Happy RD Day!

Happy Registered Dietitian (RD) Day!!

March 13th celebrates Registered Dietitian Day! This celebration occurs every year during National Nutrition Month, which is March. RDs are the public’s go-to healthcare professionals when they need reliable nutrition information, in this field. RDs pull from their experience to create a personalized nutrition plan for people of every age. These are the professionals that are able to separate facts from fads and translate nutritional science into information you, the consumer/client/patient, can use!

Dietitians can improve the health of Americans and save money through healthcare costs. Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) provided by RDs is critical in preventing the top 3 chronic illnesses. It is well documented that MNT is associated with a decrease in utilization of hospital services of 9.5% for patients with diabetes and 8.6% for patients with cardiovascular disease. Also noteworthy is that participation in community-based programs that focused on improving nutrition and increasing physical activity had a 58% decrease in incidence of Type 2 Diabetes.

Registered Dietitians assist to promote a net decrease in healthcare utilization and costs for most people. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation estimates that in Idaho, for every $1 spent in wellness programs, companies could save $3.27 in medical costs and $2.73 in absenteeism costs. Some interventions have been shown to help improve nutrition and activity habits in just 1 year and had a return of $1.17 for every $1 spent. Reducing the average BMI in the state of Idaho by 5% could lead to health care savings of more than $1 billion in 10 years and $3 billion in 20 years.

Well, unfortunately Wild and Wonderful West Virginia isn’t as lucky as ole Idaho. West Virginia still leads the nation in obesity, and was recently named the state with the highest number of overweight residents in the union. According to the 2012 Gallup-Healthways Well-being Index released last week, 33.5% of West Virginia’s population is considered obese.

Mississippi is the closest with an obesity rate of 32.2%. Arkansas has a rate of 31.4%, Louisiana is 30.9% and Alabama is listed at 30.4%, to round out the top five.

Residents of the Mountain State believe that a reason for the high obesity rate is the change in physical jobs and increase in availability of fast food. The combination of lack of physical activity and the ready access of fast food and junk food in homes has really contributed to the epidemic. On the flip side of our state, nutrition-related efforts seem to be working as West Virginia is no longer in the top five for childhood obesity!

With the help from schools and communities, West Virginia is increasing physical activity and need for healthier foods. As a unit we are advocating and promoting activity and nutrition. I think it seems to be helping! All thanks to those RDs out there!!!

Job outlook: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nutrition and Dietetics careers are expected to increase much faster (by 20%) than other jobs by 2020 and faster than many other industries within health care. In 2010, the median annual salary for RDs was $53,250, at $23.60 an hour. And the number of jobs available in the nutrition and dietetics field was 64,400.

Money Bags

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Fat West Virginia

Nutrition in the Community

RD Day 2013

RD Day

Community Wellness Action Team Meeting

Undergraduate Action Team Meeting

Well, let’s see… As the Community Wellness ISPP (Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway) Dietetic Intern, it’s my responsibility to get my Action Team in the community and promoting nutrition education and overall healthy thinking and decision-making by Morgantown’s population. So, for this meeting that took place on Monday February 11th at 5:30pm on WVU’s Evansdale campus, we had a mapped out plan of what we needed to address and where we need to go, in terms of community wellness.

WV Action For Healthy Kids (AFHK) Undergraduate intern:

The Shack Neighborhood House Undergraduate Intern:

  • We’ve decided that most of our projects/presentations that we work on in our group, we will work as a team. I made this very clear at the very first meeting. I want to make sure everyone is involved with everything. That being said, an after-school nutrition education program was assigned to this Undergrad intern. Thankfully, the intern has help from our Community Wellness Action Team. So, I already had the thought in my mind that I wanted an after-school program based on something similar to a Rachel Ray show where she travels around the country. I wanted to implement a program where children at the Shack Neighborhood House can get the opportunity at becoming exposed to different regions of the country and still have that nutrition component as well. So, we created a program called “Our Healthy Roadtrip”. This program will last 6 weeks long and be held every Monday from 4:15pm-5:15pm. Our start date is March 4th and we’ll need a minimum of 2 volunteers for every lesson. Each lesson will consist of a nutrition education component, a section on exposure to that specific region’s food habits, and then a snack and interactive activity for the students.
  • Another project is organizing the Oxfam Hunger Banquet, that the Undergrad intern has named Mountaineering Against Hunger. Right now the beginning process is in effect where committees are filling up. Then, once these 3 committees are fulfilled, then further actions like venue planning and food donations can take place.
  • Other projects and events that our Action Team is in the process of organizing is Father’s HAND, Cross-Country Casserole Club, and Family Fun Night.

The Children’s Discovery Museum of West Virginia Undergraduate Intern

  • All of the events for the CDMWV for the semester are, for the most part, set in stone and already organized. It is this intern’s responsibility to complete these tasks and delegate any other duties needed. This Undergrad intern is working with another Graduate student on developing a program called “Healthy Passport”.
  • I also assigned this intern to develop a timeline of all events that take place at the CDMWV throughout the entire semester. This way, we can organize, and possibly even collaborate with another organization, other events and programming within the Morgantown, WV area.

As a Community Wellness Action Team I have decided that we will have our own National Nutrition Month campaign. National Nutrition Month is celebrated throughout the entire month of March and this year’s theme is “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day”. Specifically, March 13th is National Registered Dietitian (RD) Day.

Sooo…… I think I somewhat caught my team off guard by telling them my idea. I want us to use guerrilla marketing with National Nutrition Month and utilize the Student Dietetic Association to do so. My plan is to recruit HN&F students to draw USDA’s MyPlates ALL over the Morgantown area, specifically on all 3 campuses, in different colored sidewalk chalk. And I plan on having people doing so on a daily basis, in case weather prevents us from our guerrilla nutrition parade. Then, on March 19th, the Student Dietetic Association will have a table outside of the Mountainlair on the downtown campus and have a GIANT MyPlate drawing in front of our table on the ground. At our table we’ll have lot of fun interactive nutrition activities, handouts, healthy recipes, healthy snacks, and food guide pyramids from all over the world, including USDA’s MyPlate- of course. I think this will be a really innovative and unique approach at National Nutrition Month (NNM)  and promoting health awareness on a large scale.

USDA MyPlate Food Guide

USDA MyPlate Food Guide

One of the intern's assigned projects

One of the intern’s assigned projects

The Shack Neighborhood House. A primary stakeholder within our program!

The Shack Neighborhood House. A primary stakeholder within our program!

WV AFHK is a stakeholder within our ISPP Dietetic Internship

WV AFHK is a stakeholder within our ISPP Dietetic Internship

The Children's Discovery Museum of WV collaborates with our program for special eventing and nutrition programming on several different levels.

The Children’s Discovery Museum of WV collaborates with our program for special eventing and nutrition programming on several different levels.

This year's NNM theme for 2013

This year’s NNM theme for 2013





WV Family Grief Center

Earlier last week, I was approached by 2nd year students from the School of Pharmacy. They were working on a semester-long service learning project where they needed to collaborate with another WVU student organization. So, they were providing the West Virginia Family Grief Center with a nutritious dinner and asked if the WVU Student Dietetic Association could provide some assistance. The School of Pharmacy students requested we provide the families on Thursday January 31st with information on easy, inexpensive, healthy meal ideas. So, I created handouts on Easy Healthy Breakfast Ideas and Easy Meal Planning. I asked 2 undergraduates to accompany me to the event, to give the undergraduates practice at public speaking. We arrived to the location, on Scott Avenue in Morgantown, at approximately 5:30pm and left the event around 7:45pm. The participants were really receptive of the materials we provided and the coordinator of the center even took extra handouts to leave out for other members of the Church of Christ, where the center meets.

WV Family Grief Ctr


The School Lunch Box Makeover

Lunch Box Makeover

Giving your child a nutritious lunch means more than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in a brown paper bag or Sloppy Joes in the cafeteria. Nowadays, thanks to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act signed into law by President Barack Obama and championed by First Lady Michelle Obama as part of her Let’sMove! initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation, schools are required to renovate their menus. This means more nutritious foods this school year because the standards went into effect July 1st.

That standards mandate that calories and portion size are aligned with children’s ages. Students will be offered fruits and veggies and only fat-free or low-fat milk every day of the week. There will be more whole-grain-rich foods. Saturated and trans fats, sugars and sodium will be limited.

Taking the Healthy Kids Act a step further, it is possible to incorporate these guidelines into make-at-home school lunches.

To provide children with a balanced meal during their scheduled lunch incorporating these food groups in your child’s diet:

–          Veggies

–          Fruits

–          Whole grains

–          1% milk or low-fat milk

–          Proteins (meats and beans)

A better alternative for typical lunch meat, you could consider making your own chicken salad or tuna salad sandwich with low-fat or light mayonnaise. Pre-packaged foods are typically high in sodium, refined sugar and saturated fat with low nutritional value.

Looking at the lunch box as a whole can help too. Substituting fruit and veggies for a sweet side could be a step in the right direction. Or even a smaller step, like packing 1-2 Oreos instead of 3-4 with a handful of grapes.

The key that a lot of teachers and healthcare workers are trying to emphasize to children is moderation. Setting an example is essential when dealing with younger children. When they see you loading up your plate with veggies for dinner and having fruit for dessert, they will follow suit. Limit the sugar-laden treats in the house. Parents can take the kids shopping so they can help choose their lunches. Then they can have them help prepare the meals.

As for drinks, schools are replacing full-fat milk with 1% or lower-fat options. Children may be able to buy milk even if they bring their own lunch. Beware of relying on juice boxes. Kids could get way too many calories this way.

The important thing here is to make sure that children aren’t eating too much sugar. Excess amounts of sugar are around every corner for children. You will find them in the form of high-fructose corn syrup. Keep in mind that while 100% fruit juice is healthy, it also has a high amount of sugar. So an 8-oz. juice box or cup a day is fine but, 8 glasses of juice  day for a thirsty child is no bueno.

Just make sure that everyone remembers two important things when it comes to healthy beverages:

–          Use 100% fruit juice

–          Juice is not a substitute for water

After-school Choices

The school day can be a long one, depending on where your children are enrolled. Sometimes, the day starts at 7:30am or 8am, so lunch can be as early as 10am. This leads to hungry kids getting off the school bus who then must wait a few more hours for a family dinner.

A good breakfast with enough protein and healthy fats is imperative for tiding your kids over until lunch. If the school allows snacks, pack a few items.

If your family is on this type of schedule, making dinner for your children much earlier could be an easy solution. The kids can join Mom and Dad for dessert when they sit down for their meal, then ensuring some quality time at the dinner table.

If it’s impossible to make multiple dinners, or the kids have after-school sports and activities, provide healthy snacks to keep energy up before dinner. Ideas include trail mix, turkey and cheese rollups, a sandwich.

For those couch-potato kids who come home and plop in front of the computer or video games, getting them up and out the door is a key. Physical activity doesn’t have to be structured. Kids can just go outside and play before dinner. Parents really have to concentrate on both physical activity and diet for their children. Balance and healthy choices are important. Since a child is always growing, limiting food intake is not necessarily a good idea. However, healthy food choices are extremely important.

Here are some easy and nutritious lunch box ideas

Main Course:

–          Turkey and cheese sandwich with lettuce

–          Chicken or tuna salad sandwich

–          Greek yogurt with fruit or nuts

–          Soup (low-sodium)

Whole Grains:

–          Bread (whole grain)

–          Crackers

–          Popcorn

–          Rice


–          Red pepper strips

–          Cucumber strips

–          Grape tomatoes

–          Dried plums

–          Hummus and veggies

–          Low-fat cheese sticks

–          Granola bar

Send Your Child to School with a Cool Lunch Box

Recently I read a new trend of parents buying their children Bento Boxes for their lunch box. The Bento Box originates in Japan and is originally designed for meals consisting of sushi pieces, sashimi, teriyaki, salad, and condiments. If these are used in school systems, it makes putting together a selection of nutritious foods, really easy. The box is portioned off so it’s easy to pack each compartment with a variety of meats, cheeses, fruits, and veggies. And children can easily decorate their Bento Box as creative as they want too!

This is an example of how Bento Boxes can be transformed into healthy school lunch boxes for children of all ages!