School Breakfast: Helping More Students Make the Grade!

Posted by Emily Mannel @ 1:43 PM


The benefits of a healthy breakfast served at school aren’t just tied to physical health, but academic success as well. In fact, students who eat breakfast show better attention and memory than those who don’t, according to the 2013 Wellness Impact Report.

There’s more good news on the horizon, which is building positive buzz for the school breakfast program. The Food Research and Action Center’s (FRAC) 2014 breakfast reports show that more than 11.2 million low-income children ate a healthy school breakfast, an increase of 320,000 children from the previous school year.

Schools nationwide will be celebrating the importance and impact of school breakfast during National School Breakfast Week, March 2-6. This year’s campaign theme “Make the Grade with School Breakfast” capitalizes on the growing research into the critical learning connection between a healthy school breakfast and improved academic performance.


Many school districts are also recognizing National School Breakfast Week with special menu items, activities for students, nutrition education programming, and marketing and media relations efforts. Read the rest of this entry »

Cooking Up New Ways to Educate

Posted by Christine Cliff, MPH, RDN, LDN @ 8:30 AM


You may be familiar with the age-old idiom “A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” meaning cooking is a way to win one’s affection. This got me thinking: What if we as health and wellness professionals use cooking as a way to win over our patients or clients on nutrition and health-related topics like heart disease or lactose intolerance?

As you likely know, people learn differently. Some are visual learners. Some do better when they hear (auditory) information, while others learn best through hands-on experiences. Cooking demonstrations typically encompass several of these styles. While the audience watches how a recipe is made, the chef or moderator can educate about the recipe process and tie in nutrition and health messages throughout the demo. This thought came to me after I attended two culinary demos, which were particularly engaging.

Fortuna and Christine with Chix sldChef Fortuna Arai provided such an experience during the Heart Disease Symposium at the National Medical Association’s Annual Convention this past July. Top-notch African American physicians who attended were interested in learning not only about implications of heart disease, but also about helpful nutrition strategies to offer their cardiac and lactose intolerant patients. Given that African Americans have a higher prevalence for lactose maldigestion, the Chef’s tips were quite helpful to this audience.  While she demonstrated two simple and tasty recipes including Tarragon Chicken Yogurt Salad and Vegetarian Taco Salad, Chef Fortuna tied in nutrition nuggets. She noted that these recipes can  fit within an overall heart healthy eating plan since they contain reduced fat dairy and herbs and spices instead of added salt. Read the rest of this entry »

Help Clients Knock Out a Serving a Day with a Savory Parfait

Posted by Keecha Harris, DrPH, RD @ 9:41 AM


Since February is Lactose Intolerance Awareness and Heart Health Month, it’s the perfect month to creatively help people add more dairy foods to their meals so they can get their recommended three servings per day. So, let’s all take some steps this month not only to improve our own health outcomes, but also help the public with tips to add more dairy to their daily routine.

It’s the perfect time to bone up on the importance of a nutrient-rich eating plan and dairy foods can help — milk provides nine essential nutrients, including calcium, potassium, vitamin D and protein.

Since it’s also Black History Month, here’s some news-you-can-use as fellow health and wellness experts with your clients and patients. About 20 percent of African Americans self-report that they are lactose intolerant and almost half of African Americans are directly impacted by some form of cardiovascular disease. Consuming three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products are linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, as noted in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. So, why not eat more dairy-based foods that are nutritious, delicious, and easy to make? Read the rest of this entry »

Getting a Bigger Picture of How Dairy Foods Are Linked to Heart Health

Posted by Gregory Miller, PhD, FACN @ 7:26 AM


During February, American Heart Month, many like to raise awareness around heart disease and stroke. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States; one in every three deaths is from heart disease and stroke, equal to 2,200 deaths per day.

Every day health and wellness professionals encounter people who either have heart disease or are at high risk and are looking for solutions.

As government initiatives like Million Hearts™ seek to empower Americans to make heart-healthy choices, I thought I would take this opportunity to raise awareness of the important role dairy foods play in a heart-healthy eating plan and the science behind it.

To do that, I have compiled information brought to you on The Dairy Report the last couple of years on dairy foods and cardiovascular health, as well as some current research. I hope that by reading this aggregated content you will have a better sense of where the science stands and be better equipped to help your clients/patients choose foods that help them stay healthy. Read the rest of this entry »

Calcium & Dairy Foods: Partners in Overall Wellness

Posted by Gregory Miller, PhD, FACN @ 7:23 AM


Many of your clients may be asking for advice on how to balance eating and activity as they resolve to have healthier lifestyles in 2015. Most U.S. adults are more proactive in their pursuit of wellness than in the past, according to research by the Hartman Group. In little more than a decade, “Wellness has shifted from a reactive health paradigm to a proactive wellness culture that is holistic and integrated.”shutterstock_126299249sm

In 2000, the survey found that people focused on weight loss and exercise to be healthy, while in 2013 they sought to balance eating good food with activity to feel well and have good quality of life – a subtle, but important change. It found that “people are seeking food-based approaches to getting the appropriate vitamins and nutrients in their diets” – and you have the opportunity to provide the information and guidance people seek. That’s why a special review article published in Nutrition Reviews recently caught my attention. It focuses on calcium and weight research, but reinforces why eating calcium-rich foods, such as milk, are part of eating well and feeling well.

In the review, the authors document epidemiological, clinical and basic research conducted over more than a decade that investigates the hypothesis that calcium is linked to the physiological regulation of body weight. Though there is inconsistency of results among studies, the authors suggest that including calcium and/or dairy foods in energy-restricted eating plans may have modest beneficial effects on weight loss.

Helping your clients regularly eat foods that contain calcium is good advice for a number of reasons:

  • The amount of calcium people consume is often below that recommended, as is consumption of dairy foods, such as low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese.
  • Consuming recommended amounts of calcium is safe and can be achieved at a relatively low cost.
  • Calcium and dairy foods are beneficial for bone health, and fat-free and low-fat dairy foods (milk, cheese, and yogurt) have been associated with reduced risk of other chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.
  • Consuming recommended amounts of calcium is suggested by the authors and others to have a small, but meaningful effect on body weight maintenance.

I hope these thoughts have been helpful, and I wish you the best as you help your clients eat well this year.

Making Progress with School Breakfast One Bite at a Time

Posted by Crystal Weedall FitzSimons @ 10:04 AM


Here’s some good news about school breakfast: more children are getting a healthy start to their school days. The Food Research and Action Center’s (FRAC) latest annual breakfast reports — School Breakfast Scorecard and School Breakfast: Making it Work in Large Districts show that more than 11.2 million low-income children ate a healthy morning meal each day at school, an increase of 320,000 children from the previous school year.

Here’s another way to look at how the reach of the program is growing. FRAC measures School Breakfast Program participation by comparing the number of low-income children receiving school breakfast to those receiving school lunch. By this measure, nationally the ratio of low-income children who ate school breakfast compared to those who ate school lunch increased to 53:100 from the previous school year’s ratio of 52:100, and far above the 43:100 ratio of a decade earlier.


One successful strategy that’s working is moving breakfast service out of the cafeteria and serving it in the classroom or from “grab-and-go” carts. Schools that offer these alternative breakfast delivery programs see participation skyrocket as a result. Help from programs like Fuel Up to Play 60 give schools the support they need to offer these options. It’s great to see the results of this work, and exciting to see that even more schools are adopting such creative and successful strategies.

Getting more children to participate in school breakfast means less hunger, but it also means children start the day with the fuel they need to learn and thrive. At FRAC, we, along with our partners, are working to further grow participation, leading to a healthier generation. Well done to all who have helped get us to where we are today! Join in on the conversation at #SchoolBreakfast.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Dairy Management Inc. and its subsidiaries.

How Much Do You Know About Lactose Intolerance? Play Our Quiz to Find Out!

Posted by Christine Cliff, MPH, RDN, LDN @ 7:20 AM


Growing up, my dad would give his sage “medical” advice: If it hurts when you do X, then don’t do it. Well, some health and wellness professionals offer similar advice when it comes to lactose intolerance (LI). Namely, if you’re having digestion problems and you also eat dairy foods, they just recommend eliminating them from the diet all together to see if lactose intolerance is the cause. Not too long ago, I was one of these health and wellness professionals — that is until I started to work at National Dairy Council where I learned that there are dairy food solutions allowing them to still be enjoyed by most with a lactose sensitivity.

February is Lactose Intolerance Awareness Month making it the ideal time to help clear up some misconceptions that you or your patients/clients may still have about this food intolerance. Let’s have some fun dispelling these myths by playing LI Fact or Fiction. 

Read the following statements and guess if it is fact or fiction.

Thank you for playing along. Share these LI facts along with the resources and recipes below with your lactose-sensitive patients or clients to show them how many dairy foods can likely still be enjoyed as part of a healthy, balanced eating plan.

Check out National Dairy Council or, and here are some tasty recipe ideas your lactose sensitive patients/clients are sure to love.

Bon appetite!

Using Ben Franklin’s Wisdom for Bone Health Education

Posted by Judith Jarvis, MS, RDN @ 7:00 AM


Ben Franklin, whose 309th birthday was recently celebrated in Philadelphia, was a self-made man. With little formal education he became a printer, writer, scientist, inventor, politician, and drafter of the Constitution of the United States. Who doesn’t know the saying, “Early to bed and early to rise…?” Unlikely as it may seem, Ben Franklin’s wit and wisdom can even be applied today to guide how we, as health and wellness professionals, conduct bone health education.

Here’s how: Read the rest of this entry »

Saturated Fats: Is There Room for Them in a Balanced Diet?

Posted by Nicole Litwin @ 8:42 AM


For years, some Americans trying to reduce their risk of heart disease have thought it best to decrease saturated fat consumption – but new science shows that we may have reason to rethink that belief.  

Recently, a small, controlled feeding study  in overweight and obese adults revealed that doubling and almost tripling the consumption of saturated fat from foods, such as eggs, full-fat dairy and beef, in a lower-carbohydrate diet did not increase the levels of saturated fat in the blood. Researchers also found that traditional risk markers (i.e. plasma triglycerides, glucose, insulin and markers of insulin sensitivity) actually improved at the highest level of fat consumed.

shutterstock_144546977smConversely, eating more carbohydrates, especially from sugars and starches, was shown to increase blood levels of a monounsaturated fatty acid, called palmitoleic acid when part of a lower saturated fat diet.  An increase in this fatty acid may indicate that a greater amount of carbohydrates are being converted into fat instead of being burned by the body. Read the rest of this entry »

Scientists Who Become Involved in Social Media Benefit Themselves, the Public

Posted by Gregory Miller, PhD, FACN @ 7:57 AM


About two-and-a-half years ago I began engaging in social media, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus – and about six months ago, I started using Tumblr. Engaging in social media has helped me find new information and research, exposed me to different opinions, and has allowed me to connect with new people.

shutterstock_130378946smEngaging in social media can benefit scientists, health and wellness professionals and the public by making scientific findings more accessible. Health professionals who engage in open dialogue with scientists may be better prepared to translate scientific findings into actionable information to help people make more healthful lifestyle choices. I will never go back to my non-social life, and I am not alone among scientists. Read the rest of this entry »