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  • Picnics, BBQs and Pool Parties, Oh My!

    Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD

    In just a few short days Memorial Day Weekend officially kicks off summertime!  Bust out the sunscreen, bathing suits, and grills–fun in the sun has finally arrived!  People of all ages, shapes, and sizes will be headed out to picnic, BBQ, and have their first pool party of the year with their family and friends.

    With all of these events comes lots of fun food and beverages.  Parties every weekend can lead some to indulge more than they should.  The key is balancing your sweet treats and drinks with other nutrient-rich healthy swaps.  No one wants a party-goer who can’t enjoy a cookie, soda, or hotdog every now and then— so learn to surround your treats with lighter choices.

    When planning your picnic or BBQ, try to balance your indulgent snacks with some nutrient rich or low-calorie options, such as diet soda, vegetables, fresh fruit, and light beverages. Also be sure to balance what you eat and drink with plenty of activity. Swimming, playing badminton, or taking a stroll in the sunshine are all ways to achieve the perfect balance during the season.

    Summer is a great time of year to relax, hangout, and enjoy.  Remember that all foods fit – enjoy your favorites while balancing them with low calorie options and activity!

    Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a full time sports dietitian for Ben Hogan Sports Medicine, where she works with athletes of all levels, serves as a media dietitian, and speaks to sports teams as well as at a variety of nutrition, athletic training, and coaching conferences. She has worked with the Texas Rangers and is the sports dietitian for Texas Christian University Athletics, the Dallas Cowboys, FC Dallas Soccer Team and Jim McLean Golf School where she works with amateur and professional golfers.


  • Exercise and Nutrition: A Balancing Act

    Neva Cochran, MS, RDN, LD

    May is Exercise is Medicine Month, an annual initiative of the American College of Sports Medicine to emphasize the essential role exercise plays in an overall plan to promote good health and prevent chronic disease.

    As a registered dietitian nutritionist who taught in a cardiac rehabilitation program for 13 years alongside an exercise physiologist, I know firsthand that nutrition and exercise go hand-on-hand to support heart health. And in my own life, I also realize the importance of balancing nutrition and activity to maintain good health, feel better and allow flexibility in my food choices.

    Six years ago I needed to lose about 20 pounds, so I downloaded a smart phone app to track my food intake and physical activity. The app calculates your calorie level to lose weight. As you enter your exercise, meals and snacks it keeps a running total of the calories you’ve consumed and expended along with the number you have left for the day.

     By recording my food and exercise, I successfully lost 20 pounds in four months. Once I reached my goal, the app gave me a “raise” of about 500 calories/day. The good news is I continued to track my food intake and activity every day so I’ve maintained the weight loss within ±2 pounds for six years.

    And, no, I don’t feel deprived! The app makes it easy to indulge sometimes and balance it by eating fewer calories at another meal or exercising more. For instance, I love soft-serve ice cream with real sugar so I make room for a 4-ounce portion several nights a week. On the other hand, I like drinking diet soda so I save the calories I would consume in a regular soda to use for something else. If I overdo one day, my goal is to come out even on exercise and food calories at the end of the week. 

    With summer right around the corner, warmer weather and longer days will make it easier to be active outdoors. Challenge yourself to move more so you can enjoy summer’s barbecues and picnics without gaining weight. Just be sure to balance the calories you eat with adequate exercise.


    Neva Cochran is an award winning registered dietitian nutritionist and nutrition communications consultant in Dallas, Texas. A veteran media spokesperson and popular speaker she was also a 20-year freelancer for Woman’s World Weekly magazine. She is a past president of the Texas Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics and past chair of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation.

  • Family Meals and Mindful Eating

    Carol Berg Sloan, RDN, FAND

    We recently had the pleasure of a weekend getaway on the family boat. My adult daughters have birthdays about 2 weeks apart so the party began after weeks of planning meals and packing the right clothes. The clothes were easy, but the meals took a bit more time.

    While always thinking about balance when it comes to food, sweet treats, fun beverages, and fancy hors d'oeuvres were in order. I thought for a long time about how to keep it all in balance.

    • Cake pops make great alternatives to large slices of birthday cake. They allow everyone to have a sweet treat without overdoing the sugar!
    • With such a variety of no-and-low calorie beverages on the market, it’s easy to fit them in to a balanced diet. We opted for some diet sodas and low calorie punches for our party.
    • Baby vegetables with a Greek yogurt-based dip make a great addition to any spread.

    Being together, now that the kids have scattered, was a treat in itself. The food tasted better, the drinks were more refreshing, and our hikes were more enjoyable. Research reveals that eating together feeds more than just the body. It nourishes the mind and soul as well.

    Planning ahead, making smart choices regarding food and drinks, while fitting in exercise makes for a memorable and healthy weekend. Presence is indeed "presents" enough.

    Carol Berg Sloan RDN, FAND is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and independent food and nutrition communications consultant in Long Beach, California. Carol has served as a delegate to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a committee member of the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Nutrition Education for the Public and Dietitians in Business and Communication Dietetic Practice Groups.