Nutritious Dietary Patterns

Dietary patterns (also called eating patterns) are the combinations and quantities of food and beverages consumed over time. Consistent evidence indicates that, in general, a plant-based dietary pattern is more health-promoting than the current average U.S. diet. However, a “plant-based” eating patterns doesn’t mean only plants; pairing high-quality protein foods, like eggs, with plants is essential for the synthesis and maintenance of muscle tissue, and for achieving optimal vitamin and mineral intakes.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend three healthy eating patterns, all of which include eggs. But what are the sample eating patterns, and what are the key differences between them?

To learn more about healthy eating patterns, including those recommended in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, and how eggs fit within those patterns, explore the following PowerPoint, and feel free to share it with friends!

Healthy Eating Patterns: How do Eggs Fit?

Cover Slide Image

Breakfast Around the World – What’s on “Their Plates”

I recently read a Today’s Dietitian article that discussed Best Breakfasts From Around the World and loved to see that eggs are a common breakfast food in other countries.  One key difference is the foods the people in other countries eat with the eggs- the eggs have great company-healthy and colorful plates in many instances.

Interestingly enough many of these breakfasts around the world follow MyPlate concepts, but appear to be more balanced than the US breakfast.  I could envision many of these “plates” to easily be half full of vegetables, with a great protein source like eggs, along with fruit, dairy and whole grains.

Breakfast around the world tends to include foods that we, in the US, may not see as common breakfast foods, but are overall quite healthy!  Thanks for the RDs who gave their first hand experiences of the most important meal of the day across the world.  We could learn much from these other countries.  As I leave you today, I challenge you with the phrase:  “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” Adelle Davis

New School Meals Regulations:The Changes Ahead!

Hi Readers! Today we have part two of Donna S. Martin’s, EdS, RD, LD, SNS blog post. Enjoy!


USDA built the new rule around recommendations from a panel of experts convened by the Institute of Medicine —a gold standard for evidence-based health analysis. The standards were also updated with key changes from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans – the Federal government’s benchmark for nutrition – and aimed to foster the kind of healthy changes at school that many parents are already trying to encourage at home, such as making sure that kids are offered both fruits and vegetables each day, more whole grains, and portion sizes and calorie counts designed to maintain a healthy weight.

The new standards are expected to cost $3.2 billion over the next five years — less than half of the estimated cost of the proposed rule and are just one of five major components of the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, now implemented or under development that will work together to reform school nutrition. In addition to the updated meal standards, unprecedented improvements to come include:

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, says Rose, has issued the following new meal pattern that will become effective in the next school year:

Minimum/maximum calorie levels — Previously, only minimum calorie levels had been provided. The proposed minimum calorie levels are lower than current minimum standards. Some maximum calorie levels are lower than existing minimum calorie standards.

The breakfast meal pattern will consist of one cup of fruit, while no more than half of fruit offerings may be 100 percent juice; One to two ounces of meat/meat alternate; 1-2 servings of grains; and milk.
The daily lunch serving of vegetables must consist of 3/4 cup of vegetables for students in K-8; one cup of vegetables for students in 9-12; larger amounts of non-starchy vegetables may be offered; and one cup of leafy vegetables = 1/2 cup of vegetables. Over the course of a week, students must be served one cup maximum of starchy vegetables, such as white potatoes, corn and green beans; 1/2 cup of dark green vegetables, such as broccoli, collard greens and spinach; 1/2 cup of orange vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes and winter squash; 1/2 cup of legumes, such as kidney beans, lentils and chickpeas; and 1-1/4 to 2-1/2 cups of other vegetables, such as tomatoes, onions and green beans.

The daily lunch serving of fruit must consist of 1/2 cup for students in K-8; one cup for students in 9-12; no more than half of fruit offerings may be 100 percent juice; and 1/4 cup of dried fruit = 1/2 cup of fruit.
Additionally, 50 percent of all grains served must be whole grain by the first year, and by the second year all grains served must be whole grain; zero trans fat per serving; reduce sodium by 50 percent over 10 years; schools must use food-based menu planning approach and all components in meal patterns must be offered daily; K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 age/grade groups must be used; and students will be required to take a vegetable or fruit with their meal. They will be able to decline two food items at lunch and one food item at breakfast.
Fruits and vegetables will be two separate components at lunch effective 2012. Up to one half of the fruit component can be fruit juice (i.e., 1/2 of the 1 cup).

A sample lunch menu with a before and after comparison is available to view and download in PDF and JPG formats.

In California, more than 500 schools are already heading down the healthy track and have or are in the process of implementing many of the guidelines outlined the U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture, according to the California Department of Education.

“We are still battling a childhood obesity epidemic and really the future health and well-being of children is going to be jeopardized in this epidemic,” Shayegh said. “This is definitely the right step in ensuring that kids have access to more healthy foods at school. We all welcome it. It’s been long overdue.”

New School Nutrition Standards Will Improve the Health and Wellbeing of 32 Million Kids Nationwide

Hi Readers! Today we have Donna S. Martin, EdS, RD, LD, SNS, blogging. Enjoy!


First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled new standards for school meals that will result in healthier meals for kids across the nation. The new meal requirements will raise standards for the first time in more than fifteen years and improve the health and nutrition of nearly 32 million kids that participate in school meal programs every school day. The healthier meal requirements are a key component of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was championed by the First Lady as part of her Let’s Move! Campaign and signed into law by President Obama. These improvements to the school meal programs, largely based on recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine, are expected to enhance the diet and health of school children, and help mitigate the childhood obesity trend. The third of U.S. children who are overweight or obese contribute to an estimated $3 billion in direct medical costs.

Overview of the Final Rule from the USDA Regulations

1. All Schools must use Food Based Menu Planning.
2. Schools are to plan menus for breakfast and lunch using the following age groups: grades K-5, 6-8 and 9-12.
3. Fruits and vegetables will be two separate components at lunch. Students will be required to have a serving of fruits or vegetables (minimum ½ cup) on their tray in order for their meal to be considered reimbursable. Up to one half of the fruit component can be fruit juice (i.e., 1/2 of the 1 cup).
4. Districts must offer minimum quantities of all vegetable subgroups (dark green, red/orange, beans and peas, starchy and other) over the course of the week.
5. Initially, at least half of grains offered during week must be whole grain-rich. Beginning in SY 2014-15, all grains offered must be whole grain-rich (a whole grain-rich food must contain at least 51percent whole grains).
6. You can only offer plain or flavored fat-free milk and unflavored low-fat milk (1 percent or less) and you must include a variety.
7. Calories for lunch now include a minimum and a maximum range that is averaged over a week.
a. Grades K-5 (550-650 kcal)
b. Grades 6-8 (600-700 kcal)
c. Grades 9-12 (750-850 kcal)
8. Sodium levels now have intermediate target ranges to help schools reach final targets.
a. Target 1: SY 2014-2015
b. Target 2: SY 2017-2018
c. Final Target: SY 2022-2023 (minus 53% of current sodium levels)
9. Weekly average requirements for nutrient analysis are calories, sodium and saturated fat.
10. School reviews starting in 2013-14 will be every 3 years. The reviews will evaluate a one week period of lunch and breakfast.
11. 0 grams of “added” trans fat will be permitted per serving of food. This does not include naturally occurring trans fats found in meat and dairy products.
12. Students must take a fruit or vegetable with their lunch to be considered a reimbursable meal at breakfast and lunch.
13. Gives USDA authority to set nutritional standards for all foods sold regularly in schools during the school day. This includes vending machines, a la carte lines and school stores.
14. There will be a six-cent per lunch performance-based reimbursement increase that will provide additional revenue beginning October, 2012.
15. Schools will be required to offer 1 cup of fruit to all age/grade groups at breakfast beginning the 2013-14 school year. Up to one half of the per meal fruit component can be fruit juice.
16. There is no meat/meat alternate requirement for Breakfast; however, after serving a required number of grains per week, meat may be used as a grain alternative.

School Nutrition Programs have already been implementing these new guidelines for many years. Improving school meals has been an ongoing process in districts large and small, long before TV chefs made it a headline issue. School Nutrition Program professionals have always wanted to serve the best, most nutritious meals possible to their students each day. This rule just helps strengthen all of our programs and allows us to all be on the same page. There are going to be some challenges with the new regulations in terms of retraining staff, students and faculty in the following areas:

• How do you teach them what a reimbursable meal is?
• How do we cook with less sodium and still make the meals palatable?
• How do you get the students to accept all whole-grain rich foods?
• How do you get students to make sure they have a fruit or vegetable on their tray?

Yet, in the end the real reason we are here is to feed all the students in our programs healthy food and to be able to teach them lifelong good eating habits. As School Nutrition Directors we are all used to challenges and I say bring it on. With the dedication of these professionals and the innovation from the food manufacturing sector and the collaboration from USDA we will be able to align the new school meals more closely to the Dietary Guidelines. The real winners with these new regulations will be the students all over the United States. What a great investment in all of our futures!

Enjoy your food, but eat less – Top 5

Enjoy your food, but eat less-Here are my top 5 things to “eat less” to achieve better health

1.Restaurant food (uniformed choices): Dining out is common, but even registered dietitians cannot always tell how many calories are in the food and what has been added. Many people rely on dining out for a variety of reasons, but they can ask for menu modifications. Also, the best thing to do would to be to check out the menu ahead of time and plan ahead! Most restaurants have websites with nutrition information listed as well as this great tool Healthy Dining. If you don’t have time before arriving to the restaurant, feel free to ask for nutrition information with your menu! Please know I am not saying you cannot have your favorite pizza or burger, but consider having them less often! Most importantly-educate yourself on what you are eating!

2. Refined foods: Foods being stripped of their vitamins and minerals and having to be “fortified” back in and long ingredient lists are just the beginning of the problems with refined foods. Foods from MyPlate and simple recipes can help with this! Scrambled eggs with veggies with a slice of whole wheat toast and a cup of skim milk to start your day- easy and healthy. You can also replace “snack foods” crackers, chips cookies, etc with less refined options like a hardboiled eggs, fruits, veggies, and many more “whole” food options.

3. Sugar: I’m not saying give it up, but research shows we eat too much. Consider limiting soda, juices, and sweetened beverages, sugar filled cereals, desserts and more. Sugar might be hiding places you do not expect it (high fructose corn syrup), so watch the amount you know you are drinking and eating. Also, sometimes these are loaded with saturated and trans fats (baked goods), so eat less of these and you’ll get a double benefit!

4. Sodium: Most of us are unaware of the amount of sodium we actually consume each day! The more processed foods we eat, the more sodium we get in our diet. Try to not use the salt shaker and consider using other spices to flavor food. A good rule of thumb for label reading is to look for no more than one milligram of sodium per one calorie of food (you’ll quickly see how sodium adds up). Refer back to number 2 and have more whole foods-you’ll automatically end up with less sodium in your diet.

5. Alcohol: Like food, many of us do not know how many calories we consume when we drink alcohol. The calories add up quickly (and even more quickly for mixed drinks). Also, along with alcohol consumption comes the likelihood of overeating or mindless eating.

So those are my 5 tips for eating less. Another thing to do overall is decrease the portions and you’ll decrease many of these anyway! See my previous blog post on the SuperTracker on how to learn portion sizes.