Posts for the ‘Nutrition’ Category

Using Costco or Sam’s Club for Healthy Meals and Snacks

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

Costco and Sam’s Club are great options for buying food in bulk, especially if you live in a rural area and make fewer trips to the store. Both stores offer a lot of healthy options that can be convenient and easy to integrate into a healthier lifestyle. This includes fresh fruit, veggies, frozen fruit and veggies, and fresh meat. Besides all of those great whole food options, they have many packaged and convenient items that can also fit your goals.

When buying in bulk, look for pre-portioned servings, or plan ahead to take the time to self-portion bulk items. Portion size is often the biggest struggle for many people. If you buy in bulk, it’s important to spend 10 minutes when you get home and portion out foods for the week or the month. This will save you time later on, and will help keep your eating on track. Products that you should portion out include snacks like popcorn, crackers, and nuts.

Items that you can buy pre-portioned include hummus and guacamole. Use as a dip with vegetables, or add to a wrap for great flavor. Since they are pre-portioned, they are quick and convenient. Another healthy pre-portioned product is chicken salad made with Greek yogurt, the brands are listed below. Prepare the chicken salad on a bed of lettuce with vegetables, add to a whole wheat pita, or eat with whole wheat crackers and a side of raw veggies for a quick and easy lunch.

When buying in bulk, and particularly with pre-packaged products, be sure to check labels for sodium content. Especially if you have high blood pressure. Watch the sodium in cured or packaged meats. How do you know if it has too much sodium? A good rule of thumb is to look for something with less than 500 mg of sodium per serving. And think about how you’re combining your ingredients — if you add another packaged component to your meal, then the overall sodium may really increase. Consider adding fresh vegetables in place of another packaged item. For example, Aidell’s chicken sausage is great with a side of steamed vegetables, or on top of a salad. Jerky can be a great on-the-go snack, but ingredients matter. The brands I’ve listed below use less preservatives and better ingredients overall. Yes, they still contain sodium, so balance it by including lots of fresh foods, and stay hydrated with adequate water.

When shopping in any grocery store, it is always important to compare products. Some labels look “healthier” than a similar product, but may in fact have more sugar or sodium. Take a minute to compare similar product nutrition facts, and review the ingredients. For example, when I was at Sam’s Club, I compared two brands of squeeze fruit and veggie packs: Gogo brand and Purify brand. Purify brand had a lot more claims on the label, making you think it was the healthier option, but in fact it had a lot more sugar. So the better option is sometimes the one you don’t expect. Other foods that you would want to compare include granola bars, snack bars, cereal, and any snack food. Below I’ve listed several good products to help guide you through the endless options.

Here is a list of products that can be found at each store to help make eating healthier an easier process:

Sam’s Club

Freezer Section
Member’s Mark Alaskan Salmon Burgers
Mahi Burgers
Gardenburger Malibu Vegan Burger
Morningstar Black Bean Burger

Dry Goods
Planters Single Serve Heart Healthy Nut Mix
Member’s Mark Freeze Dried Sliced Fruit
True North Almond Pecan Cashew Clusters
Natural Oberto Beef Jerky
Epic Chicken Bites
Good Health Veggie Pretzels
Harvest Snaps – Baked Snap Peas
Creative Snack Company Coconut Bites
Skinny Pop Popcorn
Popchips – Ridges Asiago and Black Pepper
Crunchmaster Multi-Grain 5 Seed Cracker
Annie’s Popcorn
Nature’s Bakery Honey and Oat Soft Baked Bar
Nature’s Bakery Fig Bar
Gogo Squeeze Fruit and Veggie On The Go Packs
Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
Member’s Mark Almond Butter
Dave’s Killer Bread

Sargento Balanced Breaks
Sabra Hummus – Singles or Bulk
Yucatan Single Serve Guacamole
Chef Earl’s Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad
Babybel Cheese
Dietz and Watson Natural Turkey Breast


Freezer Section
Outshine Fruit Bars
Trident Alaskan Salmon Burgers
Trident Pollock Burgers
Morningstar Veggie Burgers
Hillshire Farm Naturals Deli Turkey
Kirkland Plain Greek Yogurt

Dry Goods
Bare Apple Chips
Kirkland Unsweetened Almond Milk
Stretch Island Fruit Strips
Golden Island Natural Jerky
Crunchy Rice Rollers
Vega Protein Powder
Kind Bars
Caveman Nutrition Bars
Kashi Chewy Granola Bars – Chocolate Almond Sea Salt
Premier Protein
Nature’s Path Chia Seeds
Premium Gold Milled Flaxseed
Hemp Hearts
Seeds of Change Quinoa and Brown Rice
Nature’s Path Flax Plus Pumpkin Granola
Kirkland Ancient Grains Granola with Almonds
Mary’s Gone Crackers
RW Garcia Sweet Potato Crackers
Love Crunch Dark Chocolate and Red Berries Granola
Tasty Bite Brown Rice and Lentils
Tasty Bite Madras Lentils
Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes Mix
Kirkland Almond Butter
PB Fit
Adams Natural Peanut Butter

Rotisserie Chicken Pieces
Good Foods Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad
Good Foods Single Portion Guacamole
Kirkland Hummus Cups
True Story Organic Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage
Amylu Kale and Mozzarella Chicken Burgers
Aidell’s Chicken Meatballs
Aidell’s Chicken and Apple Sausages
Teton Waters Grass-fed Beef Polish Sausages
Columbus Meats Smoked Ham and Turkey Breast
Love Beats Cooked Beets
Organic Hope Hummus


Easy No-Cook Lunches, AKA the “Adult Lunchable”

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

Packing a lunch is a great way to stay on track with your health goals. Sometimes it’s hard to get ideas for what to pack. Some office environments have limited kitchen resources, or you have limited time to cook.

Try no-cook lunches, or what I like to call “Adult Lunchables.” These are also referred to as Bento Box lunches. You’ve likely seen pre-made kid’s Lunchables at the supermarket – boxes of crackers, cheese, meat, etc. This is a healthy twist on that idea. The varieties are endless — you can pack anything you like, from the classic crackers, meat, and cheese, to more complex combinations with wraps or salads.

Adult Lunchables are both easy to put together, and easy to eat. Preparation is fairly simple — keep some go-to options on hand. I’ve put together some ideas in categories. If you pick an item from each category, it will help you create a balanced meal. The goal is to make it simple, but add variety without overwhelming ourselves.

For example, I put together a lunch with the following: 1 cup Greek yogurt, 1 cup berries, 1-2 tablespoons peanut butter, and 1 cup of raw veggies. That combination includes protein from the yogurt, carbohydrates from the berries and veggies, and fat from the peanut butter. You can certainly add or subtract items and amounts to make sure you eat enough calories for your body.



  • Greek yogurt – ½ to 1 cup
  • Cottage cheese – ½ to 1 cup
  • Hard boiled eggs – 1 to 2 eggs
  • Canned Tuna or Chicken: one tin or pouch
  • Deli slices: 3 ounces, look for nitrate and nitrite-free options
  • Leftover grilled chicken or other protein: 3-4 ounces
  • Edamame: 1 cup
  • Chickpeas: ½ cup


  • Whole grain crackers: for example Triscuits (6-8 crackers) or a single serving based on the box of crackers you choose
  • Whole wheat tortilla: 8 inch in diameter, or look for high fiber options
  • Whole wheat pita
  • Serving of fruit: apple, banana, grapes (1 cup or 32 grapes), berries (1 cup of any variety), kiwi, orange, 2 cuties or mandarin oranges
  • Unlimited vegetables: carrots, celery, sliced cucumber, sliced bell peppers, salad greens


  • Individually portioned nut butters: peanut butter, almond butter, or keep a tablespoon with your designated jar and stick to 1 to 2 tablespoons
  • Servings of nuts: pistachios (40 nuts), almonds (23 almonds), cashews (16-18 nuts)
  • Avocado: ¼ to ½ of fruit
  • String cheese, or 1 ounce of cheese
  • Guacamole: 2 tablespoons
  • Olives: 10-12 small to medium sized olives of any variety.
  • Olive oil: 1 tablespoon
  • Salad dressing: 1-2 tablespoons
  • Hummus: 1-2 tablespoons

Below is a sample week with some combinations I put together to create a balanced lunch. This may also give you some ideas to build your own “Lunchable:”

6-8 Triscuits
3 ounces of deli slices
1 string cheese or sliced cheese
1 cup berries
Carrot sticks
1-2 tablespoon hummus

1 cup cottage cheese
½ cup blueberries
1 tablespoon almond butter
Cucumber slices
2 tbsp. hummus

Whole wheat tortilla
Lettuce or other salad green
Sliced cucumber, bell peppers, onion
½ of a ripe avocado
1 tbsp. hummus
Small apple or orange

Whole grain crackers
Chicken salad-made with 2 tbsp. Greek yogurt, mustard to taste, salt and pepper
¼ of an avocado
Celery and carrot sticks
Serving of grapes

Whole Wheat Pita
Tuna salad-made with 2 tbsp. Greek yogurt, mustard to taste, salt and pepper
Sliced cucumbers
1 tablespoon peanut or almond butter

Two hardboiled eggs
Grapes (1 cup or 32 grapes)
String cheese
1 cup Veggies sticks
2 tablespoons hummus

If you want something complex, especially with the summer weather, then prep ahead a veggie-rich pasta salad with healthy fats like avocado. You can also prep fresh fruits salads at the beginning of the week to accompany your lunch and save time.

For additional ideas and inspiration check out 25 Healthy and Photo-Worthy Bento Box Lunch Ideas from

What great lunches did you put together? Let us know in the comments below.


Sneaking In Veggies

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

Many people don’t love vegetables. Of course we’d love it if everyone wanted to eat vegetables, but it’s hard to change your lifestyle for the long term if you’re doing things you don’t like. As health coaches and dietitians, we often encounter clients who are afraid that we are going to tell them they have to eat vegetables. We try to help people make small changes that are sustainable, and that don’t feel like punishment. There is no reason to force yourself to eat food you hate for a short while – because in the long term, you’ll just give up on the journey.

In order to help you find long-term solutions that you can stick with, we’ve put together some ideas to sneak vegetables into your meals, in ways that may work for you.

  • Smoothies. Add spinach, kale, zucchini, cucumber, beets, or any other vegetable to your smoothie. Pair with fruit, and you’ll have a hard time noticing the vegetables. A good combination is banana, berries, and spinach. For more smoothie recipes, check out our previous post “How to Build a Better Smoothie”.
  • Oatmeal. Add shredded zucchini or carrots to oatmeal. Zucchini works well because it is very mild in flavor and hard to notice. It also adds a lot of volume to food for little calories. Try shredded zucchini or carrots, walnuts, and cinnamon. Cauliflower crumbles is another option for volume and extra fiber.
  • Sauces. Add pureed vegetables to sauces, and you’ll never know they’re in there. For example, here is a great recipe on Food Network where butternut squash is added to macaroni and cheese.  You can add pureed squash, beets, or peppers to spaghetti sauce. Pureed cauliflower in a light Alfredo sauce works well. Add shredded vegetables for even more substance. Since these sauces already have strong flavor, you don’t notice the vegetables but still get the benefit.
  • Roasting. Sometimes something as simple as cooking vegetables a new way changes how you feel about them. Roasting vegetables is a fantastic way to start. Roasted vegetables taste quite a bit different from raw or steamed. This article from has great information about how to roast vegetables, including a chart of roasting times.
  • Mashed or “Riced”. One of the new crazes in cooking is mashing and ricing vegetables. Cauliflower is a favorite for ricing. Cut a head of cauliflower into small pieces and run it through your food processor. Then just heat it on the stop in a wok or frying pan. When you add sauces and seasonings, it closely mimics white rice. You can also add riced cauliflower to mashed potatoes – it creates more volume, and reduces the overall calories. Mashed sweet potatoes are delicious, and as mentioned above, mashed butternut squash can be added to macaroni and cheese, or other dishes.
  • Soup. Adding vegetables to soups is a great way to increase your vegetable intake. You can keep frozen vegetables in the freezer and add to canned or homemade soups when you heat them. Using vegetables in soups can completely change the taste of the vegetables. As they cook, they take on the flavor of the seasonings in the soup. Butternut squash soup with Indian spices is a great example. Mushroom soup, tomato soup, cauliflower soup – there is a soup for almost every vegetable. Vegetable soup combines many. Find some recipes that sound great and make a batch for lunches during the work week.
  • Seasonings and Spices. Experiment with different seasonings and spices to give your vegetables a new twist. Try citrus, such as lemon, orange or lime zest. Here is a great chart from for suggestions for each vegetable. Spices, herbs, and seasonings can make a huge difference in how vegetables taste.
  • Give it Another Chance. Be open to trying vegetables that you haven’t had since you were a kid. Taste buds change over time, in fact we lose taste buds, so our taste preferences also change. Things that once tasted bitter or bad may now taste great. When you give vegetables a second chance, you can discover more options, or you can confirm that you still in fact do not enjoy that vegetable.
  • Be Adventurous. Challenge yourself to try new vegetables. When you’re in the grocery store, buy something you haven’t had before. Look up a recipe or preparation method, and give it a try. You might be surprised by the options and foods you may not have known you liked.

In the end, stick with vegetables you enjoy, make them your staples. But keep these ideas in mind as a way to expand your vegetable intake. Your good health is not defined by how much kale you eat! Make good choices, but make sure they are choices that work for the long term to help you reach your health and wellness goals.

How to Build a Better Smoothie

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN, Take Control Health Coach

It seems obvious, right? Put everything in a blender and turn it on? Yes, to an extent, but the order you place your ingredients in the blender, and the amount of each ingredient you use can make a big difference in texture and overall success.

One common mistake is to place all the frozen ingredients at the bottom, in direct contact with the blender blades. This often makes it much harder for your blender to work efficiently and effectively.

The ingredients you use can also impact the quality, taste, and nutrition of your smoothie. Below are some tips to build a better smoothie – one that is healthier, and has the right texture.

Step 1: Liquids

Always place your liquids closest to the blade. If you’re using a traditional blender, they will go in first. If you use a magic bullet, they will go in last. (Jump to Step 6 and work this list backwards.)

Liquid options: Water, coconut water, milk, almond milk, soy milk, or another milk alternative. You can use juice, but use it in small amounts or simply let the sweetness come from actual fruit. One fruit juice I do like to use is fresh squeezed lemon, it can add a tart and bright flavor to a smoothie.

Step 2: Powder and Spices (Optional)

If you like powders such as protein powder or greens powder, now is the time to add these. They are optional, but if you have a protein powder you like, it often adds extra sweetness, and you can skip honey or other additional sweeteners. Spices can be a fun way to add different flavors. Try cinnamon or turmeric.

Step 3: Yogurt, Nut Butter, or Sweeteners

Plain or Greek yogurt is a great way to add protein and creaminess to a smoothie. You can also try cottage cheese, which is also high in protein. Nut butters, like almond, cashew or peanut, will add a little protein and healthy fat. They also add great flavor, especially if you like combinations such as peanut butter and banana.

Step 4: Fresh Fruit, Vegetables, and Greens

Step four is your chance to get creative with fruits and vegetables. Use some of the leftover fresh fruit and vegetables in your fridge. If you are new to smoothies, start simple. Try spinach and bananas — an easy go-to for smoothies.

Step 5: Frozen Fruit or Vegetables
Frozen fruit helps thicken your smoothie, and really gives it the right texture. If you don’t have frozen fruit on hand, use extra ice cubes to create a smoothie consistency. Frozen fruit is also a great way to create more flavor options, especially when fruits like berries aren’t in season. Frozen fruit is easy to make when you have bananas or other fruit that is ripe but you don’t have time to use it. Cut up bananas or other fruit into slices, place in a freezer bag, and freeze. Because they are pre-sliced, you can use a few pieces when needed, or when you don’t have a fresh banana handy.

Step 6: Additional Ice

If you’re using all fresh fruits and vegetables, add additional ice to create a good smoothie texture. Ultimately, you want the ice and frozen components furthest away from the blade. This allows the blender to be primed from the liquid and creates a smoother consistency without interfering with the blade.

Once you have the order and the steps in place, making the perfect smoothie is easy, and a great addition to your weekly routine. The key to keeping it healthy is to be mindful of your ingredients. With the wrong ingredients, smoothies, like salads, can easily go from healthy to a calorie bomb. So be precise in how you add ingredients, and how much you use by carefully measuring items such as nut butter and other high-calorie ingredients.

Need recipe ideas? The following recipes might help inspire your next smoothie. You can add veggies to any of these recipes to increase your vegetable intake and boost the nutrients. You can also omit honey or added sweetener. If you choose to add sweeteners, be mindful of the amount.

Chocolate Banana Smoothie
1 cup unsweetened almond, soy, cashew, or coconut milk
1–3 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
Honey or maple syrup, to taste
1 frozen or fresh banana
Ice cubes if using a fresh banana, start with 6-8 and adjust as needed

Strawberry Banana Smoothie
1 cup unsweetened almond, soy, cashew, or coconut milk
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
Honey or maple syrup, to taste
1 frozen or fresh banana
1/2 cup frozen strawberries

Creamy Orange Smoothie
1 cup unsweetened almond, soy, cashew, or coconut milk
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Honey or maple syrup, to taste
1 orange, peeled or 2 clementine’s, peeled
1 frozen or fresh banana
Ice cubes if using a fresh banana, start with 6-8 and adjust as needed

Green Smoothie

1 cup unsweetened almond, soy, cashew, or coconut milk
Honey or maple syrup, to taste
1 cup greens (baby spinach or kale without the stem)
1 frozen or fresh banana
Ice cubes if using a fresh banana, start with 6-8 and adjust as needed


Do you have a smoothie recipe you love? Share it in the comments below!

Kitchen Spring Cleaning

– Organizing Kitchen Zones for Healthy Success

By Kelly Sedgwick, Take Control Health Coach

The kitchen tends to be the center of the household, and the place where everyone congregates. A kitchen usually serves many purposes: cooking, eating, a family meeting space, and often the place where kids do homework. Given the multi-purpose aspect of the kitchen, it can be a challenge to keep its focus on its essential function, creating nutritional meals.

A cluttered kitchen is distracting, and can be a roadblock to living healthy and making good nutritional choices. So this guide is designed to help you organize your kitchen in a way that re-focuses it for its true purpose. We’ll start by removing items that don’t belong, then move on to creating zones for specific purposes.

Step 1: The 10-Minute Toss

The purpose of a 10-minute toss is to quickly move things out of the way and create physical and mental space between where we are and where we want to be. Simply go through each cupboard and drawer quickly and efficiently, removing anything you no longer use or doesn’t belong in the kitchen. It should be easy, obvious, quick decisions without much thought or decision-making.

Quick purge items:

  • Anything broken, stained or chipped beyond use
  • Anything that belongs in a different room of the house
  • Anything you don’t like

Step 2: Set Up Zones

Once you’ve cleared the obvious items out of the way, assess the overall layout of the space and where your “zones” are. Because kitchens often serve as multi-functional spaces, it’s important to set it up for multiple uses for several people at once. Each zone is centered around a particular task.

  • Cutting Zone: Keep knives, cutting boards and any items used to prep meat and/or produce near the sink and garbage where you’ll be able to clean and cut them at the same time.
  • Coffee Zone: Create a section of your counter where you maintain your coffee fixings. Coffee maker, coffee grounds, tea and other hot beverages, mugs, silverware, etc. Anything that makes a quick cup of coffee easier
  • Cooking Zone: Pots, pans, and cooking utensils should be in the space near the stove and cooktop. Include cooking spray, oils, herbs and spices in this area so you don’t find yourself crossing the kitchen to simply add a dash of pepper.
  • Dining Zone: This space is designated for eating, and centers around your table or breakfast bar. Keep silverware, plates, bowl, glasses and napkins nearby you’re able to sit down and enjoy each bite without having to get up mid-meal for something you’ve forgotten. Try designating a specific area for dining that is as far away from the food prep area as possible, so you’re able to sit down and enjoy each bite. This allows you to take your time eating, and helps avoid the temptation of second servings. Include a source for soft music in your dining area – it’s a great way to slow down, relax, and enjoy the meal so you’re not racing through and overeating.
  • Storage Zone: Keep your food storage containers and wraps in one area near your sink where you’ll be emptying dishes at the end of the night.
  • Bill & Mail Center: Create an “in” box for items you bring into the house that don’t have anything to do with food. Choose a location away from the center of the kitchen, to keep the space clean and not contaminate food as you prep. Include pens, stamps, sticky-notes, etc. to make it simple to process the paper items and move them on to their next step. Place magazines immediately into a magazine bin so they’re available for reading right away. Sometimes we don’t get back to the mail pile for a while, and magazines can stack up quickly.

These are just a few simple ideas to organize the zones in your kitchen to make it more functional and supportive to your healthy lifestyle. Different households use their kitchens differently, and we all have different interests or time available for cooking and making meals. Create the appropriate zones that really work best for you and your lifestyle. Recognize the top 2-3 zones you might use most often in your kitchen and start there.

Do Detox Diets Work?

By Lindsay Watkins, RD, CLC, Take Control Health Coach


This time of year, I’m sure you’ve been hearing about friends or family who are doing a cleanse or detox diet. Here’s a run-down of a few of the most popular ones and a dietitian’s take on whether they are healthy or worth it.

 Isagenix 9 day Deep Cleansing and Fat Burning System

Claims – Accelerated weight loss and cleansing. Average weight loss of 7 lbs. in 9 days.  You may experience: greater energy, weight loss boost, improved muscle tone, balanced digestion, and reduced cravings.

What it entails – Two “Cleanse days” which consists of supplements and very few calories. This is followed by 5 “Shake Days” where you consume 2 protein shakes and 1, 400-600 calorie meal in addition to a variety of supplements. You finish the program with 2 more “Cleanse Days.” A 9-day supply is costs ~$200

Dietitian’s Take – You will probably lose weight on this cleanse. It is low calorie and low carb. Your body holds on to 3 grams of water for every 1 gram of carbohydrate you eat so as you eat less carbs your body will get rid of excess water. You may also lose a couple pounds from the calorie restriction.

Bottom Line – Save your money, you’ll probably gain the weight back as your return to your regular diet.


Juice Cleanse

Claims – Jump start your weight loss, increase energy, decrease your appetite, heal your gut, and detox your liver.

What it entails – Consuming only fruit and vegetable juice for anywhere from 3-5 days, sometimes longer.

Dietitian’s Take – You will probably lose some weight on a juice cleanse, and you may feel good and less bloated once you complete it. However, there is no protein or fat on a juice cleanse, and can therefore be dangerous – especially if done for longer than 3-5 days. You also may feel dizzy, have low energy, and have blood sugar spikes from the high sugar juices.

Bottom Line: Skip juice cleanses but feel free to incorporate fresh fruit and veggie juices into your healthy diet a few times a week if you enjoy them.


Whole 30

Claims – Eliminating certain foods from your diet will give you more energy, help you lose weight, and cure just about any ailment – digestive issues, aches and pains, fertility issues, and more.

What it entails – Avoiding processed foods, legumes, grains, sugar, and alcohol. You’ll eat fresh fruits and veggies, meats, seafood, healthy oils, potatoes, nuts, clarified butter, and vinegar.

Dietitian’s Take – The great thing about this plan is that it emphasizes real foods and avoids sugar and processed foods. It does eliminate complete food groups like dairy, whole grains, and legumes, but overall it’s a balanced clean plan with plenty of calories.

Bottom Line:  Most people lose weight during the 30 days and report feeling better, though I’m not convinced it will cure infertility or your bad back. Give it a try if you’re looking to eliminate sugar and processed foods from your diet.


How the Body Naturally Detoxifies

Your body doesn’t need a strict diet or a slew of supplements to remove toxins. Detoxification is a process that the body performs around the clock using nutrients from the diet. The liver, kidneys, intestines, and even the skin are involved in the detoxing process. While a juice cleanse or expensive cocktail of supplements won’t rid your body of all its toxins, there are things you can do to support your body’s natural detoxification process.

Ways to Support Your Body’s Natural Detoxification Process

  • Drink plenty of plain clean water.
  • Eat five to nine servings of fruit and vegetables per day.
  • Consume enough fiber each day from vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
  • Eat cruciferous vegetables, berries, artichokes, garlic, onions, leeks, turmeric and milk thistle, and drink green tea. These foods support detoxification pathways.
  • Consume adequate protein, which is critical to maintaining optimum levels of glutathione, the body’s master detoxification enzyme.
  • Eat naturally fermented foods such as kefir, yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut — or take a probiotic — to help the body manage toxins from microbes that live in the gut.
  • Maintain bowel regularity.



Put Your Best Fork Forward – National Nutrition Month®

By Take Control Health Coaches

March is National Nutrition Month®, and this year the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics chose the theme “Put Your Best Fork Forward” which acts as a reminder that each bite counts.

Consider looking at your fork in a new light. Instead of just a vehicle to get food to your mouth without getting your hands dirty, think of it as an asset to keep you moving forward towards a healthy lifestyle. Tackling your nutrition goals one small bite at a time will add up to long term results that last a lifetime, as opposed to radical fad diets that often lead to a return to our old habits once the diet is over.

  • Use your fork to help you make a small change this month!
  • Set your fork down in between bites to help you slow down and cue into your satiety.
  • Dip your fork into high calorie dressing and sauces as opposed to dumping them on your food.
  • Use a fork (or spoon!) to enjoy a healthy, protein rich breakfast each morning.
  • Use an appetizer fork, or small fork, to take smaller bites.
  • Commit to using a real plate and fork for each meal and eat free of distractions – sit at a table, enjoy each bite, and pay attention to your fullness, stop before you are full.
  • Focus on only putting foods on your fork that provide you with energy and make your body feel good.
  • Use your fork to try a new recipe each week. Variety keeps you excited about eating healthy.

Whether you use a fork or spoon, plate or bowl, focus on fruits, veggies, beans, whole grains, and lean protein. Be mindful as you take each bite, enjoy the food free of distractions and really tune into your hunger and fullness cues. Make sure you ask yourself with each bite – what does this do for me? Does it give you vitamins or minerals? Keep you full and satisfied? Give you energy? Satisfy a craving? Provide healthy fats? Don’t forget about taste too! Each bite is an opportunity or chance to keep moving forward toward your goals. So make today your best bite yet.

Key Nutrients During Pregnancy: Vitamin D and DHA

By Lindsay Watkins, RD, CLC, Take Control Health Coach

Vitamin D and DHA play a key role in everyone’s health. However, during pregnancy it is especially important to ensure you are getting enough of these nutrients for you and baby.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a key role in bone and teeth development in the growing fetus. Not only is it important for the baby, but it’s also thought the help reduce the mother’s risk for some cancers, autoimmune diseases, Type I diabetes, and heart disease. The growing fetus takes vitamin D directly from mother’s stored vitamin D, so it is especially important for mothers to have adequate blood levels upon becoming pregnant.

Vitamin D, also called “the sunshine vitamin” can be made when the skin is exposed to UV rays. It is naturally occurring in only a few foods such as fatty fish, liver, and egg yolks, and also found in fortified milk and a growing number of other fortified foods and drinks.

While the recommended intake for pregnancy and non-pregnancy is only 600 IU, the average prenatal vitamin only contains 400 IU. Most experts even recommend much more than 600 IU, especially if you are deficient. Risk factors for vitamin D deficiency include being overweight or obese, are vegan (or don’t consume dairy), live at latitudes north of Atlanta, Georgia, have dark skin, or don’t spend a lot of time outdoors. Talk with your doctor to find out if you need extra vitamin D during your pregnancy.

Good Sources of Vitamin D – Fatty fish, dairy products, fortified foods



Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a major structural fat in the human brain and eyes, representing about 97% of all omega-3 fats in the brain, and 93% of all omega-3 fats in the eye. DHA is essential for brain development and vision, especially during the third trimester, and up to 18 months old. It also may possibly lower the risk of pre-term labor, low birth weight, and the risk of depression for the mother.

Many people think that flax seed or flax seed oil and walnuts contain omega-3s. While these foods do contain omega-3 fatty acids, it is the shorter-chain omega-3, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is different from the longer-chain DHA. While ALA’s are still beneficial, DHA is the main omega-3 that the body needs for optimal health and development during pregnancy. While it was once thought that the human body could convert ALA to DHA, current research shows that this conversion occurs rarely and inefficiently. Fish oil is the most reliable source of DHA.

If you don’t eat fatty fish regularly (2x/week) you may need some extra DHA during your pregnancy. The American Pregnancy Association recommends an intake of at least 300 mg per day, and generally recommends a supplement that contains at least 200 mg of DHA. Some prenatal vitamins contain DHA, so check your label and talk to your doctor at your next appointment. If you decide to take a DHA supplement, choose one that is specially formulated for pregnancy. Be careful to avoid fish liver oils, as they contain high doses of vitamin A, which can be harmful to the unborn baby.

Good Sources of DHA
Cold water fish: salmon, anchovies, herring, tuna
– Salmon – 400-700 mg per 3 oz
– Canned light tuna – 190 mg per 3 oz.
– Fortified eggs – 80-200 mg
– Small amounts are found in egg yolks, poultry, and nuts

Chocolate and Red Wine — Benefit or Not?

By Alicia Kaluza, MS, RD, LN Take Control Health Coach

With Valentine’s Day this week you might be thinking about wine and chocolate. Recent news stories have reported that drinking red wine can be good for you. Other stories report that dark chocolate is good for you. But is this really true?

Both red wine and dark chocolate contain antioxidants, which is where the benefits are believed to come from. What we don’t often hear is that if you consume too much of either, the benefit is negated by the other components of these items.

For example, red wine contains an antioxidant called resveratrol. Other foods with similar antioxidants include blueberries and cranberries. Scientists have found that these antioxidants may help increase HDL cholesterol levels, prevent cholesterol build-up, and reduce inflammation. However, research also shows that certain levels of alcohol cancel out the positive benefit of the antioxidants in red wine.

So how do you get the benefit of drinking red wine? Moderation. An occasional glass is okay. More than that on a regular basis, and not only is the benefit gone, but it can become a poor choice for your health.

How about dark chocolate? Dark chocolate is also rich in anti-oxidants including polyphenols and flavonols. Milk chocolate has some anti-oxidants, but not as much as dark chocolate. Milk chocolate contains more fat, so typically dark chocolate is recommended as a healthier option. Research has shown that the anti-oxidants in dark chocolate have small, but significant impacts on decreasing blood pressure, increasing HDL cholesterol, and decreased overall cardiovascular risk. A lot of research shows positive health impacts from cocoa, but consuming excessive amounts on a daily basis will lead to excess calories and potentially, weight gain, which would create a negative impact on heart health.

As with wine, enjoy dark chocolate in moderation. When choosing dark chocolate, look for products with a higher cocoa content. The darker the better — greater than 60% cocoa is a good aim. Read the ingredients list, and watch out for partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated fats. Finally, limit yourself to a one-ounce serving per day; or 7 ounces total for the week.

Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to indulge in a little dark chocolate and red wine – or whatever treat is your favorite. Moderation is the key to enjoying life and good health.

Fats: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

In our prior post, we told you about The Importance of Fat in Your Diet. Here is a great chart by the American Heart Association that lists the good fats — and the bad and the ugly. You can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke by choosing good fats that lower your LDL cholesterol, and avoid saturated fats, and trans fats, which raise your blood cholesterol level.

The easiest way to track your fat and other nutrients is to use a food diary to keep track of what you eat for a period of time. We recommend My Fitness Pal, My Food Diary,  or SparkPeople.

Click image to enlarge.