Ask The Expert

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Q: I realize most people are trying to lose weight when they come to see you, but what about those trying to gain weight?

A: Great question , and you are right, outside of a hospital facility it is not as common for a dietitian to help someone gain weight, but it is a health concern for some people and I’m glad you brought it up. My suggestions vary from person to person but overall the goal is to make the meals and snacks you do eat more calorie dense without adding bulk. This is best done using fat. Fat has more calories per gram than protein or carbohydrates and is a tasty and healthy way to increase the calorie content of food. I would start by throwing away all the low fat stuff you use. Use real mayo, real sour cream, real salad dressing, etc. Start adding butter to your meals. I really like to use an unsalted grass fed butter. Switch to whole milk and real cream, it works well to add these whole fat dairy options to oatmeal or to use them in coffee. Try making a smoothie with some coconut oil , hemp or flax seeds, and some fruit. Add in some whole milk yogurt or kefir for added calories and a dose of probiotics. Drizzle olive oil on your salads, even eat some olives for a snack. If you like cheese add this to your eggs in the morning, no need to settle for the partial skim milk cheese sticks anymore, go for that sharp cheddar you like next time you have crackers and cheese. If it’s a whole food, real fat, then it’s ok to add it. Avoid adding trans fats or using candy and sweets to gain weight. This may help pack on the pounds but it won’t help your health. 

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Q: What are some suggestions for reducing my carb intake at thanksgiving?

A: That's a great question and the answer will vary slightly based on where you meal will take place. If you are hosting the meal then its an easy fix to create vegetable side dishes that are lower in carb. has some great options. Or it can be as simple as including a veggie tray and/or a meat and cheese tray with your meal. Squash is an option as a lower carb vegetable so long as its free of added sugars. If you are going somewhere else see if you can find out what the meal will be, if there are no low carb options request to bring a side dish to share. Regardless of the location of the meal and whether or not you have control of the food choices, you definitely have control of your portions. So go ahead and try everything if you must, just be sure to reduce your portion size of the carb heavy items and load up on things like turkey and green veggies. And also be sure to take your medications. Don't lie to yourself about the carb count or neglect to test your blood sugar, its important on these days to be aware of whats going on so if you are on insulin you can dose accordingly. Last tip, get active. Go for a walk, play an active game with family, start decorating the house for Christmas. Just add some activity to help utilize all that extra energy you ate. And don't forget to enjoy the time with family and friends! Happy Thanksgiving!


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Q: During the school year our mornings are hectic and often rushed, what are some healthy breakfast choices that will be quick and easy to prepare?


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Q: Are there truly health benefits to yoga besides being more flexible?

A: Absolutely. The health benefits of yoga reach far beyond simply being able to touch your toes, although for many people this is accomplishment enough.
Yoga has an impact on all systems of the body. It is beyond the space of this column to list the why behind it, but I can share a little of what is improved.
Most people don't realize that yoga helps to strengthen bone. It also increases muscle mass and improves strength. It also lubricates the joints and relieves every day aches and pains. In doing all this it also helps to teach the body how to maintain balance and avoid falls. Maybe better known is its connection to mental health. It is considered common knowledge that yoga helps with stress but not as many are aware that it is also known to help with depression and anxiety. In addition to these physical and mental benefits the breath work that is connected with the movement also impacts other our cardiovascular and respiratory health. Many chronic diseases are improved with the addition of yoga. The list could go on and on. In fact I encourage you to reach out to me to find out more about all the ways that yoga could help you!


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Q: What is the theme for this years National Nutrition Month and what does it mean to you?

A: March is National Nutrition Month and the theme this year is "Go Further With Food". This may mean a number of things to a number of people, but to me the message is complex and not necessarily what the academy had in mind. What I hear from this message is an invitation to consumers to go beyond the trends, to step past the standard food choices, to learn more about where their food is coming from, to understand how to prepare their food and how to season different foods, to learn how foods help and hurt their body rather than just looking at food as good or bad. The academy intended this years theme to be about planning and thinking ahead, which does fit, but to this dietitian this years slogan feels a bit deeper.


Whether you care about National Nutrition Month or not, I encourage you to find your own interpretation and then apply it to your life. I welcome you to "Go Further With Your Food."


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Q: What are the risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes?

A: Great question as November is National

Diabetes Month. There are two types of risk categories for diabetes. One category we can’t modify and one we can. The risk factors we

can’t change include: family history, weight at birth, age, race, history of gestational diabetes and genetic pre-disposition. Even though we can’t do anything about this area it is important to know these and have that awareness. The risk factors that we can change can have a big impact on our health in more areas than just diabetes prevention. The modifiable risk factors for diabetes are: weight, lack of activity, blood pressure, blood cholesterol levels, some health conditions like PCOS and gestational diabetes, food intake, and other unhealthy lifestyle choices. Whether you are at risk or not, or whether you are unsure of your risk level , the most important thing to remember is that diabetes can be prevented. For more information visit , or come in for a customizable plan that works for you. Whatever you decide to do, get started doing something.


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Q: How do I reduce added sugars in my diet?

A: Great question. To start, stop adding sugar to your food. For coffee use heavy cream and cinnamon to flavor rather than sweetened syrups and sugar packets. Have peanut butter on your toast and forgo the jelly. Choose cheese sticks and raw nuts or seeds for snacks instead of sugar heavy granola bars. Try having plain yogurt but add fruit for sweetness.

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Q: I have recently had bariatric surgery and have noticed that I am losing some hair, is this normal?


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Q: What are some ways to add flavor to my coffee without having to use high sugar sweeteners?


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Q: My family tries to eat healthy year round, but fresh produce can be so expensive in the winter time, is it ok to use canned or frozen?

A: Yes and Yes. It is true that produce can get expensive when it is out of season which can make it seem impossible to eat healthy. It might surprise you to know that aside from picking produce straight from your garden and eating it instantly, the healthiest way to eat produce is frozen! The minute fresh produce is picked, it begins to deteriorate which means a loss in nutritive value and phytochemicals (all big words to mean the “good stuff”). When produce is going to be frozen it is picked right at the peak of its ripeness, meaning its nutritional value is the highest it will ever be. It is then instantly frozen, which stops the natural deterioration process, so all that goodness is maintained in the food until it is ready to be eaten. Canned foods are a little different. There are some downfalls such as excess sodium and possible chemicals from the lining of the can, buying organic, BPA-free, low-sodium canned produce will help to reduce those risks. Otherwise my next suggestion would be to rinse the food well before cooking. Most of the sodium and some of the chemicals can be rinsed off therefore making the food a little healthier. The good thing is that you are eating your vegetables, so do what you can each season, follow the ads, save a buck here and there if you can. But keep eating those veggies, in whatever capacity you can afford.   

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Jessica Carter MS, RD, LD

Meet Jessica

Jessica Carter is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. She is the founder and president of Core Health & Nutrition, LLC.

As a wife, mother, and dedicated professional, Jessica is passionate about living life to the fullest while still maintaining balance.

Jessica founded Core Health & Nutrition on the fundamental belief that with the right information and a little bit of motivation, anyone can have good health. She also believes that the ability to prevent disease and lead a healthy life is all about making the right choices. It is the mission of Core Health & Nutrition to provide clients with the knowledge, the tools and the motivation to make the best decisions for their health.

Learn More About Jessica...  
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