Encouraging Healthy Eating Among Older Adults

In recognition of National AmeriCorps Week, AmeriCorps member Simone Blake explains her work with the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center.


I’m serving as a healthy nutrition and aging educator at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center through AmeriCorps’ Healthy Communities Corps. Its mission is to improve food quantity and quality in underserved communities across Chicago and Cook County.

The AmeriCorps program engages over 80,000 men and women in intensive service to tackle pressing problems each year, through thousands of nonprofits, schools, public agencies and community and faith-based groups across the country.

Everyone should have opportunities to reach positive health outcomes. Aging adults in our current fast food nation find themselves stranded. They need fiber and nutrient-dense foods when only high-calorie, low-nutrient foods are available.

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‘If You’re Not Moving Ahead, You’re Falling Behind’

BillMietelskiRush employee Bill Mietelski reflects on his healthier lifestyle, weight loss and ongoing participation in the Rush ELM program.

Has it really been 18 months? Around this time last year, I was looking back at my first six months as an “ELMster.”

I had lost 65 pounds — over 20 percent of my body weight — and was looking forward to a maintenance program Jennifer Ventrelle was creating for our Rush ELM group as we were about to “graduate.” The thing is, a healthy lifestyle is (cliché alert!) a journey and not a destination.

Since I had a little more weight to lose than most I was still shedding pounds as the maintenance phase got under way. Finally last fall (after 12 months) I reached my current weight of 195 and the real challenge began. (Losing weight is easy, but statistically only one in five overweight people are successful at long-term weight loss).

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Cook More, Stress Less


By Celina Scala

With the party-packed, calorie-laden holidays behind us, many of us now find ourselves shaking off our food hangovers and vowing to change our eating habits for the better. Yet even when armed with the best of intentions, we easily wind up feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day to make time for healthy, home-cooked meals, and we find ourselves ordering takeout before February.

Making more meals at home, however, can actually be less stressful than you may think with just a little planning and simple shortcuts:

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Eat Well: Broiled Tilapia With Pineapple Relish

This is the first in a series of healthy recipes from Jennifer Ventrelle, MS, RD, CPT, director of lifestyle programs for the Rush University Prevention Center.

Tilapia is a low-fat, low-carb and low-sodium quality protein source. It is also an excellent source of potassium, B-vitamins such as B12 and niacin, and the antioxidant selenium. And the pineapple relish in this recipe is a great way to bring refreshing variety to an otherwise boring fish filet. The tilapia can be replaced with another type of lean protein such as chicken or pork tenderloin if you are not fond of fish.

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 (4-ounce) tilapia fillets
  • 1 ¼ cups pineapple tidbits canned in natural juice
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • ¼ cup chopped plum tomato
  • 1 ½ tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 lime wedges

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Rush Embraces Healthier Snacking

By Mary Gregoire

More than 60 percent of the U.S. population is defined as being overweight or obese. Lack of sufficient exercise and consumption of higher-fat and -sugar foods often contribute to weight gain and can result in an individual becoming overweight or obese.

Rush Food and Nutrition Services managers are concerned about these statistics and are excited to introduce healthier options in the vending machines around the Rush campus. What began with the vending machines in the Tower is now expanding to other vending machines across Rush University Medical Center.

We partnered with our vending supplier, Ace Vending, to increase the number of Health on the Go items in snack machines to half of the items currently offered. These snacks meet Health on the Go guidelines, featuring reduced calories, fat, sodium and sugar, and increased fiber. Half of the cold beverage options will be juice, water or sugar-free sodas. The cold food machines will feature more salads and entrees, which also will meet Health on the Go guidelines.

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Grilling Up a Happy, Healthy Holiday

By Anne Coltman

As we all look forward to Memorial Day, I’m sure most of us have plans to fire up the grill, head to the beach, or host a backyard get-together. As a dietitian, I often get questions about “good” and “bad” foods to eat on this day. While all foods fit in moderation, here are some ideas to lighten up your holiday feasts:

Enjoy the warm weather by getting active! Consider taking a walk, enjoying backyard volleyball or going for an afternoon swim.

Grilling meats is a naturally low-fat approach. Enjoy lower-fat meats like chicken, turkey burgers, extra lean or ground beef or fish on whole wheat buns. Top your burger with fresh vegetables and fruit.

Use colorful sauces and marinades. Use heart-healthy oils like olive and canola oil mixed with fresh herbs and lemon juice to minimize sodium and unhealthy fats. Substitute the mayo in your potato salad with low- or nonfat yogurt and a squeeze of lemon juice to cut fat while pumping up flavor!

Prepare salads full of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables. These include spinach, asparagus, radishes, cherries, apricots and pineapples.

Consider desserts of fruit salad or grilled pineapple. Angel food cake with fresh berries and frozen yogurt is a low-fat, delicious way to enjoy frozen treats!

Be mindful of food safety. Keep raw meats separate from other raw foods and in the refrigerator. Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Cook all meats thoroughly.

Enjoying time with your families and friends does not have to mean packing on the calories. Stay healthy and enjoy the holiday!

Anne Coltman, MS, RD, LDN, CNSC, is a nutrition support dietitian who works in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Rush University Medical Center.