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Nutrition and heart health at Performance

Nutrition and heart health at Performance

See how Performance Optimal Health utilizes nutrition to help keep our clients' hearts happy and healthy. From preventative care to management, the Performance team takes a whole-body approach to nutrition.

February 8, 2024 | Ashley Jerry, MS

 


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Ashley Jerry

Ashley Jerry

Ashley Jerry, MS, is a nutritionist who specializes in a variety of fields, including food sensitivities, medical conditions, and sports nutrition. Her expertise includes gut health issues, weight loss, self-image and an overall understanding of nutrition, as well as treating a diverse range of medical conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood glucose levels, obesity, pregnancy, gastrointestinal function, anxiety, depression, and overall health.

Meet Ashley

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The role of nutrition in promoting heart health

The role of nutrition in promoting heart health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both women and men in the United States; maintaining a heart healthy diet is key to lowering your risk. Here's a case example of a client who is looking to improve her health and body composition, and what a sample menu representing the recommended diet.

February 6, 2024 | Francine Blinten, MS, CCN, CNS

heart healthy diet=

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both women and men in the United States. Risk drivers include high blood pressure, high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high triglycerides, diabetes, smoking and secondhand smoke exposure, obesity, unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity.

As a clinical nutritionist, I work with clients seeking to lower their risk factors through dietary modifications. The dietary pattern I most often recommend is the Mediterranean diet*. Conformity with the traditional Mediterranean Diet is associated with better cardiovascular health outcomes, including clinically meaningful reductions in rates of coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke, and total cardiovascular disease.

The nutrition consultation starts with a review of the client’s current clinical data. Specifically, I’m interested in fasting glucose, lipid panel, blood pressure and C-Reactive protein (a measure of inflammation). Body weight and waist circumference are also measured. We establish metabolic targets for out-of-range markers.

Together we evaluate the baseline diet and identify areas for improvement to meet the targets. We discuss lifestyle factors such as cooking skills, meal and hunger patterns as well as food preferences.

If the client has extra bodyweight, we need to address it because being overweight influences several risk drivers of disease. In my experience, a 5% reduction in baseline weight leads to significant clinical improvement.

The diet plan is tailored to the client’s age, gender, activity level and metabolic goals. Food allergies and sensitivities are noted. Portion sizes for each food category are outlined. In my experience, it is better to make small permanent changes rather than a complete overhaul; the latter usually fails.

Case Example

A 50-year-old woman presents with:

LDL cholesterol elevated at 145 mg/dL

Borderline fasting glucose at 110mg/dL

Borderline triglycerides at 150 mg/dL

Normal weight but waist measures 38”

Blood pressure is normal 120/80

Her target is:

< 100 mg/dL

80 – 95 mg/dL

< 100 mg/dL fasting

maintain weight, waist < 35”

maintain 120/80

She eats three meals and an afternoon snack. Breakfast is cereal or a muffin; lunch is a sandwich or salad; dinner is chicken with a starch and a vegetable or pasta and a salad. She likes eggs but is afraid to eat them because of her cholesterol, so she eats cereal or a muffin instead. She likes fish but doesn’t prepare it at home. Snacks are protein bars or chocolate. She also exercises three times a week playing pickleball.

The remedy:

Her breakfast is low in protein and fiber. She plays pickleball after breakfast, so I recommended she start the day with more protein to better fuel her game.
I suggested 7 eggs/week for her, preferably with vegetables or fruit, as well as adding more fish and a few vegetarian meals each week. She should limit refined carbohydrates such as cereal and muffins, as they are likely raising her LDL, triglycerides, and blood sugar. The pancreas must produce more insulin in response to the rise in glucose. Over time, insulin resistance leads to fat placement in the abdomen.

Sample menu:

Breakfast

Yogurt with almonds and berries

or

Eggs with spinach and mushrooms

Lunch

Minestrone soup, cucumber and tomato salad

Or

Grilled chicken and chickpea salad with olives and feta, olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Snack

Bell pepper with humus

Or

Apple and almond butter

Dinner

Roasted salmon with garlic and brussels sprouts

Or

Turkey chili and roasted butternut squash

Or

Sweet potato black bean chili


Want to get started on achieving your goals?

Schedule an Optimal Health Assessment! Our team of experts will put a coordinated and highly-personalized strategy in place so you can reach your goals... and exceed them.

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Francine Blinten

Francine Blinten

Francine Blinten, MBA, MS, CCN, CNS, is a nutritionist who specializes in disease prevention, management of chronic disease, weight management, gastrointestinal disorders and bone support. She also has a subspecialty in oncology nutrition.

Meet Francine

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RECIPE: White bean and kale soup, perfect for balancing blood sugar levels

White bean and kale soup, perfect for balancing blood sugar levels

During the holidays we tend to eat delicious foods that are higher in sugar, carbohydrates, etc. A great way to balance this out is to focus on foods that help to maintain steady blood sugar levels throughout the day. Here's a recipe perfect for doing so.

January 2, 2024 | Ashley Jerry, MS

white bean and kale soup

Recipe from Culinary Hill, with modifications from nutritionist Ashley Jerry, MS.

This white bean and kale soup is a nourishing dish packed with the benefits of kale and creamy white beans recommended by nutritionist Ashley Jerry. During the holidays, we tend to eat delicious foods that are higher in sugar, carbohydrates, etc. A great way to balance this out is to focus on foods that help to maintain steady blood sugar levels throughout the day. Foods that help to balance blood sugar levels include oatmeal, beans, and other high fiber foods such as nuts, seeds, raspberries and apples.

This hearty soup is lightly seasoned with garlic and herbs, creating a delicious blend of flavors. Kale is known as a “superfood” because it is packed with properties that can help lower blood sugar levels, such as fiber and flavonoids antioxidants.

Beans are rich in magnesium, fiber, and protein, all that can also help lower blood sugar. Beans are also high in soluble fiber and resistant starch, which slows down digestions and helps against post-meal blood sugar spikes.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
  • 1 can (15 oz) white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Steps

  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, sauté until fragrant.
  2. Add carrots and celery, and cook until slightly softened.
  3. Add kale and cook until wilted.
  4. Add white beans, vegetable broth, dried thyme, dried rosemary, salt, and pepper. Stir well.
  5. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Adjust seasoning according to taste.
  7. Serve hot, and enjoy this nourishing bowl of goodness!

Want to get started on your nutrition goals for the year?

Schedule an appointment with one of our nutritionists!

Contact Us


Ashley Jerry

Ashley Jerry

Ashley Jerry, MS, is a nutritionist who specializes in a variety of fields, including food sensitivities, medical conditions, and sports nutrition. Her expertise includes gut health issues, weight loss, self-image and an overall understanding of nutrition, as well as treating a diverse range of medical conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood glucose levels, obesity, pregnancy, gastrointestinal function, anxiety, depression, and overall health.

Meet Ashley

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RECIPE: Zucchini frittata, a high protein start to your day — and year

Zucchini frittata, a high protein start to your day — and year

Protein is one of the most important nutrients for weight loss and creating balanced meals; increasing the amount of protein you eat may help support weight loss by balancing certain hormones and helping you feel satiated longer, among other benefits.

January 2, 2024 | Ashley Jerry, MS

zucchini frittata

Recipe from EatingWell, recommended by nutritionist Ashley Jerry, MS.

Start your day — and the new year — strong with a protein-packed, delicious frittata. Protein is one of the most important nutrients for weight loss and creating balanced meals; increasing the amount of protein you eat may help support weight loss by balancing certain hormones and helping you feel satiated longer, among other benefits.

This Italian dish, similar to a flat omelet, can be filled with a variety of ingredients and makes for a perfect impromptu meal any time of day, but I especially love to eat it for breakfast. Whether you're in need of a hearty breakfast like me, a light lunch, or a satisfying dinner, frittatas are the perfect solution, and a great way to incorporate more protein and vegetables into your daily intake. You can also add smoked salmon for additional protein!

Ingredients

  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup diced zucchini, (1 small)
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ cup slivered fresh mint
  • ¼ cup slivered fresh basil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 large eggs 4 egg whites
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese, (2 ounces)

Steps

  1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini and onion; cook, stirring often, for 1 minute. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is tender, but not mushy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, mint, basil, 1/8 teaspoon salt and a grinding of pepper; increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, until the moisture has evaporated, 30 to 60 seconds.
  2. Whisk eggs, the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, and a grinding of pepper in a large bowl until blended. Add the zucchini mixture and cheese; stir to combine.
  3. Preheat the broiler.
  4. Wipe out the pan and brush it with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil; place over medium-low heat. Add the frittata mixture and cook, without stirring, until the bottom is light golden, 2 to 4 minutes. As it cooks, lift the edges and tilt the pan so uncooked egg will flow to the edges.
  5. Place the pan under the broiler and broil until the frittata is set and the top is golden, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Loosen the edges and slide onto a plate.
  6. Cut into wedges and serve.

Want to get started on your nutrition goals for the year?

Schedule an appointment with one of our nutritionists!

Contact Us


Ashley Jerry

Ashley Jerry

Ashley Jerry, MS, is a nutritionist who specializes in a variety of fields, including food sensitivities, medical conditions, and sports nutrition. Her expertise includes gut health issues, weight loss, self-image and an overall understanding of nutrition, as well as treating a diverse range of medical conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood glucose levels, obesity, pregnancy, gastrointestinal function, anxiety, depression, and overall health.

Meet Ashley

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RECIPE: Carrot and celery soup, using a seasonal ingredient

Carrot and celery soup with thyme pecan crumble

Throughout the year, there are certain vegetables that are considered "in season," which means they are purchased and consumed around the time that they are harvested — when they are freshest, and typically tastiest.

January 2, 2024 | Ashley Jerry, MS

carrot and celery soup

Recipe from It's a Veg World After All, recommended by nutritionist Ashley Jerry, MS.

Seasonal eating is a term used to describe the practice of eating foods, produce in particular when it’s at its harvest peak. For this reason, seasonal food is fresher, contains higher nutrient levels, and tastes better than out of season foods. Seasonal fruits and vegetables produced on local farms are often fresher, as they do not require long distances for transport. Eating seasonally may have health benefits and may offer a sustainable alternative to other practices. That's why our nutritionist, Ashley Jerry, recommends to her clients to eat seasonally when possible, and shop at your local farmers market to find the highest quality of seasonal produce depending on the season!

Here are some of January's in-season foods:

  • Beets
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Citrus
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Parsnips
  • Pomegranate
  • Turnips
  • Winter Squash

To celebrate one of the highly nutritious veggies of the season, the carrot, here's the recipe for a carrot and celery soup Ashley recommends, perfect for the winter. This recipe serves four people, with each serving totaling 340 calories.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic pressed or minced
  • 4 carrots sliced
  • 6 stalks celery sliced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup pecans chopped
  • 2 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar or coconut sugar

Steps

  1. In a large soup pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil and add the garlic and onion. Sautee for a few minutes before adding the carrots and celery. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the vegetables are slightly tender, then add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer/low boil, and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the carrots are tender.
  2. When the carrots are tender, remove the soup from heat and use an immersion blender to puree it. You can also transfer the soup in batches to a regular blender to puree it.
  3. While the soup is cooking, heat the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped pecans, thyme, and brown sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, until the pecans are fragrant (about 3-5 minutes). Be careful not to burn them. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the thyme pecan crumble. Enjoy!

Serve with fish or chicken breast for a complete meal.


Want to get started on your nutrition goals for the year?

Schedule an appointment with one of our nutritionists!

Contact Us


Ashley Jerry

Ashley Jerry

Ashley Jerry, MS, is a nutritionist who specializes in a variety of fields, including food sensitivities, medical conditions, and sports nutrition. Her expertise includes gut health issues, weight loss, self-image and an overall understanding of nutrition, as well as treating a diverse range of medical conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood glucose levels, obesity, pregnancy, gastrointestinal function, anxiety, depression, and overall health.

Meet Ashley

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Food is primary care: the role of food in preventing and managing chronic diseases

Food is primary care: the role of food in preventing and managing chronic diseases

Long a blind spot of medicine, nutrition has stepped into focus in recent years. Yet it can be a powerful tool to promote a healthy life, if used correctly. "Food Is Medicine" is defined as the provision of healthy food resources to prevent, delay, manage, or treat specific clinical conditions in coordination with the health care system.

December 7, 2023 | Francine Blinten, MBA, MS, CCN, CNS

food is medicine

Long a blind spot of medicine, nutrition has stepped into focus in recent years. Yet it can be a powerful tool to promote a healthy life, if used correctly. "Food Is Medicine" is defined as the provision of healthy food resources to prevent, delay, manage, or treat specific clinical conditions in coordination with the health care system.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, six out of every ten adults in the United States have at least one chronic disease, and about four in ten have two or more chronic diseases. Chronic diseases are conditions of long-term duration and require ongoing medical care; they include cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, hypertension, cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and osteoporosis, among others. Healthful nutrition practices are an essential component of efforts to prevent or control these diseases.

While nutrition cannot replace medicine, it can be an important part of a care plan; one the patient can control. Importantly, people are demanding it and if their healthcare providers are not incorporating therapeutic lifestyle options in their patient encounters, they will seek it out elsewhere, often from scientifically unsupported sources.

Fortunately, several organizations and associations are recommending guidelines, research, and funding for food as medicine programs. The American Heart Association (AHA) recently called for more research on integrating food and nutrition into healthcare. In September 2022, the AHA launched a Food Is Medicine research initiative designed to determine the impact of nutrition-based interventions on disease prevention and treatment, compared with standard medical care.

The National institute of Health published a study that showed preventable cancer burden is associated with poor diet in the United States, which means we can decrease our risk of cancer by maintaining a healthy diet.

Another example is preventing diabetes: the National Diabetes Prevention Program is the CDC-recognized lifestyle change program, a research-based program focusing on healthy eating and physical activity which showed that people with prediabetes who take part in a structured lifestyle change program can cut their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58% (71% for people over 60 years old).

Below are some examples of how your healthcare providers can integrate nutrition in their care, empowering clients to live a healthy lifestyle.

  • Providing educational materials such as handouts on diet related disease with sample meal plans and recipes.
  • Providing support for clients experiencing treatment related side effects. Dietary modifications can provide symptom relief so they can better tolerate treatment.
  • Appropriate referrals to dietitians or nutritionists. A feedback loop is crucial so providers can reinforce diet recommendations during patient visits.
  • Nutrition competency training for staff so everyone can participate in the effort and provide support.

Here's what you can do on a daily basis to improve your eating habits and lower your risk of chronic disease, or manage its symptoms:

  • Prioritize Plant-Based Foods
    • Increase the proportion of plant-based foods in your diet, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, and nuts, which are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  • Limit Processed Foods and Sugars
    • Reduce the intake of processed foods, sugary snacks, and beverages. Opt for whole, unprocessed foods to minimize added sugars and artificial ingredients.
  • Choose Healthy Cooking Methods
    • Opt for cooking methods such as baking, grilling, steaming, and sautéing instead of deep frying. These methods help retain the nutritional value of food.
  • Include Omega-3 Fatty Acids
    • Incorporate sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish (salmon, mackerel), flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts, which are beneficial for heart and brain health.
  • Regular Physical Activity
    • Combine a healthy diet with regular physical activity for optimal health. Exercise contributes to overall well-being and can complement the benefits of a nutritious diet.
  • Consult with Healthcare Professionals
    • Seek advice from healthcare professionals, such as registered dietitians or nutritionists, for personalized guidance based on individual health needs and goals.
  • Cultivate Healthy Eating Habits
    • Aim for consistency in making healthy food choices, and view food as a form of self-care. Cultivate a positive relationship with food for long-term well-being.

Francine Blinten

Francine Blinten

Francine Blinten, MBA, MS, CCN, CNS, specializes in disease prevention, management of chronic disease, weight management, gastrointestinal disorders and bone support. She also has a subspecialty in oncology nutrition.

Meet Francine

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A comprehensive recipe for weight loss: it’s not just about exercise

A comprehensive recipe for weight loss: it's not just about exercise

When it comes to weight loss, the two commonly discussed factors include exercise and nutrition. But can someone lose weight by changing their exercise habits, but not their nutrition? Research says no: to lose weight, it is necessary to both increase physical activity and adopt a healthy, balanced diet.

October 6, 2023 | Ashley Jerry, MS

food and measuring tape

When it comes to weight loss, the two commonly discussed factors include exercise and nutrition. But can someone lose weight by changing their exercise habits, but not their nutrition? Many believe that to lose weight, it is necessary to both increase physical activity and adopt a healthy, balanced diet.

To fully identify the potential outcome of only adjusting exercise habits, one must first understand the relationship between exercise and weight loss. Exercise plays a pivotal role in burning calories and increasing metabolism. It also builds lean muscle mass, which contributes to a higher basal metabolic rate. Simply stated, the more muscle one has, the more calories they burn even at rest. Additionally, exercise helps improve cardiovascular health, boosts mood, and increases overall energy levels. Exercise is undeniably a fundamental component of any weight loss journey.

However, relying solely on exercise to lose weight poses several challenges. The first challenge includes the caloric deficit equation. An hour of moderate-intensity exercise may burn around 300-500 calories, depending on various factors such as body weight, duration, and intensity. Additionally, exercise can also stimulate hunger and increase appetite, making it more challenging to resist unhealthy food choices. Research has demonstrated that intense exercise can lead to an increase in the hunger hormone, ghrelin, while simultaneously reducing the level of the hormone responsible for suppressing appetite, leptin. This hormonal response can create a vicious cycle, making it difficult to adhere to a calorie deficit solely through exercise, without controlling nutrition habits.

Some people believe that if one were to increase the intensity and duration of their workouts, they will burn enough calories to create a calorie deficit, resulting in weight loss. While this may be true to some extent, it is important to note that relying solely on exercise to achieve weight loss goals can be a challenging and unsustainable approach. Additionally, the body is highly efficient at adapting to increased physical activity. Over time, the body becomes more efficient at performing the exercise routine, which means fewer calories are burned for the same effort. This is known as exercise adaptation, which can further impede weight loss efforts if nutrition is not addressed.

Studies have consistently shown that diet plays a more significant role in weight loss than exercise alone. In fact, numerous studies strongly support the view that changing dietary habits is fundamental for long term successful and sustainable weight loss. This is because it is much easier to consume calories than it is to burn them through physical activity.

Incorporating a balanced diet consisting of lean proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats (macronutrients) and one that is limited in calories will create a caloric deficit, ultimately leading to weight loss. Individuals can support their overall exercise performance and recovery by consuming nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and lean proteins which promotes satiety and prevents overeating.

Another important factor to consider is the importance of post-exercise nutrition. After a workout, the body requires proper nourishment to replenish glycogen stores, repair muscles, and support recovery. Consuming a balanced meal or snack that includes adequate protein and carbohydrates can enhance the benefits of exercise and maximize weight loss. Protein consumption is particularly crucial, as it promotes muscle synthesis and boosts metabolism, helping to sustain weight loss efforts in the long run.

While it is possible for some individuals to lose weight solely by changing their exercise habits. It is often more efficient to address both exercise and nutrition simultaneously to achieve sustainable weight loss and optimize overall well-being.

It is essential to recognize that no one-size-fits-all approach exists and it is best to consult with a qualified nutritionist or healthcare provider who can provide personalized guidance for sustainable weight loss.


Ashley Jerry

Ashley Jerry

Ashley Jerry, MS, is a nutritionist who specializes in a variety of fields, including food sensitivities, medical conditions, and sports nutrition. Her expertise includes gut health issues, weight loss, self-image and an overall understanding of nutrition, as well as treating a diverse range of medical conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood glucose levels, obesity, pregnancy, gastrointestinal function, anxiety, depression, and overall health.

Meet Ashley

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Marathon Mondays: Nutrition and hydration for the long distance runner

Marathon Mondays: Nutrition and hydration for the long distance runner

On this episode of Marathon Mondays, hosts Britt Gunsser and Brendan Copley bring in nutritionist Ashley Jerry to discuss essential fueling strategies for long-distance runners. They cover the importance of macronutrients, hydration, and carbohydrate intake, providing practical tips to manage GI distress, optimize nutrition during taper phases, and make informed choices regarding supplements, all aimed at helping runners enhance their performance and recovery.

June 5, 2023 | Britt Gunsser, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS | Brendan Copley, CSCS, ATC | Ashley Jerry, MS

Nutrition and hydration for the long distance runner

On this episode of Marathon Mondays hosted by physical therapist and RRCA Running Coach Britt Gunsser and personal trainer Brendan Copley invite nutritionist Ashley Jerry to share insights on fueling strategies for long-distance runners. The episode kicks off by emphasizing the importance of proper nutrition throughout the entire training plan, and especially as training intensity and duration increase. Ashley underscores the essential role of macronutrients — carbohydrates, fats, and proteins — in meeting a runner's energy needs. Additionally, she offers practical advice on maintaining proper hydration, especially in hot weather, and ensuring an adequate intake of electrolytes.

The discussion deepens into the significance of carbohydrates in sustaining energy levels during long runs, and they discuss recommendations based on the timing and types of carbohydrates that runners should consume. Ashley also provides examples of pre and post-meal options for marathon runners and explores strategies to manage gastrointestinal distress during and after runs, shedding light on common triggers for such issues and how to prevent them.

Over the course of the episode, Ashley, Brendan and Britt cover a range of topics related to running nutrition, including fueling on days involving both running and weightlifting, the use of supplements like BCAAs and green powders, recognizing signs of under-recovery, and the importance of incorporating rest days into a training regimen.

Listen here, or wherever you get your podcasts.


Ashley Jerry

Ashley Jerry

Ashley Jerry, MS, is a nutritionist who specializes in a variety of fields, including food sensitivities, medical conditions, and sports nutrition. Ashley specializes in sports-specific nutrition guidance, including for sports such as running, powerlifting, bodybuilding, crew, football, and more.

Meet Ashley

Britt Gunsser

Britt Gunsser

Britt Gunsser, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS, is a board certified orthopedic clinical specialist, certified Schroth therapist and dry needling specialist. She has completed extensive work on running rehabilitation and is an RRCA Running Coach.

Meet Britt

Brendan Copley

Brendan Copley

Brendan Copley, CSCS, ATC, is a personal trainer who specializes in working with endurance athletes and post-rehab clients. Brendan is a marathoner and former cross-country runner and has worked as an athletic trainer for Quinnipiac University’s cross-country and track teams.

Meet Brendan

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Building sustainable habits for young girls: fueling the body with nutrition

Building sustainable habits for young girls: fueling the body with nutrition

Building sustainable habits for young girls: fueling the body with nutrition

For a teenage female, keeping a healthy mindset, being active and having a healthy eating routine is important as they grow. Nutrition can directly affect a young females health, cognitive performance, mood, and energy levels.

Apr 28, 2023 | Ashley Jerry, MS

Building sustainable habits for young girls: fueling the body with nutrition

For a teenage female, keeping a healthy mindset, being active and having a healthy eating routine is important as they grow. Nutrition can directly affect a young females health, cognitive performance, mood, and energy levels. Hormone health is also a huge factor related to nutrition and the teenage female body.

Your brain, bones and muscles are still growing; therefore, we need to make sure you are fueling your body properly. We want to strive to be athletic, healthy, and happy in our own bodies.

A teenage girl should consume between 2,000 to 2,400 calories depending on their activity levels, according toU.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Although needs vary, most teens should consume three meals plus a snack or two throughout the day, especially if the teen has increased activity levels with sports. Balanced meals and snacks should include a protein source, carbohydrate source and a high-quality fat source. Carbohydrates are the key to energy, protein is the key to muscle repair and growth, fats are important for nutrient absorption, and fruits and vegetables are vital for vitamin and mineral consumption providing essential nutrients for the teenage body.

  • Examples of protein include chicken, turkey, ground beef, Greek yogurt, fish, eggs, tofu, etc.,
  • Examples of carbohydrates include rice, fruit, beans, potatoes, vegetables, oatmeal, popcorn, etc.
  • Examples of fats include olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, etc.

Along with proper intake of calories and nutrients, hydration is also extremely important. Studies show a female teen should intake 80-100oz. of water per day depending on activity levels.

Most importantly, young girls should adopt healthy habits including consuming nutritious foods, staying active, and drinking plenty of water. Having a positive relationship with the mind and body can help keep you happy and healthy in the future. Fuel your mind and body for everyday life, health, mental health, and athletic performance!


Ashley Jerry

Ashley Jerry

Ashley Jerry, MS, is a nutritionist who specializes in a variety of fields, including food sensitivities, medical conditions, and sports nutrition.

Meet Ashley

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How Can Nutrition Impact Longevity?

How Can Nutrition Impact Longevity?

How Can Nutrition Impact Longevity?

We are excited to announce that Performance Optimal Health is now offering memberships, the first of which is the Nutrition for Longevity Membership. It is designed to help clients increase their energy, prevent the development of disease, improve quality of life and even prolong their lifespan. Here's a preview.

Feb 27, 2023 | Koren Bradshaw, MS, CDN,CLC

How Can Nutrition Impact Longevity?

Try as we might, we are not able to stop the biological process of aging – even the fittest among us eventually experience the aging process.

What we are able to control, however, are the individual risk factors for the negative effects of aging, and the ability to potentially slow the speed and impact of the aging process.

Fortunately for most, there’s no magic wand required. Through simple, focused changes in diet and lifestyle, we may be able to increase our energy, prevent the development of disease, improve our quality of life and prolong our lifespan.

Though of course aging impacts the entire body, focusing on the health of several key body systems can vastly improve the aging experience by helping to maintain mobility, energy, agility, and cognitive health. Ensuring these areas are healthy will provide for a markedly improved aging experience and more enjoyable later decades.

In the email portion of the Nutrition for Longevity Membership, we will focus on nourishing and supporting the Brain, Bone, Muscle, Skin and Joint, Gut Health, and Immune Systems so that you will feel strong, and more energetic and make strides toward sustained longevity.

How Does Nutrition Make An Impact Here?

Well, much like your mom used to say, you literally are what you eat! The foods we incorporate into our daily diet can and do strongly impact the health and function of these systems so crucial to a healthy aging process. Being sure to intentionally include certain foods provides necessary nutrients and building blocks to support cellular processes, maintain health and even promote growth where ideal, while also protecting against degeneration.

The best way to take your first steps toward longevity is to keep it simple and take a look at your next meal, and the pantry you’re pulling your food from. Quality and content matter when it comes to fueling your health and the first step is making sure what you’re eating is serving you well.

Each week in this series, we’ll delve deeper into a different topic and provide information on how to eat well and incorporate the building blocks you need to maximize your longevity potential!


The Nutrition for Longevity Membership is designed to help clients increase their energy, prevent the development of disease, improve quality of life and even prolong their lifespan. The membership begins with a 60-minute one-on-one evaluation with a nutritionist, followed by a weekly education email series as well as monthly 60-minute consultations.

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How a 72-hour fast pushes your body into ketosis

How a 72-hour fast pushes your body into ketosis

How a 72-hour fast pushes your body into ketosis

A few months ago, physical therapist Shane Foley chose to complete a 72-hour fast, putting his body into a state of ketosis. Here's what he got out of it.

Feb 22, 2023 | Shane Foley, DPT, OCS, CSCS

How a 72-hour fast pushes your body into ketosis

A 72-hour fast, or fasting for three consecutive days without any food intake, can help your body enter a state of ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body burns stored fat for energy instead of glucose from carbohydrates. Here are some potential benefits of a 72-hour fast that forces your body into ketosis:

Weight loss: When you're in ketosis, your body becomes more efficient at burning fat for energy, which can lead to weight loss. Fasting for 72 hours may also lead to a reduction in overall calorie intake, which can further aid in weight loss.

Improved insulin sensitivity: When you fast, your body's insulin levels decrease, which can help improve insulin sensitivity. This can be particularly beneficial for people with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes.

Increased mental clarity: Many people report feeling more alert and focused when they're in ketosis. This is thought to be due to the fact that the brain can use ketones (produced during ketosis) as an alternative source of energy.

Reduced inflammation: Some studies suggest that ketosis can help reduce inflammation in the body. This could potentially benefit people with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis or autoimmune diseases.

Improved metabolic health: Ketosis may help improve various markers of metabolic health, such as triglyceride levels, blood pressure, and HDL (good) cholesterol levels. These benefits may also be related to the weight loss that often occurs during ketosis.

However, it is important to note that fasting with zero caloric intake for 72 hours can be challenging and should be done under medical supervision, especially if you have any underlying health conditions. Anecdotally, it was an interesting experience to realize that after the 72 hour mark, I had more energy than before, and that physical activity and exertion helped increase my energy levels, which should help force the synthesis of ketones.

For more on the benefits of fasting, check out our podcast on how fasting can help you lose weight and gain energy:


Shane Foley

Shane Foley

Shane Foley, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS, is an orthopedic specialist who is certified in strength and conditioning, dry needling, and the Schroth Method. He is the Greenwich Site Lead.

Meet Shane

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How to avoid the nutrition resolutions that set us up to fail

How to avoid the nutrition resolutions that set us up to fail

How to avoid the nutrition resolutions that set us up to fail

Jan 2, 2023 | Jacqueline Ballou Erdos, CCSD, CDN

Many nutrition resolutions set us up to fail from the start. So if you’re looking to lose weight this year, consider this.

How to avoid the nutrition resolutions that set us up to fail

It’s that time of year again when many of us make resolutions. We recommit to the gym, resolve to eat clean and strive to lose weight.

The holidays can be a wonderful and festive time of year. But, come January, you might feel drained. You could worry that you overindulged over the holidays, or you may feel a little dreary about the long winter ahead. You may be stressed about the toll the holidays took on your finances, or maybe you didn't have time to travel or see friends and family.

The new year offers us a clean slate, a chance to reset. Resolutions encourage us to better ourselves. They inspire us to do good and they bring hope about the year ahead. In theory, resolutions are a good thing, right?

But, when it comes to nutrition resolutions, it depends. Why? There’s one not-so-little problem about many nutrition resolutions that are made: they set us up to fail from the start.

If you’re resolving to lose weight this year, consider this. (Hear me out).

Diets aren’t sustainable

Diets work, in the short term, but the long-term outlook on diets and weight loss is bleak at best. A meta-analysis of 31 weight loss interventions with follow-ups of two to five years showed that although most people can initially lose 5–10% of their weight in the first six months, the large majority eventually regain all the weight they lost. Between one and two-thirds of people even regain more weight than they initially lost within 2–5 years.

Sticking to a diet isn’t about willpower

Dieting decreases the metabolism and increases hunger. The compensatory mechanisms that occur with dieting make sense from an evolutionary standpoint since our bodies are hardwired for survival. To the body, dieting is viewed similarly as a famine. It defends itself by responding with hormones and signals that decrease metabolism and preserve body fat. This makes us think about food, increases hunger and makes us feel less satisfied when we do eat. In short, dieting causes bingeing through compensatory biologic responses. That is what makes it difficult to stick to a diet — not a lack of willpower.

Body weight is difficult to control

Just like our shoe size, height and eye color, set point theory says that our weight is determined by a complex interaction of genetics and lifestyle. It’s estimated that our weight set point is a range of somewhere between 10–20 pounds, at which point our bodies function optimally.

When we try to lower our set point weight through dieting, the cascade of regulatory mechanisms described above sets in motion to defend our body weight. Set point weight is a weight you tend to maintain when you eat to appetite, in response to hunger and fullness cues. You may have already heard of this under a different name: “intuitive eating.” It may be the weight your body naturally returns to in between diets, or when you do not fixate on weight or food. However, this may not be your target weight, just your natural one.

What to resolve to accomplish instead

This year, instead of making weight loss resolutions that may set you up for failure, how would it feel to start working toward acceptance of your current body? In honoring your body where it’s at now, how can you take best care of it in the new year? Would it be through finding ways to move that you enjoy? Or maybe it’s resolving to take more time for self-care, whatever that looks like for you. Or, it could be finding a way to eat the foods you love and make you feel good.

Food for thought.


Jacqueline Ballou Erdos

Jacqueline Ballou Erdos

Jacqueline Ballou Erdos, MS, RD, CCSD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian and Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. She is passionate about helping clients foster a lifelong, healthy relationship with food and their bodies, and works with her clients to create a custom plan that suits their needs.

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Managing diabetes through nutrition

Managing diabetes through nutrition

Managing diabetes through nutrition

By consuming healthy, whole, unprocessed foods, you can greatly mitigate the risks of developing type II diabetes as well as manage it if you already have it.

Nov 15, 2022 | Will Murtagh, PT, DPT, CSCS

Managing diabetes through nutrition

There are currently more than 37 million adults in the United States who currently have type II diabetes. That equates to about one person out of every 10 who is living with the disease, which is classified as a chronic health condition that affects the capability of your body to turn the food you consume into energy. When we consume food, the digestive system will break down the food that has been eaten into the simplest form of sugar – glucose. Once glucose has been formed, it is then released into the blood stream to be shuttled to parts of the body that require it such as the brain and muscle tissue. However, when someone is classified as having diabetes, the transfer of glucose from the blood stream into these tissues becomes inhibited due to the lack of insulin present (type I) or inability of cells to respond to insulin (type II), the latter of which is not genetic, but developed over time.

So, why does this matter? As we continue to consume food during a meal or snack, blood sugar will begin to rise as glucose is formed and enters the blood stream. If this glucose is unable to be transferred out of the blood stream, negative consequences can occur such as vomiting, excessive hunger and thirst, rapid heartbeat, and vision issues. Long term consequences include heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.

Rising blood sugar values is a normal part of the digestive process. However, the above-mentioned negative consequences are a result of the bodies inability to bring blood sugar down to resting levels. Blood glucose levels can fluctuate based on mealtimes, stress, and activity; a normal response after a meal is considered to be at a level of 100-140mg/dl two hours after a meal. If blood sugar remains elevated above 200mg/dl, that would indicate that diabetes is present.

There is currently no cure for diabetes type I or type II. But there are ways you can both prevent further development of the disease as well as optimize your management of it. One of the primary ways to do so also happens to be one of our four pillars of optimal health: nutrition.

By consuming healthy, whole, unprocessed foods, you can greatly mitigate the risks of developing type II diabetes as well as manage it if you already have it. Processed foods are any food item that has been synthesized industrially and typically contain five or more ingredients such as hydrogenated oil, fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners, color emulsifiers and preservatives. A recent meta-analysis involving 230,526 adults from several countries over five different studies found that there was a statistically significant increase in the likelihood of developing type II diabetes with a high consumption of processed food. In fact, they found that for every 10% increase in calories coming from processed food, there was a 15% increase in the likelihood of developing the disease.

What does a diet that avoids processed foods and minimizes the risk of developing type II diabetes look like? A great place to start is by choosing non-starchy vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and whole grains5, as well as avoiding sugar sweetened beverages like soft drinks and choosing water or other unsweetened beverages. You can also begin to familiarize yourself with the glycemic index so that you can choose foods that won’t raise blood sugar as rapidly or as high as other foods might.

The glycemic index is a value system assigned to foods based on the effect they have on blood sugar after consuming them. Higher GI foods raise blood sugar rapidly while low GI foods raise it slowly over time. For those looking to prevent or manage type II diabetes you would want to choose foods that are low GI foods to keep blood glucose in an optimal range and steady over the course of the day. For example, choosing lentils (32) which are a low GI food, over french fries (63) that are a high GI food.

Preventing or managing diabetes can be challenging in today’s society. Often it requires a shift in lifestyle to prioritize healthy behaviors such as consistent exercise and eating healthy foods. But, fortunately with the help of professionals, such as nutritionists at Performance Optimal Health, you can get the support you need to avoid things like processed foods in your diet and introduce more whole foods as well as safe and professional exercise programs into your daily and weekly routine!


Will Murtagh

Will Murtagh

Will Murtagh, DPT, CSCS, CISSN, CF-L1, is a physical therapist and strength and conditioning specialist based in Hamden. He specializes in sports and orthopedic physical therapy, with a subspecialty in sports nutrition.ality in cardiac training and rehabilitation, as well as reading EKGs.

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Nutrition for the mind and body

Nutrition for the mind and body

Nutrition for the mind and body

The body and mind are connected in more ways than one, especially through the gut. The food we eat directly impacts our hormones, mood, and more. Here's what you need to know about how nutrition can impact not just your gut health, but your mental and emotional state as well.

May 17, 2022 | Koren Bradshaw, MS, CDN, CLC

Nutrition for the mind and body

Ever had butterflies in your stomach or a strong gut feeling? Maybe your digestion gets disrupted, or you have some heartburn when you’re stressed. These are just a few of the outward physical signs we have that our body and mind are truly connected. Today, so many people are searching for “balance” — we’d like to be healthy, feel calm and not stressed, have plenty of time to enjoy families and friends, and accomplish the days’ tasks while fulfilling ourselves with work. This is a tall order that can sometimes lead to more stress!

Physically, our minds and bodies are literally connected — one of our most major nerve bundles, the vagus nerve, runs directly from our brain to our gut (specifically the digestive tract and intestines). The vagus nerves are the main nerves of our parasympathetic nervous system and act as a highway of information between our brain, gut and gut microbiome. It was once thought that information primarily ran from the brain to the gut, but recent research is showing that information more often stems from our gut and brings information to the brain. The food we eat provides information to our bodies about our surroundings, our nutrient status, health, local bacteria, and more.

Often called “the second brain,” the gut is where over 90% of your serotonin is produced as well as about 50% of your dopamine — not in the brain as one might think. Serotonin is sometimes referred to as your “happiness hormone” and has many jobs: it helps to regulate your mood, anxiety, memory, sleep, sexual function, bone health, even blood clotting. Dopamine controls things like concentration, focus, gut motility and feelings of contentment, among others. Additionally — and hugely important these days — the gut is where our immune system largely resides and is where we absorb most of the vitamins and minerals from our food. When the gut lining is disrupted, so too, then, is your production of these neurotransmitters; a chronically disrupted gut can lead to disrupted mood and life and leave you susceptible to illness. It’s easy to see why it’s so important to be mindful of gut health.

Other factors impact both our emotions and our bodies. When we are stressed, our adrenal glands produce cortisol, which is our main stress hormone that acts as a sort of natural alarm in our bodies. Our adrenal glands also produce adrenaline, otherwise known as the “fight or flight” hormone (most of us have experienced this feeling at some point!). Cortisol is a powerful inhibitor of insulin: when cortisol rises — due to stress, illness, or lack of sleep — our body changes how it uses insulin, encouraging our blood levels of glucose to rise and be available for quick energy (to fight that bear it thinks you’re facing down). If and when you don’t use that glucose, what happens to it? You guessed it: it gets stored…as fat, particularly in and around our belly and organs. Cortisol also narrows our blood vessels, causing our blood to pump harder and increasing our blood pressure. Consumption of alcohol has been shown to both increase cortisol levels and disrupt the gut microbiome; it’s best to keep alcoholic beverages to a minimum and find other ways of relieving stress.

How can we best support our mind-body connection? Start with healthy eating!

Being sure to include foods in your diet that support your brain and gut health are an easy place to begin. The brain alone is almost 65% fat! Choose foods that are rich in Omega-3 and other healthy fats, like wild salmon, sardines, organic avocado, cold-pressed olive oil, nuts such as walnuts and Brazil nuts (just two per day will help support your thyroid) and seeds such as chia, pumpkin and flax (grind these fresh to maximize benefits). Fats are also an important part of our cell walls and have the added benefit to helping our skin stay youthful.

Our guts also thrive on fresh vegetables and fruits: the fiber contained in fresh produce acts as a prebiotic, or food for the healthy bacteria that lives in our guts and supports so many of our body’s crucial functions. Whenever possible, include lots of organic, seasonal produce, legumes, unprocessed whole grains; your plate should ideally be at least half-full of veggies at each meal.

Antioxidants are an amazing way to keep inflammation in our bodies low, help fight cancer-causing cells and support brain and gut alike! Berries are especially high in antioxidants (hello blueberries!) and fiber (blackberries), along with vitamin C containing foods like citrus. Look for deeply-colored produce for highest antioxidant levels. And in good news, coffee is actually a very potent antioxidant! Just be sure to keep it to a cup or two per day, as excess caffeine has been shown in some studies to increase cortisol levels.

Most of all, try not to worry too much at first about specific diet plans or what not to eat, and instead focus on what you can include to boost your wellness. Focus on simple, unpackaged foods that are either homemade or have minimal ingredients. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water: aim for at least half of your body weight in ounces of water to support digestion, gut health, alertness, memory and focus.

Finally, small changes in lifestyle can have a huge impact on both body and mind. Adequate sleep helps to clear debris in the mind, lower stress (and cortisol) levels and promote healing and a healthy immune system. Incorporating other stress-reducing techniques such as regular exercise, deep breathing, meditation, yoga or stretching, reading, or even a simple walk after meals can lower stress, help with digestion, and focus and help you on your way to balanced body and mind.


Koren Bradshaw

Koren Bradshaw

Koren Bradshaw, MS, CDN, CLC, is a nutritionist with a functional, whole-body approach. She works with a wide range of concerns, specializing in women's health, new/expecting mothers, autoimmune and thyroid issues, food allergies and sensitivities, celiac disease and anti-aging.

Meet Koren

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Improve your heart health with a Mediterranean diet

Improve your heart health with a Mediterranean diet

Improve your heart health with a Mediterranean diet

Mediterranean diets lower risk of cardiovascular disease; here's how to incorporate it into your daily nutrition.

Feb 24, 2022 | Francine Blinten, CNST

Improve your heart health with a Mediterranean diet

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. There are several lifestyle factors that can contribute to cardiovascular and coronary artery disease, one of them being your diet.

Maintaining a healthy body weight with appropriate body composition is key. Even a loss of 5 to 10% of your body weight can have a significant and positive impact on your overall heart health. For instance, a 160 lb. female would have to lose only 8 pounds, and a 220 lb. male would have to lose only 11 pounds, to see clinical improvement.

Abdominal obesity is associated with an insulin resistant state that contributes to heart disease and other modern adult disease. Men should aim for a waist circumference below 40 inches, and women’s waists should be less than 35 inches.

Blood sugar, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and waist circumference form the dashboard of health. Keeping these measures in range is the basis of metabolic health.

The dietary pattern that best supports heart health is the Mediterranean diet. According to a landmark study conducted in Spain in 2013, among persons at high cardiovascular risk, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts significantly reduced the incidence of major cardiovascular events. Importantly, the results were independent of weight loss.

The elements of the Mediterranean diet are plenty of vegetables, fruit, legumes, olive oil, nuts, high quality protein and whole grains.

Here are ways to implement the Mediterranean diet:

Try to decrease saturated fats and trans fats in the diet. Choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (from olive and grapeseed oils, nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, flaxseed, and fatty fish). High LDL cholesterol levels can place you at risk for developing cardiovascular disease, and the type of LDL circulating in your blood matters. Oxidized LDL is increasingly recognized as a contributor to heart disease, vascular disease, and stroke. You may be able to prevent oxidized LDL by excluding trans fats from your diet, such as pastries, deep-fried foods, and potato chips.

Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet; produce is rich in antioxidants with natural anti-inflammatory properties that may help to reduce the oxidation of LDL.

Aim for 30 grams of fiber from a variety of foods. A diet rich in fiber has health benefits beyond cholesterol control: it helps control blood sugar, promote regularity, prevents gastrointestinal disease and helps in weight management. There are two types of dietary fiber:

  • Soluble fiber: Provides the greatest heart-health benefit because it helps lower total and LDL cholesterol. Good sources of soluble fiber include oats, oat bran, barley, legumes (such as dried beans, lentils and split peas), psyllium, flaxseed, apples, pears and citrus fruits.
  • Insoluble fiber: Insoluble fiber promotes regularity, adds bulk and softness to stools, helps with weight regulation and helps prevent many gastrointestinal disorders. Good sources of insoluble fiber include wheat bran, whole wheat and other whole grain cereals and breads, nuts and vegetables. Foods contain a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber. To receive the greatest health benefit, eat a wide variety of all high-fiber foods.
    Limit refined carbohydrates, sugar and sugar sweetened beverages which can contribute to elevated LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

When incorporating protein, fill your plate with 2/3 plants and 1/3 protein, and try to include fish at least two times per week, such as this salmon dish. You can have pastured poultry two times per week, and if you eat meat, choose grass-fed cuts and aim for once a week.

People often think eggs are off-limits if they have elevated cholesterol, but that is not entirely true. You can still eat eggs, but I do not recommend fried eggs with bacon and cheese on a roll. Instead, choose eggs with sauteed vegetables.

If you tolerate dairy, have yogurt and small portions of cheese (size of two dice). I encourage having a few vegetarian meals each week, such as this sweet potato & black bean chili.

Sodium is necessary for cellular function, though Americans tend to overconsume it. The most common sources of sodium are deli meats, processed meats such as bacon and hot dogs, cheese, canned soups and fast food. If high blood pressure is an issue, I recommend using less salt and more herbs, spices and citrus to flavor your food.


Francine Blinten

Francine Blinten

Francine Blinten, CCN, CNS, is a firm believer of listening to your body's needs and creating a comprehensive diet that meets those specific goals. She uses lab results, medical history and the client's background to customize an appropriate eating plan.

Meet Francine

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Develop your wellness vision and set nutrition goals in the New Year

Develop your wellness vision and set nutrition goals in the New Year

Develop your wellness vision and set nutrition goals in the New Year

Learn how to create a compelling wellness vision that will help you achieve your nutrition goals in the New Year.

Jan 18, 2022 | Jacqueline Ballou Erdos, CCSD, CDN

Develop your wellness vision and set nutrition goals in the New Year

Fruit and nutrition goals for the new year written on a notepad
A wellness vision is a form of visualization, a tool that nutritionists, therapists, business coaches, and mental performance consultants use with clients. Visualization is imagining you at your best, achieving success. As you focus on the desired accomplishment, you imagine, in detail, how you would feel. You might imagine who would be by your side as well as the sights and sounds of the moment. For example, gymnasts may use visualization to rehearse their routines using good form and sticking every landing, while new entrepreneurs might visualize themselves running a thriving business.

A wellness vision is a general statement about what you want in the future for your health and well-being. A wellness vision can relate to physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual health.

Why create a wellness vision? Visualization increases the chances you will reach your health goals, such as eating healthier, transitioning to a vegetarian diet, increasing protein intake, etc. A compelling wellness vision guides short-term goal setting and reminds you why you want to make a change. After hearing of the many positive aspects of creating a wellness vision, you may be wondering how to get started. There are four main components of a wellness vision to consider as you begin:

  • What are your desired outcomes?
  • What motivates you? Why do you want to be your ideal self?
  • What obstacles may get in the way?
  • What strategies can you use to overcome such obstacles?

Ready to start? Here is what you should do:

1. Outline your vision: what is it that you want to accomplish? How will it feel? Think in detail about the what, where, when, and how related to the achievement.

2. Connect your vision to something that motivates you. This might be:

  • Your family: to have more energy to keep up with your grandchildren
  • To be challenged: to sign up for your first 5K road race
  • For better health: to improve your blood sugar or cholesterol levels

3. Brainstorm what obstacles might arise as you set out to achieve the goal. Think realistically here, given the demands of various priorities including work and family commitments. This could involve having to cook for multiple family members who all have different diet requirements, or not having enough time to prepare healthy lunch meals for when you eat at the office.

4. Remind yourself what strengths you have that will help you overcome obstacles. It might be helpful to think of what worked well in the past. Examples include planning your meals in advance, meal prepping or cooking with other family members who share your goals.

5. Think of how friends, family, colleagues, nutritionists, coaches, or others in your life can support you, and ask them for help.

6. Do not be afraid of making mistakes. Your path to achieving your wellness vision will not be perfect, but the important part is to not give up.

7. Set structured SMART (Specific, Measurable, Action-based, Realistic, Time-bound) goals along the way to stay on track, but allow room for flexibility as needed.

8. Review your vision from time to time and adjust to accommodate schedule changes or new priorities. Let’s say you want to include a snack prior to your evening workout to better fuel yourself. If you miss a day here and there, but have generally stuck to your plan, that is still an achievement. You can revise your goal to say on the days you had a larger dinner that already gave you plenty of fuel and protein, you can skip the snack.

9. Celebrate small achievements you make along the way to keep you motivated.

10. Set new goals as you meet your initial goals.

An example of a wellness vision is:

“I want to establish healthy eating habits and regular physical activity habits so I can be a good role model for my children.”

Reflecting on your wellness vision, you can better understand what you value and prioritize. Using your wellness vision, narrow down three things you want to accomplish in the next four months. Set a SMART goal for each.

Setting SMART goals can help you better achieve success in the long term. As you set SMART goals, remember to focus on behaviors you will change rather than outcomes. Additionally, stay positive. In other words, say what you are going to do rather than what you are not going to do to achieve your goal. Make goals powerful: say I will, rather than I will try.

Here is an example of a SMART Goal:

“I will make an appointment with a personal trainer and nutritionist this week to establish a strength training routine I will do once per week and get advice on how to adjust my diet to ensure I’m getting enough protein to supplement my training.”

How are SMART goals connected to your wellness vision? Weekly goals are stepping stones towards your vision. Some weeks, you may need to work more on a goal from the prior week. It may simply take more time to meet some goals compared to others. On other weeks, you may continue to have the same focus, but increase the intensity of the goal (number of minutes and days you walk per week, for example). In addition to setting weekly goals, it is also important to evaluate to what percent you met goals each week. If you meet your goal:

  • 85% of the time or more, it is time to increase the intensity or amount of the goal
  • 65-85% of the time, then stay with that goal for another week
  • 65%, ask yourself if the goal was realistic. Rewrite the goal to make it more realistic for your lifestyle

In addition to writing a wellness vision, some may find it helpful to have a physical reminder of the goal. Making a vision board and placing it in a strategic location in your home can help you remember each day why you want to make a change. You can easily put together a vision board using a poster or corkboard. It is up to you to decide what you put on the board, but choose things that will remind you of how you want to feel when you realize your vision. You might include inspiring quotes, magazine clippings, recipes, meaningful notes from friends, or photos of your family. You can also create a virtual vision board on Pinterest.

Keep in mind that a wellness vision allows you to map out long-term accomplishments, while weekly goals are the small steps towards achieving your overall vision. Stick to your plan, but adjust as needed!


Jacqueline Ballou Erdos

Jacqueline Ballou Erdos

Jacqueline Ballou Erdos, MS, RD, CCSD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian and Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. She is passionate about helping clients foster a lifelong, healthy relationship with food and their bodies, and works with her clients to create a custom plan that suits their needs.

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How an Oura ring prevented me from spreading COVID-19

How an Oura ring prevented me from spreading COVID-19

How an Oura ring prevented me from spreading COVID-19

The Oura ring's data tracking capabilities are powerful tools, and can even help you detect when an illness is coming on. And those tools helped a trainer realize he should get tested for COVID-19, ultimately preventing him from spreading the virus to others.

Oct 14, 2021 | Tim Vallely, CFSC

How an Oura ring prevented me from spreading COVID-19

oura ring

In a time of wearable technologies flooding our society, too much of anything can be detrimental. The constant tracking of daily steps, calories burned and heart rates are a few examples of how some of us may shift from being cognizant to overly reliant on data. I am a firm believer of using data in the correct context, whether that is for daily motivation or conducting an actual experiment. To each your own, as long as you are not becoming a captive to the data and your life is not being affected in a negative way.

As someone who lives an active lifestyle, I have become an advocate of proper sleep and the role it plays in recovery. Throughout my 20’s, I preached and foolishly practiced the mantra, “I’ll sleep when I am dead.” After learning from experts about the benefits of optimizing human hormones and that sleep is actually the most powerful, legal and free performance enhancer on the planet, I realized how wrong I was over the past decade. Being clueless on how I actually slept made me an easy candidate for the Oura ring.

And so I started tracking and analyzing my data, including my sleep. The third week of February — the week of my COVID-19 diagnosis — had promises of being a healthy one, or so I thought.

Monday

Activities consisted of the following: Two online clients along with a strength training session. I had dinner around my normal time of 6 PM and went to bed

How an Oura ring prevented me from spreading COVID-19
How an Oura ring prevented me from spreading COVID-19

Tuesday

Seeing these results, I felt good. I saw a client in person and had a second successful training day of the week. This was the LAST day I felt good before the virus took over in my body. Tuesday night, I woke up at 12:58 A.M. and was up until 3 AM. It was very unusual for me not to sleep through the night. I developed a constant postnasal drip causing me to clear my throat every 5 minutes. This was the first clue that something was wrong.

How an Oura ring prevented me from spreading COVID-19
How an Oura ring prevented me from spreading COVID-19

Wednesday

Big thing that caught my eye here was that my RHR (resting heart rate), which is usually around 43-45 bpm, was elevated to 50 bpm. Resting Heart Rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute when you're at rest, which is a good measure of your recovery. The lower your RHR is, the healthier your heart is, and the more efficiently it pumps blood. An elevated RHR can be a sign that there may be an issue. Your body may be reacting to a night out with drinks, experiencing stress, or fighting off an illness.

Another key factor in recognizing my body was under stress was the results of my Internal Body Temperature. Internal body temperature can rise after eating, drinking alcohol, exercising late or sleeping in a warm environment. With these results and listening to my body, I did not participate in any physical activities on Wednesday, thinking I should take it easy on my body and let it recover.

How an Oura ring prevented me from spreading COVID-19

Thursday

Thursday morning was the first time I felt uneasy after checking my results. After getting nearly eight hours of sleep, I was certain that I should have recovered from the previous two days, especially taking now a second consecutive day off from the gym. My RHR was still higher than usual with a steady increase in body temperature and the same nasal congestion symptoms I was dealing with the previous night. I racked it up to a minor head cold I get every winter.

Eight inches of snow fell in Westchester, NY on Thursday morning and subsided around 2 PM, when I went out to shovel the driveway. I noticed a little fatigue but again categorized that as the never ending shoveling that I have been doing for the last 30 days.

How an Oura ring prevented me from spreading COVID-19
How an Oura ring prevented me from spreading COVID-19

Friday

Although I slept for over eight hours, I felt physically lethargic and ill. For the first time all week, I had constant migraine symptoms. My RHR was elevated to 52 BPM, along with internal body temperature still being elevated. My HRV (Heart Rate Variability) was the last metric that plummeted and caused concern. Heart Rate Variability helps you keep track of your recovery status by comparing your two-week heart rate variability trend to your three-month average. Before going to train an in-home client, I decided to go and receive a COVID-19 test, thinking it was better to be safe than sorry. Within minutes, I tested positive.

By tracking my metrics and analyzing the worrisome data, the Oura Ring assisted me in preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Nine months prior, I would have not only ignored my symptoms and labeled them as the “yearly cold,” but I would have also been blind to the important metrics (heart rate variability, resting heart rate, and internal body temperature) that I was able to track in real time. Without the Oura Ring, I am confident that unbeknownst to me, I would have spread the virus, putting clients, friends and loved ones in harm's way.

How an Oura ring prevented me from spreading COVID-19
How an Oura ring prevented me from spreading COVID-19
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Time to meal prep: vegetarian breakfast burritos

Time to meal prep: vegetarian breakfast burritos

Time to meal prep: vegetarian breakfast burritos

This is the perfect breakfast burrito recipe for people on-the-go, large families and vegetarians. Delicious and packed with protein and healthy fats!

Sep 1, 2021 | Jacqueline Ballou Erdos, CCSD, CDN

Time to meal prep: vegetarian breakfast burritos

As a registered dietician specializing in sports nutrition and pediatrics at Performance Optimal Health, I love to share quick and nutrient-dense meals for people on-the-go. I recommend this recipe frequently because it’s delicious and it contains all the elements of a balanced, satisfying breakfast: some carbs, fat and protein. They can be made ahead and frozen, so it makes for a fast, easy breakfast with a little bit of prep time. Perfect for after a workout, before school or during a busy workday! This recipe is originally from “Run Fast Eat Slow” by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky.

Makes 6 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bag (6 oz) baby spinach (about 4 packed cups)
  • 10 eggs, beaten
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 burrito-size whole grain tortillas (about 10 inches)
  • 1 ½ cups grated Gruyere or other favorite cheese
  • 1 ½ cups black beans or 1 can (15 oz) chili beans

Recipe

1.Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted. Add the eggs, salt and pepper and cook, stirring continuously, until scrambled. Remove from the heat.
2.Place each tortilla on a 12 x 12-inch sheet of aluminum foil and sprinkle with ¼ cup of cheese. Divide the egg-spinach mixture among the 6 tortillas, placing in a strip down the center of the wrap. Top each with ¼ cup of the beans.
3.Roll up each tortilla like a burrito by folding in the tops and bottoms, and wrap tightly in the foil. Place together in a gallon-size freezer bag and freeze for up to 2 months.
4.To reheat, unwrap from the foil, place on a microwaveable plate, and microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes, rotating after 1 minute, until warm in the center.


Jacqueline Ballou Erdos

Jacqueline Ballou Erdos

Jacqueline Ballou Erdos, MS, RD, CCSD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian and Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. She is passionate about helping clients foster a lifelong, healthy relationship with food and their bodies, and works with her clients to create a custom plan that suits their needs.

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How to enhance recovery through nutrition

How to enhance recovery through nutrition

How to enhance recovery through nutrition

At Performance, we take recovery days (and recovery itself) very seriously. But there’s an aspect of recovering after a workout that is often left out of the conversation: your meals.

Jul 1, 2021| Jacqueline Ballou Erdos, CCSD, CDN

How to enhance recovery through nutrition

At Performance, we take recovery days (and recovery itself) very seriously. But there’s an aspect of recovering after a workout that is often left out of the conversation: your meals. Well-designed recovery meals and snacks enhance training, reduce muscle soreness, improve performance in the next workout, and support the immune system.

It is especially important for athletes who are completing high volume or intensity training sessions, heavy lifting, working toward or participating in a competition, working out two to three times a day.

Recovery nutrition encompasses fluid, macro, and micronutrient replacement following a training session. A sound recovery nutrition protocol will allow athletes to optimize training adaptations and perform at their body's full potential in the next training bout, the next training block and year after year.

Recovery extends beyond the short-term recovery window immediately following training. An athlete's consistent day to day habits allow for nutrition to support improvements in performance. You can use the four Rs of recovery as guidance in approaching your recovery nutrition.

The Four Rs of Recovery

1.Replenish muscle glycogen (carbohydrate stored in muscle) following a training session. Aim for an intake of 30-60 grams of carbohydrates, or ~ 0.5 grams per pound of body weight.
2.Repair and regenerate skeletal muscle with high quality protein sources and key amino acids (e.g. leucine). Aim for a 15-30g intake of protein.
3.Reinforce muscle cells, immune function and central nervous system function with colorful and antioxidant rich foods (e.g. fruits, veggies, whole grains, fish, nuts, olive oil).
4.Rehydrate with fluid and electrolytes according to individual sweat lost during training. (Fluid Loss Calculator)

General recovery nutrition tips:

  • If working out twice per day, eat an initial recovery meal or snack, then follow-up with another within two hours
  • Include antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables at meals and snacks
  • Eat regular meals and snacks every three to five hours, including a balance of carbs, protein, and healthy fats
  • Weigh yourself before and after workouts to estimate sweat losses and drink ~20–24 ounces fluid per pound lost
  • Include salty foods after workouts longer than two hours

Consuming nutrients within 30–60 minutes of training or competition can enhance nutrient delivery to muscles while heart rate and blood pressure are increased. It can also result in faster glycogen replenishment and initiation of tissue repair as well as support the body's metabolic switch from muscle breakdown to muscle building, all of which are key to recovering after a workout and making progress.

But while the body may be most responsive to nutrients in the hour or two after exercise, continuing to deliver the right nutrients for the next 24–48 hours fully enhances the training response as well and prepares you appropriately for upcoming training sessions. You should continue to repeat the ingestion of all these nutrients in well-balanced meals and snacks every few hours in order to achieve your total daily nutrient needs.

Recovery nutrition after light exercise

It is also important to note that your recovery nutrition is highly personalized. It should also depend on the type of training session, training volume and intensity, timing of your next session, body weight and your goals. If you are training for a competition, your nutrition intake will look different from when you are simply working out to stay fit and healthy, for example.

If someone is working out lightly, or even once a day and not completing intense workouts (e.g. skills/drills, yoga, stretching, recovery day, weight loss phase) the next meal or snack is sufficient to meet recovery needs.

As you work out more often or at higher intensities, it becomes more important to prioritize timing and the details of recovery nutrition post-workout.


RECOVERY SNACK IDEAS
Choose a food from protein column + food from carb column based on training session!

Protein: 15-20g

3/4 cup cottage cheese
2 string or slices of cheese
1 cube firm tofu
2-3 cooked eggs
2-3 oz. deli meat
1 1/2 oz. jerky
2-3 oz. fish, chicken, beef, pork
1/2 cup nuts or seeds*
4 tbsp. nut butter**
1/2-3/4 c. edamame
1 c. beans*
2 c. milk (cows, soy)*
1/2-3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt*

Protein: 20-25g

1 1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 1/4 cube firm tofu
3-4 cooked eggs
3-4 oz. deli meat
2-2 1/2 oz. jerky
3/4-1 cup nuts or seeds*
1 c. edamame
1-1 1/2 cup beans or lentils*
1 serving protein powder
2/3 c. roasted edamame
1 1/2 cup Greek yogurt*
3-4 oz. fish, chicken, beef,
pork

Carbohydrates: 15-30g

1 piece or cup fresh fruit
1/4-1/2 cup dried fruit
1 c. fruit juice
1 c. chocolate milk
1/2 cup oatmeal
1-2 slices sandwich bread
1 English muffin
1 granola or cereal bar
1 x 8" tortilla or wrap
1/2-3/4 cup rice or farro
1/2-1 cup quinoa, beans, lentils*
3/4 cup cooked pasta
1/2 cup applesauce

Carbohydrates: 45-60g

2-3 pieces or cups fresh fruit
3/4-1 cup dried fruit
2 c. fruit juice
2 c. chocolate milk*
1-1 1/2 cup oatmeal
1 bagel
2 English muffins
2 x 8" tortillas or wraps
1-1 1/2 cup rice or farro
1 1/2-2 cup quinoa, beans,
lentils*
1 1/2 cup cooked pasta

*Protein source contains as least 15g of carbs, carb source contains at least 10g protein
**High calorie protein source due to high fat content


Jacqueline Ballou Erdos

Jacqueline Ballou Erdos

Jacqueline Ballou Erdos, MS, RD, CCSD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian and Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. She is passionate about helping clients foster a lifelong, healthy relationship with food and their bodies, and works with her clients to create a custom plan that suits their needs.

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Craving plant-based protein? Try this warm lentil salad!

Craving plant-based protein? Try this warm lentil salad!

Craving plant-based protein? Try this warm lentil salad!

Looking for new plant-based recipe? Look no further! This warm lentil salad is a perfect blend of healthy fats, protein, plenty of nutrients and delicious taste.

Jun 1, 2021 | Francine Blinten, CNS

Looking for new plant-based recipe? Look no further! This warm lentil salad is a perfect blend of healthy fats, protein, plenty of nutrients and delicious taste.

Lentils, which make up the base of this dish, are an excellent source of calcium, zinc, potassium, magnesium and folic acid. They neutralize acids produced in muscles, support immunity and wound healing.

But the sunflower seeds are the stars of the show; they contain Vitamins A, B, D, E and K, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, magnesium, omega 3 and 6 essential fats. These little seeds pack a punch: they are better sources of nutrients than most meat, eggs and cheese!

Serves four.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup uncooked green lentils, rinsed, no need to soak
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • ¼ cup pitted olives
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups salad greens

Recipe

1.Simmer lentils and bay leaf in water for about 25 minutes or until tender. Drain and discard the bay leaf.
2.Sauté onions in one teaspoon olive oil in skillet over medium heat until softened, about 10 minutes.
3.In a large bowl, gently toss lentils with onions, grated carrots, olives, feta cheese and sunflower seeds. Add lemon juice and olive oil and toss.
4.Serve over fresh salad greens.


Francine Blinten

Francine Blinten

Francine Blinten, CCN, CNS, is a firm believer of listening to your body's needs and creating a comprehensive diet that meets those specific goals. She uses lab results, medical history and the client's background to customize an appropriate eating plan.

Meet Francine

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Recipe: Halibut Milanese for two

Recipe: Halibut Milanese for two

Recipe: Halibut Milanese for two

Get plenty of nutrients, indulge your pescatarian side and enjoy the fresh taste of this delicious halibut recipe.

May 15, 2021 | Francine Blinten, CNS

Recipe: Halibut Milanese for two

This recipe is one that I highly recommend to my clients. It is nutrient-dense, and contains omega-3 fats and high-quality protein. Arugula, endive and tomatoes round out the meal with a nice mix of vitamins and minerals, and it tastes great!

Ingredients

Halibut

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 ounces Fresh North Atlantic Halibut, no skin
  • 1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
  • ¼ cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of black pepper

Salad

1 large beefsteak tomato sliced
2 cups baby arugula
1/2 cup endive, sliced thin
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
A pinch of salt
A pinch of black pepper
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
Lemon wedges, optional

Recipe

1.Preheat a non-stick skillet while you combine breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese in a bowl.
2.Season both sides of the halibut with salt & pepper.
3.Brush the top half with the beaten egg yolk. Lay the top half in the bread crumb and cheese mixture and press down.
4.Add the olive oil to your heated pan and place the top half of the halibut into the pan.
5.Sear for 20 seconds. You will see the breading on the outer edge of the halibut start to brown.
6.Flip the fish, turn the heat down to medium and allow it to cook 5–7 minutes.
7.Fan the slices of tomato on two plates.
8.Combine arugula, endive, vinegar, olive oil, salt & pepper. Lightly toss, and place in the middle of your tomato slices. Top with shredded parmesan cheese.
9.Divide the fish and place a piece on top of each salad. Lemon wedges optional.


Francine Blinten

Francine Blinten

Francine Blinten, CCN, CNS, is a firm believer of listening to your body's needs and creating a comprehensive diet that meets those specific goals. She uses lab results, medical history and the client's background to customize an appropriate eating plan.

Meet Francine

10 ways moms can support their daughters’ healthy relationship with food

10 ways moms can support their daughters’ healthy relationship with food

Top 10 tips on how moms can support their daughters (and sons) in having a strong, healthy relationship with food and their bodies.

May 1, 2021 | Jacqueline Ballou Erdos, CCSD, CDN

10 ways moms can support their daughters’ healthy relationship with food

A lot of times, the idea of achieving wellness is oversimplified, and boiled down into diet hacks and buzzwords that promise fast results. You know the ones I’m thinking about: keto, plant-based, intermittent fasting, gluten-free, clean eating, all-natural, organic. But in reality, health is complex and multifaceted, influenced by genetics, diet, activity level, sleep, stress, socioeconomic status, gender, education, access to healthcare, social support networks and the environment in which we live.

And what does this have to do with moms supporting moms and daughters? Having a daughter myself, I know how much she picks up on from what I say (for better or worse!) One of my mom friends and I were joking about how sometimes looking at our oldest kids interact with their younger siblings is like looking in the mirror.

Our daughters learn from us every day: they watch how we eat, take note of which foods we don’t eat. They hear the way we describe different foods, how we treat and talk about our bodies, and they feel the emotions that we feel in relation to eating, physical activity and our bodies.

Without trying to oversimplify this too much, these are my top 10 tips on how moms can support their daughters (and sons) in having a strong, healthy relationship with food and their bodies.

1. Focus on healthy habits like eating well and regular physical activity instead of tracking weight on a scale.

2. Drop the weight talk. Research shows parental weight talk (about their own dieting or weight) and commenting on their child’s weight is associated with an increased risk for the child of being overweight or having an eating disorder.

3. Eat as a family as much as possible. Eating family meals more throughout the week is associated with eating more fruits and vegetables, calcium-rich foods and fiber. Family meals offer a time for parents to role model healthy eating behaviors, and helps parents be more aware of their child’s eating habits.

4. Keep mealtimes pleasant. Avoid unproductive talk about food such as commenting on what your child is or isn’t eating or telling children not to take seconds.

5. Make eating well and being active a family affair. It’s good for everyone to eat well and include daily movement that’s enjoyable. Make healthy meals for the whole family including a balance of each of the food groups at each meal:

  • Protein-rich foods (chicken, fish, beef)
  • Whole grains or starchy vegetables (brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta or potatoes)
  • Vegetables and/or fruits
  • Fats (olive oil or butter, for example)
  • Water or milk

6. Serve meals family style and allow your child to eat until he or she is satisfied.

7. Ensure your child gets enough sleep – children and teens have different needs depending upon their age:

  • 3–5 years: 10–13 hours (including naps)
  • 6–12 years: 9–12 hours
  • 13–18 years: 8–10 hours

8. Have a plan for sweets, treats and sugary drinks. Don’t avoid sweets altogether, as when children are given the chance to eat them (at parties, friends’ houses), they are more likely to overeat them. Instead, limit the number of sweets and treats brought into the house, and aim for a balance of healthy foods 90% of the time and sweets and treats 10% of the time.

9. Don’t label foods as good and bad. It makes us feel bad when we eat “bad” foods. One alternative is calling sweets and treats “fun foods.”

10. Offer regularly scheduled meals and snacks every 3-4 hours for children and every 4-5 hours for teens. And limit meal skipping – skipping breakfast tends to lead to grazing throughout the afternoon and evening. Eat meals at the table, without distractions like TV or cell phones. Close the kitchen between meals and snacks. Routine, predictable meals and snacks help with appetite regulation and promotes healthy habits.

It starts with us, moms. You got this.


Jacqueline Ballou Erdos

Jacqueline Ballou Erdos

Jacqueline Ballou Erdos, MS, RD, CCSD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian and Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. She is passionate about helping clients foster a lifelong, healthy relationship with food and their bodies, and works with her clients to create a custom plan that suits their needs.

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Through motherhood, she found a second career

Through motherhood, she found a second career

Through motherhood, she found a second career

Francine Blinten started her career in the corporate world, but through motherhood, she discovered her passion: nutrition.

Mar 15, 2021 | Francine Blinten, CNS

Through motherhood, she found a second career

I started my career in the corporate world, but after twelve years, I left my job to be a full-time mom. It was during this time that I saw how food could shape my children’s health and development, and decided it would be the focus of my career going forward.

A childhood full of inspiration

I took inspiration from my own childhood, remembering how my own mother fed my family healthy, delicious meals. She was ahead of her time: she read Prevention Magazine and even put Vitamin C in our Christmas stockings. This was during the 60’s and 70’s, when my friends were eating Hostess cupcakes and drinking soda after school. But at my house, it was minestrone soup and tea.

My mom inspired me to give my children the best start in life I could by feeding them freshly prepared food including fish, vegetables, fruit, and whole grains. When we had play dates, other moms would comment on my daughters’ sophisticated taste in food. They would ask how they could get their children to eat zucchini and fish instead of chicken nuggets and fries. This was a defining moment in my life, and I started looking into a possible career as a nutritionist.

Embarking on a new journey

I never studied science at the undergraduate level and all the master’s programs in nutrition were science degrees. I was initially intimidated by the curricula but decided to give it a try. I found myself on a journey to “inner space” and became fascinated with cells, tissues, and organs. I was in my late thirties and discovering biochemical pathways, anatomy, physiology and biostatistics for the first time. I could not get enough.

Someone once told me, “find the thing that makes you lose track of time because that could be your life’s work.” For me, it was learning about the human body and all its wonders. Through motherhood, I stumbled upon my passion.

As I was completing my coursework and beginning my master’s thesis, I met a brilliant medical oncologist, Dr. Barry Boyd. He offered me an opportunity to work in his office and rounded out my education by showing me how to implement my academic knowledge in a clinical setting. I worked with real patients, people who were facing serious illnesses and treatment with metabolic side effects.

Disease is a serious and unfortunate issue, and I am thankful I can be on the side of healing and improving quality of life. When the word “disease” is hyphenated, we get dis-ease. Optimal health is the opposite of dis-ease: it means ease of movement, ease of living, and balance in biological systems.

What lies in my future

I continue this work today and have broadened my work with other patient populations. I have seen the role that diet and lifestyle modifications can play in health. It is a rewarding profession, and I am grateful for this second career. Sometimes, I wonder what my encore will be, but for now, I see no reason to leave the world of nutrition.


Elisa LaBelle

Francine Blinten

Francine Blinten, CCN, CNS, is a firm believer of listening to your body's needs and creating a comprehensive diet that meets those specific goals. She uses lab results, medical history and the client's background to customize an appropriate eating plan.

Meet Francine

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Researcher, educator, mentor: the lasting legacy of Dr. Doris Calloway

Researcher, educator, mentor: the lasting legacy of Dr. Doris Calloway

Researcher, educator, mentor: the lasting legacy of Dr. Doris Calloway

Dr. Doris Calloway was a pioneer in food science, producing key research on reproductive nutrition, food preservation, malnutrition and dietary standards. She was a researcher, educator and mentor, and left a lasting legacy on the world of nutrition and public health.

Mar 1, 2021 | Performance Optimal Health

Researcher, educator, mentor: the lasting legacy of Dr. Doris Calloway

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Nutrition: A key component of your personal peak performance

Nutrition: A key component of your personal peak performance

Nutrition: A key component of your personal peak performance

The food you eat impacts a variety of body functions, changes your moods and affects performance. Eating better will help you feel and move better.

Apr 1, 2021 | Jaclyn Weiner, M.Ed

Nutrition: A key component of your personal peak performance

Our bodies are complex machines; if one thing goes wrong, it affects the rest of the system. Some issues are easily fixed — feeling tired? Maybe you need more sleep. Experiencing knee pain? You may need physical therapy. However, there are many other issues or challenges your body faces that are not simple to address. Notably, nutrition can impact a variety of body functions, change your moods and affect performance. A poor diet can lead to unhealthy weight loss or gain, decrease energy, cause brain fog and more. A healthy diet, on the other hand, can improve athletic performance, increase energy and enhance productivity. Eating better will help you feel and move better, and can solve issues you may have previously struggled to address.

An athlete's journey

Take my friend Lindsay, for example. She considered herself a healthy, well-rounded individual and was a star athlete in many town sports leagues in her early years. As a typical adolescent, she believed she had a healthy relationship with food and nutrition. However, the truth was that she never truly understood the connection of athletic performance with proper nutritional intake.

Lindsay thought her overall health and BMI (body mass index) was within a healthy range. Therefore, she believed she had a positive relationship with food. But in high school, Lindsay's overall self-image started to change. At this time, she became obsessed with her body image and stopped eating: she was trying to fit in the perfect teenager's ideal. Soon enough, Lindsay started exhibiting a fast drop-off in her top-tier positions — from the soccer fields to the tennis courts.

The effects of not fueling her body properly

Subsequently, Lindsay, a member of a junior varsity tennis team, was running on zero fuel. She was consuming under one thousand calories a day and was showing signs of being nutritionally depleted. Lindsay’s BMI started to borderline underweight and her overall health and natural athletic traits began to fade. She had a difficult time running both short and long-distances without getting out of breath. Because Lindsay lost her stamina and inner core strength, matches that would generally be wins turned into constant losses. Without taking care of her body, how could she expect to ace the game?

The food we eat turns into glucose, which provides energy for our brain and body to stay active and aware. When a person does not consume enough food, they begin to lack energy and focus. But the solution is not to eat just anything — not all food is processed efficiently. If you lead a diet that subsists off fast food or sugar and carbohydrates, your body will have a difficult time processing that food. Not only will you feel too full, bloated or slow, but this kind of food can also give you a quick “high” of energy that leads to a crash. Instead, a balanced diet that incorporates protein, healthy fats, minimally processed carbohydrates and fruit is the way to go. Additionally, snacking throughout the day, rather than binging when you feel the most hungry, will allow you to sustain a steady level of energy throughout the day.

Getting back on her feet

With much introspection and family guidance, Lindsay finally understood and appreciated the relationship between health, nutrition and athletic performance. She began to finally accept that her body was her engine. In order to perform at the highest level, she had to consume the proper amount and quality of fuel — food. Good fuel is an integral component to success, from the high school athlete to the everyday weekend warrior or professional athlete. Adequate food intake is a building block for overall health in our daily lives and on playing fields.

Lindsay stopped calorie counting, focused on proper nutrition and started to think of ways to challenge herself to become healthier every day. Nutritional well-being became her new way of life. Lindsay researched the topic and learned that a well-balanced diet was key to an overall healthy lifestyle. She started to eat well again, and her stamina started to come back. Challenging herself, she was once again able to run more vigorously than ever. Lindsay went on to play varsity tennis with a winning record and led her soccer team to the league championship.

Today, Lindsay is a young professional mother who runs every day and enjoys many sports. She lives a balanced nutritional lifestyle and even became an excellent cook, dedicated to incorporating organic produce and other nutritionally sound foods in her recipes. She wants to provide for both herself and her kids’, ensuring they have the fuel they need to grow and stay healthy.

A holistic approach to health turns into success

Nowadays, many of the most successful professional athletes attribute their success to having a team of varied multidisciplinary professionals. The support staff, ranging from cooks to psychologists to athletic and physical therapy trainers, work together to provide a holistic approach to health. There is a clear understanding that your body, mind, and soul work together for peak performance. Tom Brady, the football quarterback, is the perfect example of following a strict nutritional lifestyle. His dietary regimen allows the 43-year-old to perform like a 25-year-old and win yet another Super Bowl. Tom recognizes that his food intake, which is interestingly mostly plant-based, is a crucial component to his longevity and illustrious sports career.

I hope to see more articles, documentaries, and books written on professional sports figures who live a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Not everyone realizes the connection between nutrition and improving performance. That’s why education is so important. Whether you learn from your friends, family, trainer, therapist or nutritionist, learning more about the food you eat is integral to leading a healthy life.

I personally hope to influence the people around me to live healthier, more sustainable lives through proper nutrition and exercise. Although Lindsay doesn't play competitive sports, she continues to educate herself in all aspects of a healthy balanced lifestyle. Personally, I cannot wait for my daily morning run, absorbing nature's beauty and listening to my music. I am also looking forward to my homemade kale shake — while a small aspect of my daily regimen, it still makes a difference. Each aspect and component of one’s daily regimen, big or small, helps improve peak personal performance.