More Breaks=More Productivity

By: Nikki Nies

A week ago, if you had asked me how I spend my lunch breaks, I’d be stammering to give you a ‘healthy ‘answer. Like many, I try to cram in as much as I can into the 8.5 hours I’m at work, meaning I often times sacrifice my lunch breaks to get work done while eating at my computer. However, starting tomorrow I will be leaving my office on lunch beyond the occasional run of errands that I can squeeze in. Why is that? My friend has Wednesdays off and wants to spend lunch time with me! How boring would it be to have her stare at my computer as well.

We all know it’s the small steps that make a difference. While there are no plans in the horizon for me to get a standing desk at work, that doesn’t mean I throw my hands up and don’t try to be more active and move every 30 minutes. With the Dallas, TX weather unbearable during the summer, we’ve all remained inside, however, that doesn’t mean I have to stay inside the same place.

Original Image by InterContinental Hong Kong via Flickr

While my friend is only going to be visiting me on Wednesdays, I’m using this small change as a way to catapult me, literally, out of my seat more often. Join me in being more active during your lunch break, such as:

  • Not compromising my break into 60 seconds of chowing down my food while talking with colleague about what assessment needs to be done or replying to emails that have flooded my inbox
  • Venturing to the break room or once it gets cooler out, outside for a meal
  • Take advantage of local fare and treat yourself, even if it’s once every two weeks to the new bistro down the street or stroll through a local farmer’s market on your break for the freshest produce available
  • We all have to eat, so once in a while, grab lunch with a colleague. You never know who you’ll meet, what you’ll learn or how you can help someone
  • While stepping away from computer screen is great first step, stepping away from phone, iPad and/or any other viewing device can be be helpful to giving your eyes a break
  • Volunteer at local soup kitchen and brighten someone’s day can be rejuvenating for yourself–win win!
  • Read a book for pleasure–you can read the self help or improvement books another time!

I’ll never forget the time a colleague was using another person’s computer and commented on how many foods crumbs were on the keyboard and started shaking it off. I vowed right then to NOT be the person in the office with a food festered keyboard. I can’t attest that has remained viable. Sometimes we just need an extra push and encouragement to start new minor healthier habit. I know I for sure do! We all want to be our best version of ourselves, so let’s be more proactive by taking more productive breaks!  Join me in making one small change today and share how it’s working!


Lifehack Your Lunch: 8 Scientifically Proven Ways to Maximize Your Mid-Day Break



Why I Won’t Restrict Myself to Just the Calorie Amount

Original Image by Foodfacts pm via Flickr

Just like judging someone’s capabilities based on appearance is limiting, judging the quality and nutrient richness of food based off just calories should be removed from our society. While a movement that removes prejudices and first impressions is slowly, but surely occurring, I’m sure I’ll have better luck explaining why I won’t restrict myself to reading just calories on foods.

Yes, I admit it, I can’t help, but look at the nutrition fact label! I pride myself in inputting my food intake into MyFitnessPal app for the last 55 consecutive days and have learned a lot! When eating fresh, whole foods doesn’t necessarily always come with a nutrition fact label, by inputting my recipes into MyFitnessPal and portioning out my meals, I’m more aware of how much calories, fat, sugar, sodium, carbohydrates and fiber I’m allotted per day.

If we’re being frank here, one of my biggest pet peeves is when restaurants advertise offering 500 calorie or less meal options, but then forget to acknowledge their dishes have more than the recommended daily sodium intake or have an astronomical amount of sugar! Yes, considering the amount of calories in dishes  is important, especially when dining out should be part of the deciding factor, it shouldn’t be the deal breaker.

Original Image by Anders Sandberg via Flickr

All of us have certain nutrients we’re more mindful of, for me, since tracking my food with MyFitnessPal, I’ve learned I need to be aware of my fat intake, specifically because I love nuts! For example, 1 ounce of nuts has 160 calories and 7 g protein, great right? Based on my height and weight, I should be consuming 43 g of fat per day. With just one ounce of peanuts, I’ve already used up 14 g! I’ve learned the hard way that while nuts are yummy, moderation is extremely necessary for me as I could mindlessly eat any and all kinds. If I want to add some nuts to my homemade parfait, that’s fine, but I can’t be eating more than an ounce a day, as I like variety like any one else.

I don’t want to get too hung up on numbers, but to remind you to look at the full picture. 7 g of protein for one ounce of anything is phenomenal, but what are you trading for that? Like a jigsaw puzzle, trying to find creative ways to enjoy food while staying within recommended limits can be a fun challenge.

Thankfully, the FDA has revamped the nutrition fact label to make it easier to discern the quality of food, specifically:

  • Better highlighting servings and calories in products with an updated design
  • Declaration of percent daily value and grams of ‘added sugars.’ It’s recommended one does not consume more than 10% of daily calories from added sugars, with the new labeling taking the guess work out of how much a product is contributing to daily amount
  • ‘Per serving’ and ‘per package’ provided for foods that can include multiple servings   (e.g. pint of ice cream) in ‘dual column’ format, with consumers better able to understand how many nutrients will be consumed if entire package/unit is eaten at one time
  • Improved abbreviated footnote of %Daily Value
  • For products between 1-2 servings (e.g. 20 oz soda), calories and nutrients will be labeled as one serving as most people consume at one time
  • Updated values (e.g. fiber, vitamin D and sodium) to be consistent with Institute of Medicine recommendations and 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines
  • Inclusion of iron, calcium, vitamin D and potassium in g and %DV form, with vitamin A and C no longer required to be included as deficiencies are rare.
  • ‘Calories from Fat’ will be removed, yet type of fat (e.g. saturated fat, trans fat) will be provided and is more important for consumers to understand the breakdown

When should you be expecting these changes you ask? Most manufacturers will be required to comply by July 26, 2018. What are you most looking forward to with the new nutrition fact labels? When choosing foods what is the deciding factor if it’s a no or go? Sodium? Sugar? Fat?


Take Advantage and Give Back Through DFW Restaurant Week

Original Image by iluvgadgets via Flickr


By: Nikki Nies

If you’re residing in the DFW metroplex, listen up! I know how much everyone loves to enjoy a relaxing meal, so why not take advantage of Restaurant Week, which is 8/15-8/21 and be benevolent as well? For every meal purchased, 20% of proceeds will be donated to North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) in the Dallas area and Lena Pope in Tarrant County.

More than 125 restaurants are participating in:

  • Preview Weekend – Aug. 12-14 – select restaurants
  • DFW Restaurant Week – Aug. 15-21 – many will extend through Aug. 28 or Sept. 4
  • Central Market Fourth Course Certificates – Spend $25 at local Central Markets and request a certificate for a FREE additional dinner course at participating restaurants!

 Check out the list of restaurants and start making reservations! I personally can’t wait to try Al Biernat’s, Abacus, and Eddie V’s Prime Seafood. With over $740,000 raised last year for NTFB and Lena Pope, let’s make every effort to reach 1 million! It’s very doable!

Even if you’re not in DFW, keep an eye out for your local restaurant week and/or suggest proceeds going to a worthy cause too!


Where I’ve Been and Where I Want To Be

Morning all! If you’ve been around the last few years of my blog, you’ll noticed I’ve been a bit MIA from We Dish Nutrition the last few months, which I apologize! Where have I been you ask? I’ve been adjusting to life: adapting to my new job as the long term care (LTC) dietitian at Christian Care Center (CCC), blogging for Kitchology,  struggling with my own weight issues, navigating where and what I want to do when I grow up, working on my own spiritual walk while trying to take advantage of living in the DFW metroplex.

There was a time when I was publishing blog posts daily, which looking back, was crazy! I don’t know how I did it, yet as I’m growing older and wiser, I’m recognizing the importance of quality posts that engage you. Therefore, going forward, I’m going to make every effort write consistently and share with you what I’ve been up to.

It’s hard to believe I’ve been working at Christian Care Center for 6 months, as time has flown by. My colleagues have been very kind, welcoming and have made the transition easy. My mentor, Jeanne Gay, MS, RD, LD has been an invaluable partner, showing me the ropes and giving her insight. She used to be the contract RD for this facility until I came on full time and I’m grateful for her patience with me. Coming from corporate nutrition, at Brinker International, has been a change! I have a better understanding of the terminology, protocols and methods for Medicare processes, how short life is–there’s been so many residents that have come for rehab that were fully functioning prior to admittance and then are needing 24 hour care. That is very humbling, while also getting a wake up call of how much such care is–for a good facility, no less than ~$70000/month!

I’m happy to say we’ve successfully passed state inspection earlier this month, without any nutrition or food deficiencies! During their inspection, state didn’t find any food complaints, which is a victory in itself! I am constantly trying to see how I can bring more awareness to the importance of healthy eating in the aging population, with the introduction of nutrition classes, taste testings and healthier food events. It’s not a coincidence that I landed a job at a LTC facility, learning what it really means to work with an established, equipped interdisciplinary team while discerning how I can increase morale in the kitchen and helping them realize how valuable they are to the matrix of care.

During my time at CCC, I’ve also struggled with my weight like never before. Having access to a plethora of food, which is unfortunately more processed than I’d desire has made it very easy and real for me to gain 20 pounds in the last 6 months. I’m not one to step on the scale, so the only reason I know about this particular weight gain was because I had to go for my annual check up and unfortunately my clothes haven’t been fitting me well. Again, it’s been a very humbling experience as I’ve never been on this end of the spectrum, always eating less and having my clothes too loose on me.

Of course, I can’t blame the food at CCC for my obvious weight gain, as I need and am taking ownership, but I’m learning I need to make a more concerted effort to be active. I’m not a morning person and the little voice in my head that tells me I’m too tired to work out after work often trumps my desire to get moving. I’ve been looking into taking salsa classes as I’ve been wanting to learn and it’s a great way to get moving without the mundaneness of going to a gym! So please keep an eye out for pictures of my next salsa class!

I’m proud to say I’ve tracking my food intake on MyFitnessPal for the past 46 days, which has opened my eyes to the breakdown of what really is in my food. I’m trying to be patient with myself, recognizing I didn’t gain the weight overnight, but I am determined to get back on track and the fact that I refuse to buy new clothes is an incentive too.

Original Image by David Lytle via Flickr

On top of getting more integrated into my social circle it seems like all we do is eat out. As a budget conscious gal, it’s been a challenge. However, it’s stretched me to think of creative ways bring people together beyond the local fast food chains (e.g. I’m looking forward to taking my friends to the farmer’s market tomorrow and seeing what fresh eats we can enjoy together).

There’s so much more I could share with you, but to not overwhelm you, I’ll wait until next time. The last year, July 2015 to now has been a time of transition and I’m just trying to figure it out for myself. Until next time, can you share with me some of your transformation and/or transition stories? I know we’re all just trying to make it!