Ask The Expert

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Q: My son is starting football and my family and I spend many evenings watching him practice. Due to the inactivity and unhealthy food choices there, this is when I start to gain my winter weight. Any tips to stay healthy during football season?

A: Ah Fall.... football games.. cuddling up in blankets...hot beverages.. leaves turning color... crisp nights... what a wonderful time of year! But you are right. This is about the time that us Minnesotans start to get lazy and pack on the pounds. Here are a few suggestions directly related to your situation. Avoid buying the 1$ hot cider or hot chocolate or the unhealthy snacks from the food truck. Yes I am sure you are supporting something great but donate the money instead and save the calories. These drinks are typically highly processed and loaded with sugar and the snacks consist of candy, chips or highly processed whats-that-meat? hotdogs. Instead pack some healthy snacks like beef jerky, trail mix, or granola bars and bring a thermos from home. Fill the thermos with coffee or hot tea. There are many teas for fall out there such as and apple or a pumpkin spice that are sure to give your senses that cozy fall feeling without adding on those cozy fall pounds.  

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Q: I've always wanted to plant my own garden but am always too busy in the spring and early summer, are there any late summer vegetables that I could plant and still harvest this year?

A: Great question! And on a personal note, I have had that same problem over the years. As good as my intentions may be, I sometimes run out of time to get a garden planted. The good thing about Bemidji is that we have a great farmers market and a good number of grocery stores that feature local produce, not to mention accessibility to a handful of wonderful CSA’s (Community Sourced Agriculture). But if you still want to put your green thumb to work, no worries, there is plenty of time.  

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Q: I don’t like to drink water, but am trying to avoid sugary juice and soda, what are some suggestions for beverages I will like?

A: My friend you are not alone, a surprising number of people dislike the taste of water. With most clients I encourage them to give it time and keep drinking it, try it cold, try it warm, try it with ice, try it from the fridge etc. Perhaps you may build up a “taste” for it. Your body will certainly look and feel better. In the meantime though, try adding fruit or cucumbers to your water. This can be done in a big pitcher that sits in the fridge, or it can be done on a single serving basis. Any kind of fruit is fine, whatever you prefer just throw it in.  

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Q: We are hosting a BBQ and have invited some friends who are Gluten-Free. What are some foods we can make to accommodate their diet needs?

A: Great question, and one I have heard a lot recently. The first thing I tell my clients is: when in doubt err on the safe side. Second it’s important to know what gluten is. Gluten is a protein found in wheat. So the main thing to avoid is any wheat containing products. That’s easy enough, steaks instead of hamburgers, or at least bun-less hamburgers. Coleslaw instead of pasta salad. A bowl of fresh fruit instead of fruit pie. Also avoid adding breading or breadcrumbs to anything. Think simple in your menu planning, this often leads to healthier choices as well. It is easy and simple enough to grill some veggies with olive oil and salt and pepper. A simple dish like this has no risk of hidden gluten. Speaking of hidden gluten, another thing to know is that gluten is often added to a variety of foods, this is especially true with sauces and condiments. So unless the label clearly says gluten free, it would be best to serve it on the side for guests to make their own choice. Something else to consider is cross contamination. You can’t be sure of how severe your guest’s gluten intolerance is, so it is best to prep all food for the meal in a space that has been thoroughly cleaned and is gluten free. Last but not least, don’t be afraid to reach out to your guests and discuss the menu, more often than not they are happy to give feedback on what foods work best for them. After all they want to enjoy their time spent with you. Any more gluten free questions feel free to contact me!
 

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Q: We are hosting a BBQ and have invited some friends who are Gluten-Free. What are some foods we can make to accommodate their diet needs?

A: Great question, and one I have heard a lot recently. The first thing I tell my clients is: when in doubt err on the safe side. Second it’s important to know what gluten is. Gluten is a protein found in wheat. So the main thing to avoid is any wheat containing products. That’s easy enough, steaks instead of hamburgers, or at least bun-less hamburgers. Coleslaw instead of pasta salad. A bowl of fresh fruit instead of fruit pie. Also avoid adding breading or breadcrumbs to anything. Think simple in your menu planning, this often leads to healthier choices as well. It is easy and simple enough to grill some veggies with olive oil and salt and pepper. A simple dish like this has no risk of hidden gluten. Speaking of hidden gluten, another thing to know is that gluten is often added to a variety of foods, this is especially true with sauces and condiments. So unless the label clearly says gluten free, it would be best to serve it on the side for guests to make their own choice. Something else to consider is cross contamination. You can’t be sure of how severe your guest’s gluten intolerance is, so it is best to prep all food for the meal in a space that has been thoroughly cleaned and is gluten free. Last but not least, don’t be afraid to reach out to your guests and discuss the menu, more often than not they are happy to give feedback on what foods work best for them. After all they want to enjoy their time spent with you. Any more gluten free questions feel free to contact me!
 

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Q: I’m trying to get my kids to drink less sugary drinks but they complain about “plain” water, any tips on healthy beverage options?

A: Well water is always the best choice so my first thought is to see what about water your kids don’t like. Do they prefer it ice cold? Do they not like tap water? Are they used to well or city water and don’t like the other? If there is no reason and no working around it then my next step would be to try infused water. It’s as easy as washing and chopping up your favorite fruit and adding it to a glass or pitcher. Personally I think it works best to fill a big pitcher or one of those dispensers that sits on the shelf in the fridge and just keep adding water. Almost any fruit works and if you and your kids aren’t a fruit fan, try cucumbers or even mint leaves.  

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Q: I have diabetes and I worry about doing too much activity in case it would cause a low blood sugar. How can I enjoy my summer without putting my health at risk?

A: Great Question! When we move around and are active, our muscles need energy to work, they get this energy from the sugar in our blood stream. Sometimes our body has more than enough sugar to sustain activity and this can actually be a useful tool in managing blood sugar levels, in fact exercise and activity should be a part of every ones diabetes management plan. But sometimes if we exercise more than usual or without enough energy then what usually helps us might instead hurt us. My suggestion is to always test before extra activity, if you are able. This will tell you what your blood sugars are doing right then. Another tip, plan activities for after meal time. Also have a snack on hand. For athletes I always recommend, with diabetes or not, to eat a healthy snack like a banana, before working out. And most important, know the signs of a low blood sugar and make sure your friends and family know the signs as well so that in the event you over exert yourself they can help. But don’t let diabetes stop you from being active, as I said above, activity can help your blood sugars and should already be a part of your day to day life. 

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Q: I know that a regular bedtime during the school year is important for my child, but how about in the summer? Is it necessary to enforce bedtimes during summer vacation?

A: Great question and an easy answer, YES, it is extremely important for children and adults to have a good nights sleep, which usually means a moderately early bedtime. There are many reasons that an early bedtime is beneficial to your child, and I’m sure if you have or have had small children at some point you know how improved their mood or behavior is the next day after a good 8 hours. But getting enough sleep can also have an impact on weight gain, a lack of adequate sleep can cause an increase in appetite and a decrease in satiety. This can cause children to want to eat more during the day and/or and feel like they are hungry well after they should feel full. During deep sleep is also the time for a child’s body to grow, recharge and detox from the day. There is a reason we feel so sluggish after a restless night or not enough shut eye. Children also do well with boundaries and as much as they fight that bedtime, having that rule gives them a sense of security and is healthy for their behavior and emotional health as well. So, as you can see, the benefits of a good nights sleep far outweigh the bonus of staying up late. And who would have known that improving your child’s health is as easy as setting a bedtime! 

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Q: What are some healthy choices for our Memorial Day cookout?

A: Memorial Day marks the start of summer and for many of us that means the start of cold salads, cold beer, BBQ’d meats, and bags of chips every weekend. As excited as we are to start this season, it can be a little hard on the waistline so I am glad you want to shake things up a bit. 

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Q: What do an Audiologist and a Dietitian have in common??

A: Well, besides both being outstanding health care providers there is actually a lot. You would be surprised to learn how much nutrition and healthy lifestyle influence hearing health. This is especially apparent with diabetes.  

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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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