Pregnancy Weight and Intakes

pregweightdiagramBy: Nikki Nies

As we all know, pregnancy is an  exciting time for all those involved.  With impending baby showers and last minute gatherings for mothers to be, food related activities are inevitable.  Yet, a healthy weight gain is the aim for the mother and infant for optimal growth, development and overall health.

Weight gain recommendations: Underweight (BMI <19.1) 40-50#; normal BMI (19.25) 35-45#; overweight (26-29.9) 25-35#

Normal weight women should gain 25-35# during pregnancy. UW: 28-40#; overweight: 15-25#; obese: should still gain some weight, ~15#; excessive weight gain is discouraged with any bodyweight classification of the mother.

In the first trimester of pregnancy, normal weight pregnant women do not need to consume additional calories per day according to the National Research Council.  In the second trimester, an additional 340 calories per day is recommended and then in the third trimester, intake should increase to about 450 calories per day.  Those that are underweight may expect to increase intake by an additional 100-300 calories per day.

During pregnancy, intake of folic acid is recommended to increase  prevention of birth defects.  Fortified grains can be a good source of dietary folate, with the best sources including lentils and beans. 1/2 cup cooked black eye peas, 1 cup of raw spinach and/or 1 cup fortified corn flakes can provide more than 100 mcg of folate each.

Of course, talking to your primary care physician about your weight and health is vital during pregnancy. The above weight parameters are suggested weight gain guidelines.

Photo Credit: Baby Your Baby 


Downfall of “Ideal” Weight

I-determine-my-own-ideal-bodyBy: Nikki Nies

Neologists are people that help coin, create and/or make new words.  I’m sure when the neologists were formulating the word”ideal”, they couldn’t have predicted the self esteem, body image and insecurities that stem from ideal when paired with the word “body weight.”  In a society, where one’s undeniably critiqued, judged and perceived based on outward appearance, it’s unfortunate that three little words–ideal body weight (IBW) are given so much power.

The dictionary’s definition of:

satisfying one’s conception of what is perfect; most suitable

The dictionary definition of ideal has the word perfect in it.  As we all know, perfection is unattainable.  Can the odds be more stacked against us?

Advocates of IBW may argue that replacement of the word “ideal” with “optimal”, “excellent”, “desired” and/or “perfect” would cause the same stymie to the human psyche.  However, I would argue that you’ve have missed the point of my post.

Can we go back to “healthy” weights? We need to focus on weights that are more “suitable” for people based on body frame, history and family genetics. Where being healthy is celebrated and where weight is just a number, not a dictator?

Photo Credit:ricerca correlati


Five Things You’re Getting Wrong About Weight and Weight Loss

Foodie on Campus

Original Image by Foodie On Campus

By: Nikki Nies

There’s a famous saying that one’s college years are the best of a person’s life.  While that may be true, there are many aspects of the college experience that must be present for the “best” to be presented.  For many, heading off to college is the first taste of independence.  With the bombardment of offers, temptations and often times free food, it’s no wonder students get a headache with so many dining options.  Many options that aren’t always the wisest in regards to health, I might add.

 However, it doesn’t have to be like that.  You can have you cake and eat it too at college at times.  With Foodie on Campus(FOC): Your Inside Guide is dedicated to providing resources, recipes and latest news to campus students, it doesn’t have to be like that.  The founder and Editor in Chief, Faye Mitchell RD, LDN recognizes that food is an integral part of the college experience.  Instead of implementing restricting rules about eating habits, Mitchell’s team of interns provide an awareness of how to be a successful “foodie” on campus!

Guiding Principles:

Original Image by Arya Ziai via Flickr
Original Image by Arya Ziai via Flickr
  • “Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.” —Ruth Reichl
  • Keep it positive
  • Food is meant to be enjoyed
  • Diet is a four letter word
  • There are no “good” foods or “bad” foods
  • Everything in moderation
  • Nutrition is science based, not opinion oriented
  • There are no quick fixes or miracle foods
  • Weight is just a number
  • No fat shaming, no skinny promoting
  • Eat for Pleasure – Move for Fun!
  • “The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” ―Julia Child

Nutrition is about understanding that health doesn’t mean one has to trade flavor for health.  There are so many practical, easy swaps that can be made.  There’s no better time to make healthier changes than as a college student!

Don’t miss a bite of FOC’s’ daily updates, sign up today! Follow @foodieoncampus AND like on Facebook!


Debunking Weight Loss Myths!

By: Nikki Nies Weight-Loss-Myths460

“Magic pills” and “detoxification systems” that promise instant weight loss have been around for years.  In the 21st century, the market continues to meet the demand of the such products, yet many of these so called products do not provide the advertised weight loss.

While the bombardment of which products can be overwhelming, be careful what you shell out money for.  The table I’ve created below provides examples of weight loss claims that have not been found efficacious with using such products.

Instead, diet and regular bouts of exercise are the still proven tried and trued method of losing and maintaining weight loss.

If I skip meals, I’ll lose weight quicker
  • Can lead to becoming overly hungry → overeat at next meal
  • Those that skip breakfast tend to be heavier than those that consume at least 3 meals/day

o   Quick breakfast options: whole wheat toast with fruit spread or oatmeal with low fat yogurt and berries

Fad diets will help me lose weight and keep it off
  • Often promise quick fixes with food restrictions and/or avoidance of food groups/types of food
  • Hard to follow
  • May not provide all nutrients one needs
  • Being on a diet of fewer than 800 calories a day for a long time may lead to serious heart problems.
  • Losing >3#/wk can increase risk of developing gallstones

o   Safe wt loss: 0.5-2#/wk

Carbs are fattening. I should limit.
  • Carbs are body’s main source of energy
  • Limit simple, not complex!

o   Simple: candy, cake, cookies, sugar sweetened desserts/drinks and alcohol

o   Complex: fruits, vegetables, whole grains

  • Opt for brown rice, whole-wheat bread, cereal, and pasta
“Low fat” and “Fat free”=0 Calories
  • Low fat and fat free products have calories, but may be less than full fat
  • Many processed foods have the same amount of calories whether low fat or full fat
  • Processed foods that state they’re low fat/fat free may have added flour, salt, starch, or sugar to improve flavor and texture after fat is removed, which contain added calories
When dieting, one can’t eat fast food!
  • Yes, fast food can be bad for you
  • Opt for:

o   Avoid “value” combo meals as more calories than you need in one meal.

o   Choose fresh fruit or nonfat yogurt for dessert

o   Limit use of high fat/calorie toppings

  • i. e. bacon, cheese, reg mayo, salad dressing

o   Pick steamed or baked items over fried

o   Sip on water or fat-free milk instead of soda

o   Choose soft instead of hard tacos

Snacking is always a bad idea!
  • In between meal snacking can prevent overeating at meals
  • Can benefit from 5 small meals a day
  • Great choice: nuts, low fat cheese, yogurt or an apple
Eating healthy costs more!
  • Canned and frozen fruits and veggies can provide same nutrients as fresh at a lower cost
  • Great sources of protein: tuna, lentils, beans and peas
  • In the end, health care costs will be less expensive!

What weight loss claims have you encountered that isn’t listed in the table? Have any specific questions regarding weight loss claims you’ve heard that you’re not sure about? Ask away!


Yacon Syrup


By: Nikki Nies

Recently, Dr. Oz had a segment on yacon syrup as the newest, greatest weight loss treatment. This syrup has been described as raisin/fig like in taste, yet the efficacy of this latest syrup as a weight loss treatment is questionable.  This syrup should be limited to 1 teaspoon before meals, with no more than 1 tablespoon consumed daily.  Too much yacon syrup can lead to bloating, nausea and/or diarrhea.

The molasses like syrup, yacon syrup derives from the yacon plant in the Andes mountains.  Present day Bolivian, Peruvian and Brazilian citizens tout this syrup as a low-calorie (20 calories/tablespoon), low sugar food that has helped with diabetes and kidney and digestive issues.

The syrup has inulin, fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and is high in fiber.Once FOS hits the gut, it helps promote good bacteria, which has been credited for helping to maintain a healthy weight, contain anti-inflammatory properties and gives digestive benefits.lsf023_yaconsyrup_8floz

While the properties of yacon syrup is promising, there’s very little scientific evidence of its efficacy. In a 2009 clinical study in Clinical Nutrition, it found that the obese women in the study that took 3-4 teaspoons of yacon syrup over a 4 month period had a significant decrease in weight, waist circumference, LDL cholesterol and insulin levels.

As stated, more studies are needed to provide clarity of the efficacy of yacon syrup and I’m not convinced yet of the weight loss mechanisms associated with it.   I’m not advocating this syrup, but want to provide awareness on lack of clinical trials of yacon syrup as I’m sure I’m not the only one to hear about yacon syrup and/or Dr. Oz’s promotion of such product.

If you choose to try this syrup, please don’t place high hopes of this syrup as a “magic pill.” A healthy, balanced diet with exercise is the healthiest, safest way to a permanent, healthy life.


Genta, S., Cabrera, W., Habib, N., et al. Yacon syrup: Beneficial effects on obesity and insulin resistance in humans 2009


By: Nikki Nies eating disorder_comic

Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) is a tricky subject to talk about since it’s considered a disorder, but one may exhibit overlapping characteristics of the anorexia, bulimia and/or binge eating category, yet they deserve equal attention and awareness.  With more than 70% of eating disorders (ED) categorized as EDNOS, it’s important to note that EDNOS patients/clients can exhibit multiple ED symptoms–i.e. severe calorie restriction + bingeing/purging.  Additionally, one may exhibit all anorexia nervosa (AN) symptoms, but do not have weight loss or one exhibits bulimia nervosa (BN) symptoms, but do not display inappropriate compensatory mechanisms.

Often times, ED patients are in the care of a multidisciplinary team, as it’s a serious illness and is the leading cause of mortality of psychiatric diagnosis.Specifically, EDNOS has a mortality rate of 5.2%, higher than anorexia and bulimia.  If

S&S: md149believeinyourselfposters

  • Exercise obsessively
  • Deny one’s hungry
  • Preoccupied with cooking, calories, nutrition, weight and/or food
  • Weigh frequently
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Feel ashamed/guilty for eating
  • Eat alone due to embarrassment or shame
  • Eat until uncomfortably full
  • Feel cold even though body temperature is normal or sightly cool
  • Lose hair or experience thinning of hair
  • Can’t voluntarily stop eating

If you recognize some of these signs or symptoms in your daily routine or in someone you care, help can be found at:

  1. Renfrew Center FoundationFirst residential ED facility; has provided help to more than 60,000 clients in 11 locations
  2. National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD): Provides education and support to all those impacted by ED
  3. Change the Message: A local campaign that focuses on changing the way women and girls think about themselves and how they talk about their bodies.
  4. National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA): Provides support to those battling with ED, along with loved ones;
  5. Alliance for Eating Disorder Association: A nonprofit organization that promotes positive body image and the prevention of ED; offers mentoring and education services
  6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Medline Plus (UDHHS): Provides ED medical info, including causes, s&s and treatment options
  7. Women’sHealth: Provides information on ED, body image, excessive eating and/or overexercising
  8. Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment (FEAST)An international organization that provides support for families of ED patients

Although, EDNOS usually develops in adolescence or young adulthood, it can occur at any age and with men or women. If left untreated, EDNOS can lead to electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, cardiac complications or worst case scenario: death. Yet with these resources, treatment and recovery are possible!


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.

Calculating BMI


By: Nikki Nies

BMI is a quick, easy measurement tool any one can do with a scale and a measuring tape.   BMI is a greater indicator of health status and fat mass, but by no means be used as the end all indicator of one’s health.

Measurement Units Formula and Calculation
Kilograms or meters Formula: weight (kg) / [height (m)]With the metric system, the formula for BMI is weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. Since height is commonly measured in centimeters, divide height in centimeters by 100 toobtain height in meters.Example: Weight = 68 kg, Height = 165 cm (1.65 m)
Calculation: 68 ÷ (1.65)2 = 24.98
Pounds and inches Formula: weight (lb) / [height (in)]2 x703Calculate BMI by dividing weight in pounds (lbs) by height in inches (in) squared and multiplying by a conversionfactor of 703.Example: Weight = 150 lbs, Height = 5’5″ (65″)
Calculation: [150 ÷ (65)2] x 703 = 24.96

Now, you may be wondering, what does a 24.96 mean? There are 4 main brackets on BMI chart, where one can be categorized.

After a calculation has been made, one can look to a standardized chart to see where their number lies:

  • Below 18.5–>Underweight
  • 18.5-24.9–>Normal
  • 25.0-29.9–>Overweight
  • 30 and above–>obese

It’s good to remember BMI is not a diagnostic, but a screening tool used by health professionals.  To determine if one has excess weight, further assessments are needed to confirm BMI’s indications of health (i.e. skinfold thickness; evaluations of diet and physical activity and family history).


Added Category: Severe Obesity


By: Nikki Nies

Often times the words overweight and obese are used interchangeably.  Being overweight is being above a weight considered normal or desirable while obesity is considered BMI over 35.  Being severely obese is greater than a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or more than 100 pounds over ideal body weight.

Severe obesity is associated with additional complications: heart disease, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, artherosclerosis, stroke, gallbladder disease, high cholesterol, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, sleep apnea and some cancers (i.e. breast or colon).

There’s approximately 9 million Americans categorized as severely obese.  About 45,000 12- to 19-year-olds in the U.S. have BMIs of 50 or higher. For example, a 5’4 person who weighs 291 lbs. would have a BMI over 40.  A normal weighted person has a BMI of 18.5-24.9.


What gets me is the dominanting age population of those severely obese.  A lot of attention and resources have been provided for adults, which I’m not trying to devalue, however, what are we doing wrong as a nation that is encouraging the next generation to have BMI’s of 50+?  I thought Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” inititative was being well received, MyPyramid was revamped to modern times and is now MyPlate, soda has been banned in many schools, yet severe obesity is more present than ever.

After a certain weight, diet and exercise can only help so much.  So, what can be done? I honestly don’t know because I feel there’s a lot of advocates to help curb childhood obesity.  This is not a one solution fits all, but each person’s journey to a healthier life is individual, but there’s a lot of resources available to help anyone on their journey to a healthier individual!


Calorie Myths Debunked

Calorie Myths Debunked

I couldn’t have explained these myths better myself.