Stay Healthy Inside and Out this Winter with these Tips

During these winter months, we often want to sit down in our stretchy clothes by the fire with something warm and comforting. And in small chunks, this is perfectly acceptable. However, vegging out too much can increase our chances of gaining weight, catching “something” that’s out there, or just feeling plain ol’ miserable.

So, to help keep up your health and sanity during the winter season, here are some of my go-to tips.

  1. Eat within one to one and a half hours after waking.

I hear a lot, “I’m not hungry in the morning” or “Breakfast food is so carb-y.”  But who says you have to eat breakfast food for breakfast?

Eating something is always better than nothing when it comes to breakfast. Try something from this list for a high-protein, low-carb breakfast:

  • an egg (hardboiled, scrambled, over easy, even in the microwave!)
  • plain Greek yogurt with honey or frozen fruit stirred in
  • cottage cheese
  • almond/peanut/cashew butter (NO Nutella®!)

I’m not against using protein supplements either, but be cautious when choosing. In addition to protein for breakfast, balance your breakfast by adding a nutrient-dense carbohydrate, such as sweet potatoes or steel-cut oats. I’ve been known to eat a sweet potato and walnuts for breakfast; it’s a sweet and protein-full breakfast. The biggest takeaway here is: It doesn’t have to be a “typical” breakfast, as long as you’re eating something nutrient rich and within an hour and a half of waking up.

  1. Fuel your body as often as every two to five hours.

Fueling your body throughout the day will keep your metabolism going and help with portion control. My problematic time is often in the afternoon. If I don’t have something to eat then, I either get “hangry” or I overeat at dinner. A couple of quick and easy snacks include: 

  • 2 tablespoons hummus + ½ cup sugar snap peas
  • 5 reduced-fat Triscuits® + 1 ounce low-fat cheese
  1. Don’t skip meals.

Even on a day when you have a larger eating episode planned, don’t skip a meal. If you go longer than three to four hours without eating—believe it or not—your metabolism starts to slow down. Your body starts working against you instead of for you. The key to remember is that “something” is better than nothing. It doesn’t have to be a full traditional meal to count as a meal. Something as simple as cottage cheese, canned peaches (canned in light syrup) and cucumber slices with ranch dressing can actually be a meal.

  1. Plan ahead.

This is the biggest challenge to most of us. I hear often, “if I just planned, it would all be better.” I like to say, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” but you can have the best laid plans and have it all fall through.

But some plan is better than no plan. Start small and work up. Try laying out or prepping for breakfast, lunch or dinner for the next day. Then plan for three days a week, then a week and then work up from there. For this time of year, start with just planning for a challenging day and that will get you going in the right direction.

  1. Eat as a family

Did you know the average family meals lasts about 18 minutes? I’ve heard from many of parents that they spend over an hour in the kitchen—and for what? But, believe it or not, these 18 minutes together carry a long list of benefits.

When I say eat as a family, I’m don’t mean plopping down on the couch in front of the TV. Sitting around the table is the most beneficial. In my house, we even sit around our island some nights when I haven’t had time to clear all the paperwork off the kitchen table. But, keep the TV, phones, gaming systems, etc. off during this time.

  1. Leave food in sight.

This doesn’t mean to not put your cold food in the refrigerator, but keep it where you can see it. Store produce and other healthier foods in see-through containers at eye level in your fridge or in a pretty bowl visible on the counter. We typically eat more of what we can see, and if it looks good, it can be one less barrier to making healthy choices happen.

I also like to create a healthy snack bag with nonperishable items and leave it in my car. You may think this is crazy, but you never know what could happen on the road, especially this time of year. It never fails—my shopping takes too long or the roads are not good, and my drive home takes twice as long. Luckily, in my snack bag I have a 100 calorie pack of almonds and walnuts, protein bar, apple, cuties, and a bottle of water. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, but it saves calories and money from stopping somewhere and getting something to eat/drink or gorging when you get home.

  1. Ask yourself 3 questions

I encourage you to ask yourself these three questions when are you are going to the refrigerator, cabinet or food table.

  1. Am I hungry or am I actually thirsty?
  2. Am I hungry or bored?
  3. Am I hungry or just tired of dark days and winter?

If you answered “hungry” to any or all of these questions, then get something to eat. But this system will get you thinking before you start mindlessly eating.

I know this time of year can be difficult, on all accounts, in terms of eating. But maybe one or more of these tips will help you to maintain your weight, health and sanity. Happy Holidays!

Rethink those 2,000 calories

I have quite a few patients asking for a calorie amount to follow, but I rarely give an actual calorie count to a patient. Instead, I teach patients about the different macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) and how to portion meals and snacks so nutrient needs are being met. Although I do not give calorie amounts often, it is important to be aware of calorie content in the grand scheme of things when trying to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain a healthy weight. 2,000 calories/day has been set as the average need of an adult. However, this number varies greatly depending on sex, activity level, genetics and so on. Let’s say that 2,000 calories per day is accurate for you; do you know what this actually looks like?

A 2014, New York Times’ article, “What 2,000 Calories Looks Like”, provides examples of a 2,000 calorie meals. I’ve selected a few examples of meals from the article that you can find here in restaurants in our area. Click here to view the full article.

  1. Chipotle

This meal combo meal comes in at just under 2,000 calories!


  1. Olive Garden

This includes the “Tour of Italy Sampler”, 2 bread sticks, side salad, and a glass of red wine for 2,020 calories!


  1. IHOP

 “Classic Skillet” with orange juice is 2,000 calories.


Many of these meals (or equivalents) are eaten 2-3 times a day, meaning calorie intake can be far in excess of needs! Calories are generally controlled better at home. I use the #plategoals method to educate patients on food groups and portion control. Cooking at home decreases processed food intake, which in turn decreases calories, saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium—all good things to keep in moderation when trying to live a healthy lifestyle. Lastly is an example of a day’s worth of food prepared at home, filled with vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and lean protein!

  1. Home

Breakfast: Yogurt with fruit and nuts, 1 slice of toast with jam, and coffee. Lunch: beef stir-fry with farro, pretzels, a pear, and diet soda. Dinner: chicken with arugula, Brussels sprouts and squash, 2 small cookies, 1 glass of wine and water. All of this is 2,000 calories!



Alana Scopel

5 Shortcuts to Mealtime

You’ve done your meal planning but the day has still fallen apart, now what are you going to do for dinner? 

You’ve done your meal planning but the day has still fallen apart, now what are you going to do for dinner?


Here are 5 Shortcuts to get a meal on the table in no time…

  1. Have fruits and vegetables already prepped and ready to go. Have these fruits/vegetables washed, cut and in individual containers. Put a dry paper towel on top before you put the lid on to help soak up the moisture. Do this on a day that works best for you. For some it may be the weekend and for others it may be a weekday/weeknight.
  1. I have priced cauliflower this time of year and buying the already cut up cauliflower is about break even with a head of cauliflower. My family loves cauliflower and there is so much you can do with it: Fresh, steamed, roasted and mashed. When you have it already cut up you can do any of the above in a short amount of time.  Don’t be afraid to look around in your fresh produce section to find easy time savers to keep on hand.
  1. Keep staples on hand:
  • Buy meats in bulk and freeze in family portion sizes
  • White/sweet potato
  • String cheese
  • Applesauce
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Freeze bread
  • Yogurt
  • Tortillas
  • Cottage cheese
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned fruits & vegetables
  • Low Sodium canned soup
  • Italian dressing (liquid or dry)
  • Canned Beans
  • Whole Wheat Pasta (any kind)
  • 5-10 minute rice
  • Oats
  • Chicken broth (98% fat free)
  • Cream of … (98% fat free)
  • Canned fish/chicken
  • Frozen chicken
  • Eggs
  • Vegetable/Tomato Juice
  1. Keep frozen steamer bags of vegetables in the freezer. I love that they don’t go bad, you can take it out of the freezer and within 5-7 minutes in the microwave you have steamed vegetables. Honestly, this can be quicker than going through the drive through.
  1. Ziploc Zip’n Steam Bags: these are fabulous. You can cook vegetables and protein in them.  You can actually make a whole meal in minutes in them.  I always keep baby carrots on hand, so in a pinch I throw some of the baby carrots in the bag, look at the cooking directions and usually in a few minutes you have a side.  But you can also cook fish/chicken in these fresh or frozen.  FABULOUS!!  Get them in the baggie aisle.

Simple Meals

These are quick and simple meals, with no special ingredients and would primarily be using staple ingredients that you already have on hand. I recommend keeping 5-10 recipes in your ‘back pocket’ for when you need a meal on the table in just a short amount of time.

  1. Thawed chicken with either Italian dressing or BBQ sauce on top and bake
  2. Soups – chicken noodle soup, you can make any canned soup better with your own ingredients added to it
  3. Breakfast for dinner: whole wheat pancakes/waffles, omelets with vegetables,
  4. Salad with all the toppings
  5. Roasted chicken from the store
  6. Quesadilla/tacos/spaghetti
  7. Cubed chicken/canned chicken with cream of chicken soup and frozen veggies, mix together. Top with stove top and bake ~30 min.
  8. 7 can soup (add 7 cans of whatever you want to make a soup), simmer on stove till warm.
  9. I’m a realist mom here – chicken nuggets, fish sticks – ITS WHAT YOU PAIR IT WITH
  10. Always remember the #plategoals to make your meals balanced. Even in a pinch, you can make it happen!



Megan Klemm


How to Combat Picky Eaters

I’ve often heard, “My child is so picky! He won’t eat anything!” This can be very frustrating for parents and can lead them down a road of constant struggles. It is important to remember that children’s food likes and dislikes change as they continue to grow and develop. As a parent or caregiver, it is your responsibility to lead your child to the table for meals, but you cannot make them eat. Children should learn to develop their own “hungry” and “full” signals. This means that we should allow their appetite to guide what foods they choose at meals and how much.

How to combat picky eaters

Ellyn Satter, dietitian, therapist, and author, is well-known to parents and professionals as an expert in pediatric nutrition. Satter separates mealtimes into 2 categories:

Parent’s feeding jobs:

  • Choose and prepare the food
  • Provide regular meals and snacks
  • Make eating times pleasant
  • Show children by example how to behave at mealtime
  • Be considerate of children’s lack of food experience without catering to likes and dislikes
  • Offer no food or beverages (except water) between meal and snack times
  • Let children grow to develop bodies that are right for them

Children’s eating jobs:

  • Children will eat
  • Children will eat the amount they need
  • They will learn to eat the food their parents eat
  • They will grow predictably
  • They will learn to behave well at mealtime

Satter states that when parents feed accordingly, children gradually accumulate attitudes and behaviors that characterize adult Eating Competence. With Eating Competence, children can feel good about eating and they have the drive to eat. They naturally eat the amount of food that they need and grow in a way that is appropriate for them.

Try these tips to make the most of Any Mealtime…

Develop a meal and snack routine. It is important that children take time to eat their meal or snack by sitting at the table without distractions. This allows them to enjoy their food and gives them sufficient time to explore tastes and textures.

When introducing new foods, it is important to remember that this is a skill that children learn gradually. It generally takes time and repeated exposure for a child to learn to eat new foods. To learn to eat a new food, children watch adults eat. They will generally look, touch, taste, and spit out new foods. New foods may have to be presented 15-20 times before a child learns to eat it. Patience is key!

Children can also be engaged in healthy food purchases at the store. While picking out foods, explain why that food is healthy for our bodies. The more involved children are with food, the more likely they will be to try and adopt these foods.

Lastly, children love new things. Consider special bowls or eating utensils that will make their dining experience special and exciting!

Alana Scopel

Interested in learning more?

Join us for Doctor Is In, a free lecture open to the public  on Wednesday, February 3rd featuring three Springfield Clinic dietitians.

  • Time: 6:30pm
  • Location: Springfield Clinic Main Campus EAST, 2nd Floor ASC waiting area
    1025 S 6th St, Springfield

Register today!


Food Safety During the Holidays

The holidays are just around the corner! Most of us are busy shopping, finalizing travel plans, and anticipating time with friends and family. As we look forward to Grandma Charlotte’s famous turkey and Uncle George’s delicious pumpkin pie, it’s important to remember food safety! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that roughly 1 in 6 Americans (48 million people) get sick, are hospitalized, or die of foodborne disease each year. Preparing a large, holiday meal can be a daunting task in addition to taking appropriate food safety measures. Here are a few quick tips for preparing a delicious, safe meal this season!

Preparing a large, holiday meal can be a daunting task in addition to taking appropriate food safety measures. Here are a few quick tips for preparing a delicious, safe meal this season!


  • Wash hands with soap and warm water for 20-30 seconds before and after handling the turkey.
  • Do not defrost on the counter! Defrosting in the refrigerator is the safest method and will result in the best turkey. Leave turkey in original packaging. Place in a shallow pan and allow refrigerator thawing time at a rate of 4 to 5 pounds per 24 hours. To thaw in cold water, keep turkey in original packaging and place in a clean sink or pan. Submerge in cold water. Change the cold water every 30 minutes. The turkey will take about 30 minutes per pound to thaw completely.
  • Turkey should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 F. Insert the meat thermometer in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. Total cooking time should be determined based on pounds and whether turkey is stuffed or unstuffed.

Unstuffed Turkey-Thermal/Conventional oven uncovered at 325 F

8 to 12 pounds 
12 to 14 pounds 
14 to 18 pounds 
18 to 20 pounds 
20 to 24 pounds
        2-3/4 to 3 hours 
3 to 3-3/4 hours 
3-3/4 to 4-1/4 hours 
4-1/4 to 4-1/2 hours 
4-1/2 to 5 hours

Stuffed Turkey-Thermal/Conventional oven uncovered at 325 F

8 to 12 pounds 
12 to 14 pounds 
14 to 18 pounds 
18 to 20 pounds 
20 to 24 pounds
        3 to 3-1/2 hours 
3-1/2 to 4 hours 
4 to 4-1/4 hours 
4-1/4 to 4-3/4 hours 
4-3/4 to 5-1/4 hours



  • Leftovers should be eaten, frozen, or thrown away within 3 to 4 days.
  • It’s best to divide leftovers into small portions and store in shallow containers in the refrigerator. This allows food to quickly come to the proper temperature to discourage bacteria growth.
  • When microwaving, make sure that there are no cold spots in food. Make sure to cover food, stir, and rotate for even cooking. This will ensure that food reaches proper temperature.
  • It is recommend reheating leftovers to an internal temperature of at least 165 F.

Alana Scopel

Why use a meal planning website?

There is a plethora of meal planning websites out there! I did some research, tested a few sites, but Gatheredtable was by far my favorite!

Earlier this week I gave you my meal planning tips for beginners; today I’m going to share a resource I found very helpful. There is a plethora of meal planning websites out there! I did some research, tested a few sites, and Gatheredtable was by far my favorite.

Why use a meal planning website?

  1. Time saver. I don’t have time (or I don’t want to make the time) to pull out all my cookbooks and scour Pinterest to pick my recipes for the week, go through each one, and create my shopping list.
  2. Change up your diet. Sometimes I would get stuck in a rut and cook the same 8 meals over and over, but trying a suggested recipe once a week or so can help you change up your chef game!
  3. Connectivity. Your family can share the same account, so try having each member go in and pick a meal they would enjoy. 
  4. Convenience. Since you share the account with the family, anyone can go grocery shopping— just pull up the list on your phone and go!


↓↓↓Watch this video….then we will talk more.

Now that you are a little familiar with Gatheredtable, I’ll share my thoughts.

I love that they have a free, 10 day trial and you DON’T have to give them a credit card number to start your free trial like some other websites. I took time to play around and get familiar with Gatheredtable and the settings. I also love the Gatheredtable Web Clipper function. I have a good chunk of recipes on a Pinterest board that I’ve always wanted to try, and the Web Clipper pulls all of the details and even adds ingredients to my grocery list.

Week 1:

I started off small, only planning 3 dinners. I have roller derby practice on Wednesday and Thursday nights, and Friday nights the hubby and I are busy—so Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday it was! Everything we had was amazing. Three recipes were ones I pulled from my Pinterest board, and three were offered by Gatheredtable. We had some leftover steak that we cut up and used in omelets on Sunday morning!  

Week 1

Week 2:

I got a little ambitious this week, but once again skipped Wednesday and Thursday. Last Thursday at the farmers’ market, I picked up some green beans and sweet potatoes. I was able to find recipes that included my fresh veggies from Gatheredtable’s recipe library. With tomorrow’s leftover pulled pork, I’ll save it to use with my Sunday pita chip recipe for Pulled Pork Nachos!

Week 2

All in all, I really enjoy Gatheredtable. When you start your free trial you are assigned a personal coach who contacts you via email. Mine is super nice and answered any questions I had. My biggest issue would have to be you can only begin planning your meals 2 days before the new week starts, but my coach said they will be changing that soon. Also, when you are looking through recipes, you can only add them to the current week, but my coach said, “we’re working on making a more robust date picker soon.” For now you just have to go to the week and select the “add recipe” button to search through recipes (see image above on Wednesday the 2nd). So the two “issues” I have are already being addressed.

So the big question…how much does it cost? For this company, an annual plan breaks down to a little over $7 a month. If I can spend that or more on my Netflix and Hulu accounts, I should be able to justify spending it for meal planning!

costLike I said, there are so many resources out there! Take some time and research your options. If you have a favorite site, please share it here in the comments so all our readers benefit from your great suggestions!