Check out my latest column in The News-Press

Posted September 29th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in The News-Press Column

In today’s News-Press, you’ll find my column titled: Nutrition notes: Eating the right foods will help lower cholesterol.  Check it out for great information on lowering your cholesterol in honor of September: National Cholesterol Awareness Month:

National women’s health and fitness week kicks-off

Posted September 28th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Exercise Tips

This national program focuses on the importance of women’s health and fitness with activities planned around the country. Here are a few guidelines for women on ways to improve their overall nutritional and physical health:

Eat healthy:
-Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains every day.
-Limit foods and drinks high in calories, sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol.
-Eat a balanced diet to help keep a healthy weight.

Be active:
Be active for at least 2½ hours a week. Include activities that raise your breathing and heart rates and that strengthen your muscles.
Help kids and teens be active for at least 1 hour a day. Include activities that raise their breathing and heart rates and that strengthen their muscles and bones.

Protect yourself:
-Wear helmets, seat belts, sunscreen, and insect repellent.
-Wash hands to stop the spread of germs.
-Avoid smoking and breathing other people’s smoke.
-Build safe and healthy relationships with family and friends.
-Be ready for emergencies. Make a supply kit. Make a plan. Be informed.

Manage stress:
-Balance work, home, and play.
-Get support from family and friends.
-Stay positive.
-Take time to relax.
-Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
Make sure kids get more, based on their age.
-Get help or counseling if needed.

This is also a good time to take inventory of your current nutritional status and make necessary lifestyles. Also, be sure you make any annual health check-ups, including gynecological care, dental, vision and overall physical examinations to ensure that you are taking all necessary steps to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Fit in fun on Friday!

Posted September 25th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Exercise Tips, Fit In Fitness Friday

Fit in Fun on Friday is my weekly blog on ways that you can stay fit with the family. Here are a few ideas for the weekend, rain or shine:

As fall approaches and the weather begins to change, it’s a great time to enjoy a hike or walk through your neighborhood, local parks, trails or the beach. A three mile walk at a leisurely pace can burn up to 300 calories per hour. Take this opportunity to establish a family exercise routine and add daily walks to your family calendar.

If the weather is not in your favor, it’s time to get creative with your family fitness plans. There are plenty of options for indoor fun right in your own home. How about a family dance party? Let everyone choose their favorite dance songs and get your groove on.  You can burn approximately 300 calories while dancing at an aerobic pace so burn baby burn!

Remember, combining exercise and a balanced diet will help your family develop good habits to support a healthy lifestyle.

Read my latest article in The News-Press: There is plenty of flavor after salt

Sodium you take in depends on choices you make

How can you add flavor without adding sodium?

The American Heart Association has issued dietary guidelines in efforts to warn of the dangers of high salt consumption. The AHA says that consuming less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of salt per day can lower blood pressure, prevent hypertension, help control hypertension, and prevent cardiovascular disease.

For people suffering from heart failure, eating too much sodium causes extra fluid to build up in your body. The increased fluid may cause swelling, shortness of breath or weight gain. Excessive salt intake has also been linked to stomach cancer.

The National Academy of Sciences recommends that Americans consume a minimum of 500 milligrams per day of sodium to maintain good health. Individual needs may vary depending upon genetics and lifestyle. Most Americans have no trouble reaching their minimum requirements. In fact, most Americans consume above the recommended amount required for proper bodily function.

If you have high blood pressure and heart failure, you should limit and monitor your daily sodium intake. People with other health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease may also need to make other diet changes as recommended by a physician.

It is also wise to limit sodium if you have liver problems or kidney disease. While the kidneys may efficiently process excess sodium in healthy people, those with kidney problems often have problems processing sodium, which can result in additional health implications.

Sodium is found in salt and a number of other foods and food products. Seasoning foods without salt during cooking and while eating can help decrease the amount of sodium in your diet.

Some high sodium seasonings and condiments to limit or avoid:
- Alfredo sauce, soup and other packaged sauce mixes.
- Barbecue, taco and steak sauce.
- Dry salad dressing mixes.
- Garlic, onion and celery salt.
- Imitation bacon bits.
- Meat tenderizers and sauces.
- Items with monosodium glutamate. MSG may be found in Chinese food, soy sauce and oyster sauce.
- Mustard, prepared horseradish sauce and ketchup.
- Pickle relish.
- Salt, seasoned salt, kosher salt, and sea salt.
- Soy, Worcestershire and teriyaki sauces. Limit low-sodium varieties because they still contain high amounts of sodium.
- Tartar, fish and cocktail sauce.
Some low-sodium herbs that can be used
- Basil, bay leaf, cilantro, chili powder, cumin, dill weed, marjoram, parsley, rosemary, thyme, sage, savory and tarragon.

Some low-sodium herb blends that can be used:
- Chili blend: mix black pepper, chili powder, cilantro, cumin, dry mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano and paprika.
- Cole slaw blend: mix celery seed, dill weed, dried onion, sugar and tarragon.
- Italian food blend: mix basil, black pepper, garlic powder, ground red pepper, marjoram, oregano, savory and thyme.
- Onion herb blend: mix basil, black pepper, cumin, dill weed, dried onion flakes and garlic powder.

Some low-sodium spices that can be used:
- Cinnamon, cloves, curry powder, ginger, mace and nutmeg.

Some low-sodium seasonings that can be used:
- Chives, garlic (minced, powdered, or freshly chopped), lemon, onion (dried, powdered, or freshly chopped) and vinegar (such as balsamic, cider, flavored, red wine, or white).

How can I use food labels to choose seasonings that are low in sodium?
Reading food labels is a good way to learn how much sodium they contain. The ingredient list on the food label will tell you if the seasoning or food contains sodium. The food contains sodium if an ingredient has Na (the symbol for sodium), salt, soda or sodium.
Food labels list the amount of sodium in the food in milligrams.

What are some other ways to decrease sodium in my diet?
Fast food and packaged foods are often high in sodium. Buy low-salt or low-sodium foods when possible. Eat homemade or fresh foods and meals to avoid getting too much sodium.
Buy fresh vegetables, frozen vegetables or low-sodium or no salt added canned vegetables. Avoid canned, smoked, or processed poultry, fish, or meats. Limit cured meats, such as ham.

Elaine Hastings is a registered dietitian and owner of Associates in Nutrition Therapy in Fort Myers. Contact her at or

Fit in fun on Friday!

Posted September 18th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Exercise Tips, Fit In Fitness Friday

Fit in Fun on Friday is my weekly blog on how you and your family can enjoy family activities AND keep fit and healthy.

A weekend bike ride is a fun activity that you can enjoy with the whole family. Find a local park, cruise the neighborhood or local bike trails. Just a 30 minute leisurely bike ride can burn more than 130 calories for adults, depending on your weight.

Remember to wear a helmet, sunscreen and ride safely!

September’s monthly myth

Posted September 17th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Monthly Myths

Multi-grain bread is more nutritious than white or wheat bread

It’s all about labels, and the bread you want should be “whole wheat bread.” Virtually all bread is wheat bread, says registered dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. “But just because it says wheat on the label doesn’t mean it is 100 percent whole wheat,” she says. “It’s true that whole wheat bread has a lot more fiber than white bread, but read the label carefully. The first ingredient should be whole wheat, and there shouldn’t be a lot of artificial colorings in the bread to give it the look of wheat bread.” A bread labeled multi-grain isn’t necessarily any better for you than a loaf labeled wheat bread.

Staying Hydrated is Essential to Health

Posted September 15th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in The News-Press Column

You can improve performance by delaying dehydration

Hydration is often left out of nutrition, but it shouldn’t be. Staying hydrated is important not only to improving performance in sports and other activities, but it plays a vital role in helping maintain a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.

Necessary to the healthy function of all internal organs, water must be consumed to replace the amount lost each day during basic activities. Water is also proven to aid in weight loss. It helps you feel full so you eat less, quenches thirst without adding calories and allows your body to function at its top capability.

Keeping hydrated helps muscles look more toned, a look that many people desire. Being hydrated also helps your skin look and stay healthy.

Water regulates the body’s temperature, cushions and protects vital organs, and aids the digestive system.

In 2004, the Food and Nutrition Board released new dietary reference intakes for water. It is recommended that women consume 2.7 liters daily and men consume 3.7 liters through various beverages, 80 percent, or in food, 20 percent.

Active individuals need even more, particularly if they’re exercising in hot weather. This is especially important during the 24 hours prior to vigorous exercise. During exercise, our body produces more heat, causing sweat to cool us down. When we sweat out our water supply, we must consume more water to keep our core temperature down.

In one hour of exercise, the body can lose more than a quart of water, depending on exercise intensity and air temperature. If there is not enough water for the body to cool itself through perspiration, the body enters a state of dehydration.

For people who regularly exercise, maintaining a constant supply of water in the body is essential to performance.
Dehydration leads to muscle fatigue and loss of coordination. Even small amounts of water loss may hinder athletic performance.

In a dehydrated state, the body is unable to cool itself efficiently, leading to heat exhaustion and possibly heat stroke. Without an adequate supply of water, the body lacks energy and muscles may develop cramps. To prevent dehydration, you must drink before, during and after a workout.

During exercise, water is the best fluid replenisher for most individuals, although sports drinks help replace lost electrolytes during high intensity exercise exceeding more than 60 minutes. Keeping hydrated can improve performance by delaying dehydration and maintaining balanced blood-sugar levels during exercise. It also lowers the risk of catching a cold by boosting your immune system.

Drink 17-20 ounces of water two to three hours before the start of exercise. Drink 8 ounces of fluid every 20 to 30 minutes prior to exercise or during warm-up. Drink 7 to 10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise. Drink an additional 8 ounces of fluid within 30 minutes after exercising. Drink 16-24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost after exercise.

Water is your best option. Tea (non-caffeinated and unsweetened) and 100 percent juice, not cocktail drinks, are good alternatives if you just need something else. Sports drinks are also good for your body during and after exercise.

Coffee and alcohol don’t need to be nixed completely, but should be consumed in very small amounts. Two cups of coffee a day isn’t going to help your body and scientific evidence suggests alcohol consumption can interfere with muscle recovery after exercise and negatively affect a variety of performance variables.

As far as options that you should stay away from, soda is at the top of the list. While drinking one soda probably won’t hurt you, it provides little hydration. In fact, frequent consumption of soda can be more harmful to your body than any of the other drinks listed above, with the exception of alcohol.

In the end, staying hydrated by drinking water throughout the day and especially during exercise is highly recommended to support good nutrition and healthy living.

Elaine Hastings is a registered dietitian and owner of Associates in Nutrition and Sports Specialty in Florida. Contact her at or visit her at

Fruits and veggies – more matters

Posted September 14th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Meal Tips

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is celebrating national Fruit & Veggies – More Matters Month during September. They are offering tips to help you fit more fruit and vegetables into your diet while keeping within your budget. You can still get your daily intake of fruit and vegetables without breaking the bank. Check out their Web site to learn 30 ways to add more fruits and vegetables in your diet in just 30 days, including some good recipes!

Elaine Hastings is a registered dietitian of Associates in Nutrition in Florida. She has been practicing for 18 years and was recently named president of the Southwest Florida Dietetic Association. A “nutrition entrepreneur,” she works contractually and is also a writer, motivational speaker, product researcher, counselor, sports-nutritionist and eating disorder advocate. Continue to read her series on Tuesdays. You can contact Elaine at, Email her at

Fit in fun on Friday

Posted September 11th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Fit In Fitness Friday

It’s Friday again, time to fit in fun for the weekend!

The most popular game in Florida is golf! Try putt-putt golf for the family, or take on an 18-hole challenge if you dare! It’s great exercise! Many courses offer summer specials, so you can enjoy the course on a budget. Be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated in the heat.


Article makes American Dietetic Association newswire…Nutrition: RD credentials signify specialized training

Posted September 8th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in In The News

My latest News-Press article made the ADA’s news service!  Be sure to read  the article below on the significance of RD credentials. You can also link to the ADA’s Web site at They have the very latest news on food and nutrition. With so much information on the Web, it’s important to find credible sources. The ADA is a valuable resource for both health care professionals and consumers.

There is so much emphasis on the importance of food and nutrition that it is understandable why consumers may be confused. Who are you getting your nutrition advice from? Your gym? Magazines? A weight-loss program? The Web?

All of these sources can offer valuable information; however, you need to know that some of the advice you will receive from them is not necessarily accurate. New diet recommendations constantly emerge, making it sometimes difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. You should be especially careful if anyone offers you quick fixes that seem too good to be true.

If you are confused about the science of nutrition and weight loss, or have been receiving conflicting advice and not seeing the results you want, consider making an appointment with a registered dietitian, a specialist in the study of nutrition, who can assist you with planning a diet to promote a healthy lifestyle.

Certified by the state, RDs undertake the practical application of nutrition to prevent nutrition-related problems.

They are also involved in the diagnoses and dietary treatment of disease.

Dietitians in many settings work with people who have special dietary needs, inform the general public about nutrition, give unbiased advice, evaluate and improve treatments and educate clients, doctors, nurses, health professionals and community groups.

Sometimes, RDs will refer to themselves as “nutritionists,” because it is a term the public is familiar with. However, not all “nutritionists” are necessarily RDs.

Make sure the person you choose to see has RD credentials to ensure that person has received the necessary specialized accredited training.

That training includes classes in food and nutrition sciences, food service systems management, business, economics, computer science, culinary arts, sociology, chemistry, communications, education, biochemistry, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, pharmacology and psychology.

To make the transition from dietitian to RD requires the completion of an internship and the successful passing of a national board exam.

Why should you consider a dietitian instead of relying on the trainers at your local gym or your monthly fitness magazine? Dietitians have special skills in translating scientific and medical decisions related to food and health to inform the general public. They also play an important role in health promotion.

A dietitian will work with your doctor to assist you in fine-tuning your medications, meals and exercise requirements. Dietitians also will be able to assist you with reading food labels, and provide cooking and grocery tips.

Elaine Hastings is a registered dietitian of Associates in Nutrition and Sports Specialty in Florida. She has been practicing for 18 years and was recently named president of the Southwest Florida Dietetic Association. A “nutrition entrepreneur,” she works contractually and is also a writer, motivational speaker, product researcher, counselor, sports-nutritionist and eating disorder advocate. Continue to read her series on Tuesdays. You can contact Elaine at, Email her at