Thursday, October 31, 2013

Food for Thought: Brain Boosters are November's Focus

Eating well is as good for your mental health as it is for your physical health. The brain requires nutrients just like your heart, lungs, or muscles do.

Brain boosting foods contain nutrients that help support optimal brain activity and provide protection for the brain from free radicals. It is important to note that while specific nutrients are necessary for optimal brain function, no food can claim to increase concentration or build memory. Keeping the brain healthy and optimally functioning is the goal to enhance learning and provide an environment conducive to concentration and focus.

Here are some tips:

Feed your brain to think clearly - Brains use a lot of energy and if we don’t fuel it, or give it the wrong type of fuel, we tend to think a little slower and recall less information. A healthy diet supports our brain and keeps it healthy just as well as the rest of our bodies.

Stay hydrated - Our brains are mostly water, and even a little dehydration can make our thoughts cloudy. Water is the best antidote to combat dehydration. While all fluids count, drinking lots of beverages with sugar and caffeine can actually cause dehydration. Sip on water (plain or flavored) for most of the day and use the caffeinated and sugary beverages sparingly.

Get your essential fatty acid fix – Omega-3s found in salmon and walnuts are good for your heart, but those same fats are great for your brain too. They provide protection for the sensitive and critical nerve endings that help us connect thoughts.

Opt for whole grains - Whole grains are not only good to keep us energized all day because of their steady source of fuel, but they keep our brains jazzed all day too because our brains need that steady source of energy. Whole grains keep your energy up both in your muscles and in your brain--so skip the chips and load up on some oatmeal for powerful study sessions.

Remember breakfast and you’ll remember everything else - Breakfast is critical! After a long night of fasting, your brain needs a jump start as much as your body. Even if you aren’t hungry, get everything moving in the right direction with a small powerful breakfast. As little as one egg and a slice of whole wheat toast can get everything cranking. And never go into an exam on an empty stomach! Your brain will be starving even if your body isn’t!

The Following are Foods that have Brain Boosting Effects:

Grains: all whole grains: whole wheat bread, quinoa, oatmeal, whole grain pasta

Fruits: darkly colored fruits: like blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, cherries, cranberries, raspberries, plums, avocados, oranges, grapes, kiwi

Vegetables: richly colored vegetables: like dark leafy greens, spinach, romaine, arugula, kale, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, beets, red peppers

Proteins:  tuna, salmon, sardines, trout, herring, mackerel, lentils, eggs, lean beef, low fat yogurt, cheese, milk, lean chicken, pork

Other: walnuts, sunflower seeds, flax, canola oil, olive oil, green tea, water

BREADY - Bringing you Made Without Gluten Bread

Chartwells serves 'made without gluten' breads! Chartwells uses the Bready machine to bake 'made without gluten' breads and cakes. The Bready machine is the first bread machine to address the challenges of making great tasting, soft, evenly textured, contamination-free breads or cakes. Students can find Bready products in the Griesedieck and Reinert dining halls. If you need 'made without gluten' foods and would like more information or options, please contact me by email at

Why do people need 'made without gluten' foods?

A 'made without gluten' diet is a diet in which foods that contain gluten are not eaten. Gluten is a protein complex found in the grains: wheat, barley, and rye.

A 'made without gluten' diet is the only medically accepted treatment for Celiac disease or gluten allergies. Celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disease that is triggered by gluten (found in wheat, barley, and rye). Celiac disease affects at least 1 in 133 Americans. When gluten is ingested by a person with Celiac disease, it damages the villi of the small intestine which then interferes with the absorption of important nutrients. Although there are hundreds of symptoms associated with Celiac disease, the most common symptoms include bloating and gas, diarrhea, constipation, rash, fatigue, and poor weight gain.

What is up with the 'gluten-free' trend?

Despite the gluten-free trend and health claims for gluten-free eating, there is no published experimental evidence to support such claims for the general population. In fact some food manufacturers may actually add more sugar and fat to improve the tastes of the 'made without gluten' foods.  

For anyone trying to eat a healthier diet, it is important to incorporate all of the food groups including grains. People with Celiac disease can still have a variety grains but need to avoid wheat, barley, and rye. People should opt for whole grains over refined grains in order to get more nutrients and fiber. Choosing whole grains provides you with more health benefits including: a decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.
For people with celiac disease or a gluten allergy,

Monday, October 21, 2013

'Balanced U' Breakdown

Many of you probably know that there are Balanced U stations at the Griesedieck and Reinert dining halls. However... Do you know anything about the Balanced U program?

Balanced U is a holistic approach to food and nutrition. It’s based on one concept - we eat food. To help our customers understand how food plays into health, Balanced U consists of three components: Icons, Monthly Subjects and Stealth Health.

Icons: are used to easily identify better options: balanced options (limited in nutrients that can be detrimental to health), vegetarian options, vegan options, made without gluten options, and sustainable food choices. Paying attention to these icons will help you eat healthy. Eating healthy should not focus on what a food doesn’t have, instead it should focus on what it does have.
*In order for food to be labeled with the 'Balanced' icon
or to be served at the Balanced U station, foods must fit this criterion:
Per Serving: Entrée Appetizer, Side, Or Dessert Dressings & Sauces
Calories 500 300 100
Fat 15g 10g 5g
Saturated Fat 5g 5g 1g
Cholesterol 100mg 50mg 20mg
Sodium 800mg 400mg 200mg

This makes it easy to find healthy food options - just look for the 'Balanced' icon or simply eat at the Balanced U stations!

Monthly Subjects: are focused on providing an opportunity to highlight and educate on the functional foods that fit the specific monthly subject.
Energy and Power - August and September

Healing and Immunity: October

Brain Boosters: November
Reduce Stress and Feel Good: December and January
Proud to Look Good: February
Metabolism Booster: March
Earth Friendly Foods: April and May

Stealth Health: A back of the house kitchen responsibilities to increase the nutritional value of foods served to students. Goals include reducing calories, sodium, fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, increasing fruit and vegetable intake and increasing fiber intake.

In general Balanced U is a concept that promotes food that benefits your health and wellness! We want to provide you with foods that will positively impact your life. If you have any questions or want more information, please contact me at


Resident Registered Dietitian


My name is Lisa Abbott and I will be serving as your resident dietitian with Chartwells at Saint Louis University.

I am looking forward to helping SLU students gain the knowledge and skills they need in order to make healthy choices and  develop healthy behaviors!

One of the most important parts of my job as a registered dietitian here on campus is to help guide students, faculty, and staff towards healthier choices. I
 will continuously work to make sure that a variety of healthy options are available at the dining halls and all retail locations. I will strive to provide you with the information and tools you need to make healthy choices as well as encourage you to make those healthy choices.

By serving as a liaison between campus food and SLU students, I am able to communicate with students about allergens, intolerances, and any specific dietary needs. I hope to help students understand that eating on campus can be healthy and can fit all lifestyles!

I am excited to start blogging so that I can share all of the fun things that we are doing to incorporate nutrition into a college lifestyle! You can follow me through my blog and twitter (@SLUdiningRD)!