Love Your Food

A great explanation of why healthy eating can be a struggle and a comparison to other battles and addictions.

Matt Wilson Personal Training


You can quit smoking.

You can quit pharmaceuticals.

You can quit drinking alcohol.

You can quit being a couch potato.

You can quit not running.

You can quit not exercising.


Wanna know what you can’t quit?


You can’t quit food.

All of the unhealthful habits above, you can quit.  In fact, you can quit them cold turkey.  Sure, there will be withdrawals and aches and pains, but stay the course and you come out on the other side.

What happens if you quit eating?

You die.

This is one of the reasons so many people have a hard time with their weight.  Their addiction is not something that they can just quit, cold turkey or otherwise.  Unfortunately, through a chain of events that may or may not be of their own making, poor eating habits have developed and the physiology, chemistry and physical make up of their bodies…

View original post 417 more words

Redefining Beauty with Selfies

I wish more girls and their mothers had the opportunity to participate in this Selfie Transformation. Thank you Dove for redefining beauty!

Yes, Chef

By: Nikki Nies Samuelsson_Yes-Chef_pb

I can’t get over how much I enjoyed the Yes, Chef memoir, retelling Marcus Samuelsson’s journey from an Ethiopian orphan to acclimating to life in Sweden and his culinary experiences and eagerness to learn from the best.  The best part was that it wasn’t at all what I was expecting to read.  Besides seeing advertisements for ABC’s The Taste, I’ve only seen Samuelsson’s face a handful of times. In his memoir, Yes, Chef Samuelsson artfully describes how his work ethic and dreams for greatness led him to his current status as an internationally acclaimed chef. While reading his memoir, I jotted down some lessons and themes that were reiterated several times.

While my notes reflect implementation into the culinary and dietetic world, all industries are competitive and the points can applied to any part of life. Points I learned:

  • Don’t forget your roots: Your youth and environment play an influential role in who you are, what interests you have and can interestingly be weaved into your career; while ethnically Ethiopian, he has learned an equal amount of knowledge on Swiss, French and Swedish cuisine; don’t forget those supporting you along your journey and lean on them to stay grounded
  • If your initial plan has a dead end, find a new road: Samuelsson grew up playing soccer with his good friend Mats, dreaming to play professional together one day.  While Mats had the physique to become a stellar professional soccer player, Samuelsson didn’t make the professional league.  Since cooking with his grandmother had always been a favorite past time, not a chore, it was only natural for Samuelsson to dive into that interest when soccer star chances concluded.
  • Passion trumps any work: It was clear Samuelsson was passionate about cooking from a young age and would do anything to get into the kitchen, learning everything and everything.  When he initially started out he was in charge of keeping the fish stocked and cleaned.  While not the best smelling job, with time he learned how to get his job done in the half the time he initially started out with, being able to watch and learn from the chefs he aspired to be.
  • Arriving early and leaving late: Not only would be scribble down the menus and not leave the kitchen until it was immaculately cleaned, taking the initiative to learn from the best can go a long way.  He stayed humble with his craft, knowing that learning from watching and hands on practice would give him more skills
  • Find mentors: Being an Ethiopian, dark-skinned, lanky man in the Swedish, French and Swiss community had its discrimination, but those barriers didn’t allow Marcus to give up on his dream.  Everywhere he went, he wasn’t afraid to ask questions, to learn all he could and perfect his craft from any one willing to teach.  Trust me, any where you go, if you look hard enough, you’ll find someone who wants to share their passion with you.
  • Catering to your audience: While in Switzerland, Samuelsson worked in a kitchen with a brash culinary genius, Stocker.  While abrasive behind the scenes Stocker knew keeping your clients in mind is key to maintaining a business and widening one’s skill level

[Stocker]…took a real interest in the international travelers who made up more than 80 percent  f the hotel’s guests, and he would tweak the menu accordingly.  On a week when we had several Arab parties coming in, he would tone down the pork entrees and amp up the vegetables and fish.  When a group wealthy Japanese people came in for a week of skiing, lots of sticky rice and exotic mushrooms suddenly appeared on the menu…our guest population was not homogenous and we did our job well not only when they were happy with what they had ordered…we had the experience and ingenuity to figure out what the guests might want, before they knew they wanted it (Samuelsson).

  • Success doesn’t happen overnight or by default:Samuelsson started cooking at a young age, like a sponge, soaking up all the knowledge and skills he needed to get him to where he is today
  • Have the right tools at your disposal: Samuelsson’s first chef knife given to him by his 2 sisters, Anne and Fantaye, is still one of his cherished gifts and tools; the right tools provide you confidence in honing your craft
  • If you want to work at a specific company: Find your niche and sell your own brand; i.e. if you want to become a RD in a specific restaurant chain, explain how financially you can save the company money by buying fresh and staying “current” on dietary trends, catering to more people’s interests in enjoying a great meal, while being promised quality ingredients
  • The importance of a RD in the restaurant setting:  Samuelsson’s first encounter with a RD, Margrit, helped him understand how to respect guests with dietary needs and for chefs to be smart businessman; helped tweak meals to accommodate allergies and offer heart healthy entrees; ability to work in food service, while maintaining respect in the kitchen
  • Learn from the best to be the best: While applying for jobs, he only applied to restaurants that had received 3 stars or more.  While some might say, “beggars can’t be choosers”, and I’m one of them, Samuelsson wanted to learn only from top quality professionals.
  • Focus on what you can control, not what you can’t: While Samuelsson faced a lot of adversity due to the color of his skin, he didn’t allow that to deter his dreams; at first it was hard navigating the culinary world, not having many African American role models to turn too, but having a good work ethic is crucial in any industry, when you’re facing adversity, showing you can keep up can make or break your chances of getting to where you want to go; if you don’t get the first job you apply for, move on, the right job will come if you perservere
  • Constantly evolving: Samuelsson mentality of constant improvement was evident in his approach to jobs.  Whenever he was offered a job, he saw that as his endgame, where he had learned all he could at the current restaurant or facility.  He was hungry for knowledge and saw a job offer as his time to move onto a new learning environment

No matter what your career goals or interests are, we all have them, assess what you’re doing this very moment to get to where you want to be.  While Samuelsson’s path to success was in the culinary world, his attitude and passion can be utilized in any industry.  Thank you Samuelsson for sharing your story! Source:

Cooking for Diabetic Guests

Thanks Sugarfree Sweetheart for these insightful tips on how to meal plan for diabetic guests!

Sugarfree Sweetheart

OK, you know the theory behind the diabetic diet and eating healthy. So, what do you do when you have a diabetic guest coming over?

Here are some quick and easy tips for Cooking for Diabetic Guests!


What to Cook?

  • Make at least one dish with vegetables. It could be the main dish, a side dish, a salad, or just some roasted vegetables. Just avoid the starchy veggies (potato, yam, etc) for this dish.
  • Make at least one dish with a healthy protein. It helps to know what your guest can eat in terms of protein and of course, it also depends on what you can cook with! If you are unsure of their requirements, try to include a variety of sources.
  • Choose good carbs – whole grains or whole grain flours or vegetables. You could serve sweet potatoes, cauliflower “rice”, brown rice, quinoa, whole-wheat rotis, mixed grain…

View original post 416 more words

Barriers to Change

By: Nikki Nies

How’re your New Year’s resolutions coming along?   Do you remember what you initially sought out to improve on?   If you’re still carrying out your New Year’s resolution, that’s great! If not, having the goal to be the healthiest version of yourself is not a bad goal to have either.

Constant improvement of oneself is a great goal to have.  While people often put health professionals on a pedestal of health.  We all have traits and goals we can work on.   I’ve been thinking about what I want to improve on and publicly admitting makes one more accountable for said goals.

First, I know I drink an extensive extra amount of coffee than the recommended 3 cups maximum per day.  While other portion servings are more valid, my concept of a portion of coffee is skewed.  I don’t think coffee should be served in anything than less than 16 oz, but preferably closer to 24 oz.  While, I’ve cut out a lot of sweets (i.e. ice cream, cookies) in my regular diet due to my weekly grocery budget, I still use sugar in my coffee.  I don’t feel as guilty about the sugar packet I add to my coffee,  but I know if I drank it black, the coffee wouldn’t be a problem.

I know if it was a life or death matter, I could give up coffee, but it’s become like a third arm to me, it’s like drinking water in the morning.  I fully recognize that I have a slight coffee addiction, but am nowhere means willing to decrease to the intended 6 oz. servings.  Perhaps, when I’m done with dietetic internship? Probably, not.

However, there’s another part of my life I know I need to make better efforts.  While this blog emphasizes nutrition’s role in good health, exercise is an equally important part of the equation.  While I see myself as an active person, I definitely don’t get the recommended minutes of  daily physical activity.

We all need to acknowledge the mental barriers that impair our ability to keep our healthy routines.  What goals do you want to achieve and what’s in your way?

For me, I’m not a morning person.  Studies have shown starting your day with time at the gym or at home exercise can be a great kick off to the rest of the day.  I’ve been seen to go to the gym at 10PM and obviously it gives me an adrenaline rush.  Also, if you’re not completely committed to a new change, it’s so easy to talk yourself out of plans.  I’ve rescinded using my apartment’s elevator and only use the stairs.  I convince myself this is an adequate substitute of daily exercise, however, we all know it’s not.

Being held accountable to stick to a new goal can help remove barriers to change.  I’m heading to the gym tomorrow with my roommate.  Honestly, I wasn’t intending to go to the gym tomorrow, but since she asked me to accompany her, I know this is the time to seize a new healthy exercise routine.

Join me in living a more permanent healthy lifestyle and don’t allow those barriers inhibit your chance at reaching your goals.  Let’s do it!

Binge Eating


By: Nikki Nies

Every one loves a good meal, right? What’s the last meal you couldn’t resist taking another bite even though your body was telling you that it was full?  For me, it was the pasta I had last night.  From time to time, it’s natural to overeat, yet, for some, over eating occurs more often than “from time to time.” Binge eating is described as compulsive overeating and is a common outlet for stress and undealed emotions.

A binge can last from a couple hours into a multiple day feast.   The worse one feels about themselves, the more often and longer the binge.   Common features include feeling distressed after a binge and no attempts to “make up” for the binge (i.e. no vomiting, over exercising).  Often times, binge eaters see themselves in a hamster wheel cycle, where they see they have a problem, but don’t know how to go about stopping regular bingeing. Common cycle: eating to feel better, feeling even worse, and then turning back to food for relief.

Symptoms often arise during adolescence or into early adulthood and may include:

  • Eating even when full
  • Hiding or stockpiling food to eat later
  • Eating normal amount with others, but gorging alone
  • Inability to control portions when around food
  • Eating throughout the day without any consistent meal times
  • Rapidly eating large amounts of food
  • When stressed, eating is only thing to calm you down
  • Embarrassed by how much you have eaten
  • Never feeling satisfied from a meal
  • Feeling disgusted, depressed or dejected after a meal
  • Desperate to stop over eating and/or control eating habits
  • Feel numb when bingeing
  • Feeling isolated and having a hard time articulating feelings
  • Frequently dieting without noticeable weight loss

Those that binge eat can cause additional health risks and often leads to obesity.  Medical complications that can ensue include type 2 diabetes, gallbladder disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, joint and muscle pain, menstrual problems, gastrointestinal problems and/or cancer.

Unlike other addictions, one needs food to survive.  The challenge is to not eat to cope with one’s emotions, but to eat for health and nutrition.  By creating meal plans and being prepared how to order when dining out, can be a proactive approach to healthier eating.
Here are some friendly suggestions to help you on your journey to healthier eating:

  1. Find alternative outlet to relieve stress: i.e. exercising, meditating, listening to music and/or relation and simple breathing techniques
  2. Eat 3 meals a day+ healthy snacks: Starts your metabolism with best foot forward with breakfast; schedule meal time to prevent skipping meals and overeating later in the day
  3. Remove temptation: By removing tempting foods in your cupboards, fridge and pantry will decrease your chances of overeating; don’t buy in bulk if that’s going to make it harder for you to resist large amounts of food
  4. Stay connected: Lean on friends and family for times when you’re feeling blue
  5. Exercise: Is a great addition to healthy eating and can improve one’s mood
  6. Keep a food diary: Writing down what you eat will help you see trends in when you’re more likely to binge and helps hold you more accountable for what you’re eating
  7. Fight boredom: Often times, we eat as something to “do.”  Instead, get out of the house and take a walk, call a friend or catch up on some reading.

We all can use a refresher course on what to eat.  Working with a team of health professionals can provide you with the support and guidance you may need.  Search online for local support groups as well. If you’re a recovering over eater, what tips have helped you?


“Allergies”: The New Wave of Eating Disorders


By: Nikki Nies

**Disclaimer: The following post is by no means disregarding the very real ubiquitous nature of allergies and eating disorders.  While I try to write a variety of topics, the point of this post was to other more aware of “new trends” and the unfortunate concept of masking an eating disorder with a default allergy. As with all posts, my intention is to encourage healthier behaviors.  If you do decide to read the following post, please read with a grain of salt.**

There isn’t much scientific research explaining the mechanisms behind the possible link between declaring one has an allergy to a particular food or food group, when in fact it’s masking a more serious condition.  An eating disorder.  There’s a new wave of bloggers and speakers, sharing their story on how they were able to successfully disguise their restrictive eating with the claims of allergies.  General practitioners have seen an increase in patients declaring a food allergy after watching a celebrity share his or her success with his or her own said allergy.  However, the practitioners said 94% of patients didn’t know the difference between an allergy and an intolerance and allergies impacting only 25% of patients.

photo-12While allergies are a very serious, life long modifier, today we’re talking about the pseudo allergies and underlying reasonings.  With so much focus on outward appearance and diet tips that fail to deliver what’s promised, one can see how easily it is to become determined to mimic the “perfect” persona our society dictates is the only accepting method in society.

People are less judgemental regarding allergies to not eating cheese than stating one’s not eating cheese cause of the extra weight it may put on.  People don’t argue with declarations of being lactose intolerant or going vegetarian.  While not all vegetarians have eating disorders, there’s a history of using vegetarianism for  weight loss and restrictive eating.

Often times, restrictive starts out as an experiment, seeing if one can live without gluten or stating ethical reasons for not eating meat.  When someone sees a new eating pattern helps shed off the pounds, it only fuels the continuation of a certain eating pattern.

Friends and family need to look out for loved ones and be aware of any recent changes to behavior.  Keep in mind these 6 tips that may signal an eating disorder:

  • Withdrawal or change in physical activity–becoming weaker and tired more quickly and/or often
  • Listen to what’s being said: Are more negative comments being stated? How does the person describe him or herself?
  • If it’s a family member, schedule regular meals and a sit down dinner when possible: When there’s no structure of eating, it’s easy for people to “fall through the crack” and not eat; making family bonding is also an important part of human development and a sense of security
  • Notice changes in food restrictions: i.e. won’t eat bread anymore; a sudden interest in cooking and/or preparing own meals
  • Go off instincts: If you feel there’s been a change, but not sure specifically what, follow up on your hunches
  • Try to engage loved ones in how he or she feels instead of assuming; provide an open dialog to increase comfortably and a sense of security

Seeing your primary care physician if you suspect a food intolerance or allergy is highly advised.  Before jumping to conclusions about what you can and can’t eat, getting tests done can calm any concerns you have.

Finding help for those with eating disorders is crucial, it’s important to know the family doesn’t have to do it alone.  More often than not, an eating disorder has nothing to do with food, but restrictive eating is a way to gain back control that someone feels has been lost in another area of life.  Keeping in mind your own daily eating habits and signs of an eating disorder for loved ones can better ensure treatment can be provided.


Orthorexia and Restrictive Eating Disorder

Bringing it Back to YOU!

By: Nikki Nies

The intention of this blog is to provide awareness about anything and everything related to nutrition and food.  While I do write about topics that interest me, this blog is not self-serving.  I want to ensure I’m catering to readers’ interests as well.    Please let me know if you have a particular topic of interest you would find interesting to read about and/or you would like me to do private research for you.

I hope the information I’ve provided in the last year have been beneficial in some capacity and I’ve grateful for the continued support and interest.

Feel free to contact me personally at for any questions or comments.  Thank you!