phytochemical-rich dark chocolate and green tea.
  • Omega-3-rich foods, such as cold-water fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies), flaxseed and chia seeds, walnuts, edamame, kidney beans and fortified eggs, provide EPA, DHA and ALA – three beneficial omega-3s that have been shown to reduce production of stress hormones, and are also linked to less inflammatory activity.
  • Probiotics (the “good” gut bacteria) are mostly known for improved digestion, but they also play vital roles in supporting the strength of your immune system, reducing inflammation, and potentially decreasing levels of stress and anxiety [4]. Yogurt with live and active cultures, kefir, and fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and pickled vegetables are good sources.
  • B vitamins are required for energy production in the body, and the B vitamins folate/folic acid and vitamin B6 in particular help increase production of serotonin [5] – a neurotransmitter commonly referred to as the “happy chemical.” Folate is also important to production of another feel-good chemical, dopamine. Find folate in black-eyed peas and kidney beans, asparagus, avocado, peanuts and wheat germ; and B6 in chickpeas, tuna and salmon, poultry, banana, cottage cheese, potatoes and other starchy vegetables. Beef liver, dark green leafy vegetables, and fortified whole grain products are also good sources for both.
  • Tryptophan, one of our amino acids, is the precursor of stress-relieving serotonin, and can be found in egg yolks, cheeses, soy products, nuts and seeds, and turkey [5].
  • Magnesium is a mineral associated with decreased muscle tension, irritability, fatigue and feelings of anxiety. Good sources of magnesium include almonds, cashews and peanuts, cooked spinach, black beans and edamame, avocado, and fortified whole grain products.


In addition to dietary stress-relievers, routine physical activity, regular exposure to vitamin D-rich sunshine, adequate restful sleep, proper hydration, and even meditation, breathing exercises, or simply getting fresh air or talking to a friend, can also play important roles in minimizing the body’s response to stress.


While a healthy, balanced, nutrient-rich diet may be beneficial, other eating patterns can have the opposite effect. High intake of nutrient-poor high-fat and high-sugar foods often give us a small energy boost that quickly fades away. Regular excesses of both fat and sugar may also increase inflammation, making it even more difficult for our bodies to adequately deal with stress.






  1. Understanding the stress response. Harvard Health Publishing website. Updated 1 May 2018. Accessed 11 May 2018.
  2. Selhub, E. Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food. Harvard Health Publishing website. Updated 5 April 2018. Accessed 11 May 2018.
  3. Rumsey A. The Best Foods for Stress-Relief. US News. Published 21 June 2017. Accessed 14 May 2018.
  4. Probiotics Can Reduce Stress and Anxiety Levels. Today’s Dietitian. Accessed 14 May 2018.
  5. 7 Foods That Could Boost Your Serotonin: The Serotonin Diet. Healthline. Updated 10 July 2017. Accessed 14 May 2018.

May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month

By Heather A. Goesch, MPH, RDN, LDN

Osteoporosis, meaning “porous bone,” is a condition that occurs when the body loses too much bone mass, accrues too little to begin with, or both. Bones become thinner and weaker as a result, and with the increased fragility comes an increased risk of fracture that can lead to disability and decreased quality of life.


According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis and low bone density currently affects roughly 54 million Americans – a number that is expected to rise as the population ages [1].


What are the risk factors?

Though osteoporosis can happen to anyone, certain individuals are more likely to develop osteoporosis than others. The following are some of the risk factors:


  • Age – Osteoporosis does not discriminate by age, but is far more common in older adults (age 65 and older) compared to younger people.
  • Sex – A higher proportion of women than men are affected.
  • Hormone levels – Women with decreased levels of estrogen (a hormone the body uses to take up calcium [2]), post-menopause or due to removal of ovaries, are at increased risk of osteoporosis, as are men with abnormally low levels of testosterone (possibly related to treatment for prostate cancer).
  • Family history – People whose parents had osteoporosis or a history of broken bones are more likely than those without a hereditary predisposition to develop osteoporosis.
  • Race – Individuals who are Hispanic/Latino, Asian and Caucasian have greater risk of developing osteoporosis.


Can preventative measures be taken?

Childhood and early adulthood are the times during which we build the strength, density and integrity of our bones, eventually reaching the maximum – peak bone mass – by our early 20s. From this point onward, we slowly lose calcium and other minerals, making it crucial to do all we can to be proactive in maintaining bone health throughout the life cycle.


Certain nutrients and healthy foods can help enhance bone health and decrease risk of osteoporosis [3], while others may have the opposite effects. Here are some of the key players:

  • Calcium – The most plentiful mineral in the human body, predominantly found in the skeletal network, calcium is vital to strong bones, essential for prevention of osteoporosis, degenerative bone diseases, fractures and age-related bone loss.
    • Recommended daily intake is between 1,000 mg and 1,200 mg for most adults [4].
    • Find calcium in dairy, dark leafy greens, white beans, sardines and anchovies with bones, tofu processed with calcium sulfate, plus some fortified cereals, bread and 100% orange juice.
  • Vitamin D – This fat-soluble vitamin helps the body absorb and use calcium to promote strong bones.
    • Recommended daily intake is between 600 IU and 800 IU for most adults [5].
    • Find vitamin D in cod liver oil, egg yolk, fatty cold water fish like salmon, sardines, anchovies and tuna, Swiss cheese, some fortified dairy and plant-based milks and yogurts, plus mushrooms grown under UV. Regular sun exposure of arms, legs and face for about 15 minutes, 2 to 3 times per week will also help increase vitamin D. Go out early or late in the day when the sun is weakest, without sunscreen (use sunscreen at all other times).
  • Protein – Adequate dietary protein helps protect bones primarily by minimizing age-related muscle loss, thereby reducing risk of falls and potentially fractures.
    • Regular excessive intake of protein, however, can result in decreased bone density due to urinary losses of calcium.
  • Fruits and vegetables – Some studies suggest that diets rich in a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables can help decrease bone loss and increase bone density, particularly in older adults. These benefits come as a result of high levels of bone-friendly antioxidants, as well as vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and vitamin K.
  • Sodium and caffeine – Diets extremely high in sodium and caffeine may cause the body to lose calcium and increase risk of osteoporosis.
    • Research has shown that moderate amounts of daily caffeine from coffee or tea are not detrimental to bone health; regular consumption of cola drinks, on the other hand, may contribute to a greater risk of bone loss.


There are also several other lifestyle factors that play an important role in the prevention of osteoporosis, including:

  • Physical activity – Aim for daily weight-bearing exercise to strengthen muscle and bone [6].
  • Healthy body weight – Low body weight (BMI < 19 kg/m²), and in general being smaller/thinner, can increase risk of osteoporosis [1].
  • Alcohol only in moderation – Excess intake of alcohol has been shown to increase risk of osteoporosis. However, some evidence suggests there may be some protective effects from moderate intake – for adults of legal drinking age, up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men.
  • Tobacco cessation – Research shows that use of tobacco products is associated with accelerated bone loss, and therefore may increase risk of osteoporosis.
  • Certain health issues, treatments and medications – Check with your physician about the various diseases, conditions, medical procedures, medications and supplements that may contribute to accelerated calcium and bone losses [1].


If you are at risk, or are currently affected by low bone density or osteoporosis, consider making an appointment with your physician to discuss prevention or treatment options. If you can meet with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist as well, he or she can help you assess current intake and suggest ways in which to include more bone-healthy nutrients and foods into your diet. If supplementation is warranted, please first check with your physician on specific nutrients and appropriate dosage before starting.




Osteoporosis Prevention throughout the Lifespan, Food & Nutrition Magazine

Bone Loss: Tallying Your Risk, University of California Berkeley Wellness

14 Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium, TIME

National Osteoporosis Foundation’s Food4Bones app, Food & Nutrition Magazine review




  1. What is Osteoporosis and What Causes It? National Osteoporosis Foundation website. Accessed 26 April 2018.
  2. How Women Can Fight Bone Loss. University of California Berkeley Wellness website. Published 1 December 2011. Accessed 26 April 2018.
  3. Diet and Supplements for Bone Health. University of California Berkeley Wellness website. Published 16 August 2017. Accessed 26 April 2018.
  4. Calcium: Reference Intakes. National Institutes of Health – Office of Dietary Supplements website. Updated 2 March 2017. Accessed 27 April 2018.
  5. Vitamin D: Reference Intakes. National Institutes of Health – Office of Dietary Supplements website. Updated 2 March 2018. Accessed 27 April 2018.
  6. Wolfram T. Built to the Bone: Why Weight-Bearing Exercise Is Key to Strong Bones. Food & Nutrition Magazine website. Published 28 April 2016. Accessed 27 April 2018.

by Heather A. Goesch, MPH, RDN, LDN

According to the latest reports published by the National Coffee Association, daily coffee consumption rose two percentage points in the past year to 64% among American adults [1].


Coffee is the biggest dietary source of caffeine in the US, but it also comes with small amounts of vitamins and minerals [2], and is considered one of our greatest sources of antioxidants. As such, this classic beverage does more than provide a morning energy boost – it can offer a variety of health benefits to our bodies throughout the day.


Potential perks

Regular consumption of coffee is scientifically linked to improved alertness, productivity, creativity and memory. In addition to temporary boosts in brain function, coffee may increase levels of happiness and reduce stress and symptoms of depression, and has the potential to benefit a variety of conditions including migraines and gallstones.


In individuals over the age of 45, recent findings show that it may increase overall longevity [3], while additional studies suggest coffee is an ergogenic aid, potentially improving athletic performance, exertion and mood during endurance-type exercises [4].


Upwards of 3 to 5 daily 8-oz cups may also decrease risk of heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s [5], type 2 diabetes, liver issues, and certain cancers, such as malignant melanoma [6].


Sip smartly

Coffee – regular or decaf – is a very small source of calories, offering only about 2 per 8-oz serving. Keep in mind, however, that sweeteners and flavored syrups, dairy and non-dairy milks, regular or whipped cream, and other additions to our coffees contribute not only to extra calories, but also extra sugar, saturated fat, and sometimes sodium as well.


For a more healthful drink, stick with regular brewed or iced coffees, or an Americano, cappuccino or latte. Choose a lower fat dairy milk or unsweetened plant-based milk, as opposed to whole milk or cream to save on fat calories, and ask for no-sugar or low-sugar if you opt for a flavor add-in. A dusting of cinnamon, nutmeg and/or unsweetened cocoa powder all add flavor with minimal calories.


Other coffee considerations

Daily doses of caffeine less than 400 mg are considered safe by the FDA (the average cup of coffee has about 90 mg). However, every body reacts differently to its effects, and there are certain individuals who may want to avoid excess intake, including:

·         Children, adolescents and the elderly

·         Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding – recommended to limit daily intake to no more than 200 mg/day (or two 8-oz cups of home-brewed coffee per day) [7]

·         Anyone suffering from anxiety disorders – linked to onset, occurrence and symptom severity [8]

·         Anyone with low iron levels and/or currently taking iron supplements – decreases iron absorption

·         Anyone taking certain medications or herbal supplements that may interact with caffeine – e.g., ephedrine (commonly in decongestants), theophylline (found in bronchodilators), echinacea [9]

·         Anyone with a history of heart attack, cardiovascular disease, and/or high blood pressure [7]

·         Anyone not currently getting adequate, good-quality sleep [9]


If caffeine makes you jittery, here are a few dietary tips that might help avoid this uncomfortable feeling:

·         Enjoy your coffee with food or shortly after eating, as caffeine has a stronger, faster effect on an empty stomach;

o   Particularly effective at counteracting these jittery effects of caffeine are magnesium-rich foods, such as nuts and seeds (particularly pumpkin seeds/pepitas), whole grains (e.g., quinoa, brown rice or oatmeal), dark leafy greens, and avocado.

·         Drink one glass of water for every cup of coffee, or drink an equivalent number of glasses as cups of coffee within 30 minutes of the last cup; and/or

·         Limit total coffee intake to two 12-oz cups per day, aiming for only one cup per sitting.




·         The Benefits (Yes, You Read That Right) of Coffee Addiction, Food & Nutrition Magazine

·         Is it Time to Cut Back on Caffeine?, Food & Nutrition Magazine

·         Are You Consuming Coffee Correctly (video), AsapSCIENCE on YouTube




1.      Bolton D. Coffee Consumption on the Rise. Stir: Global Insight on Coffee and Tea. Published 11 April 2018. Accessed 17 April 2018.

2.      Self Nutrition Data. Coffee, brewed from grounds, prepared with tap water. Accessed 17 April 2018.

3.      Park A. Coffee Drinkers Really Do Live Longer. TIME Magazine. Published 10 July 2017. Accessed 14 April 2018.

4.      Alsharif S. Caffeine and Exercise. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. Published 28 April 2015. Accessed 16 April 2018.

5.      Moderate coffee drinking may lower risk of premature death. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health News Releases. Updated 16 November 2016. Accessed 15 April 2018.

6.      Bakalar N. Coffee May Cut Melanoma Risk. The New York Times Well Blog. Published 22 January 2015. Accessed 14 April 2018.

7.      Fact Sheet: Everything You Need to Know About Caffeine. International Food Information Council Foundation. Published in 2015. Accessed 17 April 2018.

8.      Barkyoumb G. Comprehensive Care for Anxiety: The Role of Diet. Food & Nutrition Magazine Stone Soup Blog. Published 12 August 2014. Accessed 16 April 2018.

9.      Caffeine: How Much is Too Much? Mayo Clinic. Published 8 March 2017. Accessed 17 April 2018.