Folic acid: from Preconception to Pregnancy

What is Folic Acid?

Arelis Figueroa, M.D.

Folic acid, folate, or vitamin B9, is a water-soluble vitamin. It plays an important part in cell division, in the creation of cells in the blood-forming organs and bone marrow, and in the proper development of the fetal spinal cord during pregnancy. Like the other B vitamins, folic acid plays an important role in energy production.

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Weight Loss Resolutions Not To Make and How You Can Turn Them Around

8 Weight Loss Resolutions Not to Make:

Julie Fortenberry, RD, LDN

  1. Unrealistic goals: like “I want to lose 50 lbs”: Instead focus on realistic, approachable goals – “I want to lose one pound per week”. Healthy weight loss at a rate of 1-2 pounds per week is achieved through an ongoing lifestyle that includes long term changes in healthy eating and exercise routines.
  2. Fad Diets: They may promise big results fast, but the truth is fad diets don’t work! “Deprivation diets” are not healthy, and don’t help you keep the weight off long term. In fact, people often end up gaining more weight back when they resume their “normal” eating patterns again. A better goal is to eat a variety of properly portioned foods making sure your diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and lean protein.
  3. Restricting calories to lose weight: Severely restricting calories will result in weight loss, but is not a sustainable or healthy way to achieve results – and won’t last. Instead, try meeting with a Registered Dietitian to develop a healthy eating plan. Make your calories count by eating healthy foods with fiber and protein to give you energy and help you feel full longer.
  4. Juice-Only Cleanse: This may seem like a good idea after an indulgent holiday season, but will ultimately fail without a healthy nutritional balance. Instead, try a fresh vegetable juice full of nutrients with lunch or a protein shake for breakfast balanced with a healthy dinner. Be careful of sugary juice blends that can be extremely high in non-satisfying sugar calories.juice cleanse
  5. Daily weight-ins: Weighing yourself daily isn’t a great measure of weight loss due to the fluctuation in water retention, bowel movements, and hormones which can vary by a pound or two daily. And it can be discouraging. Instead, go for weekly weight checks and remember lasting progress is often slow and steady.
  6. Say No to Junk Food: Instead of swearing off junk food completely (which will never last), let yourself indulge occasionally in the things you love. If its mom’s apple pie, for example, enjoy a small slice of the real thing occasionally; just make sure your dinner plate is well balanced and properly portioned to balance.
  7. Exercise More: How many of us resolve to exercise more each January? Instead of making a general fitness promise, aim for more specific activity goals like “I’m going to exercise for at least 30 minutes 3 times per week” or “I am going to attend 3 fitness classes per week”.
  8. No More Dining Out: Instead of totally swearing off restaurants, learn how to order smarter. Many restaurants offer lighter fair options, or will prepare entrees in a healthy preparation (minus heavy or sugary sauces) when requested. Also, keep in mind that restaurant serving sizes tend to be more than a single serving.


Fortenberry, JulieJulie Fortenberry, RD, LDN is a registered dietitian at Touro Infirmary. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Southern Mississippi. Julie believes that lifestyle changes and wholesome nutrition are obtainable, and brings real-life understanding to wellness and nutritional counseling.

8 Steps to a Healthier You

Weight Loss in 2016

Liz Cabrera, RD, CSO, LDN, CNSC

If weight loss or maintenance is a goal of yours for 2016, the tips below are designed to help you set achievable goals you can stick with. Set yourself up for success by establishing realistic weight loss goals. This will keep you focused and motivated. Overly aggressive goals often end up hindering your weight loss efforts in the long run.

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Baked Sweet Potato Soufflé Plus Tips to Manage Diabetes during the Holidays

Managing your diabetes during the holidays

Valerie Burton, RN, CDE

The holidays are a time of celebration, thanksgiving, reflection …and eating. For many, a little bit of overindulgence here and there won’t hurt, but, for those with diabetes, bad eating habits can lead to long-term damage — such as high blood sugars and weight gain.

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7 Tips for Holiday Health

Maintaining Wellness during the Holidays

Julie Fortenberry, RD, LDN

When we think of the holiday season, celebrating with family and friends may be the first thing that comes to mind. For many this also means a time for over-eating, guilt and weight gain. By implementing a few simple tips you can stay healthy through the holidays and still enjoy the season.

It is important to prepare for dealing with possible nutritional setbacks, as they are an inevitable part of life (especially this time of year). No matter how hard we try, the reality is we are not perfect – nor should we be. It is important to have a plan in place so that when we do slip, we are able to get back on track without sliding so far down that “unhealthy” slope.

Know yourself and your limits. Give yourself (a little) slack this time of year. The key is finding the balance. Ask yourself “would I be ok with gaining one pound after the holidays?” How about 10 pounds?”

Whether you are looking to just maintain weight or have hopes continuing with a weight loss journey, planning ahead is essential during the upcoming weeks. And in New Orleans, let’s be honest – it’s longer with Mardi Gras extending our holiday season well into February!

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Six Simple Steps to Relieve Stress during the Holiday Season

Reducing Holiday Stress:

Robert Gardner, Ph.D., LPC

The holiday season is a time of joy and happiness. However, it can also be a time when we experience increased stress due to a busy schedule of shopping, cooking, entertaining, traveling, and other holiday-related activities.

If we don’t take care of ourselves and do something to offset our stressful feelings, then we can miss out on the joy that the holiday season brings.

There are things we all can do to reduce our stress during the holidays.

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Vitamin D and Your Bones!

Vitamin D and osteoporosis:

Julie Fortenberry, RD, LDN

When we think of bone health, calcium most often comes to mind, and vitamin D tends to take the back seat. Well, research proves that this is a backwards concept.

Vitamin D has been shown to help prevent and treat osteoporosis. In fact, it is believed to be even more important than calcium. That is because your body needs vitamin D to be able to properly absorb calcium, which forms and maintains strong bones. Without adequate levels of vitamin D, the intestine absorbs only a small percent of dietary calcium.

Vitamin D is important for bone health as well as reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer. The majority of Americans are deficient in this essential vitamin. There are a number of reasons people are not getting enough daily or weekly vitamin D, leading to vitamin D deficiency.

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You CAN Quit: Smoking

The Great American Smokeout

Robert Gardner, Ph.D., LPC

Today, November 19, 2015 is the Great American Smokeout! The American Cancer Society marks this day annually to encourage smokers to make a plan to quit, or if a plan is in place, to actually stop smoking that day.

Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States, yet about 42 million Americans still smoke cigarettes – slightly under 1 in every 5 adults. By quitting – even for one day – smokers will be taking an important step toward a healthier life – one that can lead to reducing their risk of developing cancer.

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Enjoying a Healthy Holiday Season with Diabetes

Managing Diabetes during the Holidays

Katie Schlemer, RD, LDN

You know what time of year it is – it’s the holiday season! Many celebrations take place over the next few months, each offering an array of food and drink. This tends to be the hardest time of year for anyone trying to maintain healthy eating habits.

People with diabetes have the added burden of taking and timing medications appropriately; monitoring blood sugar levels; exercising; carbohydrate counting; and keeping up with medical appointments (yikes!).

With all of these medical demands plus the normal stressors of the holidays, it can be difficult to find the balance between enjoying yourself and taking care of your health. If you decide completely ignore taking medications while enjoying holiday festivities, for example, consequences such as high blood sugar, high blood pressure, or other severe health issues could occur.

On the other hand, if you obsess over every little thing you eat or skip events altogether, you may cause yourself more stress than necessary or might end up missing out. It’s all about finding the right balance.

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