Healthy vs. Attractive Weight

By: Nikki Nies

Depending on one’s cultural and personal views, the perception of what’s healthy and attractive can or can not be synonymous. By medical standards, many Americans meet the criteria of overweight to obese.  Yet, critics of the BMI measurement state it is not always an accurate measurement of healthy and/or attractiveness.

A lot of critics suggest the lack of adequate nutrition in the Western diet has led to the current obesity epidemic, yet it seems some people are comfortable or sometimes prefer extra cushion or being “thick.”

Original Image by Kiran Foster via Flickr
Original Image by Kiran Foster via Flickr

A healthy lifestyle is subjective, but a standard measurement is how one’s lifestyle is linked to overall nutrition, obesity, physical activity and one’s risk for chronic diseases–heart disease, diabetes and cancer.  When looking at lifestyles, one’s cultural specificities of how food and fat operate in body according to class, gender and ethnicity, need to be evaluated as well. A study led by Lovejoy et al., 2001, found Black women tend to be more satisfied with their weight, size and appearance than their white counterparts.  A possible explanation for this difference may be the “afrocentric aesthetic”, which may allow blacks to resist mainstream beauty and that black men prefer larger women than white.

Healthy eating has been criticized due to the limiting consideration of food practices and has negatively played a role in the addition  of dieting.I’m not sure when the loathing of fat was introduced in American society, but it has had a double edged sword.  Being healthy promotes a healthy weight, but often times it’s mistaken as an attractive weight, yet healthy and attractive weight are not always the same thing.

With the cultural pressure to meet and remain a smaller size, it has led to body distortion, eating disorders and/or poor body image and self esteem.

Modern media has dictated what an attractive weight is, which isn’t always realistic.  “Penalities”for being overweight or obese is less severe for black women than white. While a person’s weight is part of the assessment of one’s physical appearance, it’s unfortunate that in our society so much emphasis and acknowledgement of weight is part of mainstream news and attention.  Physical attractiveness has been noted to help one’s prospects in the labor markets, in romantic relationships and throughout various face to face social interactions.

Although discrimination against weight can’t always be proved, it’s been widely scrutinized as responsible for social exclusion, public ridicule and the development of depression and/or isolation.


  1. Ali M, Rizzo J, Heiland F. Big and beautiful? Evidence of racial differences in the perceived attractiveness of obese females. Journal Of Adolescence [serial online]. June 2013;36(3):539-549. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed May 26, 2014.
  2. Kokkinos P. Nutrition and exercise: The safest way to health. Hellenic Journal Of Nutrition & Dietetics [serial online]. January 2011;2(1):19-22. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed May 26, 2014.
  5. Ristovski-Slijepcevic S, Bell K, Chapman G, Beagan B. Being ‘thick’ indicates you are eating, you are healthy and you have an attractive body shape: Perspectives on fatness and food choice amongst Black and White men and women in Canada. Health Sociology Review[serial online]. September 2010;19(3):317-329. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed May 26, 2014.

Fed Up

By: Nikki Nies

FEDUP-Poster2Fed Up is a movie created by producer Laurie David, director by  Stephanie Soechtig and advertised by Katie Couric.  This film promotes its unveiling of information regarding food and exercise and that all you’ve learned in the past 30 years is wrong.

Join in the Fed Up Challenge, which is a pledge to go 10 days sugar free. In addition to joining the challenge, it provides resources and the chance to win prizes.  By eliminating soda, artificial sweeteners, sugar subsititutes, sugared candy and sugar sweetened beverages, you can swap for fresh, whole fruit.  Be aware that hidden sources of sugar can be found in yogurt, canned foods, spaghetti sauce, ketchup and/or energy bars.

While this challenge may sound daunting, there’s a community of over 200,000 others committed to this pledge, so join in!

Check out where it’s playing near you.

I personally haven’t seen this movie yet, but it’s getting a lot of buzz and even if you don’t agree with what’s portrayed in this movie, it’s important to know what others are promoting and what is being advertised to the general public.  While I’m happy to see nutrition and a breakdown of the health crisis facing Americans, there’s one missing piece to this project.  Where’s the credible RD in this picture?  I don’t see one in the mix of Katie, Laurie and Stephanie.  I’m disappointed to not see the nation’s leading nutrition experts not in on this ground breaking challenge and movie.

Too bad, I’m not in NJ anymore, otherwise, I’d be at the theatre tonight.  For any one who plans to see or has seen it, what’re your thoughts on Fed Up?

Sources: Fed Up

The Promotion Towards Real Food

By: Nikki Nies

The older adult population, geriatrics are still very alive, kicking and screaming.  Many use nutrition supplements, such as Ensure and Boost,  have become ubiquitous in the geriatric environment.  These supplements are a great resource for those losing weight and/or wanting to support current weight.

However, in the American Geriatric Society’s latest Choosing Wisely recommendations,  they advise against use of such products. The organization points out that these drinks are composed of mostly water, sugar–in the form of “liquid candy”, oils, proteins and flavorings.

1 8 oz. bottle of Rich Chocolate Boost contains 10 g of protein, 28 g of sugar and 0 g of fiber. While it can be a great source of needed calories and nutrition for: ensure-boost-400x400

  • Malnourished
  • Status post bariatric surgery
  • Those with head, neck or esophageal cancer
  • Very sick
  • Those in the hospital

many are using these nutrition supplements that aren’t in dire need. For example, if one is limiting his or her food intake due to impaired mobility, inability to use utensil, chewing or swallowing difficulty, having to be on a low salt diet, but finds it unappetizing, a nutrition drink is not the suggested route of nutrition.

I understand each situation is individualized, yet when possible, promoting nutrition through real, fresh food, that’s the route that should be touted, not Ensure or Boost.  Perhaps, a more liberalized diet is needed, providing a dietary aid to help with feeding and/or taking into consideration food preferences with specific dietary restrictions.

Also, please be mindful that these nutrition supplements were intended to be used as a meal replacement, not in addition to meals. If supplements+same amount of meals consumed prior to supplement continues with supplements=excess calories, protein and weight.

I’m a fan of nutrition supplements, having seen the positive impact first hand.  However, these drinks are designed for specific populations at risk, as stated above.  If you encounter weight loss yourself, make an appointment with your primary care physician.  Please don’t grab the Ensure or Boost on your next grocery run, you may not even need it!


Safe Grilling Tips!

By: Nikki Nies

With Memorial Day Weekend behind us, for many, the start of summer has finally arrived! Depending on your own customs and traditions, your summer activities may vary, but bet you may encounter at least one or two BBQ or cook outs.  Such activities provide a relaxing atmosphere and an easier way to entertain people.  However, grilling does take a certain amount of practice and safety.

Image provided by Flickr user woodleywonderworks

I’m currently visiting my parents in GA and they mentioned how a small mistake at the grill led to large consequences. One of the neighbors had lit a  fire to the grill. He left the grill unattended for a quick minute to grab a hamburger patty.  During winter, there’s shut off valves for the house, evidently they had not been turned back on since last year.  When he tried to hose the fire down, he couldn’t and it spread, causing the grass to burn and caused smoke to enter house–drapery and carpet had to be cleaned.

You may be saying, “…well that wouldn’t happen to me”, but there may be other safety tips you haven’t thought about.

Helpful suggestions:

  • Prior to grilling, scrub grill down with hot, soapy water
  • Use in well ventilated area: keep grill away from deck railings, buildings, dry leaves, bushes and/or combustible surfaces. Be aware of wind blown sparks
  • To avoid burns or splatters, use long tongs or spatulas
  • Once lit, never leave a grill unattended
  • Have a fire extinguisher handy.  If not available, have a bucket of sand or hose close by
  • Underneath your grill, use a splatter mat or grill pad to protect surrounding area from grease and/or you
  • Remove grease or fat from grill and/or in tray before grilling
  • Thaw frozen foods in microwave or fridge, not next to grill
  • Never use same brush to baste raw and cooked meat
  • Set out perishable foods in 1 hr. incremants
  • Check meat’s internal temperature:
    • Steak: 145°F (Allow to rest for 3 minutes before carving or consuming)
    • Hamburgers: 160°F
    • Chicken: 165°F

Again, grilling takes a certain amount of attention as tending a stove or oven in the house.  Make sure to keep these safe grilling tips on hands and enjoy this impending summer!


30th Annual SCAN Symposium


By: Nikki Nies

The Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition (SCAN) Symposium is open to one and all.  You don’t have to be a member to reap the benefits of the various speakers, exhibitions and tours on June 27-29th in Sawmill Creek Resort, Huron, OH.

Highlights: Presentations include everything from Dietary Supplement Use in Young Athletes: Risk Versus Reward by Tavis Piattoly, MS, RD, LDN to Muscle Dysmorphia: What Happens When Body Image Collides with Exercise, Nutrition,
and Substance Abuse? by David A. Wiss, MS, RDN, CPTSCAN2

Pricing: Prices vary depending on member status and if you decide to attend for one day or for the entire weekend.

Members of SCAN may be eligible to receive a 20% discount; AND members may be eligible for a 10% discount.  Check out other potential savings at

**There will be a $50 cancellation fee for any registrations made after May 10th, 2014.

Registration Deadline : 6/23/2014

Location: Sawmill Creek Resort

Check out the symposium’s brochure:

What’re you waiting for?  Register today!


Eat Drink Politics

edplogoBy: Nikki Nies

Eat Drink Politics bridges the gap between the nutrition and food industry and those involved in making laws and tactics that impact every one’s daily lives.

President Michele Simon, a public health lawyer, has researched and written on about food politics since 1996.In addition, with her riveting 2007 report on alcoholic energy drinks, it led to federal action to ban such products.  A master’s degree in public health from Yale University and a law degree from the University of California, Hastings, Simon is a great advocate for the healthy changes needed and now in the works in the U.S.

Check out further details on services provided, including: research and writing, policy analysis, speaking and/or litigation consulting.

Upcoming Events:

May 22: CropLife America National Policy Conference, Washington, DC
June 19: Museum of Food and Drink, New York City
September 3: Center for Alcohol Policy, Alcohol Law and Policy Conference,Chicago
September 18: Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference, San Diego

If interested, click on the above links for further information.  There’s an array of topics, yet equally riveting to take advantage of.  Eat Drink Politics has an impressive list of clients they’re currently working with, perhaps, you’ve seen their influence without even realizing it!


Special Milk Program (SMP)

By: Nikki NiesiStock_000013875524Small

While many parents and families may worry about vitamin D and/or calcium deficiency, the Special Milk Program is available to help those in need.  For those not familiar with this USDA program, it provides milk to children in schools, child care and/or camps that don’t participate in additional government funded meal programs.

In 2012, by reimbursing schools for the cost of milk, schools have been able to provide 3,647 schools and residential
child care institutions participated, along with 571 summer camps and 482 non‐residential child
care institutions.

Since the regular consumption of milk is important for growth and development, providing calcium, protein and vitamin A, the special milk program is great avenue to ensure children receive a portion of their recommended intake of dairy products.

Check out on their website.


“Hangry”-It’s Here & It Doesn’t Have To Be!

By:  Nikki Nies

We’ve all heard jokes about it, but studies are showing the term “hangry” is a very real, legitimate adjective. Think about the last conflict you may have had with your SO, friend, roommate and/or colleague.  And when was the last time you had eaten prior to the argument?  Not willing to admit you’re wrong? Blame it on being hangry! 734884

All jokes aside, a recent study led by Bushman et al., 2014, used voo doo dolls and glucometers.  The study found that those with lower glucose levels were more likely to stab the voo doo dolls with more pins.

When glucose levels are lower than normal, it can cause a higher intensity of anger and/or rage. Reduced blood sugar can lead lower self control, which is an integral part of maintaining good relationships.

How to limit your hangriness? Keeping small snacks on hand (i.e. granola bar, almonds) can help keep your relationships afloat without the unnecessary conflicts due to lack of food! Limiting your angry when your hungry is obviously the opposite of the overshadowed end of the spectrum, overeating.


Bushman, B. J., DeWall, C. N., Pond, R. S., & Hanus, M. D. (2014) Low glucose relates to greater aggression in married couples. PNAS.