Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Student submitted blog post: By Lindsay Smore
Let’s talk about something nobody wants to discuss, but everyone should know: irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This post will highlight the things you need to understand about IBS, and how nutrition plays a huge role in managing symptoms. First, lets determine if you actually have IBS. Think back to the last couple days, weeks, or even months, have you noticed:

ibs blog post

  • abdominal discomfort that goes away after defecating?
  • change in frequency of having to go to the bathroom?
  • change in the form of your stool?

If you have seen any of these happen at least 3 times per month for 3 consecutive months, then you may have IBS. IBS can be characterized by having diarrhea, constipation, or even both. It is important to understand that IBS is considered a “spectrum disorder,” this means it is not diagnosed by getting lab tests done, but strictly based on symptoms you are facing. Unfortunately, this means that a food that triggers IBS in me may not have the same effects on you.

So then how are you supposed to know what to eat and what not to eat to keep you and your bowel healthy? The answer is trial and error. Everybody is different, and only you know what your body can and cannot tolerate. It is important to keep track of the foods that tend to trigger your IBS symptoms and discuss them with your physician or registered dietitian.


No Bake Daily Whey Protein Balls


Allison Ballina MS RD LDN

Yield: 20 balls
  • 1 c. dry oats
  • 1 scoop daily whey protein (chocolate)
  • 1/4 c. cinnamon life cereal (crushed)
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 4 tbsp. dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. natural peanut butter
  1. Mix all ingredients in large bowl until well combined
  2. Roll into 20 small balls
  3. Refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours or overnight
  4. Enjoy!
Nutrition facts (per ball):
95 calories
10 g CHO
3g Pro
5 g Fat

Lunch Ideas With Consistent Nutritional Values

It can get boring having the same meal for lunch every day. Don’t forget that there are a variety of meals that can provide the energy that you need to feel full and energized. It’s possible to find meals with similar nutritional values that provide a variety of flavors and presentations to keep you excited about your lunch. The key to finding recipes that fit into your daily needs is to remember that you’re looking for meals similar amounts of grain, protein, vegetables, and fat sources, but they can be prepped and mixed any way that you like. Here are some examples to get you started! For more ideas, be sure to reach out to a Registered Dietitian!

Greek Chicken Pita:


1 whole-wheat pita, cut into two to make pockets

2 oz. chicken breast, shredded

¼ cup diced tomato

¼ cup cucumber

1 Tablespoon chopped red onion

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

¼ cup mixed greens

2 Tablespoon crumbled feta cheese


Mix chicken, vegetables, feta, lemon juice, and oregano

Toast pita (if desired)

Fill pita with the mixture and enjoy!

Nutritional Info:

333 Calories

35 g CHO

28 g Pro

9 g Fat

greek chicken pita


What To Do After A Day of Indulgence

Student Spotlight: Rachel Duncan, University of Pittsburgh 2016

IMG_20150403_105035Everyone has experienced the “day after” a day of indulgence when we may have enjoyed a few too many treats. Whether it’s a birthday party, vacation, or holiday weekend, there is nothing wrong with an occasional day w
here we don’t track our food intake, but it can be tempting to compensate the next day or to punish yourself for losing track of your health and fitness goals. When this happens, the most important thing to do is get right back into our healthy lifestyle routine. In order to help you do that, here are some tips about what to do the day after a binge:

First of all, when the binge is happening, try not to lose control. People often find themselves in the mindset that once they’ve eaten one thing that they shouldn’t have, the rest of their day is a free for all because they’ve already gotten off track for the day. Having one treat should not ruin your day, and the sooner you stop the binge the less damage you do. Treat yourself with what you want the most, and then use self discipline to stop continued binging. Be resilient!


5 Breakfasts With Consistent Nutritional Values

Some mornings during the week can be so busy that breakfast is an afterthought and you just need to grab something as you run out the door. Other days, like the weekends when mornings are a little slower, you may want to spend more time preparing a nutritious and tasty breakfast. No matter what kind of morning you’re having, it’s important to have some sort of balanced, nutritious meal to start out your day.

To help overcome the obstacles that mornings can present, we’ve prepared 5 breakfast recipes with consistent nutritional value to choose from based on the kind of morning you’re having or what kind of breakfast you’re looking for. All of the following recipes are around 250-300 calories per serving and have similar macronutrient values, so each one assures you are having a nutritious start to your day!

For more tips about maintaining a healthy lifestyle, check out our website

Eggs & Toast

Healthy, balanced breakfast for a slower morning

 2 eggs

2 Piece of whole grain toast

Prepare the eggs however you like on the stove, and serve with whole grain toast.

PoachedEggToast Picture

Nutritional Info:

24 g CHO

18g Pro

10 g Fat


Portion Control Tips & Tricks

We’ve all heard the saying “Too much of a good thing.” This proves to be true in nutrition and health. Even if your diet consists of the nutrient dense foods, it’s important to keep portion sizes in mind so that you aren’t overeating and taking away from your efforts to eat right.

When we’re meal prepping for the week or making dinner, we have easy access to measuring cups, scales, and tools to make sure that our portion sizes are in accordance to our meal plans. But what about the times when we’re out to eat or throwing together a quick meal on the go? A useful tool that we can use to control our portion sizes and stay on track is learning to visualize serving sizes by comparing them to every day household objects and even your own hand!

Hand Picture


Below is a list of common portion sizes paired with the area of your hand and a household item that can be used to represent them.


Proper Fueling: A Note to the Endurance Athlete

Allison Ballina MS,RD,LDN

Think of food as the gasoline to your car, you can’t go far on an empty tank. Athletes spend countless hours per week training for endurance events, leaving everything they have on the pavement. However, many of these athletes skimp on properly fueling their bodies, leaving them at a severe disadvantage. Stunting your fueling program will put up a major roadblock in what your body is capable of achieving with optimal training. When we feed our bodies properly for endurance activity, it can run much more efficiently and for much longer. We avoid “hitting the wall”. If you feel that your fueling could use a makeover, follow the information provided below to help you achieve optimal performance. This article will focus on proper hydration, preparation, and restoration while both preparing for and competing in an event.


Disordered Eating, Often Overlooked

Allison Ballina MS, RD, LDN

The pressure to be thin is as real as ever. People, especially young females, are willing to go to extremes for the ultimate goal…the perfect body. But what is the perfect body? Is it having a muscular appearance, having the “thigh gap”, being able to fit into size 0 jeans, or having a flat stomach? There is no definition for the perfect body. However, what our mind tells us tends to be what dictates our decisions. It can become an obsession that is difficult to explain, and ultimately our actions create an outcome.


Disordered eating and eating disorders often get confused. Disordered eating can refer to wide range of abnormal eating behaviors, some which are shared with eating disorders. Some common symptoms of disordered eating include: binging, dieting, skipping meals often, laxative use, chronic fasting, body shaming, misuse of laxatives, and self induced vomiting. These are not as easily diagnosed as an eating disorder. Individuals struggling with disordered eating exhibit many of the same symptoms as eating disorders but not as extreme or at a lower frequency. Many people suffering with this have a tarnished relationship with food that includes fears, phobias, avoidance, and emotional eating. All of these are included on the spectrum of disordered eating. It is just as common in people who are overweight and obese, they continue to gain weight because of an emotional attachment to food. People with disordered eating are at a greater risk for developing eating disorders. Their eating patterns may lead to malnutrition, fatigue, or poor concentration. It can also greatly affect a person’s social life due to the constant anxiety around food.


Osteoporosis & Bone Health

What We Need to Know Regarding Osteoporosis:

written by: Allison Ballina MS RD

Did you know that most of our bone mass is completely built by the time we reach the age of 20? This is part of the reason why we encourage milk intake for our infants and adolescents. We begin recommending whole milk after breastfeeding and then serve milk with both breakfast and lunch in our schools. As we age further, we see the constant “Got Milk” ads throughout our magazines and billboards. Unfortunately as we age past 30, our bone mass begins to decline. The body begins to break down more bone mass than it can make. This is especially true with women after menopause. Our bones begin to leach calcium and other important minerals that are important to maintain the integrity of the bone. This decline in bone mass may lead to a disease called osteoporosis.  Osteoporosis causes our bones to become brittle and frail. The likelihood of developing osteoporosis depends partly on how much bone mass you were able to attain during that critical building phase in your youth. However, we do have some say in the changes of our bones.




Never Get Stuck




I don’t know about you, but I am a creature of habit. I like routine. Don’t get me wrong, spontaneity has its place in my life, but when it comes to most daily activities, I like to have at least a tentative plan. This can mean different things to different people. Some like to have the same schedule Monday-Friday. Personally, I like each day of my week to have variety, but I like the variety to be planned. What I do on Monday is likely not the same as on Tuesday, but my Mondays are all very similar. With this schedule, instead of having a daily routine, I have a weekly routine. Some people, especially those in health care, sales, city service and trade professions have a biweekly or completely unpredictable schedule.