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?

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Make A Plan!

Today is about planning. We as health professionals tell clients to eat well and exercise. Sounds good right? There is so much information available that they should just be able to go do it on their own. I mean we do it all the time, right (mm huh?!?!). So here are some basic tips you can provide-oh and yes these work for you too!

Life is busy and when we get super busy we tend to “let our plates go”. I am guilty of this as much as anyone, but I’ve been working on planning ahead too and thought I’d share some of the things that work for me. Think of your own ideas that work for you and encourage your clients to find things that work for them.

Think ahead: Some people are great at cooking ahead and freezing items for later use. This is not really my strong suite-I have ideas of what I’d like to eat for the week and browse the ads for sales. Then I start thinking about what nights I’ll be home and what those evenings look like. I match my shopping list to this. Also, having staples like eggs, milk, greek yogurt, peanut butter, frozen veggies, fresh fruit, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, whole wheat bread, tuna and other pantry staples can be a lifesaver. These are great go-to items any time-especially when strapped for time. Keep some of these items at work too so that lunch is easy as well. At work bagged greens and cherry tomatoes are my “staples” along with eggs since we have them available here in the office.

Prep ahead: Cut up veggies ahead of time for easy meals and snacks. Another easy idea is to make hardboiled eggs to have for the week. Sometimes when I am running low on prep time, I’ll buy already cut up veggies (they cost more so I try not to do this too often). I might also buy these if I have a week where I won’t be eating at home much, so that I don’t waste (money and food).

Cook ahead: Some people are great at bulk cooking and freezing, but that isn’t something I do well. I will however make something on the weekend or a slower weeknight to eat throughout the week. Last week I made muffin frittatas and had them for breakfast, dinner and snacks all this week. Chili or other soups are also anther thing that work well for this. Even making an extra portion or two of a meal and packing it away for other days is an easy idea.


Physical Activity:
Plan it like any other part of your day. Make it a priority and even plan your days off from structured exercise. I have been doing this consistently for about 6 months now and it feels great. Until I made it part of my plan for the week, I would exercise sporadically. It is easy for something else to come up or to be forgotten if you don’t plan time for exercise. I even refer to some of my days related to my workout. Wednesday is Yoga Day! Here’s a photo after yoga class-don’t laugh at my pose I’m still learning and I had to break the pose to smile for the photo.


Final thought: Things can change very quickly so try to stick to your plan as much as you can. If one day isn’t so great, remember the next is a new day.

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!

Happy 1st Anniversary to Nutrition Unscrambled


We hope you’ve enjoyed our blogs and found the information useful in your practices and even perhaps your own lives.  Marcia mentioned some of the trends for 2011 in her blog post and I wanted to share some other exciting highlights.

  • Obesity became a top search for our blog which was excellent!  We’ll continue to blog about the obesity story as new research and information becomes available.
  • Research and trends regarding satiety, nutrient density, protein, choline, vitamin D, lutein and zeaxanthin, cholesterol, and other key topics were the highlight of many of our blogs.
  • We had several blogs about cholesterol- including Mythbusters– trying to spread the word that over 40 years of research shows that the same results- EGGS are A-OK!
  • Breakfast was among a top trend although eggs can be enjoyed anytime!
  • We introduced you to some great new programs such as SuperTracker, Healthy Dining Finder, Kids Live Well and more.
  • New MyPlate materials are available for purchasing or downloading!
  • As Marcia pointed out, recipes are very popular right now: ENC Egg Recipes.  You can always visit for more recipes.
  • We highlighted our health professional audiences with blogs from professional meetings and exhibits we attended.

So now I am asking you, our readers:  What do you want to know more about in 2012?

Nutrition Unscrambled 1st Anniversary

Turning the page on the calendar and starting a new year makes one pause and think about all that seemed so important in the prior year. Nutrition is an evolving science. We often feel sure that eating according to the currently accepted guidance will help us maintain good health, until research contradicts that guidance the following year.

In 2011, Nutrition Unscrambled began the discussion of how to incorporate the 10 most healthful foods into your diet and continued with that theme throughout the year. More and more the research appears to show that adding protein at breakfast and spacing protein intake throughout the day is the secret to improving your body composition and maintaining a healthy weight.

Throughout the year we shared recipes and tips to use eggs for building a healthy diet. Nutrition Unscrambled continued a focus on how eggs can be included in healthy meal patterns and shared these messages at health professional conferences, at family mealtime and when refueling after exercise.

In 2012, Nutrition Unscrambled will continue to provide informative discussions about trends in nutrition and healthy meal planning. We hope to bring more research driven discussions, more varied perspectives on nutrition from experts who practice in different health professions and more insights into how to inform and motivate the public about healthy eating.

Thanks again to all our readers!