What do I eat? That is a question most people ask themselves at least once a day. Imagine getting a prescription from your physician and vetted by a nutritionist to cook certain foods at home. The prescription is tailored to your personal needs, and your care team has received training as health coaches to help you successfully implement this new plan. This is culinary medicine.

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Which consumer are you?

The astute academic or health professional: You have a degree (one or more) in nutrition, you have PubMed bookmarked on your internet browser, and you spend your days dispelling nutrition myths and/or researching the next nutrition breakthrough.

The health foodie. You scour wholesome recipes online, you already know the nutrition trends for 2019, you make detailed grocery lists like it’s your job, you’re a #mealprepsunday veteran, and always know where to find the best deals for natural/organic/raw/fresh eats.

The bachelor/broke student: Is it cheap? Edible? Delicious? Easy to prepare? If yes, it goes in the cart.

The athlete with phenomenal sport skills, and (developing) culinary know-how: You know that the foods you eat influence your athletic performance. You are game for eating better, under one condition: you need quick/easy foods that pack a nutritional punch.

The busy parent: There are lunches to make, picky eaters to feed, and you can’t remember the last time you enjoyed a calm, healthy mealtime at home. Grocery shopping is typically a stressful battle between your healthy intentions, and the little ones’ demands for sugary cereals and flashy marketing.

Photo Credit: Lifehacker

Whether you identify with one or multiple distinct categories listed here, each one is unified by a few common underlying themes:

We all eat.

We crave amazing flavors.

There are never enough hours in the day.

We really do have good intentions; We want to eat well.

Assuming we don’t grow/hunt/gather our own food, we cross paths with one another for a common purpose: Food Shopping! On that note, we’ve been exposed to the same rules of thumb for healthy grocery shopping:

-Shop the perimeter!

-Steer clear of the middle aisles!

The way I see it, there are two types of people in this world: Those who love the center aisles (but could use a little strategy for picking the best options), and those who openly shun those aisles (but are secretly curious to explore the forbidden foods within).

As a health professional, it’s my duty to pass along this tried-and-true advice. But as a real-life RD on a budget, I hear you: Those middle aisles are mighty tempting, so what’s a guy/girl to do?

Take a deep breath, direct that grocery cart towards those center aisles, keep your eye on the prize and walk with intention because you have a fool-proof plan. Healthy shoppers, unite! Today, you’ll conquer those middle aisles like the savvy consumer you are.

Photo Credit: The Sports Nutrition Coach

Your strategy: Divide and conquer by food group like so:

Whole grains, legumes, and pseudograins: Instant oatmeal, frozen brown rice or quinoa (that’s a pseudograin), ready-to-serve plain cooked rice, Grape Nuts (for impressive iron and fiber content), popcorn, Vaccuum packed pre-cooked lentils (that’s a legume), whole grain bread (can you find bread with 0-1g sugar per serving? Can you find fiber above 2g per serving?)

Fruits and vegetables: Frozen is your friend! These items are picked at peak ripeness and flash-frozen immediately afterwards. Canned items are fine as well (in light syrup or water). Can you get all colors of the rainbow?

Protein: Canned beans, canned tuna, canned chicken, canned salmon, frozen chicken strips (no breading), hummus

Dairy: single serve plain Greek yogurt (Ok, you’ll find this in the perishables, but this is too versatile not to include), string cheese

Fats: Olives, frozen Cool Whip, prepared guacamole

Snacks: Dark chocolate (Pro-tip: Pick one with single-digit grams sugar per serving), nuts (try pistachios, almonds, or walnuts), dried fruit, jerky, whole grain chips, hummus

Drinks: Chocolate milk

Spreads/flavorings: Sriracha, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, pesto

Photo credit: Smile Sandwich

 Once you return home from this über successful grocery trip, you’ll want to assemble some stellar meals using your new bounty. Try this one-day sample plan:

Breakfast: Yogurt cup topped with frozen fruit, Grape Nuts, nut butter (purchase single serve packets in a pinch!) Feeling extra hungry? Prepare a side of instant oatmeal

Lunch: Tuna sandwich (canned tuna mixed w/ mustard, Ezekiel bread). Side of green salad (found in deli section)

Snack: Handful of nuts, handful chips, and hummus

Post Workout: Classic PB&J, or chocolate milk

Dinner: Defrost that frozen rice, quinoa, or lentils, frozen veggies of choice, top w/ beans (and/or thawed ready-to-eat chicken), salsa, pre-made guacamole, and Sriracha

Dessert: 2-3 squares of dark chocolate, alongside frozen blueberries w/ a dollop of cream

Not everyone has a nutrition coach by their side, but you, ASN reader, have an edge. Use this guide to confidently navigate the previously forbidden center aisles. Print it, internalize it, share it. No nonsense, no gimmicks. Blasphemy? Hardly. Creative and backed in science? Absolutely.

Nutrition 2018 is fast approaching and apart from diverse didactic programming, they will also be offering Connect with the Fed – one-on-one sessions to help students, early career, and established researchers get questions and concerns addressed regarding grant funding. Connect with the Fed will take place on Sunday, June 10th and Monday, June 11th from noon-3:00 PM in a designated area of The Hub – look for it in on the exposition floor, and sign up for an appointment there.

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With more than 20 featured sessions, 2,000 presentations of new, original research, 5 award lectures, numerous workshops and non-stop networking opportunities, we think it’s safe to say that there is something for everyone at Nutrition 2018.

Be sure to check out the Nutrition 2018 Schedule Planner before you go.  This interactive, online platform will help you navigate all of Nutrition 2018’s offerings.  Click here for tips on planning your conference experience to get the most out of Nutrition 2018.

Here’s a preview of just a few of the offerings you will find in Boston:

Scientific and Statistical Principles, A Workshop based on the Best (but Oft-Forgotten) Practices Article Series in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Saturday, 1:00 – 3:00 PM

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has published a series of articles to help reinforce important scientific and statistical principles that should be useful for researchers in general and for those in nutrition in particular. The conduct and analysis of scientific endeavors are constantly changing, and much like there is continuing medical education, the AJCN editors intend for this series to serve in a way as “continuing scientific education.”  Join Associate Editor David Allison, PhD and Editor-in-Chief Dennis Bier, MD for a refresher course on topics related to statistical design and analysis.

Nutrition and Natural Disasters, a featured presentation in the Japan Society of Nutrition and Food Science Forum
Saturday, 1:30 – 3:00 PM

From major earthquakes to tsunamis, Japan has endured its share of catastrophic natural disasters.  Nobuyo Kasaoka, PhD, RD, will discuss how Japan addresses nutrition challenges following natural disasters.

Ensuring Trust in Nutrition Science
Saturday, 1:30 – 3:00 PM  AND Monday, 1:00 PM  (ASN Live! in The Hub)

ASN commissioned a Blue Ribbon Panel on “Ensuring Trust in Nutrition Science” to develop best practices regarding how to work collaboratively with various stakeholders across sectors and disciplines while maintaining transparency and scientific rigor in nutrition science to uphold the trust of all stakeholders.  Join panel member, Patrick Stover, PhD, to learn more about the recommendations coming out of this effort.

Is a Calorie a Calorie:  Reframing the Question
Sunday, 8:00 – 10:00 AM

Does obesity result from consuming more calories than you burn or might the body’s hormonal and metabolic regulation systems also play a role?  What are the right research questions we should be asking to advance our understanding of this topic? Esteemed researchers share their views and advance the discussion on this long-debated topic.

NIH CSR Grant Review
Sunday, 12:15 – 12:45 PM at Science Stage in The Hub

Interested in learning more and becoming involved with the NIH grant review process?  Join Fungai Chanetsa, PhD, MPH, Scientific Review Officer for NIH’s Center for Scientific Review for an interactive discussion. Dr. Chanestsa will also highlight the Early Stage Career Reviewer Program.

 How Can Dietary Assessment be Improved?  Budding Entrepreneurs Propose New Ideas in Sight and Life’s Elevator Pitch Contest
Sunday, 3:00 – 5:00 PM

Seven finalists from around the world will pitch their ideas for new technologies and methods to improve the measurement of dietary intake. Paired with mentors from the Harvard School of Business, these young professionals aim to impress an esteemed panel of judges for a cash prize. Sit back and enjoy Nutrition 2018’s version of Shark Tank.

Altmetrics:  Real Time Measurement of Your Scholarly Impact
Sunday, 3:00 – 4:00 PM and Monday, 10:30 – 11:30 AM

Online tools allow researchers to broaden the impact of their published work in an ever increasing way.  What are alternative metrics, when should you use them and why should you care?  Join us for this workshop to learn about the major trends in the development of new metrics to measure the impact of your publications.

Recent Advances in Nutritional Modulation of the Immune System
Monday, 8:00 – 10:00 AM

Recent years have brought a new understanding of the role of the immune system in health and disease.  In this session, researchers will present intriguing new findings suggesting how foods, nutrients and conditions such as obesity interact with the immune system and inflammation.

New Technologies in the Food System:  How Do they Fit and Who Decides?  (Food Evolution Movie Screening and Discussion)
Monday, 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM

What are the decision-making processes that bring changes to the food system? What is the role of government, consumers, producers and scientists in these discussions? How do new technologies such as GMOs fit into the hierarchy of needs for the food system?  Join us for a viewing of the Food Evolution movie followed by a panel discussion moderated by The Washington Post’s Tamar Haspel.

Nutrition and Health in an Accelerating Pace of Life
Tuesday, 8:00 – 10:00 AM

There is no single metric to quantify the pace of life, but many indices indicate that it is fast and accelerating nationally and globally.  Since World War II, there has been an increasing demand for a food supply that is not only safe, palatable, and affordable, but also convenient. This has been driven to a large extent by substantive shifts in where people live, the types of jobs they have, the increasing hours worked, dual-income families, food preparation methods and other behaviors. This has all driven the desire for, indeed the necessity of, options that emphasize convenience. The consequence of this for food availability and choice, nutrient composition and health are still largely unknown, but widely speculated upon.  Consumer expectations and claims by some clinicians and policy makers have far outpaced the science leading to confusion and increased risk of poor food choices.  The magnitude and duration of this shift in ingestive behaviors elevates it beyond a “fad” to a reality that must be better understood. This session will explore the historic, current and future consequences of changing lifestyles on diet quality and health.

Tasting Outside the Oral Cavity
Monday, 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Recent evidence documents the presence of taste receptors throughout the GI tract as well as in many other peripheral sites. The nature of these receptors and the ligands they bind are often the same as those in the oral cavity. These discoveries raise new questions with important health implications. To what extent is there a continuity of sensory and nutrient information flowing from the oral cavity through the extent of the GI tract and what are the implications of activating or disrupting this information flow?  Are compounds once thought to be biologically inert in the GI tract actually modulating processes such as digestion, appetite and nutrient absorption? This session will review the evidence for extra oral “taste” sensing and its potential health implications.  Evidence from cell culture, animal models and human trials will be presented.

Prevention of Food Allergies & Atopic Disease: The Atopic March – Can it Be Halted?
Tuesday, 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Food allergy occurs in up to 12% of American children and adults, and as many as 5% of infants have eczema. Rates of food allergy have been steadily increasing over the past 2 decades.  Past infant feeding guidelines have emphasized breastfeeding, delaying the introduction of complementary foods, and extended delay in exposure of the most allergenic foods such as peanuts, eggs, fish, soy and wheat.  On the basis of randomized controlled trials, these guidelines have recently been revised to recommend early exposure to allergens. Controversy remains regarding potential protective effects of hydrolyzed formulas (are they as hypoallergenic as breast milk?); optimal timing of introduction, especially in relation to recommendations for exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months; and potential benefit of breastfeeding at time of introduction of peanut, gluten, egg.  Also, who should be targeted for these recommendations?   Those deemed high risk or the general population?

To attend these sessions, please click here to register for Nutrition 2018!