Seventh Day Adventist’s Mindful Practices

Original Image by Bobbi Bowers via Flickr


By: Nikki Nies

While studying for my RD exam, I’ve come across and have been quizzed on various ethnic cultures and dietary restrictions. As you have seen, I’ve read more about dietary practices during the Lenten season and have delved further into what Kosher really means. Up until now, I’ve had a pretty good idea about what those dietary practices entailed, but the diet of Seventh Day Adventist is foreign to me. Do you feel the same way? Not quite sure what Seventh Day Adventist means?

Join me in the fun of learning all the details now! While the Seventh Day Adventist church promotes autonomy, the relationships in the church are meant to call one another higher, to live as positive examples of God’s love and devotion. In regards to diet and health, this means:

  • Gluttony and excess are to limited
  • The key to wellness is balance and temperance
  • Limit alcohol, tobacco and mind altering drugs, which can affect clear minds and wise choices
  • It’s believed a well balanced vegetarian diet that emphasizes legumes, whole grains, fruits, nuts, vegetables and sources of vitamin B12 will promote optimal health
  • Like the MyPlate guidelines, Adventists are advised to limit processed foods, sugar, sugar substitutes and food additives.

To remind you, a vegetarian diet has more benefits than the costs of the abstinence of meat. A vegetarian diet continues to provide evidence of lower risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes,obesity and/or high blood pressure.

Being vegetarian isn’t a requirement to be part of the Seventh Day Adventist church, yet many of the church go beyond the vegetarian diet,either eating raw foods or vegan. One of its founders, ellen White’s vision for the Seventh Day Adventist included eight principles for a healthy lifestyle: fresh air, sunshine, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, nutrition, water and trust in a divine power. The second part of the White’s vision included the establishment and devotion of health reform, health education and treating the ill in a new way.

As you can see, Seventh Day Adventist’s dietary practices are very similar to those of vegetarians, if not more strict. I’m proud to see the founder, White’s vision and principles for the church have been upheld since inception in the 1860s. For any of you that are practicing Seventh Day Adventist’s are there any key practices that I’ve missed? What personal practices do you follow in your daily life?


Total Diet Approach to Healthy Eating


Healthy Eating in College

eating_healthy_in_college1By: Nikki Nies

With the impending semester upon us, it’s never too early to talk about healthy dining on campus.  While freshmen are often times required to buy a meal plan with tuition, those living in nearby apartments or are juggling school and home responsibilities, the stress of school can quickly get to students.  Unfortunately, the first habit to go is eating healthy.  Yet, it doesn’t make sense to opt for cheesy fries that don’t have as much energy producing qualities as a strawberry banana smoothie when the time crunch is really being felt!

I admit, I find myself eating on the go more often than not, but that doesn’t mean I’m going through McDonald’s drive thru or grabbing a Hot Pocket out of the microwave on my way out! With careful planning before the work load gets into the “meat” of things, you can set up your semester with some healthier options.

Planning ahead for upcoming semester, trimester or quarter, use the following suggestions for long term use:

  • Have a mini fridge in your dorm and/or access to fridge in apartment or suite for on the go breakfast items, such as a piece of fruit, yogurt,string cheese and/or pb&j  to store leftovers and to have produce on hand!
  • Opt for “healthier” options at fast food chains.  Order salads with dressings on the side, pizza with half the cheese, roast beef sandwich, sweet potato and/or fruit cup.  Limit the high fat, greasier options, such as French fries, fish sandwiches and/or fried chicken.
  • Monitor your sugar intake, which tend to quickly add up quickly.  Often times, coffee creamers, cookies, cocktails, cereals are packed with sugar.  Not sure how to check the sugar content? Here’s how to read a nutrition fact label.
  • Keep your room or apartment stocked with healthier snacks so you’re not tempted to head for the vending machines or order late night pizza.  Next time you’re at the grocery store, grab some pretzels, unbuttered popcorn, rice cakes, whole wheat crackers, hummus and/or granola.
  • Keep a reusable water bottle on hand!  It’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day.  It’s common for people to mistake thirst for hunger, plus drinking regular bouts of water can keep you focused.
  • Take advantage of the dining hall’s salad bar! Fill up on fresh fruits and veggies, but go easy on the salad dressing!  Vegetables are very filling for few calories!cafeteria
  • Attempt to eat meals on a consistent basis.  Yes, college is known to be hectic and one may not always a have a set schedule, but eat when you’re hungry and avoid skipping meals as much as possible.
  • Recognize your body’s cues.  I understand it’s a lot easier said than done, but listen to your body as it tells you when it’s hungry and when it’s full.  No need to overeat, that’s what leftovers are for!
  • Recognize portion sizes and stick to them.  You often need less food than you think or may like to fill you up! You’ll let meals stretch longer, while sticking to the recommended portion sizes.
  • Limit alcohol intake.  Alcohol is packed with calories, but provides few nutrients.
  • If you’re going grocery shopping.  Mix it up! It’s easy to get bored eating the same meals day after day and to opt for late night pizza, but don’t give in!
  • Fill up on calcium. Just because you’ve graduated high school, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re done growing.  Make sure to eat enough calcium rich foods to continue to prevent osteoporosis. You don’t have to be entirely dependent on milk for your calcium, so keep on hand low fat yogurt, green leafy vegetables and/or low fat cheese
  • If you’re out and your stomach’s growling, don’t feel guilty about grabbing fast food.  Sometimes you have to eat what’s available, eating fast food once in a while isn’t going to kill you.  It’s when such habits become a weekly and then daily habit one should worry.

Yes, this is a lot of information to remember, but you don’t have to add all these suggestions tomorrow.  People tend to be more successful long term with small, gradual changes.

Photo Crdit: Diets in Review and Healthy eating in College


Food for thought: The challenge of healthy eating on campus

Coumadin + Vit K Recommendations

By: Nikki Nies imgres

Knowing what medications you’re currently taking is critical in future health prognosis and can provide patients with the comfort needed to stick with medications.  For example, many patients are on Warfarin (Coumadin) and have been advised to limit foods that are high in vitamin K as these foods can interact with the efficacy of the medicine.

While patients may have been advised on such vitamin K restrictions with Coumadin use, I’m here to provide clarity on what foods should be limited with this medication. Certain diseases can lead to a increased risk of blood clots.  So, coumadin is used to decrease the activity of vitamin K and decrease the progression of blood clot formation.

To measure how long it takes for one’s blood to clot, international normalized ratio (INR) and prothrombin time (PT) are used. Those taking coumadin should have a lengthened INR/PT , yet these labs are monitored monthly to make sure they’re in the desired ranges.

Thankfully, patients can play a part in keeping INR/PT in desired ranges by consuming a consistent amount of vitamin K rich foods so coumadin can work effectively.  If there’s a sudden decrease in vitamin K rich foods, it can lead to an increase effect of coumadin.  If you have a spinach salad daily, don’t skip it since a  sudden decrease in vitamin K rich foods, it can lead to an increase effect of coumadin.vitamin-k

Vitamin K rich foods: Kale, spinach, collards, swiss chards, mustard greens, turnip greens, parsley, broccoli, brussel sprouts, endive, etc.

In addition, cranberry juice and alcohol can lead to adverse effects and negatively impact coumadin use.  Alcohol and cranberry juice should be avoided.

For men, it’s recommended to maintain a consistent intake of 120 mcg of vitamin K and 90 mcg for women daily.

By being aware of which foods are vitamin K rich can inhibit or improve one’s INR/PT labs.  Just make sure to eat a consistent amount daily!


Nutrition for Cancer Patients

rainbowBy: Nikki Nies

Based on the American Institute for Cancer Research 2007 Guidelines for Nutrition and Cancer Prevention, a healthful diet and regular bouts of exercise can promote health and help reduce risk of the development of another cancer.  Since cancer can impact’s one appetite, it’s important to make sure you’re consuming an adequate amount of calories, protein and fluid. By using the below suggestions when deciding what to prepare for yourself or a loved one, it may help ease treatment and/or recovery.

Suggestions for healthy eating:

  • Fill up on plant based foods! Opt for legumes instead of meat some times of the week (i.e. dried beans or peas)
  • Try to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables–color contains phytochemicals, which are health promoting substances
  • Choose high fiber foods, such as whole wheat bread and grains daily
  • Limit intake of animal fats, choose lower fat cooking techniques, such as grilling or baking and use low fat milk and/or dairy
  • Limit intake of smoked, cured and pickled foods
  • Moderate alcohol consumption
  • During meals,limit intake of fluids with meals as fluids can cause someone to feel fuller quicker and lead to decreased energy intake.  It may help to drink fluids 1/2 hour before or after meals
  • If strong smells cause irritation, perhaps, try cold foods as they often don’t have as strong of a smell; i.e. pasta salad, tuna, sandwiches
  • Avoid spicy or strong flavored foods if needed
  • Eat small, frequent meals every 1-2 hrs. if tolerable
  • Take your medication with high calorie fluids
  •  No matter the time of day, encourage eating

While cancer research continues to make new developments on a regular basis, make sure to do your part in living as healthy of a life as possible!


The Calorie Breakdown


By: Nikki Nies

True or false. Calories from fat, protein and carbohydrates are equal?  Well, I’m not going to give you the answer just yet.

There’s so much talk about counting calories, one wanting to know how many calories to eat and how many calories are and should be allotted to empty calories.  With the term calories becoming an ubiquitous term in our modern culture, do we even know what the measurement of calories is?

I know for me, it’s easy to know a concept, but if I had to explain the concept, I might not get my point across or be able to prove I know what I’m talking about.

A calorie is a unit of energy supplied by food that provides to the body. The body needs calories to function properly.

To answer my first question,  no not all macronutrient calories are the same.  Every wonder why fatty foods get a bad wrap?  In addition to some being coined  “bad” fats, they are higher in calories than carbohydrates and protein.

  • Carbohydrates: 4 kcal/g
  • Protein: 4 kcal/g
  • Fat: 9 kcal/g

Calories are the amount of energy released when the body breaks down (digests and absorbs) food. The more calories a food has, the more energy it can provide to your body. When you eat more calories than you need, your body stores the extra calories as body fat. Even a fat-free food can have a lot of calories. Excess calories in any form can be stored as body fat.

For those that love buttery foods and oils, you may be wondering why fat is higher in calories.  Fatty foods can contain saturated fats and trans fats, which can raise LDL cholesterol cholesterol.  If one consumes high fatty foods, it can increase their risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, etc. Often times high fat foods

Don’t be alarmed, not all fats are bad for you.  Check out previous posts on Good fats vs. bad fats, oils and fats.

Side note: Alcohol contains 7 kcal/g.

Now you may be wondering how many calories you should be eating.  There are so many equations and formulas available to calculate recommended caloric intake.  This chart below gives an idea of how many calories one might want to aim for in relation to his or her activity level.  However, all levels are just a recommendation and doesn’t take into account metabolism, environmental factors or personal interest.


I hope I’ve helped clear up some confusion by providing a better understanding of what a calorie is and in relation to everyday consumption of foods.


Role of Reservatrol in Your Health

By: Nikki Nies

You may have heard recommendations to drink a glass of wine at dinner.  It’s not for the added taste, but the health benefits of drinking wine, specifically red wine, has been recommended by many physicians.

Now you might be wondering why red wine’s considered to be healthier, well, it’s because the grapes’ skin, which contains antioxidants called resveratrol, is still in tact during the production of red wine. In regards to white wine, the skin and seeds of the grapes are removed before production, which also removes some great health benefits.

Perceived Benefits:

Original Image by Jing via Flickr
Original Image by Jing via Flickr
  • Contains resveratrol–May prevent heart disease, reduce inflammation, prevents blood clots, reduces LDL levels
    • Resveratrol’s a phytochemical found in many fruits, such as billberries, blueberries, grapes, cocoa, cranberries, peanuts and walnuts
    • May be helpful in treating neurological diseases—i.e. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s as reservatrol can help in the formation of nerve cells
    • Preserves muscle fiberContains flavonoids, which polyphenols that may protect the lining of the blood vessels in one’s heart

  • Increases “good” cholesterol levels–High density lipoprotein (HDL)
  • Protects against artery damage
  • May reduce risk of dementia
  • May decrease fat absorption into body
  • May prevent hearing loss
  • May favorably influence lipid profiles following one’s meal
  • Contains flavonoids, which are polyphenols that can protect the lining of the blood vessels in one’s heart
    • The relationship between the sweetness of wine in relation to number of flavonoids—the sweeter the wine, the fewer the flavonoids

As with many health claims, yes, there has been research done on the perceived benefits,  but one can’t assume consuming wine regularly will be the magic “potion” needed to prevent the aforementioned activities to subside.

**It’s recommended 5 oz. of wine daily can provide the benefits sought from drinking wine**

So to reap the most benefits of your glass of wine, choose Merlot, Chianti, Pinot and you’re good to go! Enjoy!



Alcohol 101

Original Image by Lindsey G via Flickr
Original Image by Lindsey G via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

The consumption of alcohol (ETOH) has become a regular factor of American life. Whether it’s drinking a nice cold beer after a long day’s work, socializing with friends over wine and cheese or the customary blow out for one’s 21st birthday. The fact is, alcohol consumption is associated with relaxing and fun.

I’m sure you’ve heard you shouldn’t drink your calories and it sounds silly for me to say, but that includes alcoholic beverages as well. I’ve become so dependent on nutrition fact labels that if it’s there, I can’t help but look. However, how many of you know what the recommended consumption of wine and liquor is? When you’re out with friends are you counting the amount of calories and/or sugar content? No, you’re out to have a good time.

I have to admit my nutrition interest has seeped into other realms of my life. Last Wednesday I was out with my friend chilling at the local bar and she kept asking me why I wasn’t drinking the beer, saying she wished she knew I didn’t like Coors Light. I was too embarrassed to tell her, especially as a non nutrition major, that I couldn’t help, but wonder how many calories and grams of sugar I consuming with the beer and Long Island Iced Tea she ordered. Of course, I could’ve pulled that info up on my iPhone, but part of me didn’t want to know at the time.

I recently heard one should allot 10% of their calories to whatever pleasures they want. So, if one’s on a 2000 calorie diet, allotting 200 calories to whatever treats is allowed. I should be consuming around 1600 calories so the number of discretionary calories for me is less than 200 calories, however, without even looking up the nutrition facts I knew I’d be over my recommended caloric intake if I drank all the beer.

Different liquors have varying alcohol content. In fact, many light beers have almost as much alcohol as regular beer – about 85% as much.

I don’t value beer or alcohol as highly as my fellow college students. I would rather spend my discretionary calories on sweets. Yes, I know alcohol’s a form of sugar. For the future and to be more aware of my surroundings, I’ve created a cheat sheet of customary alcoholic beverages, how much one REALLY is consuming. These numbers might make you think again when ordering your next drink. How many of you only have one? It’s hard, right?

Calories Amount Grams of alcohol Mg of Potassium Gram of OH Grams of total carbohydrates Grams of sugar Mg of sodium
Vodka, 80 proof 96 1.5 fluid oz. 13.9 0.4 13.9
Vodka, 100 proof 123 1.5 fluid oz. 0.8 17.7
Red Wine, burgundy 127 5 fluid oz. 15.2 5.5
White wine, 10% alcohol 121 5.2 oz. 105.1 15.2 3.8 1.4 7
Tequila, 80 proof 96 1.5 fluid oz. 0.8 13.9
Whiskey, 80 proof 96 1.5 fluid oz. 0.8 13.9
Vodka tonic, no lemon or lime wedge 169 8.5 fluid oz. 13.4 18.8 18.8 26
Champagne 78 4.1 fluid oz. 10.3 1.2
White wine, Riesling, 9.5% alcohol 120 5 fluid oz. 14.1 5.5
Bloody Mary 125 10 fluid oz. 13.2 6.8 5.1 461
Margarita 153 3.3 fluid oz. 17.7 7 4.3 583
Gin; 80 proof 96 1.5 fluid oz. 0.8 13.9
Sugar free Red Bull and vodka 74 1 fluid oz. of vodka; 1 can of Red Bull 2.9 197
Smirnoff Vodka; red label; 40% 97 1.5 fluid oz.; shot 13.9
Kahlua; 20% alcohol 91 1 fluid oz. 14.7 4.6 3

I really like this chart and breakdown on different wines.


Last, but not least, a little alcohol’s fine in moderation. What’s moderation? A standard drink’s considered on that contains 0.6 fluid ounces of pure alcohol, which is equivalent to:


For men, moderate drinking’s considered two drinks daily daily, while for women it’s considered one drink a day.

Overconsumption of alcoholic drinks can cause nutritional risk and lifelong damage to one’s liver.

Impact of alcohol on one’s life:

  • Alcohol and body composition:
    • Incorporating alcohol in one’s diet can lead to obesity
    • Drinking instead of regular dietary intake can cause muscle loss or protein malnutrition
    • Men that drink 2 or more drinks are found to have higher BMI than their nondrinking counterparts
    • Higher incidence of drinking may result or be in addition to problematic eating behaviors
  • Alcohol and digestion:
    • Chronic consumption impairs pancreatic endocrine function and/or pancreatic enzyme secretion, furthering to fat and/or protein malabsorption
    • Common side effect: insulin resistance, causing energy store depletion and impaired glycogen formation
    • Excessive lactic acid production can occur because of anaerobic energy production
  • Alcohol and nutrients:
    • Alcohol consumption cab lead to impaired amino acid uptake and protein synthesis in liver
    • Increased protein oxidation due to cell regeneration
    • Leptin can be increased, which is pro-inflammatory and decreases appetite
    • Uptake of folate, vitamin B6, B1 and vitamin A may be decreased with alcohol
    • Common deficiency among drinkers: folic acid deficiency because of increased demand for nucleic acids needed for regeneration of injured liver cells
    • Alcohol’s an antagonists of vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B3 and vitamin K
  • Alcohol and tolerance
    • Alcohol metabolism converts LADH to other oxidizing system, which increases alcohol tolerance and lowers caloric output
  • Alcohol and hormones
    • Alcohol’s a strong mediator of sex hormones
    • i.e. ethanol—a testicular toxin, which coverts testosterone to estrogen
    • men may develop infertility, gonadal atrophy, feminization
    • Abusers tend to have lower LH and FSH levels
  • Alcohol and heart disease and oxidative stress
    • Moderate consumption’s been seen to have the lowest mortality rate
    • Often seen that moderate consumption of alcohol often consume moderately in other aspects of their lives


Photo Credit: NIAAA, Wine Folly and NBC News

Home Stretch

Original Image by Steven S. via Flickr
Original Image by Steven S. via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Like many college students, I’m counting down the weeks until classes are over this semester.  If any one was wondering, it’s 7 weeks, not including finals.  With the added stress of finishing classes well, many make shortcuts in parts of their lives to dedicate more energy and time to studying.

However, one’s nutrition should not be compromised for the grade.  In fact, there has been a correlation between better nutrition and better academics.  I know a lot of people may have started the semester off right, bringing prepared meals from home or choosing the healthier choices at the dining hall, but I know, myself included, that with stress, one may succumb to sliding into bad habits.

Here are some quick reminders how every college student can squeeze in some healthy meals into their everyday lives, which will provide optimal concentration on exams!

  1. Bring snacks to class!–bring some carrots and hummus, almonds and an apple to class to curb cravings.
  2.  Limit high fat offerings, such as French fries, mozzarella sticks, cinnabons
  3. Limit high caloric beverages–watch the amount of sugar per serving of soda, ice tea, energy drinks etc. 
  4. Hydrate! Drink water before, during and after a meal
  5. Limit discretionary calories–such as sweets and alcohol
  6. eat more antioxidant dense foods–berries, beans, artichokes, apples and cherries

What’re your go to snacks to have on hand? To help you get through finals? Best of luck to all!