Fast Food Nation

By: Alex Burt, Applied Nutrition for Healthy Living Fall 2012

Obesity is a problem in America. Facts show that 15% of teenagers are obese, and that 33% of adults are obese. There are numerous facts about why fast food is unhealthy and not a proper choice when being on any type of diet. The only positive asset that fast food brings is the fact that it is typically a cheaper meal choice.

Fast food has a tremendous amount of calories in which help lead to gaining weight and obesity. A recommended calories per day diet consists of about 2,000 calories, depending on a person’s age, height, weight and activity level. The Deluxe breakfast offered by McDonald’s consists of 1,400 calories! Just one meal alone from McDonald’s reaches about 75% of the calories recommended for a daily healthy diet.

A second problem with serving fried foods in America is that sometimes it seems as if EVERY food is fried. Frying foods does serve fast foods’ purpose of making food available at a quicker rate, but frying foods increases calorie, saturated fat and carbohydrate levels.

Fast food can lead to health risk factors such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Fast food restaurants should be forced to have a side menu with healthier meal choices that follow the 2,000 calorie diet. Doing this will potentially decrease the number of obese Americans.



The Energy Dilemma

By: Karissa Hazen, Applied Nutrition for Healthy Living Fall 2012

Growth of the energy drink industry has continued to grow over the years, gaining in popularity since the rise of Red Bull, which is currently the world’s leading energy drink. Many people don’t realize the the dangers of consuming these drinks on a regular basis, or are unphased by the effects that they may have on a person’s body.  Along with the increase in demand, the drinks have increased in size, largely containing two to three servings in one container,and the concerns over long term effects have developed alongside, raising concerns about the use of potentially harmful combinations of beverages.

In about 5 years, from 2005 to 2010 the consumption of energy drinks by the average American more than doubled, from .5 gallons to 1.2 gallons per year. Just since 2009 there have been 90 filings received by the FDA with reports of  heart attacks, convulsions, a spontaneous abortion, and a handful or two of deaths related to energy drinks, with more than 13,000 people being sent to the emergency room due to consumption of these drinks.

These drinks provide levels of caffeine that are considered unsafe, which is a concern for the FDA. For comparison, these drinks contain about 4 or 5 times as much caffeine as the average soda. Due to labeling laws, these companies are not legally obligated to display the amounts of caffeine, or may choose to only show partially what is in the beverage.  Other risks of consuming energy drinks are heart palpitations, seizures, strokes and sudden death. These risks become increasingly higher with the levels consumed, and should be monitored more closely, or avoided altogether.


Tanner, Lindsey. “Energy Drinks Can Be Dangerous for Teens, Report Says.” NBC. The Associated Press, 14 2011. Web. 15 Nov 2012. #.UKVEj-Oe9tR

Culp-Ressler, Tara. “Why Popular Energy Drinks Could Be More Dangerous Than You Think.” Think Progress. American Progress Action Fund, 15 2012. Web. 15 Nov 2012.

“By the Numbers: What Americans Drink in a Year.”Huffington Post. The Huffington Post, 27 2011. Web. 15 Nov 2012.

Importance of Children’s Nutrition

By: Steve Lore, Applied Nutrition for Healthy Living Fall 2012

How would one react if a baby were to be dropped on its head? Knowing that the baby’s brain is developing and being aware that any type of impact to the head can cause some form of brain damage, why would anyone do the same by not supplying their developing child with proper nutrition? According to, poor nutrition for toddlers and unborn babies can cause developmental issues localized in the brain. indicates that a baby’s diet should be 50% fat (Jones, 2011). Development of the brain in the womb begins during the tenth week of pregnancy, in which the mother must have a healthy and balanced diet to prevent the risk of the baby being born with some form of retardation or a behavioral issue (Jones, 2011). After birth, the best way for a baby to receive a wide variety of nutrients is through breast feeding or some form of an iron-fortified formula (Jones, 2011). Once the child moves onto solid food, it is better for the child to have an intake of nutrients such as iron and protein to prevent a deficiency from developing (Jones, 2011).
Given the information regarding what can happen if a child is on a poor diet, the risk shows to be dangerous. Of course, the nutrition provided to the child is up to parents. If a mother decides to not provide their child (born or unborn) with the necessary nutrients needed in their diet, the child may have a disorder or could obtain a deficiency. It is in the hands of the parent or guardian to supply the child with a well-balanced and nutrient rich diet to prevent developmental disorders (which can cause a child problems in school and/or lower a child’s IQ) and physical disorders such as that of protein malnutrition. Keeping a child’s diet healthy is keeping a child’s brain development healthy, which is why children should be supplied with a well-balanced diet that is rich in nutrients.
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Wednesday’s Food for Thought: Caffeine Consumption

By: Ryan Burgess, Applied Nutrition for Healthy Living, Fall 2012

Caffeine is a main ingredient in many peoples diet in today’s world. Most people who work a morning or night shift need a pick-me-up to be able to make it through a work day, but should limit there intake to only a few cups of coffee per day. It is also becoming extremely popular to take pre-workout supplements in which many contain high concentrations of caffeine, much more than the recommended daily dose.

This article is correct on the fact that caffeine can have good health effects if taken in moderation and not everyday. As long as you do not use it so much that you have withdrawals when you are not being stimulated by a rush of caffeine. Some people, such as those with ADHD, may need some sort of caffeine in order to cope with their disease and research has shown for it to also have preventable effects on diseases such as stroke. There is a common misconception that by consuming caffeine daily you will lose more weight. This may be somewhat true, however when a person stops taking so much caffeine their metabolism has the potential to slow down and weight gain may begin. Also the fact that caffeine raises a persons level of cortisol (stress hormone) it would actually add to the possibility of weight gain.

In conclusion, caffeine is a drug and must be used in moderation and with the recommended dosage to avoid ill effects. When properly used, caffeine can help someone stay more alert and focused or even more active for a longer time period while also helping lower your risk of catastrophes that could occur later in your life.




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The Perks of Being a Vegan

By: Lexee Barber, Applied Nutrition for Healthy Living Fall 2012

A vegan diet has increasingly become more popular in this country. Craig’s restaurant is a vegan joint, one of many, on Santa Monica Boulevard that caters to the new culinary wave. This restaurant wants to send the message that vegan restaurants are not only opening their doors and services to the anti-carnivorous vegans but to everyone willing to try a healthier meal that still tastes good. Behind the scenes, vegan chefs have become skilled at using nut butters and spicy oils to add spectacular flavors.

The plant based diet is seen to be more efficient for the environment and healthy living. Plants and nuts can provide us with plenty of vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and even protein.

General benefits to take into consideration:

1. Eating less meat can decrease the number of  industrial farms which in-turn decreases animal cruelty.

2. By eating plants directly instead of feeding it to the animals and then eating the animals, we are making more efficient use of our land and irrigation.

3. The vegan diet limits calories, salt, sugar, and harmful fats that can be found otherwise in a normal diet.

4. The vegan phenomenon will continue to grow and promote a healthier longer life.

Katz, David L. “The Benefits and Dangers of a Vegan Diet – Advice from Dr.  Katz –” N.p., Nov. 2009. Web. 17 Nov. 2012. <>.

Gordinier, Jeff. “Making Vegan A New Normal.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 26 Sept. 2012. Web. 18 Nov. 2012. <>.
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Wednesday’s Food for Thought: Childhood Obesity

By: Lucile Godek, Applied Nutrition for Healthy Living Fall 2012

Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that affects children and adolescents. It occurs when a child is well above the normal weight for his or her age and height. Childhood obesity is particularly troubling because the extra pounds often start children on the path to health problems that were once confined to adults, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Childhood obesity can also lead to poor self-esteem and depression.

In the USA, fast food has taken a toll on children’s health. Because of eating more and more fast food, child obesity is growing rapidly. It is also one of the primary reasons for what causes teen obesity.

Parents must cook nutritionally balanced meals, virtually eliminate snacks high in fat and sugar, teach portion control, pack healthy lunches, avoid fast food and help their children increase levels of physical activity. Parents must teach by doing, which means parents must also follow a nutritional and exercise plan that leads to a healthy weight.

Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Curtin LR, Lamb MM, Flegal KM. Prevalence of high body mass index in US children and adolescents, 2007–2008. Journal of the American Medical Association 2010;303(3):242–249.

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Crunchy, Crispy, Kale

Recently, everyone’s been talking about kale! It’s being discussed in every Healthy Living segment on daytime TV talk shows, it’s in health magazines, it’s in every nutrition blog (!), and it’s even making an appearance in vending machines as a chip! So, what’s so great about this leafy green that has everyone talking?

Kale, like broccoli and collard greens, is part of the cruciferous vegetable family. Like its family members, it demonstrates many of the same health benefits. Kale is full of powerful antioxidants and is a great source of calcium.

The USDAs Nutrient Database for Standard Reference  reports that 1 cup of kale has:

  • 34 calories
  • 90 mg of calcium (9% DV)
  • 80 mg of vitamin C (8% DV)
  • 515 mcg of vitamin A (205% DV)
  • 574 mcg of vitamin K (717% DV)
  • 299 mg of potassium (9% DV)

Kale is a great source of vitamins and minerals, and surprisingly, a source of omega 3 fatty acids too. Omega 3 fatty acids have been proven to:

  • reduce depression symptoms
  • protect against memory loss and dementia
  • reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer
  • support a healthy pregnancy, and
  • ease aching joints and inflammatory skin condition.

Perhaps the largest deterrent when it comes to eating kale is that most people don’t know how to prepare it. Below are two recipes for two unique and delicious ways to prepare kale.

Kale Chips (from here)

Makes 6 servings


  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp seasoning salt


1)      Preheat oven to 350oF. Line a non insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2)      With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt.

3)      Lay kale flat on cookie sheet. Bake until the edges brown, but aren’t burnt, about 10-15 minutes.

Get creative! Use your favorite seasonings to make these chips your own. Try garlic salt, lemon and black pepper, or even just plain sea salt and cracked pepper.

Nutritional Information per Serving (per 1/6 of the recipe):

*Calories: 58                                      *Total Fat: 2.8g                        *Cholesterol: 0mg

Kale with Pan-Fried Walnuts (Edited from here)

Makes 2 servings


  • 1 bunch of kale, stems and center ribs discarded
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped


1)      Tear kale into large pieces, then cook in a large pot of boiling water, uncovered. Cook for about 6 minutes, or until tender.

2)      Drain kale, and when cool, press out excess liquid.

3)      In a pan, cook walnuts over medium heat in oil, stirring occaisonaly, until golden; about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

4)      Add kale and salt a pepper to taste. Cook, tossing, until heated through.

5)      Serve kale warm.

Do you have a favorite recipe with kale? Share it with us below!

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Friday Review: Caveman Diet – Primordial Effects

By: Samantha Rutledge, Applied Nutrition for Healthy Living, Fall 2012

            This is a nutritional plan based on the primordial diet – going back to the earliest ages of human-kind, consisting of wild plants and animals. “Some are calling this a diet to become in touch with your spiritual side.” (Pat Fallon) It is a very wholesome diet allowing for an increase in energy. This diet hones in on the fact you will become much healthier. This equates to the fact that in the thick of the diet you will crave healthy foods and eat in more regular intervals.  There are an overwhelming amount of advantages to eating like this; however, it is extremely difficult because a lot of willpower is needed to be successful.

            The most important part of this diet allows your system to detox. Removing a build up of toxins in your body. Naturally making you feel clean inside and out (for example: in- intestines, out- skin complexion). This diet can be popular among those who need to be come more in touch with their senses, thus making your mind be sharp throughout the day. A certain animal instinct is developed through this eating style of sharpening senses. Some drawbacks would be, grain is completely revoked from the diet. A lot of people today look at grains as something negative; however, you need to see what works for you. If you are a person who needs this nutrient to keep them stable, this diet is not for you. For those looking for an alternative diet, that puts them back in touch with their primordial natural healthy side, this is a slam-dunk.

 What trendy diets have you tried lately?

*Pat Fallon, a sturdy contender in the Caveman Diet, NH 2012

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Wednesday’s Food for Thought: There’s An App For That!

It’s hard to remember what you eat every day. Most people can remember the main meals but forget about all the little snacks and treats they have had throughout the day. It’s those little nibbles and extra calories that make reaching your goal weight a challenge.

Studies have shown that people who keep food diaries lose up to two times as much weight compared to those who don’t. To keep track of everything you eat, write it down! If you don’t want to use the old-fashioned pen-and-paper, try one of these online sites. SparkPeople, FatSecret, and MyFitnessPal are free and easy to use. You can even get them on your smart phone as an app so you can track what, and how much, you are eating every day. Once you can see how much you are eating, you will be able to trim away the excess calories and have better success reaching your goal.

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