Consistency, Reminders, Intention

Consistency, Reminders, Intention

Written By: Elizabeth Fay, MS, RD, CSPCC, LD, CNSC

Registered Dietitian, Certified Specialist in Pediatric Critical Care, Certified Nutrition Support Clinician

Making any behavior change requires intention and consistency to achieve our goals. Any new change that you set to accomplish in your life will require a new habit to be formed. Of course, we want to achieve our goals as quickly as possible, but we also want them to be safe, long-lasting, and achieve the outcomes we intend. When looking to make changes in your nutrition, fitness, or wellness lifestyle, starting with a habit is key.

Research shows that it takes approximately 66 days to start a new habit and stick with it. This is quite a bit of time to allow ourselves some grace as we may forget our new habit until it becomes routine. Knowing up front that it will take some time to create a habit, helps to set the ground for realistic expectations. For example, say your new goal is to incorporate at least 1 fruit and 1 vegetable at every meal. Evaluating where we are starting at, we notice that we currently only eat 1 fruit at lunch and 1 vegetable at dinner. We have room to make improvements with our nutrition and we find ourselves eager to get working towards this goal. First, you may plan out your meals and choose fruits and vegetables ahead of time that you intend to incorporate in your meals. Having a plan is a great way to follow a path to your goal. Of course, life doesn’t always go as planned, so having back-up options available is a great idea. You may keep a banana, orange, or raisins at your desk at work to have as back-up in the event the cafeteria doesn’t offer a fruit or vegetable option that you like one day. You may keep a bag of pre-washed, ready-to-use spinach in the refrigerator to quickly add to sandwiches or prepare a side salad for quick, last-minute weeknight meals. For those times when you are attending a birthday party or cookout, you may plan to have your fruit or vegetable as a snack after the get-together in the event that fruits and vegetables are not offered. Due to the time commitment involved with forming a habit, give yourself flexibility with establishing your routine.

Once you have intention set, it’s important to have cues and reminders set to keep us on track. Reminders help to cue us on the behavior change we’d like to see. Let’s take our fruit and vegetable example again. If at every dinner, you serve your protein and grain on the right side of the plate (instead of the center), then there will be an open area to be filled on the left side of the plate, perhaps reminding you to fill that plate with at least 1 fruit and 1 vegetable. Some people benefit from visual cues upon an action. For example, if you pack your lunch daily for work or school, you may put a sticky note near where you store your lunch bag. Every time you go to get your lunch bag to pack, you’ll see the sticky note reminding you to double check your lunch and if it includes at least 1 fruit and 1 vegetable. If you typically make oatmeal for breakfast, you may put a sticky note on the oatmeal box or microwave to include a fruit or vegetable. Other people prefer to stay digital, so setting reminders on your phone at the time you go to lunch every day, or the time you typically eat or prepare dinner is another great reminder method! Another option is to include others. Tell your spouse, roommate, or colleague about your goal, and recruit them to help keep you on track. Consider your route. Review the route that you take and evaluate if another route would help you meet your goals. If you typically drive home and stop at a particular fast food location that offers limited fruit and vegetable options, consider driving another route home to break the habit. Think of other restaurant options that may better help you meet your goals, or skip the fast food altogether and plan to prepare your meal at home. If you’re headed to the workplace cafeteria, see if you can walk first by the fruit and vegetable station instead of the vending machine to remind you of your goal. Be forgiving of yourself if you forget to meet your habit even after seeing the reminder. Feel free to make adjustments to your reminder locations, times, and methods.

Keep your intention at the forefront of your mind. When we stay invested in our goals, we’re more likely to follow our cues and reminders to form the habits we need in order to achieve our goals. Review why you set your goal to begin with. Reflect on the accomplishments you’ve achieved along the way. Some people prefer to see it visually, so feel free to create a calendar or schedule that marks your achievements. Create a calendar with breakfast, lunch, and dinner written on every day. Every time you include 1 fruit and 1 vegetable at a meal, give yourself a checkmark or a sticker!
In the end, you’ll have compiled a number of achievements that you can reflect on. These achievements will help you stay motivated along the way.



Lally P, van Jaarsveld CHM, Potts HWW, Wardle J. How are habits formed: modelling habit formation in the real world. Euro J Soc Psychol. 2010;40:998–1009.

Eating Mindfully: The Power of a Distraction-Free Meal

Eating Mindfully: The Power of a Distraction-Free Meal

Written By: Elizabeth Fay, MS, RD, CSPCC, LD, CNSC

Registered Dietitian, Certified Specialist in Pediatric Critical Care, Certified Nutrition Support Clinician

As we’ve reviewed previously, eating mindfully encourages you to be aware of your meal, surroundings (including any distractions), appetite, pace, and emotions at meal and snack time. All of these components help shape us to be more mindful at each meal and snack. Eating mindfully not only helps us meet our nutrition goals, but it provides surprising benefits, such as promoting meal enjoyment and gratification. In the past, we’ve talked about the importance of meal pace and slowing down our meal and snack times. As we venture on our journey to learn more about mindfulness at meals, let’s review the importance of distraction at mealtime.

Distraction is a valuable component that we can try to reduce when eating meals and snacks. When we are distracted, we are removed from being in the moment. When it comes to meals and snacks, this means that being distracted reduces our attention span. We pay less attention to the foods’ flavors, the pace of our meal, our hunger/fullness cues, as well as the hard work put in to prepare the meal. If we pay less attention to our pace and hunger/fullness cues, then we are likely to consume more than our body requires. On the other hand, if we are distracted and aren’t mindful of our portion sizes, then we may also not nourish our bodies enough. Distraction can also draw us away from paying attention to the meal or snack details. The flavors of our foods are so rich and varied. Paying attention to these flavors and enjoying them plays a significant role in our ability to nourish our bodies and feel satisfied. Taking note of the hard work you or someone else put in to prepare the meal or snack creates appreciation for the meal, which helps to add satisfaction to the meal or snack.

Reducing distraction at meals takes some self-awareness. Reducing distraction is possible no matter where you are when you eat your meal or snack. If you typically eat meals at home at the dinner table, take note if the television is on or if your phone is nearby. Evaluate who you eat with as well and if they bring distractive items to the table. Eating with others is less of a distraction and more of an asset to your meal if all members are engaged in the meal and with each other. If you are on the run and find yourself eating in the car, can you wait to eat your meal when you park or when you arrive to your destination? Driving while eating is very distracting and can also be unsafe. If you typically eat at your desk at work, see if you can take a moment to pause and eat, instead of working while eating.

Most of these behaviors have become habit for many of us, so making a change may take time. Start small with these behavior change goals and work to achieve a new habit over time. For example, if you typically eat with the television on each night at dinner, aim to reduce screen time by 1 night every week. If you typically eat while driving, see if you can plan to eat either before or after driving once each week. For those people who eat while they work at their desk, choose one day each week to take pause and eat lunch away from the computer or workload. Even if this means eating half your meal away from your workload at first, know that you’re making progress!

For some people, removing these distractions feels like an uncomfortable change. You can easily substitute non-distracting behaviors in place of distraction to help you stay mindful at meals. For example, if you typically eat meals in front of the television, see if you can replace the television with some of your favorite music. If you are eating with friends or family, engage in conversation. Encourage children at the table to talk about the meal and all of the ingredients it takes to make something so delicious. Take the time to talk about your day or things that are on your mind with your family or friends. If you’ve chosen to limit eating while working but feel tempted to just pick up your phone instead, see if you can try just a few minutes at a time sitting and eating without any screens or work. Take note of the foods you’re consuming. If you eat near a window or outside, take in the view if possible. If you’re not near a view and are sitting at your desk with the computer and phone off and your workload put aside, take note of the flavors in your meal as you enjoy your food bite by bite.

It may feel a bit out of sorts at first but taking the time to mindfully eat with less distraction is a powerful tool to keep you on your nutrition and wellness journey. Touch base with your Nuleeu Registered Dietitian to review how you can individually reduce distraction at meals. These recommendations will be tailored just for you to help you meet your individual goals and stay on track because we all have our own specific goals.

Our Non-Diet Approach

Our Non-Diet Approach

Written By: Elizabeth Fay, MS, RD, CSPCC, LD, CNSC

Registered Dietitian, Certified Specialist in Pediatric Critical Care, Certified Nutrition Support Clinician

How many of us have ever been on a diet? How many people do you know who have ever been on a diet? Do you see how many hands are raised? If I had to guess, I would say everyone has their hands up. We can likely all say that we have either been on a diet ourselves or know someone who has. Diets are so common in our culture. In fact, they’re almost synonymous with holidays! Think about New Year’s Day. It seems like the entire country starts on a new diet on January 1. Since diets run so common around us, they must be successful, right? There certainly must be a best diet out there that always ensures success. Now the real question is: how many of us have been on a diet or know of someone who has, and experienced long-term, forever success while enjoying their food, meeting their wellness goals, and living their best, sustainable life?

Unfortunately, not many of us (if any) have our hands raised now.

This is the reason why your professionals at Nuleeu encourage a no-diet approach. This is because diets don’t work. We love food and we follow the idea that all foods fit.

Of course we all want results, something guaranteed, and perhaps something with quick outcomes. Knowing that your health takes patience and invested time, diets don’t work because they’re like bookends. They have a clear start and a clear end. After we stop, we usually see our results fade and our previous state come right back to where it started. This can be anything! Whether it’s your blood sugar uncontrolled again, poor sleep, reduced strength, or added weight gain, when we’re “off the diet,” we’re back to reality. And the reality is that diets are unsustainable, difficult to follow, and frankly, unenjoyable. They’re also lonely! When we’re on a diet, we’re usually starting off that “I’m on a diet” sentence with, “No, thank you…I’m on a diet” or “I can’t because….I’m on a diet.” Restrictive, unsustainable diets create walls around us. Many clients describe feeling excluded at holidays and parties when they’ve been on a diet in the past. If you our someone you know has been on a diet, it’s common to feel excluded or separated from friends and family as they eat out at restaurants or share in the experience of eating potluck-style at parties and holidays. 

Diets always bring the hype in the beginning. They’re something new and exciting to follow, so they bring hope. No matter your nutrition goals, diets are exactly as their name implies. They’re something temporary. Since we say we’re “on a diet,” this implies that we’re on something and will later be off of it. In fact, it’d be great if we could call them “short-term food changes,” “unenjoyable restrictions,” or even “expensive ways to see results for a short period of time.” 

The cost of a diet adds up in the end because we’re left investing in something that didn’t last. Some diets make us jump through hoops, sometimes restricting foods we love, counting and calculating numbers throughout the day, or paying for bland meals, shakes, and snacks, just to name a few. Diet trends have been endless. But these diet components can lead us nowhere. If we restrict food, we may end up craving those foods even more later. If we spend our days counting and calculating, we lose our valuable time without gaining insight into the core of the nutrition information. If we only receive pre-prepared meals, snacks, or shakes without education, then when the deliveries stop, we’re left confused and uninformed about how to carry on.

Ideally, instead of saying, “I’m on a diet,” we at Nuleeu want to change that to, “I made a lifestyle change and this is how I eat and live now. And I love it!” Our non-diet approach is individualized and tailored to you, because we don’t believe in one-size-fits-all recommendations. We’re all different and we all require different needs, modifications, and recommendations. What works for one person, may not work for another. What works for one person in the beginning, may not work for them in the long-run, so we work together to find the most successful, sustainable nutrition changes for you to change your life.

One of the best parts of making such a nutrition lifestyle change, is that you get to share this information with your friends, family, and loved ones. Healthy habits are contagious and motivating! So instead of feeling excluded at a cookout or holiday gathering, you’ll have a healthful mindset that includes balance and inclusivity. 

We want to share our evidence-based recommendations with you, so that when we’re done working together, you continue to meet your wellness goals without the need of your Nuleeu coach. The great thing about a non-diet approach, is that it’s easy to follow forever. This way, you can enjoy living your life independently and sustainably, while successfully maintaining your wellness goals for years and years to come. Contact your Nuleeu Nutrition and Wellness Registered Dietitian or professional coach to discuss the best program options for you to meet your specific needs and start your path of lifelong success.

Nutrition and Fertility for Women

Nutrition and Fertility for Women

Author: Mattie Hinson, ACE-CPT, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, Weight Management Specialist and Health Coach

Factors affecting fertility are great and varied amongst women. Nutrition and exercise can have big impacts for fertility health.

FIRST, let it be known that fertility health is for all premenopausal women. Often, we think about fertility equating to the act of becoming pregnant. While this is often true, your fertility has great impacts on the rest of your body health. In other words, how “fertile” you are is a great indication of your overall health. In fact, having a regular, predictable, and manageable menstrual cycle (not birth control bleed) is one of the best windows into your fertility health.

But, hold on, I said fertility health is for all women to care about even if you are not actively trying to get pregnant. Why? Your fertility is directed by other systems in the body. Often, if you are having trouble with your menstrual cycle, getting pregnant or fertility issues, something else is going wrong in the body. Fertility reflects adequate metabolic health, protects bones, and is important for cardiovascular health.

Luckily, there are some easy things you can do and include in your lifestyle to help increase your fertility and strengthen your reproductive health.

-REDUCE STRESS. This is huge. Stress in any form—be it physical, mental or emotional is a fertility killer. Make sure that you are taking time out of your busy life to do things that you enjoy and to rest.

-TRACK, TRACK, TRACK. Keep a “period journal” and write down everything from feelings, moods, hunger levels, exercise, cervical mucus (yes, you need to pay attention to that). Get in touch with your cycle length, what stressors affect it and how you feel. Having a regular, predictable cycle is a winning way to get pregnant easily. Also, there are lots of apps out there that help you keep track of what is happening with your cycle!

-SLEEP well. Ensure that you get adequate and quality sleep. Aim for 7-9 hours per night.

-EAT PLENTY. Not the time to diet. Living in a calorie deficit may cause ovulation problems which can interfere with your ability to get pregnant.

-FLAX SEED. Include about 1 tablespoon per day. Flax seed is a phytoestrogen that can help

increase natural estrogen levels in your body. It has also been found to help regulate cycles.

-VITAMIN C. You may consider a Vitamin C supplement if you have a short window from the time you ovulate to the time you start your period. This is called a short luteal phase and has been linked to trouble getting or staying pregnant. Vitamin C can help extend the luteal phase!

-FULL FAT DAIRY. Ditch the fat free and low-fat products (and never go back again). Full fat dairy is protective of ovulation while low-fat and fat free dairy has been found to contribute to ovulatory dysfunction.

-FATS. Make sure you eat enough fats which help with hormone production. You will need this to make a baby, folks. Include sources like nuts, nut butters, grass-fed butter, coconut oil, avocados.

-Exercise MODERATELY. Probably not the time to start a 5-day per week boot camp program or train for a marathon. While exercise in moderation is great for your body in so many ways, it is a stressor. Remember, stress is not so good for fertility. Incorporate moderate exercise like walking, jogging and strength training a few times per week. Skip the high intensity for now.

-PRENATAL. Consider including a high-quality whole foods prenatal vitamin. Ensuring that your vitamin and mineral levels are topped off will help to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy. A LOT of baby development happens before many women even know if they are pregnant so ensuring good nutrition before pregnancy is a great idea.

-ANTIOXIDANTS. These are components in foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains and work to keep your cells healthy. Instead of trying to aim for one type of antioxidant, include a rainbow of colors on your plate. Antioxidants help make healthy cells which will encourage a healthy cycle and fertility.

-Reduce ALCOHOL. Chronic and excessive alcohol ingestion puts a major strain on your organs and can contribute to nutrient deficiencies. However, don’t be afraid to include alcohol in moderate amounts. There are benefits including antioxidant content, micronutrients, and stress reduction if alcohol is something that you enjoy.

-TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. In whatever form that means. Prioritize your health—physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Chill out and find something to smile about. Have “you” time. Practice self-care. Enjoy the time before you have children. It is ALL so precious.

Remember to reach out to an expert at Nuleeu for more guidance on how your diet and exercise might be impacting your fertility health!




Schedule a Free Initial Consultation to Learn More







Shmerling R. Fertility and Diet: Is there a Connection? Harvard Health Publishing. 2018.


Panth N et al. The Influence of Diet on Fertility and the Implications for Public Health Nutrition in the United States. Front Public Health. 2018.

Snacks for the Little Ones

Snacks for the Little Ones

Doesn’t it seem like our child’s days revolve around eating? It’s true! Children are hungry little ones and rightfully so because their bodies are growing so quickly and they have endless energy that needs fueling! Kids’ little tummies can only hold so much at mealtime. Three meals are important to maintain structure in a child’s diet, but snacks are important to help bridge their nutrition in-between meals.

Healthy, kid-approved snacks are a great way to ensure that children receive a balanced diet. Snacks not only provide calories, but can also provide important vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients. Use these five tips to make perfect healthy snacks that any child (or adult) will be sure to eat.

Food group pairings

In order to help kids eat a variety of foods from all of the food groups, try to incorporate at least 2 food groups in a snack. Check out the following examples of kid-friendly snack ideas that pair different food groups:

  • Protein + grain = hard-boiled egg + crackers
  • Vegetable + protein = baby carrots + hummus
  • Fruit + protein = apple + peanut butter
  • Dairy + fruit = yogurt + berries

In order to help kids eat a variety of foods from all of the food groups, try to incorporate at least 2 food groups in a snack. Check out the following examples of kid-friendly snack ideas that pair different food groups:

The meaning of snack size

Children’s stomachs are small and since they empty quickly, children need small portions frequently throughout the day. It’s important to maintain meal size and snack size though, and avoid letting children snack or “graze” all day long. If children are allowed to nibble on snacks throughout the day, they miss out on feeling hungry and full. These important cues for children to learn. Of course many children would love to snack on chips, cookies, or other snacks with little vitamins and minerals. If children snack throughout the day, they never get hungry enough for a nutritious meal. It’s then more difficult to fit in healthy foods. Check out the following snack size tips:

  • Use small bowls and side plates and avoid eating directly from the bag or container. For example, portion out crackers in a small bowl or divide a portion of pretzels on a side plate.
  • Return the bag, box, or container back to the cupboard or pantry after serving snacks. For example, after serving crackers, close the box and return it back to the pantry to avoid second servings.
  • Use reusable storage containers or snack-size bags for portioning. For example, store trail mix in snack-size containers or bags.

Pre-portion snacks to grab and go

Now that we have snack size in mind, pre-portioning snacks and storing them in the pantry or refrigerator can save you time. This also helps to ensure that older children and teenagers grab appropriate portions instead of eating directly from the container. When days are busy, pre-portioned snacks help to save time and ensure healthy choices are made. For example, instead of heading for the cookies in the cupboard, having pre-washed grapes portioned in snack bags in the refrigerator makes it easier to eat a healthy snack on the go. Having ready-to-go foods such as clementines, pistachios, boxed raisins, or bananas make it easy for travel. Grab pre-portioned or ready-to-go snacks before a day of shopping, when running to activities after school or work, or have them on hand after sports or other children’s activities.

Get those little hands to help!

Many children love to help and snacks are a perfect opportunity to include them in the kitchen. Children are also more inclined to try a new food if they are involved in picking or preparing it. Children can portion popcorn into snack bags or count celery sticks into snack containers. If you have a picky eater, this is a prime opportunity to give them control. For example, if your child often declines vegetables, you can say, “what would you like with your hummus: sliced peppers or baby carrots?”  As the adult, you ensure a vegetable will be included, but it gives the child some control.

Out of sight out of mind

If there are snack foods that cause confrontation in your home, avoid having them in the house altogether. For example, if candy is in the home and children know it’s available, then it’s more difficult to encourage children to have a healthier snack. If only healthy snack options fill the kitchen, then the options for sugary snacks won’t be there. This change is helpful for not only children, but adults too!

Now that you’re snack smart, use these tips and ideas to make the healthiest kid-friendly snacks for your family. When you meet with your Nuleeu Registered Dietitian, you will review additional healthy snack ideas that are individualized for you and your family to help you meet your goals. We look forward to working with you!

-Elizabeth Fay, MS, RDN, CNSC

5 Tips for Better Family Meals

5 Tips for Better Family Meals

When it comes to healthy eating for you and your family, the approach is certainly a team effort. Nutritious family meals can support every member of the family. Family mealtime offers one meal that can incorporate everyone’s food preferences and avoid parents and caregivers from being short order cooks. Let’s say goodbye to having the “kid’s” meal and the “adult” meal (unless, of course, there is a food allergy involved or food safety comes into play… more on that later!). Here are 5 tips to help you shape the most nutritious family meals for every member in your household.

1. Include fruits and vegetables at every meal

Incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables into children’s meals as soon as they start eating solids helps to create a custom. Eating different fruits and vegetables becomes the routine for all family members and over time, a meal almost feels “empty” without fruits and vegetables filling half of your plate. Don’t worry if you have older children or only adults in your family. It’s never too late to incorporate more fruits and vegetables and start a new routine!

2. Be a role model

Family members, especially children, will be more inclined to eat the family meal when they see their parents, caregivers, family members, etc. also eating the same meal. We want to be good role models for our children and family members, so we have to lead the way. For example, on homemade pizza night, children will be more responsive to eating the salad on the table if they see the adults eating the same.

3. Make one meal and stick to it

In order for family meals to be successful and simple, one meal should be prepared. Family members will quickly learn that only one meal is being prepared and there are no alternates. To help make the one meal a success, meal planning can include other family members. For example, each family member can pick a day and choose the menu. This helps to ensure everyone’s preferences are being accounted. Of course food allergies and taste preferences should always be taken into account. If there’s a food allergy, the food item should be avoided from the meal. If a family member has a specific taste preference, that item could be left out or added later. For example, a family member may dislike mushrooms. If stir-fry is for dinner, then the meal can be prepared and portioned out for that person and then finished with mushrooms for the remaining family members. When it comes to food safety, all precautions should be taken. Infants less than 1 year of age should not be given honey or foods containing honey. Young children’s meals need special attention to ensure all foods with choking hazards are avoided and meals are provided in bite-size pieces. Raw and undercooked foods such as meat and eggs should be avoided, but especially for children and older adults.

4. Cook in bulk and freeze leftovers for busy nights

When it comes to busy schedules, sometimes we’re faced with cooking very late or with little time. When you meal prep, you set yourself up for success for such days. Recipes can be doubled or tripled to portion and freeze extras to have on hand for busy nights. Even cooking and freezing staples such as rice, barley, beans, or quinoa can be very helpful to grab and go when you’re short on time. For example, it could be very helpful to have beans pre-cooked and ready to use on burrito night or have quinoa pre-cooked to quickly prepare a salad without having to start from scratch.

5. Recruit help

We all need help when it comes to family meals and extra hands can help bring success to mealtime. Adults, teens, adolescents, and even young children can be excellent helpers in the kitchen and dining room. Young children can set the table and set out condiments and other items. In addition, adolescents can help set the table, wash fruits and vegetables, pull out ingredients, wash dishes, and load the dishwasher. Teenagers and young adults can add extra help by chopping vegetables, washing pots and pans, and cleaning up as the meal is prepared. Other adults can help with meal prep by dividing and conquering the recipe. For example, one adult can chop the vegetables and prep items, while the other family member is in charge of stove top items such as preparing the sauce, cooking pasta, etc. Help from family members can promote pride. Children learn responsibility and they may be more inclined to eat the family meal after having contributed help.

When you receive your custom Nuleeu meal plan, use these tips to help speed up your meal prep or apply these tips on busy days and nights when plans may change unexpectedly. During your nutrition consultation, your Nuleeu Registered Dietitian Nutritionist can also walk through additional family meal tips and provide individual recommendations for you and your family to ensure mealtime success!

-Elizabeth Fay, MS, RDN, CNSC

What’s a Serving Size?

What’s a Serving Size?

As I grew up, I always thought that a serving was the amount of food I put on my plate. Although this is somewhat true, the nutrition in our food is based on the serving sizes we eat. If only the nutrition of 1 pizza slice equaled the nutrition of 3 slices I serve myself!

To help standardize nutrition information about our food, the USDA has standard serving sizes (also called portion sizes). This is particularly helpful when reviewing your custom meal plans created by your Nuleeu Registered Dietitian Nutritionist or when comparing the Nutrition Facts labels of different foods. Now that we’ve reviewed MyPlate in our previous blog post, we’re going to walk through each food group and review common serving sizes found in each category. Some of these servings may come as a surprise to you! You’ll also find examples of how many servings someone may eat when following MyPlate guidelines, based on an 1800-calorie diet.


Fruit servings are most often measured in cups. Picture a household measuring cup that you might use in the kitchen. Sometimes this is helpful to estimate fruit portions like grapes or raisins. For solids fruits, picture a tennis ball, which is equal to a medium piece of fruit or 1-cup serving. Below are some examples of 1-cup equivalent portion sizes of different fruits:

  • Applesauce= 1 cup
  • Dried fruits (prunes, raisins, etc.)= 1/2 cup
  • Grapes= 1 cup or 32 grapes
  • Orange= 1 large orange
  • Pineapple= 1 cup chunks, slices, etc.
  • Plum= 3 medium or 2 large plums
  • 100% Fruit Juice= 1 cup

For people following an 1800-calorie meal plan following MyPlate guidelines, it’s recommended that they consume 1 1/2 cups of fruit per day.


Fruits and vegetables are identical in their serving size approach. They both measure portions out using cups. Picture a baseball for easy reference when picturing a cup of vegetables. For leafy vegetables, the serving size is equal to 2 cups or 2 baseballs. When leafy greens are cooked, the serving size is 1 cup. Below are some examples of 1-cup equivalent portion sizes of different vegetables:

  • Beans= 1 cup whole or mashed
  • Broccoli= 1 cup chopped or 3 long spears
  • Celery= 1 cup or 2 large stalks
  • Kale= 2 cups raw or 1 cup cooked
  • Pepper= 1 cup chopped or 1 large pepper
  • Tomato= 1 cup chopped or 1 large tomato
  • Tomato juice= 1 cup
  • Spinach= 1 cup cooked and 2 cups raw
  • Squash= 1 cup cooked, sliced, or diced
  • Sweet potato= 1 large sweet potato

For people following an 1800-calorie meal plan following MyPlate guidelines, it’s recommended that they consume 2 1/2 cups of vegetables per day.


Grains get a little tricky with serving sizes, but we’re here to help! Grain serving sizes are measured in both ounces and cups. Since they are measured by weight and most of us don’t weigh our food, one trick is picturing the size of common items. One slice of sandwich bread the size of a CD cover is equal to a 1-ounce portion. When it comes to cold cereal, rice, barley, quinoa and other grains, think of a baseball as your measurement comparison. For a piece of baked bread such as cornbread, picture a bar of soap as a comparison size. Below are some examples of 1-ounce equivalent portion sizes of different grains:

  • Cornbread= 1 small slice (2 1/2” x 1 1/4” x 1. 1/4”)= 1 ounce
  • English muffin= 1/2 muffin= 1 ounce
  • Mini bagel= 1 mini bagel= 1 ounce
  • Oatmeal= 1/2 cup cooked= 1 packet oatmeal= 1 ounce
  • Popcorn= 3 cups popped= 1 ounce
  • Rice or pasta= 1/2 cup cooked= 1 ounce
  • Sandwich bread = 1 slice= 1 ounce
  • Tortillas= 1 small tortilla (6” diameter)= 1 ounce

For people following an 1800-calorie meal plan following MyPlate guidelines, it’s recommended that they consume 6 ounces of grains per day.


Protein foods are measured by weight as well. Since most of us aren’t weighing our food, protein foods can get tricky to calculate what’s a serving. Have no fear! We’re here to help you with tips and tricks. Here are some common examples of different protein foods and their ounce equivalents:

  • Almonds= 24 almonds= 2 ounces
  • Beans= 1/4 cooked beans= 1 ounce
  • Chicken= 1 small chicken breast the size of your palm= 3 to 4 ounces
  • Egg= 1 egg= 1 ounce
  • Egg White= 3 egg whites= 2 ounces
  • Peanut butter= 1 tablespoon= 1 ounce
  • Pistachios= 24 pistachios= 1 ounce protein equivalent
  • Tuna= 1 can of tuna drained= 3 to 4 ounces
  • Turkey slice= 1 deli slice= 1 ounce
  • Steak= 1 small steak= 3 1/2 to 4 ounces
  • Vegetarian bean burger= 1 patty= 2 ounces

For people following an 1800-calorie meal plan following MyPlate guidelines, it’s recommended that they consume 5 ounces of protein per day. This may be surprising for some of us because you may find restaurants serving an 8-ounce steak, which could be equal to the protein you need for one and a half days! Remember, protein itself can be found in all of the food groups, so we don’t have to rely on protein foods themselves to meet our protein needs.


Now we’re back to something a little more common. Dairy foods have a mix between foods measured in cups (think baseball again or a measuring cup) such as milk and yogurt, as well as measurements by weight such as cheese. Here are some examples of common dairy foods and their serving size equivalents.

  • Almond milk fortified= 1 cup
  • Cheese block= 9-volt battery= 1 cup dairy equivalent
  • Cheddar cheese= 2 slices= 1 cup dairy equivalent
  • Cottage cheese= 2 cups= 1 cup dairy equivalent
  • Evaporated milk= 1/2 cup= 1 cup dairy equivalent
  • Frozen yogurt= 1 cup
  • Milk= 1 cup
  • Shredded cheese= 1/3 cup= 1 cup dairy equivalent
  • Soymilk fortified= 1 cup
  • Yogurt= 1 regular container (8 ounces)= 1 cup

For people following an 1800-calorie meal plan following MyPlate guidelines, it’s recommended that they consume 3 cups of dairy foods per day.

Everyone has his or her own individual nutrition needs. Some of us need to consume more portions and some of us should consume fewer portions. As you receive your custom Nuleeu meal plan or Nuleeu meal delivery, look at the serving sizes and compare them to the knowledge you now have!

-Elizabeth Fay, MS, RDN, CNSC

1. “All about the Dairy Group.” Choose MyPlate, USDA, 14 Dec. 2018,
2. “All About the Fruit Group.” Choose MyPlate, USDA, 4 Jan. 2018,
3. “All about the Grains Group.” Choose MyPlate, USDA, 3 Nov. 2017,
4. “All about the Protein Foods Group.” Choose MyPlate, USDA, 10 Aug. 2018,
5. “All about the Vegetable Group.” Choose MyPlate, USDA, 4 Jan. 2018,
6. “MyPlate Graphic Resources.” Choose MyPlate, USDA, 3 Dec. 2018,
7. “MyPlate Plan: 1800 Calories, Age 14+.” Choose MyPlate, USDA, 14 Aug. 2018,

Focusing on MyPlate

Focusing on MyPlate

When it comes to eating a variety of foods and maintaining balance within your diet, MyPlate is an essential tool that can help you transform your meals and snacks. The USDA published MyPlate, which outlines the 5 major food groups, with each category offering its own nutrition recommendations.
We’ll break down each food group together and review the major nutrition messages that can help you be successful when choosing the most nutritious foods for you and your family.


First we’ll start with the fruit group, which is labeled in red. As you can see this food group makes up just less than 1/4 of your plate. The big message here is that the fruit group pairs right next to the vegetable group, filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables. We all know that fruits are healthy for us, but specifically this food group is a major powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Keep in mind these helpful tips when choosing fruits in your meals and snacks:

  •  Choose whole fruits most often

For example, if you have the option, choose a whole peach over canned peaches in syrup or pick a fresh apple instead of sweetened applesauce.

  • Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables

This key message is shared with the vegetable group. To maximize the vitamins and minerals in your meal or snack, ensure that half of your plate is filled with fruits and vegetables. For example, you may have an orange on the side of your leftover vegetable casserole or you may have a peanut butter and banana sandwich with a side of baby carrots for lunch. Whatever the meal may be, check in to see if you’ve included fruits and vegetables as half of the meal.


Next up is the vegetable group! This green group in the MyPlate image fills up slightly more than 1/4 of the plate. This is another rock star nutrition category loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Keep in mind these helpful tips when choosing vegetables in your meals and snacks:

  • Choose whole vegetables most often

Just like the fruit group, choose the least processed vegetables as possible. For example, choose fresh or frozen plain broccoli in place of frozen cheesy broccoli. Another idea would be to choose a baked potato on the side of your meal instead of potato chips.

  • Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables

Just like the fruit category, check in to see if half of your plate is filled with fruits and vegetables. Vegetables can be a separate item on your plate, intertwined in a casserole, layered in a sandwich, or be the basis of your snack. Add vegetables to stir fry, pasta, sandwiches and wraps, muffins, or as a side dish.


Grains seem to be a hot topic today, but this is an important food group we shouldn’t discount. Grain foods are loaded with carbohydrates that fuel the body with energy. Check out the following tips to help you choose the most nutritious grains:

  • Make half of your grains whole grains

What’s a whole grain? A whole grain is a grain that contains all 3 parts of the grain (the germ, endosperm, and bran). Whole grains are less refined and processed, so they typically offer more fiber and protein. Grains such as 100% whole wheat bread are considered to be a whole grain, while white wheat bread is an example of a non-whole grain food.  Just a few examples of other whole grains include quinoa, 100% whole wheat pasta, farro, barley, brown rice, kamut, bulgur, popcorn, and oatmeal.

  • Have grain foods make up about 1/4 of your plate

Looking at the MyPlate image really helps us to see the amount of grains we need in comparison to the other food groups. Keep this in mind when you’re meal prepping or following your Nuleeu meal plan.


Protein foods are important not only for the protein they deliver, but the additional nutrients loaded in the variety of foods in this category.  Protein foods not only include meat, poultry, and fish, but also nuts, soy, seeds, eggs, and beans. Keep in mind these helpful tips when choosing protein foods in your meals and snacks:

  • Choose lean proteins

Vary your lean proteins by choosing items such as beans, tofu, at least 92% lean beef, and skinless poultry.

  • Choose low sodium protein foods

When you’re meal planning for example, choose whole turkey breasts in place of deli turkey slices or choose unsalted nuts instead of salted varieties to limit the sodium content of your food.

  • Have protein foods make up just less than 1/4 of your plate

Protein foods only need to fill about 1/4 of your plate. This will come as a surprise to many of us since we usually have our protein at the center of our plate in the largest portion. Surprisingly, your current protein portions may be enough protein for you all day! Keep in mind that nutritional needs vary from person to person and a Nuleeu Registered Dietitian can meet with you to review your specific needs and make individual recommendations and meal plans just for you.


Dairy foods are incorporated in our meals and snacks to help us meet a variety of our vitamin and mineral needs. Dairy foods include cow’s milk, yogurt, and cheese, but also non-dairy fortified beverages and foods such as soy or almond milks and yogurts. All of these products can offer important minerals such a calcium and phosphorus for bone health, while other dairy foods provide protein and other vitamins and minerals. Check out the following tip to help you choose the most nutritious dairy foods:

  • Choose low fat dairy products

When we incorporate dairy foods, we want to choose fat free or low fat products most often to help limit the amount of saturated fat in the food. Plant-based alternative products are a great nutrient-rich alternative to dairy products, but be sure to check the saturated fat content of these products as well. For example, many coconut yogurts contain a high amount of saturated fat.

There you have it! That completes our tour through the 5 food groups of MyPlate and the many nutrition messages this guide offers. MyPlate is excellent because it can be used and applied to not only meals, but also snacks. Although the MyPlate image depicts separation between foods on the plate, this guide can be applied to complex mixed dishes, sandwiches, smoothies, and snacks. How have you incorporated MyPlate into your meals and snacks? We’d love to hear from you!

-Elizabeth Fay, MS, RDN, CNSC


  1. All about the Dairy Group.” Choose MyPlate, USDA, 14 Dec. 2018,
  2. All About the Fruit Group.” Choose MyPlate, USDA, 4 Jan. 2018,
  3. All about the Grains Group.” Choose MyPlate, USDA, 3 Nov. 2017,
  4. All about the Protein Foods Group.” Choose MyPlate, USDA, 10 Aug. 2018,
  5. All about the Vegetable Group.” Choose MyPlate, USDA, 4 Jan. 2018,
  6. MyPlate Graphic Resources.” Choose MyPlate, USDA, 3 Dec. 2018,

Egg Protein Pops

Egg Protein Pops

By: Anne Kristine Etherton, MS, RDN, LDN, NASM-CPT

In an attempt to do meal prep for the week, I took a try and creating some easy morning eggs. The idea came because my daughter loved the popular chain Egg Bites, but since I don’t want to spend tons of money and also don’t want to feed her fast food, I attempted to create an acceptable substitution. Also, I am limiting my shopping and trying to use what’s in the fridge and freezer. If this wasn’t the case I would have thrown in some onion and peppers, but instead used what I had in the house.  Side note- so looking forward to having fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden next year!

So I started with the egg base and then chose to use sour cream since that was the only cream option in the fridge to give the creamy texture of the pops. Also, used a hand blender to get the sour cream and eggs blended till smooth.

Spray the muffin tin to help with removal after cooking- if you’re like me, you’ll forget this step- which is okay because in a nonstick pan they still came out relatively easy!

I filled each to about 3/4 full because adding the other ingredients would add more volume. Then sprinkled cheese to each serving, using about 1/2 of the cup. Here is where you can also add in the other ingredients you chose to include. I had some deli ham, we use the low sodium preservative free kind, and then to about half of the pops I added a few of the frozen black beans and chick peas. I did not add any salt or other seasoning to this batch, the cheese and ham were providing salt and I was trying to keep to the basics, but next time I will be adding in some other seasoning to spice it up a bit- I’m thinking maybe a chipotle version.

I then put them in the oven for about 20 minutes- watching closely- when they were close to being done I sprinkled the last amount of cheese on top.

While the benefit of making food at home is having more knowledge and control of what’s included, the initial intent was to make something simple and tasty for a quick morning breakfast. It just so happened to be a good option to keep my morning within my daily nutrition goals.

I originally intended for 2 pops to be a serving, which turned out to provide about 120kcal, 7 grams of protein.

For 12 servings of 2 pops

8 eggs

1/2 cup lite sour-cream

3/4 cup of shredded cheese

1oz of deli ham (or other protein)

About 1/4 cup of frozen black beans and chick peas ( or any other vegetable of choice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray muffin pan and set aside. Blend together eggs and sour-cream until smooth, divide into sprayed muffin tins evenly( filling about 3/4th full). Using about 1/2 cup of the cheese, add small amount to each serving. Small cube ham or other pre-cooked protein and add small amount to each serving, add a few beans and peas to each serving. If you have selected alternative fresh vegetables, I recommend finely chopping and possibly sautéing prior to adding to the egg mixture for better taste since the egg bites only take about 20 minutes to cook.  Bake for about 15 minutes and then add the remaining cheese to the top of the egg pops. Once they are cooked through, you can use a toothpick to test them, remove and enjoy immediately or refrigerate and enjoy for up to 3 days.

Serve with your choice of bread, fruit and several other possible options to have a balanced and compete breakfast or snack!

Nutrition Information

This can easily be a gluten free option by checking that the added meats and vegetables are gluten free.


Why See A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist?

Why See A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist?

So, you’re a little lost and overwhelmed by the amount of nutrition resources out and about this time of year. With New Year’s Resolutions soaring and hopefully not soon to dwindle, you may be in search for the best you. Maybe that’s the happiest you, the most fit you, the healthiest you, or the most balanced you. Perhaps you’re about to focus on your cholesterol, weight, meal planning, diabetes, kidney health, cooking skills, energy, inflammation, digestive health, emotional relationship with food, allergies, or any other nutrition goals. Where should you begin?

There are many people today offering nutrition advice and recommendations. It’s so easy to get confused and overwhelmed! Some of these people call themselves health coaches, nutritionists, or nutrition experts, but the only qualified professionals who focus on nutrition with an extensive undergraduate education, competitively complete a 1200-hour residency internship, and successfully pass the national exam are Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs). Many RDNs further their education through additional graduate studies or residency internships and earn specialized certifications above and beyond the requirements of an RDN. The tricky thing to remember is that all Registered Dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are Registered Dietitians. Check out this article from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic on the qualifications of an RDN.

It is proven that working with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist improves the success of patients and clients to achieve results. RDNs make evidence-based, personalized nutrition recommendations to meet individual health goals. These trained professionals implement nutrition changes that are safe and effective. RDNs also take into account individual needs and preferences, while applying years of research to practice. You will find RDNs work in a variety of settings including private practices, hospitals, clinics, fitness centers, restaurants, nursing homes, wellness companies, universities and colleges, grocery stores, research centers, food companies, and many more establishments. They also work with a range of populations including neonates and infants, adolescents, adults, and older adults.

How do you know that you are receiving the most updated information? Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are trained with extensive years of foundational nutrition experience. Fortunately, RDNs are also required to maintain licensure and master their knowledge about the latest nutrition research to be on top of their career.

So, you’ve decided to work with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionists. Where do you find an RDN? Nuleeu is your one stop shop to find a skillful RDN who will help you meet your nutrition needs. Nuleeu Registered Dietitian Nutritionists have years of professional experience in the clinical healthcare, community, fitness, and private practice settings. Nuleeu is not only made up of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists, but it couples its programs together with other professionals such as yoga instructors and Certified Personal Trainers. Talk about an all-inclusive program to help you meet your needs! Check out the Nuleeu programs to discover which program is best for you with a free initial consultation.

-Elizabeth Fay, MS, RD, CNSC


1. Kohn, Jill. “Qualifications of a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.” Eat Right. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics., 30 Nov. 2017,

2. “Work Settings and Areas of Expertise for RDNs.” EatrightPRO – Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,