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Nutrition Tips


Meet Your BCSD BikeRun Nutritionist, Helene Rosenhouse-Romeo, RD, CDN

Helene is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Dietitian Nutritionist, for over 13 years, with experience working with clients in private, clinical, corporate, retail, and educational environments. Helene also worked as an editor and freelancer writing about nutrition and health for various consumer publications. 

Helene was the Managing Editor for Obesity Research, a peer-reviewed scientific journal for five years.  During her employment at St. Luke’s/Roosevelt’s Obesity Research Center, Helene worked as the nutritionist on a number of national and international clinical trials for diabetes and weight management.

As part of the original Bedford Central Wellness Initiative, Helene chaired the School Lunch Committee working to establish the nutritional guidelines that the District follows today.  

In 2007 Helene co-founded Near & Natural, the premiere market in Bedford, NY, whose mission was to offer customers a taste of nutritious local and regional products to support sustainability and promote health.

Helene lectures on a variety of nutrition and health related topics, counsels clients in private practice, and consults with businesses and organizations regarding nutrition and health. Helene is ADA certified in Adult Weight Management.  She sits on the Bedford School District’s Wellness and Sustainability Committee and reviews the school district’s menu each month. Helene lives in Mt. Kisco, NY and has three children in the Bedford Central School District.

Helene's 2014 BikeRun Article

Sugar, Sugar, Where Art Thou?: by Helene Rosenhouse-Romeo, RD, CDN

Sugar is that sweet substance so many of us associate only with candy, cakes, muffins, and ice cream. But, what if you were to learn that sugar isn’t just found in desserts? It’s true! Sugar is added to so many of the foods we eat every single day.  Foods like bread, pickles, ketchup, tomato sauce, cereals, yogurts, cold cuts, crackers, salad dressings, sodas, lemonade, juices, sports drinks, shakes and milks.  Therefore, what first seemed like a once-in-a while treat now appears to be contributing a ton of unhealthy calories to our daily diet. 
Most people think of sugar as a grainy, white substance that comes in little packets or cubes. That common sugar found in many kitchens and on tables in diners is called sucrose, also known as table sugar and is easy to spot. But often sugar goes by other names, such as fructose, dextrose, lactose, and maltose. In fact, all ingredients ending in “ose” are sugars, as are molasses, honey, agave, high-fructose corn syrup, and crystallized fruit juice. Talk about aliases!

Since sugar is added to so many unexpected foods -- did someone say, peanut butter?-- it becomes really important to read labels. Looking at the Nutrition Facts label will tell you the number of grams contained in each the serving. Each gram of sugar contains 4 calories. So if you eat something that has 32 grams of added sugar per serving that would be the same as eating 8 teaspoons of sugar all at once. Yuck! 

Our bodies break down the foods we eat into sugars so that we have energy to run and jump and think and eat and live.  However, not all sugars are created equal. For example, the sugar that is found naturally in fruits, vegetables and milks do not have the same health risks associated with them as those sugars that are added to foods to make them taste sweeter. 

Small Changes, Big Results 
Eating a cup of plain yogurt with a spoonful of delicious fresh fruit that you add yourself and a dash of cinnamon will have zero calories from added sugar; however, a cup of flavored yogurt with the same amount of fruit is going to have about 5 and 1/2 teaspoons of added sugar. Add a bowl of Trix cereal, a vitamin water, two cookies, a lollipop or pack of breath mints, a frappucino, and a small ice cream cone to your day and, bam! You have a diet that is really high in added sugar.  

Less Sugar = Better Health 
Even though nutrition labels do not specifically tell you what the added sugar is, having read this you are on your way to being able to sift out what’s added and what’s not. Fruits, vegetables, plain milks and unflavored yogurts all contain some amount of naturally occurring sugars.  So if you pick up an apple, know that it will have sugar but none of the sugar will be added and therefore, for most people, there is no reason to worry about it. Pick up applesauce whose ingredients list: apples, water and sugar and you know that this product has added sugar. Limit the number of products you eat containing added sugar each day.  

Helene's 2013 BikeRun Article

Fueling for Success: by Helene Rosenhouse-Romeo, RD, CDN

The BikeRun is quickly approaching and eating well will ensure that you are at your best the day of the race and everyday.

If you’ve been visiting this Site for information, you now know a bit about nutritive and non-nutritive foods. Remember, nutritive foods are those that add vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients to your diet. They help keep you healthy, strong and operating at your best. Nutritive foods like, fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, eggs, nuts, whole-grain cereals, seeds, fish, meat, cheese, yogurt, etc. are what a healthy diet is made of. Non-nutritive foods are those items that do not add anything but calories from sugar and/or fat, for example, candy, soda, pop-tarts, cake, doughnuts, crackers, etc.

Get Your Motors Runnin’:

Carbohydrates are a great source of fuel for the body. They work to provide energy quickly over a short time and are stored in our bodies to provide fuel for longer periods of activity as well.  Eating foods that provide good carbohydrates are going to be essential for you to maintain the energy and strength you need to support your active body.

Protein is another important nutrient needed to help you grow and be strong.  Unlike carbohydrates, your body doesn’t use protein for fuel but it is essential to build muscles and for other body organs to remain healthy.

Including at least one good source of carbohydrate and protein at every meal is a good way to ensure that you are getting what your body needs.  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and having a bowl of cereal with milk or yogurt adds carbohydrate and protein.  Add a serving of berries and/or nuts and now you’re rocking.

Cereal, like many foods, can be a good choice, a great choice or a bad choice depending on which cereal you eat and how much sugar it has.  Choose cereal that has less than 10 grams of sugar per serving to make it a good choice. Less than 7 grams makes it a great choice! More than 10 grams of sugar makes it a bad choice. 

Eating three balanced meals a day with some key snacks in between is a great way to keep your energy level up.  A balanced meal is one that provides a combination of carbohydrates from whole grains, vegetables and a lean protein source.  Chicken tenders, carrots and lentils is one example; hamburger, whole grain bun, and tomato and corn salsa is another; scrambled egg with cheese, broccoli, and whole grain toast is yet another.  

Matter of Snacks:

Make your snacks matter because they do. Fuel up between meals with nutritive foods such as home-made trail mix (raisins, nuts and seeds), cheese stick and apple, plain yogurt with sliced banana, smoothie (using real milk or yogurt and fruit!), avocado on whole wheat bread…Smart food, smart choice.

What’s on tap?

Water, a winning beverage, should accompany each meal and snack.  Our bodies depend on water for so many vital functions.  It’s free, it’s safe, it’s accessible, it’s natural, and it’s necessary.  Cheers!

Food for Thought by Helene Rosenhouse-Romeo, RD, CDN:

I am sure that many of you have heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”  But perhaps you’ve wondered: “What does that mean?   I am not a hot dog or a bag of chips!” 

Basically, the idea is that what you eat each day, over time will likely determine your state of health. Food is the body’s most important fuel source. Once food passes through your mouth, it moves through your digestive system where it is continuously broken down into nutrients that your body needs and uses in many ways. And, just like your parents have a choice about the kind of fuel they put into their car, you have a choice about the kinds of fuel you put into your body.

We all need to eat to obtain energy and nutrients that will keep our bodies running well. Different kinds of foods offer different nutrients.  Some foods offer nutrients that give you energy to move and help you think, others offer vitamins and minerals that help build muscles and keep your bones strong. However, some foods and beverages offer too many calories from sugar and fat with nothing else that our bodies need to be healthy. These foods are called non-nutritive because they aren’t giving us what we need to be well, they are only supplying calories! If you are constantly eating foods that have little to no nutritional value then it will be hard for your body to be the best it can be and somewhere down the road there may be problems. 
What’s Good?

How can you tell if a food provides nutrients or not? Well, one important indicator is where it comes from. Ask the question: “Is this food grown?”  Vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes are all important foods to eat to stay healthy -- and they are all foods that grow from seeds! These foods mostly provide important nutrients called carbohydrates.

Other items that are also nutritious aren’t grown, but they come from a direct natural source: meats, eggs, milk, fish and poultry, so they too play an important role in the diet. These foods are good sources of protein.

Other items like cheese, yogurts, popcorn, cereals, oatmeal and breads, processed from whole grains and dairy can be good sources of nutrition as well.

However, the further away a food is from its natural state and more items that are put into it, the less nutritive it’s going to be. Foods and beverages often presented as dessert and/or snack items such as: donuts, cotton candy, ring pops, soda and sweetened juice-flavored drinks, caramel corn, cookies, cakes, etc. are items that provide mostly fat and sugar, and are not the foods of a champion – like you!
As you begin to prepare for this exciting biathlon, think about the foods you put into your body. Think about what you are choosing to eat and ask yourself: “Is this going to help nourish my body so that I have more energy and can build more muscle?” Or, “Is this a food that offers only fat and calories and nothing else?” Begin to notice how you feel when you eat a nutritious food compared to how you feel when you eat a non-nutritive food. Choose to eat more of the foods that will nourish you and less of the ones that won’t. 

Time to Eat and Drink

It is important to make sure your body has the fuel it needs for the amount of time you plan to exercise. Therefore, if your last meal was two to three hours ago, make sure to eat a combination of protein and carbohydrates as a snack about an hour before you begin to exercise: A cheese stick with an apple, or ½ peanut-butter and jelly sandwich, or yogurt with ¼ raw almonds are good suggestions for in-between meal energy.

Water is everyone’s, especially an athlete’s, best friend!  At least two hours before exercising, it is important to drink at least 16 oz of water – plain water only, not a sports drink. Drinking another 8 to 16 oz of water approximately 10 to 15 minutes before exercising is often a good idea as well. This timing should allow you to be well hydrated and to complete the event without having to go to the bathroom. If you are engaging in rigorous exercise for more than one hour, be sure to have water while you are exercising. If the workout is very challenging and you are sweating a lot and the duration of your exercise is more than one hour, you may need to drink a sports beverage during the event to sustain you. Most people however do not need these sports drinks for the amount and duration of exercise they are doing.

You now have information about how to choose foods to be and stay healthy! You are a person who has chosen to exercise, eat well, and have fun! And, for these reasons you are a winner!