Simple Tips for Everyday Healthy Eating

While it’s a given that we all need balanced nutrition for good health, it can sometimes be challenging to put this into daily practice. For many women, the hectic daily routine of work and family means that optimal food choices are put on the back burner. It can be overwhelming to think about making sweeping changes to your diet. The reality is that even small improvements can make a big difference. It’s also true that changes that turn into healthy eating habits are developed over time.

March is National Nutrition Month, and this year’s theme is Put Your Best Fork Forward – a reminder that every bite counts. With every meal or snack, you can choose a nutritious option. The following are some simple ideas that can help you eat better each day.

Choose a color a day for fruits and vegetables

With many healthy eating options to select from, one way to narrow down your choices is to focus on one color of produce for each day. For example, on Monday, choose from the bounty of red options, including peppers, apples, berries and potatoes. When you begin to make choices based on the amazing spectrum of colorful fruits and vegetables, you can enjoy old favorites and experiment with new options, too.

Choose more whole grains

Eating grains, particularly whole grains, is an important part of healthy eating. Grains provide important nutrients, including fiber, several B vitamins and minerals, such as iron, magnesium and selenium. By swapping out white bread, biscuits, and pasta for whole grain alternatives, you may also help reduce blood cholesterol levels and your chance of developing heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Include low-fat dairy products or dairy alternatives

When possible, choose fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese. For those who are lactose intolerant, there are lactose-free products available, as well as calcium-fortified, plant-based milk substitutes. Other beneficial sources of calcium to consider include sardines, leafy greens, and some types of beans.

Watch your portions

How much we eat is as important as what we eat. Americans are eating larger portions than ever, and this is a big contributor to the growing epidemic of obesity in the United States. Not sure how many calories you’re taking in each day? Check out the USDA’s SuperTracker. This tool can help you evaluate the foods you eat and compare them to your nutrition targets.

Keep healthy snacks on hand

You’ll reduce your risk of grabbing for a candy bar or other less-than-healthy snack if you have more nutritious options available. Easy options include nuts, protein bars and plain yogurt.

Find activities you enjoy

You don’t have to be training for a marathon to get sufficient physical activity. The key is finding activities that you like to do on a regular basis. A simple walk each day is a great place to start. Consider partnering with a buddy who can keep you “on track.”

Avoid fast weight loss diets

Fad diets may help you take off a few pounds, but it’s unlikely that the weight loss will last.

“Fad diets just don’t work,” says Marissa Licata, MS, RD, CDN, Registered Dietitian, Katz Institute for Women’s Health. “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Choose a weight loss plan that teaches you how to make long-term positive changes. Changes to behavior and the type of food you choose is where you’ll find long-term success.”

Get Expert Advice and Guidance

A licensed dietitian can help you improve your health and manage diseases. By working with you to create personalized meal planning, you gain the tools you need to make sound nutritional choices.

Want to learn more about resources to support your nutritional needs? At the Katz Institute for Women’s Health, we’re here to answer your questions. Call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.

holiday eating

Smart Holiday Eating Strategies

Favorite childhood memories often involve enjoying the sweets and treats of the holidays. While they’re still just as delicious when we indulge in them as adults, they can lead to unwanted, post-holiday weight gain. Navigating the dinners, desserts, parties and drinks that often go hand-in-hand with holiday celebrations can be challenging for even the most disciplined eaters. This is why many gain post-holiday pounds. One way to maintain a healthy weight throughout the year is to have smart holiday eating strategies for keeping calories in check throughout the holiday season.

“Often it’s a matter of doing simple things like not going to a party hungry that can help you avoid over-indulging during the holidays,” says Marissa Licata, MS, RD, CDN, nutritionist with the Katz Institute for Women’s Health. “While it’s always good to substitute healthier foods for richer holiday fare, making strategic decisions about how and when you eat during the holidays can make a big difference.” Licata suggests a variety of strategies for managing calorie consumption throughout the holidays. These include:

Don’t Skip Meals

We can all get busy decking the halls, shopping for gifts and getting together with friends and family. Yet, we still require the same level of nutrients during the holidays as we do the rest of the year. By ensuring we eat balanced breakfasts and lunches, we can greatly reduce our desire to overeat during a holiday event or meal.

Eat before a Party

It can be tempting to avoid eating during the day because you know they’ll be plenty of good food at a party. The reality is arriving at a celebration with an empty stomach is a surefire way to excessively snack (and be negatively impacted by the effects of alcohol). Before the party, eat a small healthy snack that will keep your appetite in check and you on track for eating right.

Bring Something Healthy to a Potluck

Making something for a potluck event is a wonderful way to showcase your culinary skills. This year, make it a point to whip up something healthy and flavorful. Not only will other party attendees appreciate your efforts, you’ll have a healthy option if your only other choices are cheese-laden spinach dip and pigs in a blanket.

Stand Away from the Buffet Table

It can be tempting to grab a handful of nuts or reach for that last canape, but you know they amount to empty calories that you don’t need. Don’t increase your temptation by standing close to the buffet. Instead, make a single trip through the line and eat only the items on your plate.

Carefully Select Your Buffet Offerings

Don’t make a seven-layer dip of everything on the buffet line. Choose only the items that you really enjoy and savor each bite. Loading a slab of prime rib on top of a collection of mini quiches, cocktail shrimp and chicken skewers will leave you feeling full and may keep you up all night with heartburn. Moderation is your friend!

Be Careful of Calorie-Laden Beverages

For many, holiday cheer involves a beverage or two. Yet, it’s very easy to consume hundreds of empty calories without even being aware of it. If you’re trying to keep weight in check throughout the season, you will want to avoid high calorie beverages like egg nog and high fat coffee drinks. Smarter options include wine spritzers, light beers, herbal teas, or even mineral water with a twist of lemon.

Stick to Your Exercise Schedule

Your calendar is booked, and you still have gifts to buy and trees to trim. During the holiday season, we’re all pressed for time, and scheduling exercise can seem next to impossible. Yet, exercise is not only necessary for keeping weight in check, it’s also a great stress reliever during this hectic time of year.

Katz Institute for Women’s Health is here to answer your questions about nutrition and healthy eating. For more information or to schedule an appointment with our nutritionist, call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.

Creating Healthy and Flavorful School Lunches

One of the many issues facing parents of school-aged children is how to create healthy lunches that actually get eaten and not thrown out. Packing a lunchbox full of nutritious items on a daily basis can be a tremendous challenge, especially when you have finicky eaters. We all want our kids to eat a healthy lunch to maximize their ability to grow, learn and play, but how can this be balanced with making their school lunch something that they actually enjoy eating?

We spoke to Sotiria Everett, RD and nutritionist at the Katz Institute for Women’s Health, to get some tips on creating school lunches that meet kids’ nutritional needs while still being fun and flavorful.  She offered some creative kid-friendly lunch ideas that pack a nutritional punch.

Get Creative with Sandwiches
The sandwich has been a lunchbox staple for generations, and it still is! However, there are now many healthy and tasty alternatives to the old PB&J or bologna sandwich. Consider using tortillas, pita bread or even lettuce instead of sliced bread to create unique sandwiches that kids will love. Venture beyond lunch meat or peanut butter by filling sandwiches with nutritious options like hummus, fresh veggies, quinoa or low-fat cheese.

Offer Alternatives like Pasta, Salad or Soup
While sandwiches are a great lunchbox option, there are many alternatives that can create a visually appealing and healthy lunch. Cooked whole-grain pasta can be tossed with peppers, cherry tomatoes, broccoli florets and cubes of mozzarella to create a kid-friendly cold salad.  Hot or cold soups are also satisfying, healthy options.

Individual plastic containers or reusable Bento boxes can make a fun lunchtime meal. Offer small portions of a variety of favorites like hardboiled egg slices, cubes of leftover roast chicken, carrot sticks, yogurt dip and whole wheat crackers.

Ditch the Juice Box
Fruit juice has replaced the carton of milk as the go-to lunchbox beverage. And, juice manufacturers have done a great job making parents believe that juice is as nutritious as eating a piece of fruit. While juice offers some vitamins and minerals, it contains significantly more sugar and a negligible amount of fiber.

In other words, you’re better off packing a lunch with fresh fruit and skipping the juice box. If your kids love juice, consider only packing a small 4-ounce size juice box that has no added sugar or artificial colors.

A whole piece of fruit is a great addition to a lunchbox, but there are also many other ways to offer fruit. Slices of apples with peanut butter provide both protein and delicious crunch. A skewer with cubes of mangos, pineapple, and berries is loaded with vitamins and fun to eat. Offer lots of options when it comes to fruit and be creative!

Get Them Involved in Lunch Planning
It can be frustrating to find uneaten food in lunchboxes at the end of the day – particularly when you’ve put a significant amount of time and money into packing healthy food. One very useful way to get kids to eat their lunch is to enlist their help when it comes to planning, shopping and preparing lunch items.

Sotiria Everett recommends that parents and their children visit for age appropriate nutritional information that includes activity sheets, recipes and videos. There are lots of ideas for creating delicious, healthy lunches that have been taste-tested by kids.

Have questions related to nutrition? Find out more about the KIWH Nutrition Services Specialty Program or call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-KIWH (5494) to speak with a women’s health specialist.

Healthy Eating Tips to Remember During National Diabetes Month

By Marie Frazzitta, DNP

About 12.6 million, or 10.8 percent of all American women 20 years of age and older, have diabetes. The American Diabetes Association has identified eating well to maintain a healthy weight as one of the most important things you can do to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. Sticking to healthy eating habits can be difficult on a normal day, let alone during the upcoming holiday season when unhealthy food options surround us.

November is National Diabetes Month and with the holidays only a few weeks away, there’s no better time than now to remind ourselves of some of the simple, healthy habits that we can add into our daily routines.

When eating at a restaurant:

  • Try to view the menu online beforehand and decide what you want to order. By selecting a healthy option before arriving at the restaurant, you can avoid making less healthy decisions when you walk in hungry.
  • When you arrive, request that the waiter not bring bread to your table. If it’s not within reach, it becomes less of a temptation. Instead, start your meal with a salad.
  • When ordering, stick to sugar-free drinks. This is a quick way to save calories. Also try to choose food that is broiled and baked instead of items like casseroles or meals that come with sauces. If a dish comes with a sauce, ask for it on the side so you can monitor how much you use.
  • Concerned about carbohydrate intake? A good rule is to keep portions about the size of your fist.

When eating at home:

  • Plan meals in advance. Choose a day of the week to do the prep work for your meals, like cutting and cleaning vegetables. A lot of people go off of their meal plans when they are hungry and have nothing planned out. By doing this work ahead of time, it will be easy to cook a healthy meal.
  • Use smaller plates. Did you know that the average dinner plate in the 1950s was about nine inches in diameter? Our plates are now about 12 inches in diameter. Using smaller plates will make portion sizes appear larger.
  • Want a second serving? Give yourself a few minutes to digest. Often it takes time for digestion to catch up with the feeling of hunger, so you may realize after waiting a few minutes that you are not really hungry anymore and do not need a second helping.

While adopting some of these habits into your lifestyle can help your health and lower your risk for diabetes, it’s also important to be physically active. Anyone who watches TV already has activity time built into their schedule. It’s as simple as getting up and marching in place during commercial breaks. Or, when you get home at the end of the day, walk once around the block before going into the house. Adding these brief activities into your day can make a difference in your health.

Want to learn more about diabetes and how to help yourself or a loved one cope with the disease? The North Shore-LIJ Health System diabetes education program will be hosting an educational session on Friday, November 22 at North Shore University Hospital. The program will cover healthy eating, physical activity, medications, monitoring glucose levels and managing the disease. For more information, call 855-36-GOALS or email

Concerned about your risk for developing diabetes? Bring these healthy tips to your next doctor’s visit to discuss which ones you should incorporate into your lifestyle or call 855-850-5494 to reach a women’s health specialist at the Katz Institute.