Certification Program Updates to Support Efficiency & Reduce Burden

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is always on the lookout for ways to improve the ONC Health IT Certification Program’s efficiency and reduce burden on health information technology (health IT) users and health IT developers.  Whether it is making certification criteria clarifications clearer and more rapidly accessible through the […]

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Only you can improve the 2018 Interoperability Standards Advisory Reference Edition

Yes, it’s that time again. The federal fiscal year is coming to a close, the kids are going back to school, and you’ve got that déjà vu feeling like you should be preparing to comment on the Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA). Trust your instincts, because the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology […]

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Health Information Technology is Helping Treat and Manage HIV for Patients and Providers

Today is National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness day – providing a perfect opportunity to talk about how health information technology (health IT) and electronic health information help doctors better manage the care of patients living with HIV and AIDS and improve the care that they receive. Now, thanks to the work that’s been done to […]

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Healthy or Not: Halo Top Ice Cream

This low-cal ice cream is taking the diet world by storm. Healthy eating enthusiasts are swooning over the concept of eating an entire pint of ice cream in one serving. But does the bright glow of Halo Top deserve angel status? We are crunching the numbers and breaking down the ingredient list to get the skinny on this lighter frozen treat.

By the Numbers

In a few short years, the passion project of a California lawyer has become one of Walmart’s best sellers. Early batches of this treat came from a home kitchen, but pints of Halo Top can now be found at grocery stores throughout the country. The numbers are impressive, but the nutritional facts are what really need to be considered.

A pint of traditional vanilla ice cream contains 1000 calories, 64 grams of fat, 16 grams of protein and no fiber. A pint of Halo Top vanilla comes in at 240 calories with 8 grams of fat, 24 grams of protein and a staggering 20 grams of fiber — that’s 80 percent of the daily goal. This is where most folks will shout “hallelujah” and reach for a spoon! But before you get to the bottom of your Halo Top container, you may want to get to the bottom of what’s really in those pints.

Traditional vanilla ice cream is made from cream, milk, sugar, eggs and stabilizers like guar gum. Halo Top ingredient list starts off in a similar fashion with milk, cream and eggs; there’s also guar gum in there. What sets Halo Top apart is what’s used to displace much of the sugar and fat. This means the use of the indigestible substances including the sugar alcohol called “erythritol” and supplemental fibers. You will find some sugar added, but much of the sweet flavor comes from the artificial sweetener Stevia. Since these types of ingredients aren’t digested normally, eating large amounts of has been found to sometimes cause stomach upset. They also help bind the low-calorie ingredients together without copious amounts of fat. For this reason, the texture of low calorie ice creams are nowhere near as creamy. Many of the flavors have very small pieces of add ins like cookies and chocolate chips to keep the calories in check – understandable, yet still a bit disappointing.

Bottom Line

A few bites of a light ice cream like Halo Top may help you cut back on higher calorie treats. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, it may help while trying to shed a few pounds. But don’t get too excited about the promises of weight loss when downing pints a day, or even one pint in a sitting. This is not a healthy, balanced or recommended way to eat.

 

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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Can You Really Slash Sugar From Your Diet? 

Trying to tame your sweet tooth? You may have heard, “sugar is in everything.” So how can you cut out sugar — and why is it a good idea?

First, narrow your target to “added sugars” versus natural sugars found in fruit and dairy foods. Starting in July 2018, “added sugars” will be clearly marked on food nutrition labels. Until then, look for these words on ingredient lists: syrup, honey, cane, agave, fruit juice concentrates and words ending in ‘ose.’ These are simple sugars. “Simple sugars can lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar. This, in turn, triggers a swift increase in insulin, which signals your body to store more fat – especially belly fat,” explains registered dietitian nutritionist Kristina LaRue, author of the Flat Belly Cookbook for Dummies.

That spike in blood sugar can wreak havoc on your emotions too. And your hunger cues: when your blood sugar goes way up, it tends to come crashing way, way down, so you may feel hungrier than you would have, had you not consumed that sweet tea.

Crushing your sugar habit is about re-wiring your taste buds. You want to try to get to a point where some really sweet foods and drinks actually taste too saccharin. Surprisingly, this can happen in about a month.

Here’s our plan on how to strip some of the sugar from your day:

 

At Home

If it’s not in your house, you can’t eat it when you’re stressed or tired, which is when we tend to crave sugary hits. On the contrary, if your pantry is stocked with foods that provide energy and satisfaction, you’ll be less likely to stop for a caramel-drenched latte on the way to work.

  • Purge your house of sodas, fruit drinks, sweet teas, even sweetened “healthy” drinks like fizzy probiotic beverages. Instead, purchase flavored seltzer waters with zero sugar or artificial sweeteners or drink plain water.
  • Dump condiments like barbecue sauce or low-fat salad dressings with high fructose corn syrup or sugar.
  • Dial down the sweetness in yogurts and milk alternatives; sweetened soy milk can have 15 grams of added sugar per serving. Get your taste buds used to plain yogurt sweetened with fruit. (Yes, really!)
  • Always keep frozen fruit on hand to cure sweet cravings. Frozen raspberries are one of the fruits lowest in natural sugar content and have more fiber than any other berry (9 grams per cup). And, with only 80 antioxidant-rich calories per 1 whole cup, they will likely make your sweet tooth smile.
  • Start your day with something savory. When the first thing you eat is a white chocolate covered granola bar, it tends to set you up for a day of sweet treats. Instead, grab a cheese sandwich, or a couple hardboiled eggs with a few shakes of curry powder.

 

At Work

To state the obvious, ditch the donuts. Then focus on ways to stay satisfied throughout the work day to avoid sweet splurges.

  • Don’t forget about fats. Make sure your lunch contains some satisfying fat to ward off afternoon cravings. Omega-3 fats are especially satisfying and have even been found to decrease belly fat, says LaRue. Pack flax seed or chia seed topped yogurt for desktop dining. Order omega-3 rich fish for lunch.
  • Type this into your calendar: “Snack on 23 almonds at 3:00 pm,” for good monounsaturated fats and 6 grams of satisfying protein. If it’s in your calendar it will probably get done.
  • Plan for sweets. Stress triggers sweet cravings. Keep individually wrapped squares of dark chocolate in your desk. Compared to candy or milk chocolate, dark chocolate keeps your palate focused on less-sweet tastes.
  • Steer clear of soda. Non-diet soda is an obvious no-go, but even diet soda has crazy-sweet flavor. Remember, you’re trying to titrating down your taste buds’ love of sweet. Ask to stock the soda machine with some seltzer.

 

At Parties

There will be birthday parties, celebrations, and dinners out with friends. No need to make a scene about sugar avoidance. Instead:

  • Eat before you go. The best way to keep your metabolism functioning at its peak is to eat every three to four hours. So don’t go starved, and sugar avoidance will be easier.
  • Enjoy it! No #foodguilt here. Don’t let staying away from sugar become an obsession.
  • Practice success. “People who are successful at making healthy eating part of their everyday lifestyle are the ones who occasionally treat themselves while also transforming some of their favorite sweet foods into healthier options,” explains LaRue. Practice getting back on track.

 

Serena Ball, MS, RD is a food writer and registered dietitian nutritionist. She blogs at TeaspoonOfSpice.com sharing tips and tricks to help families find healthy living shortcuts. Follow her @TspCurry on Twitter and Snapchat.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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New Data on Skilled Nursing Facilities Use of Electronic Health Records Establish the Path for Progress

Data released today by the Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology (ONC) report for the first time, nationally representative measures on electronic health record (EHR) adoption and health information exchange among skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). Most SNFs (64 percent) used EHRs to manage patient health information in 2016. About 22 percent of […]

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Are You a Healthy Snacker?

We have become a snacking nation, but that doesn’t mean everyone snacks healthfully. Snacking on high calorie foods with few nutrients can lead to weight gain and unhealthy eating habits. And mindlessly munching on a bag of chips (yes, even veggie chips!) in front of the TV at night is not a healthy habit either. So how can you tell if you’re a healthy snacker? See how you answer the following 5 questions.

1. Are you having a snack or a treat?

A snack is a mini meal that provides nutrients you may not be getting enough of during regular meals, such as fiber, calcium, vitamin D and potassium. A treat is a food that provides very little (if any) nutrition, but contains a lot of calories such as a doughnut or bag of potato chips.

To become a healthy snacker: Think before eating. If it’s a snack, then enjoy it! If it’s a treat, ask yourself if you really need it and if not, swap it for a healthier choice.

 

2.Do you really need the snack?

Snacks shouldn’t be eaten just for the sake of having something in your mouth or to alleviate boredom. They should be eaten if you are truly hungry, like if you go five or more hours between meals without food (not counting sleep time).

To become a healthy snacker: Pre-plan snack times one to two times per day when you find yourself the hungriest

 

3. Are you carb-overloading?

Although whole grain pretzels or crackers sound like a healthy snack, they’re more satisfying when combined with a protein or healthy fat which helps slow down digestion and keep you satisfied for longer.

To become a healthy snacker: Combine carbs with protein or healthy fat such as Greek yogurt topped with berries, or whole grain crackers topped with peanut butter.

 

4. Are you controlling your portions?

Having the right foods and the right time is important, but you also need to eat these foods in appropriate portions. Some foods are very healthy, but when eaten in large quantities can add hundreds of unnecessary calories to your day.

To become a healthy snacker: Aim to have snacks between 125 to 200 calories each. Review the nutrition facts panel of packaged foods for recommended serving sizes and calories per serving.

 

5. Are you a packaged food snacker?

Many packaged foods aren’t as healthy as they seem. Some may contain few calories…but few vitamins and minerals too. Other can be laden with artery clogging fat and loads of calories.

To become a healthy snacker: Control the ingredients by preparing a few snacks at home. Here are DIY snack recipes to try:

 

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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