Nutrition, Food and a Healthy You

Nutrition at PEHS

The Nutrition Program at the Proviso East High School (PEHS) Student Based Health Center (SBHC) offers individual nutrition counseling as well as a variety of other programs and services. The goal of the Nutrition Program is to provide activities that assist students in the development of optimal dietary patterns and nutrient intakes through health education, medical nutrition therapy services and improved access.

Nutrition Counseling/Medical Nutrition Therapy

The Registered Dietitians at the SBHC work with students on an individual basis to develop a personalized healthy eating plan that will help them achieve their personal wellness goals.

Nutrition Counseling Available For:

- Overall Wellness/Preventative Health
- Weight Management (loss or gain)
- High cholesterol/Dyslipidemia
- Diabetes
- Sports nutrition/Athletes
- Pregnancy
- Vegetarianism/Veganism
- High Blood Pressure/Hypertension
- Eating Disorders
- Food Allergies
- Lactose Intolerance
- Gastrointestinal Disorders

How to Schedule an Appointment

Walk into the Student Based Health Center located on the 1st floor of PEHS next to the Nurse’s office or call (708) 449-9522 and ask the receptionist, Mrs. Araceli McBeth, to request an appointment with a Registered Dietitian.

Click here for delicious, healthy recipes!

Recent Posts

  • How to Eat Healthy! It's easier than you think to start eating healthy! Take small steps each week to improve your nutrition and move toward a healthier you.Eight Healthy Eating GoalsSmall ...
    Posted Sep 30, 2015, 12:37 PM by H. Connor
  • The most important thing you can do with your kids? Eat dinner with them. By Anne Fishel, Washington Post, January 12 Anne Fishel is an associate clinical professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School. As a family therapist, I often have the impulse to ...
    Posted Feb 3, 2015, 1:25 PM by H. Connor
  • A Healthier Option for Super Bowl Sunday Snacking Nutrition, Sports | January, 30 2015As the big game approaches and you prepare to celebrate, it’s time to forget about takeout! Grab your friends and family to try out ...
    Posted Feb 3, 2015, 1:02 PM by H. Connor
Showing posts 1 - 3 of 25. View more »

How to Eat Healthy!

posted Sep 30, 2015, 12:37 PM by H. Connor

It's easier than you think to start eating healthy! Take small steps each week to improve your nutrition and move toward a healthier you.

Eight Healthy Eating Goals

Small changes can make a big difference to your health.  Learn More...

The most important thing you can do with your kids? Eat dinner with them.

posted Feb 3, 2015, 1:25 PM by H. Connor

By Anne Fishel, Washington Post, January 12
Anne Fishel is an associate clinical professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School.

As a family therapist, I often have the impulse to tell families to go home and have dinner together rather than spending an hour with me. And 20 years of research in North America, Europe and Australia back up my enthusiasm for family dinners. It turns out that sitting down for a nightly meal is great for the brain, the body and the spirit. And that nightly dinner doesn’t have to be a gourmet meal that took three hours to cook, nor does it need to be made with organic arugula and heirloom parsnips.

Brain food

For starters, researchers found that for young children, dinnertime conversation boosts vocabulary even more than being read aloud to. The researchers counted the number of rare words – those not found on a list of 3,000 most common words – that the families used during dinner conversation. Young kids learned 1,000 rare words at the dinner table, compared to only 143 from parents reading storybooks aloud. Kids who have a large vocabulary read earlier and more easily.

Older children also reap intellectual benefits from family dinners. For school-age youngsters, regular mealtime is an even more powerful predictor of high achievement scores than time spent in school, doing homework, playing sports or doing art.

Other researchers reported a consistent association between family dinner frequency and teen academic performance. Adolescents who ate family meals five to seven times a week were twice as likely to get A’s in school as those who ate dinner with their families fewer than two times a week.

Does a body good

Children who eat regular family dinners also consume more fruits, vegetables, vitamins and micronutrients, as well as fewer fried foods and soft drinks. And the nutritional benefits keep paying dividends even after kids grow up: young adults who ate regular family meals as teens are less likely to be obese and more likely to eat healthily once they live on their own.

Some research has even found a connection between regular family dinners and the reduction of symptoms in medical disorders, such as asthma. The benefit might be due to two possible byproducts of a shared family meal: lower anxiety and the chance to check in about a child’s medication compliance.

It isn’t just the presence of healthy foods that leads to all these benefits. The dinner atmosphere is also important. Parents need to be warm and engaged, rather than controlling and restrictive, to encourage healthy eating in their children.

But all bets are off if the TV is on during dinner. In one study, American kindergartners who watched TV during dinner were more likely to be overweight by the time they were in third grade. The association between TV-watching during dinner and overweight children was also reported in Sweden, Finland and Portugal.

Soul food

In addition, a stack of studies link regular family dinners with lowering a host of high risk teenage behaviors parents fear: smoking, binge drinking, marijuana use, violence, school problems, eating disorders and sexual activity. In one study of more than 5,000 Minnesota teens, researchers concluded that regular family dinners were associated with lower rates of depression and suicidal thoughts. In a very recent study, kids who had been victims of cyberbullying bounced back more readily if they had regular family dinners. Family dinners have been found to be a more powerful deterrent against high-risk teen behaviors than church attendance or good grades.

There are also associations between regular family dinners and good behaviors, not just the absence of bad ones. In a New Zealand study, a higher frequency of family meals was strongly associated with positive moods in adolescents. Similarly, other researchers have shown that teens who dine regularly with their families also have a more positive view of the future, compared to their peers who don’t eat with parents.

What’s so magical about mealtime?

In most industrialized countries, families don’t farm together, play musical instruments or stitch quilts on the porch. So dinner is the most reliable way for families to connect and find out what’s going on with each other. In a survey, American teens were asked when they were most likely to talk with their parents: dinner was their top answer. Kids who eat dinner with their parents experience less stress and have a better relationship with them. This daily mealtime connection is like a seat belt for traveling the potholed road of childhood and adolescence and all its possible risky behaviors.

Of course, the real power of dinners lies in their interpersonal quality. If family members sit in stony silence, if parents yell at each other, or scold their kids, family dinner won’t confer positive benefits. Sharing a roast chicken won’t magically transform parent-child relationships. But, dinner may be the one time of the day when a parent and child can share a positive experience – a well-cooked meal, a joke, or a story – and these small moments can gain momentum to create stronger connections away from the table.

A Healthier Option for Super Bowl Sunday Snacking

posted Feb 3, 2015, 1:02 PM by H. Connor

Nutrition, Sports | January, 30 2015

As the big game approaches and you prepare to celebrate, it’s time to forget about takeout! Grab your friends and family to try out a new pizza recipe from Dr. Ian Smith, PCFSN Council member! Dr. Smith has the perfect healthy recipe for a delicious pizza just in time for Super Bowl Sunday.

This delicious recipe is an exciting upgrade from a plain old cheese-and-pepperoni pie! Dr. Smith suggests topping the pizza with grilled chicken so that you combine the best of a cookout and a pizza party. Built on a pre-baked pizza crust, this amazing dish can be prepped, cooked, and out of the oven in less than 45 minutes!

So whether you are cheering for the Puppy Bowl, having family over to root for the commercials, or enjoying the game with friends, try making your own pizza for a healthier option!

Grilled Barbecue Chicken and Red Onion Pizza

Serves 4


2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

Olive oil cooking spray

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

One 12-inch, pre-baked, whole-wheat pizza crust

1 cup sugar-free barbecue sauce

1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese

1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese

1 large red onion, julienned

6 large fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced


Cooking Instructions

1. Preheat a grill -pan over medium-high heat.

2. Spray the chicken breasts with olive oil cooking spray and season them well with salt and pepper. Grill the chicken without moving the breasts, until grill marks appear, about 5 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook for 5 minutes more, until completely cooked through and an instant-read thermometer reads 165° degrees F.

3. Transfer the chicken to a plate and brush both sides with barbecue sauce. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Cut the chicken breasts crosswise into thin slices.

4. Preheat the oven to 425° degrees F.

5. Put the pizza crust on a pizza pan or baking sheet. Spread the barbecue sauce over the surface of the crust.

6. Sprinkle 3/4 of each cheese evenly over the sauce. Arrange the sliced chicken in a single layer over the crust and scatter the slivered onion evenly over it. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the pizza and bake until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly and hot, 10 to 12 minutes.

7. Slide the pizza onto a cutting board and cut into wedges. Sprinkle the sliced basil over the top and serve.

Eight Healthy Eating Goals

posted Feb 3, 2015, 12:59 PM by H. Connor

President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition

Small changes can make a big difference to your health! Try incorporating at least six of the eight goals below into your diet. Commit to incorporating one new healthy eating goal each week over the next six weeks. You can track your progress through PALA+.

Make half your plate fruits and vegetables:
Choose red, orange, and dark-green vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, along with other vegetables for your meals. Add fruit to meals as part of main or side dishes or as dessert. The more colorful you make your plate, the more likely you are to get the vitamins, minerals, and fiber your body needs to be healthy.

Make half the grains you eat whole grains:
An easy way to eat more whole grains is to switch from a refined-grain food to a whole-grain food. For example, eat whole-wheat bread instead of white bread. Read the ingredients list and choose products that list a whole-grain ingredients first. Look for things like: "whole wheat," "brown rice," "bulgur," "buckwheat," "oatmeal," "rolled oats," quinoa," or "wild rice."

Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk: Both have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but fewer calories and less saturated fat.

Choose a variety of lean protein foods: Meat, poultry, seafood, dry beans or peas, eggs, nuts, and seeds are considered part of the protein foods group. Select leaner cuts of ground beef (where the label says 90% lean or higher), turkey breast, or chicken breast.

Compare sodium in foods: Use the Nutrition Facts label to choose lower sodium versions of foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals. Select canned foods labeled "low sodium," "reduced sodium," or "no salt added."

photo of a woman drinking a bottle of waterDrink water instead of sugary drinks: Cut calories by drinking water or unsweetened beverages. Soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar and calories in American diets. Try adding a slice of lemon, lime, or watermelon or a splash of 100% juice to your glass of water if you want some flavor.

Eat some seafood: Seafood includes fish (such as salmon, tuna, and trout) and shellfish (such as crab, mussels, and oysters). Seafood has protein, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids (heart-healthy fat). Adults should try to eat at least eight ounces a week of a variety of seafood. Children can eat smaller amounts of seafood, too.

Cut back on solid fats: Eat fewer foods that contain solid fats. The major sources for Americans are cakes, cookies, and other desserts (often made with butter, margarine, or shortening); pizza; processed and fatty meats (e.g., sausages, hot dogs, bacon, ribs); and ice cream.

Use the MyPlate Icon to make sure your meal is balanced and nutritious.

Try This!

Emphasis on Fruits & Veggies
  • Mix vegetables into your go-to dishes. Try spinach with pasta or peppers in tacos.
  • Use fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables. They all offer the same great nutrients. Just be sure to watch the sodium on canned vegetables and look for fruits packed in water or 100% juice (not syrup).
  • Pack your lunch bag with fruits and veggies: sliced apples, a banana, or carrot sticks are all healthy options.

Healthy Snacks

  •  For a handy snack, keep cut-up fruits and vegetables like carrots, peppers, or orange slices in the refrigerator.
  •  Teach children the difference between everyday snacks, such as fruits and veggies, and occasional snacks, such as cookies or other sweets.
  • Make water a staple of snack time. Try adding a slice of lemon, lime, or a splash of 100% juice to your water for a little flavor.
  • Swap out your cookie jar for a basket filled with fresh fruit.

Ways to Reduce Fat, Salt, and Sugar

  • Choose baked or grilled food instead of fried when you're eating out and implement this at home, too.
  • Make water and fat-free or low-fat milk your go-to drinks instead of soda or sweetened beverages.
  • Serve fruits as everyday desserts—like baked apples and pears or a fruit salad.
  • Read labels on packaged ingredients to find foods lower in sodium.
  • Skip adding salt when cooking; instead use herbs and spices to add flavor.

Controlling Portion Size

  • Use smaller plates to control portion sizes.
  • Don't clean your plate or bowl if you're full, instead save leftovers for tomorrow's lunch.
  • Portion sizes depend on the age, gender, and activity level of the individual.

Healthy Eating in School

  • Bring healthy snacks into your child's classroom for birthday parties and celebrations, instead of providing sugary treats.
  • Pack healthy lunches for your children including whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
  • Schools across the nation are making their lunch rooms healthier places. Learn more with the Chefs Move to Schools initiative—where chefs work with local schools to add flavorful, healthy meals to menus.

Good Fats, Bad Fats, and Very Bad Fats

posted Mar 20, 2012, 6:50 AM by H. Connor   [ updated Mar 20, 2012, 7:03 AM ]

It was once thought that fat in the diet was a bad thing. Fat has been deemed responsible for a range of diseases from cardiovascular disease to diabetes. It is true that over consumption of certain fats may lead to some diseases, but not all fats are created equal. That is, there are good fats, bad fats, and very bad fats. Let’s take a look:

The Good: Unsaturated Fats

These healthy unsaturated fats help fight the very diseases that the bad fats can cause. They are divided into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and both types are shown to have beneficial effects on cholesterol levels. Unsaturated ‘heart-healthy’ fats are found in cold-water fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel), nuts, seeds, olive oil, canola oil, and avocados. Just remember that although these foods have healthy fats, they still have calories so follow their serving size!

The Bad and The Very Bad: Saturated Fats & Trans Fats

These are what we know as the artery clogging fats that have been shown to raise cholesterol levels. Saturated fats are found in meat, poultry skin, dairy, chocolate, and coconut and palm oil. Saturated fats should be less than 10% of our total fat intake. Trans fats are the very bad fats as they not only raise the bad cholesterol but lower the good cholesterol. You can find Trans-fats not only by looking on the label, but looking for the word ’hydrogenated’ in the ingredient list. They are usually found in commercially processed products, fried foods, and bakery goods. These fats should be avoided as much as possible.

Moral of the story is to choose your fats wisely. Our body needs fat in the diet, so make the most of fats and be heart-healthy! For more information, check out:

By Anne Lorenc, Loyola University Dietetic Intern

Vitamins & Minerals 101

posted Mar 5, 2012, 7:20 AM by H. Connor   [ updated Mar 5, 2012, 7:24 AM ]

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were developed with the ultimate goal to improve the health of our Nation by promoting healthy eating and physical activity. Important information regarding our nation’s current health is pointed out in the guidelines, including the fact that many children are consuming too many calories and not enough nutrients. This issue remains a primary focus due to the overwhelming evidence that proper nutrition, including adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals, is vital at every stage of life.

One of the many approaches taken to promote healthier eating included a section titled “Foods and Nutrients to Increase.” This section emphasized including more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, unsalted nuts and seeds, and oils into the diet. Maintaining this balance of food groups will ensure adequate vitamin and mineral intake for proper body functioning. This section also discusses nutrients of public health concern, including potassium, dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamin D.

There has also been emphasis on obtaining all necessary nutrients from whole foods for many reasons:

  • Whole food provides greater nutrition than supplements. Whole foods are complex and contain many micro-nutrients that your body needs.
  • Whole foods, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes contain essential fiber. High fiber foods are also packed with essential nutrients.
  • Fruits and vegetables contain protective substances called phytochemicals. These substances may help protect against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 2010. Available at: Accessed February 28, 2012.

Supplements: Nutrition in a pill? Mayo Clinic. 2011. Available at: Accessed February 27, 2012.

Energy Balance

posted Feb 20, 2012, 10:38 AM by H. Connor   [ updated Feb 20, 2012, 10:57 AM ]

Jennifer Hudson lost weight using Weight Watchers and looks amazing.  What’s the secret behind Jennifer’s success and the key to why Weight Watcher’s works? It’s all in understanding energy balance.

Unfortunately, the American population hasn’t seen the results that Jennifer’s seen. The obesity epidemic is increasing in America with every year that passes. What’s worse is that the epidemic is now affecting our youth.  In 2008, approximately 20% of children between the ages of 6-19 were considered obese.

So what’s behind our growing waistlines? Obesity and overweight are the result of an energy imbalance; the energy we take in exceeds the energy we use up.

Where does the energy come from? The energy that we need to perform our activities of daily living comes from our food and is measured in calories (kcal). Calories are found in carbohydrates, protein and fat. Out of these three, fat contains the greatest number of calories per gram (g). 

Carbohydrates provide 4 kcal/g

Protein provides 4 kcal/g

Fat provides 9 kcal/g

Now let’s try and make sense of this caloric imbalance. When people gain weight the amount of calories consumed exceeds the number of calories used.

For example, imagine eating 2 slices of regular cheese pizza. Your body has just consumed about 550 calories. If you decide that for the rest of the night you’ll sit on the couch and watch television, the amount of calories you spend in activity is zero.  Now you have an excess of 550 calories. Since you aren’t using the calories your body decides it will store the energy for later, as fat. The more calories stored (fat accumulating) the more weight you’ll gain.

Although, if after those 2 slices of pizza you decide you’ll go for a swim, you could potentially use up all those calories, meaning you wouldn’t gain any weight.

The idea is as follows:

If calories in > calories out → weight gain

If calories in < calories out → weight loss

If calories in = calories out → weight maintenance

By now you must be asking what can we can do in our lives to encourage weight loss for those that are overweight or obese or to maintain a health weight?

1) Increase your physical activity: It is recommended that the average person exercise at least 30 minutes daily.

2) Reduce our calories in: By choosing foods that are lower in calories (reduced fat or skim milk as opposed to whole milk), limiting or eliminating high calorie foods (i.e. pastries, chips, etc.). Also consider decreasing portion sizes or making low calorie substitutions (low fat cheeses, applesauce in baking rather than oil, broth instead of cream soups).

3) Cook Smart: Bake and broil instead of fry.

Recipe of the Week:

Tuna and Edamame Bagelwich

Serves: 1


-    3 ounces low sodium white tuna, in water, drained

-    2 Tablespoons of mayonnaise

-    1/8 cup of edamame (edamame is a softer version of the soybean and is often used in Asian foods. You can buy them fresh or frozen)

-    2 Tablespoons of red onion, chopped

-    2 Tablespoons of cilantro, chopped

-    1 teaspoon of lemon juice

-    Dash of hot sauce

-    Bagel Thin (Thomas' 100% Whole Wheat Thins Bagel)


-    Lettuce, Tomato, and Cucumber

1.    Combine all ingredients except for the Bagel Thin and the toppings.

2.    Spread tuna mixture on bagel and top with lettuce, tomato and cucumber.


Get the Scoop on Salt

posted Feb 15, 2012, 12:06 PM by H. Connor   [ updated Feb 15, 2012, 12:28 PM ]

Salt is the main source of sodium in the diet.

Too much sodium can negatively impact heath by increasing blood pressure and risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Recommendations are to eat less than 2300mg of salt daily, only one teaspoon!. Most people eat more like 2-3 teaspoons of salt daily. Be careful, sodium comes from more than just what is added to food during cooking. More than 90% of the sodium we eat comes from processed foods and prepared meals eaten away from the home.

Limit Your Intake

  • Whenever possible buy fresh or frozen foods such as fruits, vegetable, meats, poultry, and fish
  • Rinse canned foods such as vegetables and beans to wash off ~40% of the sodium
  • Cook rice, pasta, beans and hot cereal without salt, adding flavor with herbs and spices
  • Flavor with herbs, spices, lemon, wine, or vinegar in cooking or at the table instead of salt
  • Taste food before salting
  • Limit smoked, cured, or processed beef, pork, or poultry (such as ham, sausage, bacon, lunchmeats)
  • Limit condiments (such as ketchup and mustard), salad dressings, bottled sauces and marinades
  • Limit salty snacks (such as crackers and chips)
  • Limit intake of fast food
  • At restaurants, choose smaller portions
  • Read food labels to make healthier choices
  • Make Good Choices by Reading the Food Label

Check the Nutrition Facts Panel to identify how much sodium is in the food, aim for <300mg per serving

Note: if you eat more than the serving side listed you are also eating more sodium

Look for terms such as sodium-free or salt-free, very low sodium, low sodium, reduced sodium or less sodium, and no-salt added or unsalted as they have less sodium

For more information visit:

American Heart Association -
The Center for Disease Control -

Low-Sodium Fruit and Veggie Dip

Try a new and tasty dip for your fruits and vegetables!

Cinnamon Almond Butter Dip


3/4 cup natural almond butter (natural peanut butter can also be used)

1/2 cup skim milk (can also use non-dairy milk – almond, soy, rice, hemp, etc)

1 TBSP pure maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp ground cinnamon, or to taste

In large bowl, whisk together almond butter, milk, maple syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon (also can use a blender), until mixture is combined and smooth. Store in fridge in sealed container. Serve with sliced apples, carrots, celery or other favorite fruits and vegetables.

Yield: 1 1/4 cup

Serving Size: 2 TBSP

Nutritional Info (per 2TBSP serving): 93 kcals, 7 grams fat, 2 grams sugar, 3 grams protein, 1 gram fiber

Food Allergy Awarness Videos

posted Dec 7, 2011, 7:03 AM by H. Connor   [ updated Dec 7, 2011, 7:06 AM ]

Here are several videos about food allergies in the school community.

Food Allergy Awareness for All Parents in the School Community.

This 6 minute slideshow highlights basic facts about food allergies and the constant need for prevention and preparedness.

How To Prevent Food Allergy Reactions.

This 8 minute slideshow with audio outlines strategies to avoid exposure to food allergens in and out of the school setting. The presentation discusses the importance of label reading and avoiding hidden allergens and cross-contact.

How to Prepare for a Food Allergy Reaction.

This 6 minute slideshow with audio discusses the importance of being prepared to recognize and treat severe allergic reactions.

Weight Maintenance

posted Nov 15, 2011, 3:42 PM by Jeanna Tachiki   [ updated Nov 15, 2011, 3:48 PM ]

Maintaining a healthy weight is important for your health. However, how to achieve your best weight might not always be so clear, especially among teens. Most high school girls interested in losing weight exercise, yet they still tend to drink pop everyday and boys interested in weight loss are more likely to be sedentary. Here are some helpful/healthful tips to help you jump-start on the path to achieve and maintain your best weight!

1. Reduce or eliminate the amount of pop and juice you drink everyday. You have to walk three miles to burn the amount of calories in one 20 oz soda or juice! In fact, just having one pop a day for a year could result in a 15-pounds of weight gain. A single can of pop has 10 teaspoons of sugar in it... Would you add that much to your own drink?

Instead...try drinking more water, low or no-calorie beverages (tea, crystal light, sltezer water, diet beverages) and milk.


2. Choose whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible. Eating whole foods boosts energy expenditure. Your body can break down processed foods much easier than un-processed foods. This means you will burn fewer calories after eating white bread, than you would after eating whole wheat bread. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats and vegetable oils will give you the beneficial essential nutrients you need with the added bonus of increased calorie burn after you eat them!


3. Eat more. Your body gets full from the amount of food you eat, not the amount of calories. So switch higher calorie (energy-dense foods) for lower calorie, nutrient dense foods and get more food for less calories! Focus on whole foods, fiber and practice substitutions. Try switching to non-fat milk, only using the egg white, and bulking up dishes with veggies!


By Annica Shumny, Loyola University Dietetic Intern


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