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Let them Eat Candy
Oct 29, 2021   06:16 PM
by Tabitha Odom MPH RD LD
Let the them candy

Let them Eat Candy


Just your friendly reminder that ALL CHILDREN deserve to enjoy candy on Halloween! 

Children in larger bodies deserve candy on Halloween.  Children in smaller bodies deserve candy on Halloween.

Special occasions should be CELEBRATED!  Eating all the candy they can in one night will NOT negatively impact your child’s health. 

My husband always jokes that I get “out dietitian-ed” when we take the kids trick-or-treating and get handed a bag of veggie chips or a granola bar.  I know kids get ENOUGH sweet treats, and I can see where the idea comes from – but when was the last time you saw a child get excited about a box of raisins? 

When I first started dieting as a young adult, I followed foolish advice.  One that I remember is using an appetizer plate at parties to control portions.

I would use a small plate and only eat what I could put on the plate.  You should have seen how high I could stack that little plate!  If I could go back, I would allow myself to enjoy special occasions with friends and family.  I would let myself eat that homemade fudge that my Granny makes at Christmas.  I would not let my fear of food steal my joy.

The truth is that when you restrict certain foods, it creates a negative association with that food.  For example, let’s pretend that I decide chocolate is terrible for me and I should not eat it.  Now here I am, thinking about how much I like chocolate and wish I could have some.  I made a deal with myself to NOT EAT CHOCOLATE. Finally, I give in and eat the chocolate.  NOW I feel guilty.  I feel like a failure.  Eating the chocolate did not cause guilt.  Restricting chocolate and labeling it as “bad” is what caused my feelings of regret and shame.

Teach your kids about healthy foods.  Show them what balanced meals look like regularly. But, please, do not use Halloween as the time you talk about nutrition with your kids. Instead, let kids dress up, trick-or-treat, and eat their hearts out!  Then, after the buzz of Halloween and the sugar-rush wears off, go back to their routine! 

The most critical nutrition lesson you can teach your kids is how to have a healthy relationship with food.    

Mental Health & Nutrition
Oct 06, 2021   06:49 PM
by Tabitha Odom MPH RD LD

Mental Health & Depression

How Nutrition and Mental Health Connect

Life changes as we age. Loss of loved ones, retirement, chronic disease, disability, and other medical problems are common stressors for the elderly, and it can cause depression. Mental decline and memory issues also lead to reduced quality of life.

Adequate and proper nutrition is also impacted as we age, but as dietitians, we can help promote better intake and preserve quality of life for elders.

18% of Americans 65 and older are affected by depression, and it is more prevalent for those in nursing homes and individuals with existing health conditions. 1, 2

Signs & Symptoms of Depression

When asked if depressed, one may say, "no," but there are many signs of depression beyond feeling sad.


Common cues in the elderly include:

  • persistent and vague complaints
  • help-seeking
  • moving in a slower manner
  • demanding behavior
  • memory problems
  • confusion
  • social withdrawal
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • inability to sleep
  • irritability delusions (fixed false beliefs)
  • decreased energy
  • fatigue pessimism
  • guilt
  • worthlessness aches
  • pains
  • headaches
  • cramps
  • digestive problems without clear cause
  • thoughts of death and suicide attempts



 Symptoms of Depression Risk of depression increases if any the following are present:

  • chronic medical illness (e.g. cancer, heart disease, diabetes)
  • disability
  • insomnia
  • socially isolated or lonely
  • family history of depression
  • recent experience of a stressful life event

Depression is common in the elderly, but that doesn't mean it's normal. It's also treatable, and there are interventions that can improve quality of life. 

Nutritional Concerns

Depression and other mental illnesses can cause loss of appetite, which can lead to reduced intake overall. Reduced intake can worsen sarcopenia and result in weight loss and micronutrient deficiencies. Underweight and obese individuals report depressed symptoms more frequently than those with normal weight.

  • A liberalized diet will promote better intake and reduce the need for oral nutritional supplements.
  • Offering favorite foods can improve intake, and using higher calorie ingredients can reduce weight loss. For example, using whole milk in oatmeal can provide more calories than reduced-fat milk.
  • Using whole milk, butter, avocado, nut butters, and other calorie-dense foods can slow weight loss.
  • Protein such as yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts, and nut butters, and spreads like tuna and chicken salad are great options for snacks. These can be paired with fruit, vegetables, or whole grain items.
  • Smoothies with yogurt, milk, nut butters, and fruit can provide more calories.
  • Small, frequent meals may result in better intake than 3 larger meals.
  • Foods that are easy to prepare with little time or physical energy can improve intake, feelings of autonomy, and provide independence.

Micronutrients & Overall Health

Some micronutrients are of higher concern for the elderly, and some evidence indicates possible roles in depression. Folate, B12, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and vitamin D may play a role in depression in the elderly. Several factors (such as medications or genetics) can play a role in utilizing these nutrients. Assessing status for B12, folate, iron, and vitamin D is best to determine deficiency.

Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce cholesterol and improve HDL levels. Omega-3 fatty acids can be obtained through fish, flaxseed, walnuts, and canola oil for the added benefit of cardiovascular health. While whole milk dairy improves calorie intake, providing additional fat sources improves overall health.

Vitamin D is fortified in some foods, such as milk and orange juice. Canned salmon and tuna are good food sources of vitamin D.

Vitamin B12, while adequately consumed, may not be absorbed properly and a supplement can be considered if low.

Folate is found in foods such as oranges, whole grains, strawberries, green vegetables, beans, and eggs. Refined grains are fortified with folic acid, which is another form of this vitamin.

Iron absorption is affected by many factors, but several foods can provide this important mineral. Meat will provide iron, but beans, nuts, seeds, and fortified cereals can also provide iron as well. Vitamin C will improve absorption of iron, so a squirt of lime or orange wedges are great pairing.

Tools: Improving Independence

Mental decline from Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, stroke, or other conditions can lead to difficulty in utensil use. Weighted utensils, divided plates, and other adaptive equipment can improve intake at meals. Otherwise, finger foods can be helpful.

Improving independence can reduce depression in the elderly.

Registered Dietitians and Their Role

Dietitians can help find creative ways to improve intake and nutrition status, which will improve overall quality of life for our residents.

OdomRD Dietitian Consultants are happy to assist, placing hearts in homes to give our elders the best quality nutrition possible.


1. How Can Clinical Depression Be Distinguished from Normal Sadness and Grief? www.nami.org. Accessed October 8, 2020.

2. Institute of Mental Health N. Older Adults and Depression: Learn the Signs and Find Treatment.

3. Payne ME. Nutrition and late-life depression: etiological considerations Depression: a significant problem for older adults. doi:10.2217/ahe.09.90

4. Okereke OI, Singh A. The Role of Vitamin D in the Prevention of Late-life Depression. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2016.03.022 5. Fairweather-Tait SJ, Wawer AA, Gillings R, Jennings A, Myint PK. Iron status in the elderly. Mech Ageing Dev. 2014;136-137:22-28. doi:10.1016/j.mad.2013.11.005


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Snacks For Seniors
Jul 14, 2021   07:27 PM

Snacks between meals help stabilize weight and improve intake when appetite is low or fullness occurs quickly. Balanced snacks are encouraged, meaning we combine two food groups to create a satisfying and nutritious solution that helps with our weight. However, chewing and swallowing problems are common for seniors, and it’s important to think about healthy snacks that they can eat.


Balanced Snacks

When we think of balanced meals, this includes components from the starch, protein, fruit/vegetable food categories. Snacks, however, have a different expectation for balance, and combinations are best for more well-rounded nutrition and satiety. Protein at snacks is recommended, especially if meeting protein needs is difficult:


Fruit/Veg + Protein:
½ c Apple slices + peanut butter

1 tbsp raisins + peanuts

½ c Applesauce + almonds

½ c pineapple + ½ c cottage cheese

½ c peaches + ½ c yogurt

½ c cherry tomatoes + 1 oz cheese

½ c gazpacho + ½ c plain yogurt or cottage cheese        

½ c bell peppers + bean dip



Starch + Protein:

½ c Whole grain crackers + peanut butter

½ c Whole grain pretzels + cheese

10 Whole grain chips + bean dip

1 slice Whole grain bread + bean dip

1 slice of whole grain bread + soft cheese

1 slice of whole grain bread + chicken, tuna, egg salad 

½ c crackers + 1 hard boiled egg



Milk: Packed with plenty of nutrients, carbohydrates, fats, and protein, this can help meet needs! Lactose-free milk is available for those that have tolerance issues. Soy milk is a good alternative that offers similar protein content. However, be cautious of other plant-based milks, as nutritional value can vary.

Mixing 1/2 c juice and 1/2-1 c milk can also be a tasty treat if desired! Or turn it into a smoothie with 1 tbsp peanut butter, milk, and 1/2-1 c frozen fruit!


Low Calorie Snacks? Low Fat Snacks? Are they worth it?

That depends on several factors, but ultimately, snacks should provide satiety, calories, and a healthful contribution to daily intake. Reducing fat often increases carbohydrates, or reduced sugar snacks sometimes have sugar alcohols that may cause GI upset. If the goal is to maintain weight or improve intake, these are likely not an appropriate choice.

Altered Textures Altered textures are common for people with dysphagia or chewing difficulties. Dysphagia can result after strokes, injuries, illnesses, or many other events. A speech therapist will help determine if this is necessary, and also help determine what level of alteration is needed. Sometimes food just needs to be chopped and moist ("mechanical soft" or "minced and moist"), but sometimes food must be pureed to avoid choking. Some foods may not be appropriate for those on a dysphagia diet.  

Snacks for a mechanical soft/minced and moist diet:

1/2 c soft, chopped fruit without skins + 1/2 c cottage cheese

Smoothie with 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1/2 c milk, 1/2 c frozen peaches

Chicken or tuna salad with no crunchy veggies, mashable with a fork

Egg salad without crunchy veggies, mashable with a fork

Purees need to be a smooth consistency without lumps or crunchy bits, like a pudding. They should be scoopable with a spoon and remain cohesive without sticking to the spoon. The following snacks may work:

Pureed cottage cheese + soft fruit

Pureed beans


Chicken, tuna, or egg salad pureed to appropriate consistency. Using extra sauces or condiments may help reach puree texture.

Yogurt without lumps or chunks

Smoothies or milk (if liquid consistency is appropriate).



We hope this helps navigate a healthy snacktime! Let OdomRD know how else we can help.

Grilling Up a Balanced Meal!
May 24, 2021   08:25 PM

Welcome to the first edition of OdomRD’s Cooking Corner! The warming weather and the glimpses of Bluebonnets on the roadside provide affirmation that, yes, spring is finally here! I think it is safe to say that most of America has a newfound appreciation for the outdoors after a year of cabin fever. So, there is no better way to maximize your time outdoors than to cook an entire meal on the grill, including dessert, using products made in Texas! Grilling can bring back some less than tasty memories for some— hamburgers deemed fit to be used as a hockey puck, rare chicken to provide you with the most literal version of farm to table. BUT have no fear! Mastering the art of grilling does not have to be daunting. We hope this video and blog will help to increase your time outdoors, elevate your palate, and support locally owned Texas products!



-BBQ grill

-Skewers or Grill Pan


-Basting brush

-Pineapple Corer

-Chef’s knife



-Chicken- We used leg quarters from Moody’s Meat Market located in Corpus Christi, TX.

-Vegetables- Any type will do! We used zucchini, squash, bell pepper, and onions but other suggestions include mushrooms, asparagus, and tomatoes.

-Olive oil- Texas Hill Country Olive Co is our olive oil of choice. They are located in Dripping Springs and have a wonderful collection of olive oils (flavored too!) and balsamic vinaigrettes

-Chicken Shit Seasoning- This seasoning comes from Big Cock Ranch located in Lexington, TX. They have a variety of seasonings to pair with your favorite steak or veggies (the Special Shit Seasoning is what we used on our veggies).

-Special Shit Seasoning

-Fischer and Wieser Charred Pineapple Bourbon Sauce- Located in Fredericksburg, TX, Fischer and Wieser has a wide variety of sauces and include pictures on the label as a guide for pairing with meats. Any of their sauces would work. Also available at HEB.


-Cayenne Pepper

-Fresh mango and pineapple cut into large pieces and half rounds, respectively


  1. Sanitize your work area
  2. Rinse the chicken, place on a large pan or plate, and pat dry
  3. In a small bowl, pour olive oil and use a basting brush to coat chicken.

**TIP: If using chicken with skin on,  coat underneath skin with olive oil too.

  1. Generously coat the chicken, top, bottom, and under the skin, with the Chicken Shit seasoning.
  2. In a small bowl, pour marinade and use a basting brush to coat underneath the skin only. If cooking with skinless chicken, skip this step but have the marinade and basting brush ready to coat chicken towards the end of the cooking time.
  3. Turn the grill on and coat with cooking spray.

**TIP: Try adding a smoky flavor! Soak wood chips in water while prepping the chicken. Create a boat out of aluminum foil, place the wood chips in the boat, and place the boat under the grill. The wood chips can last for 1-2 more times of grilling.

  1. Let the grill heat to 375-400o This will be the temperature range to keep the grill throughout the entire process.
  2. Once the grill has reached the desired temperature, place the chicken skin side up on the grill.
  3. Monitor the temperature and allow chicken to cook for ~30 minutes. Use a thermometer to check the temperature. Once the chicken is in the 150o temperature range, apply the marinade to the tops of the chicken and flip the chicken skin side down. Let the chicken cook for an additional 5-10 minutes. Flip the chicken over and check the temperature. The chicken is safe to remove from the grill once it has reached a temperature of 165o


  1. Wash vegetables and pat dry. Cut vegetables to desired thickness and size.

**TIP: If using skewers, cut vegetables to approximate equal size.

  1. Place cut vegetables in a bowl and toss with olive oil and add a generous amount of Special Shit seasoning.
  2. Place vegetables on grill pan or skewers.

**TIP: If using skewers, make sure to space vegetables evenly apart so that they will cook evenly.

  1. Place vegetables on grill. Maintain grill temperature between 375-400oF for 20-30 minutes or until desired tenderness.


  1. Cut fresh mango into large chunks. Use a corer to de-core pineapple into rings. Place mango and pineapple in a bowl and toss with 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1/4 tsp of Cayenne pepper.
  2. Place fruit on a grill pan. Maintain grill temperature between 375-400oF for 20-30 minutes or until desired doneness. Fruit will be slightly darker in color and have some char.



Food Prep and Grilling by Cynthia Spurgat, MS, RD, LD

Videography and Post-Production by Tessa Comstock, MS, RD, LD

Sweets & Allergies - How the Easter Bunny Helps
Mar 30, 2021   06:36 PM

Easter is coming up! It’s a time of celebration, and Easter egg hunts and baskets are going to be plentiful. But how do we navigate things like food allergies and blood sugar control for diabetics? Our bodies don’t take time off for a holiday! In fact, food allergies affect 5.6 million American children under 18. Every 3 minutes, a food allergy reaction requires an emergency room visit! More than 40% of children with food allergies experience severe reactions, which are life-threatening, and immediate treatment is required.

How do I know if a food contains allergens? Ingredients labels can help identify if a food contains one of these allergens, but it’s important to know how to read these labels. Sometimes labels make it easy to identify allergens, stating that a food “CONTAINS” or “MAY CONTAIN” some common allergens. These are not suitable for those allergic to that food. Additionally, not all food labels provide these distinctions, so it’s important to read ingredient labels to make sure the product does not contain allergens. When in doubt, leave it out if you cannot confirm there are no allergens, and you are trying to be mindful of those with allergies.

Allergen-Free Foods certainly do exist! There are allergy-friendly food manufacturers that clearly label their products. Some brands that target this population even exclude common allergens in all of their products! An internet search for “Allergen free foods” will provide a useful list. Some of these brands and companies even have candy!

Easter treats and sugar: How Not To Overdo it 

Once we’ve hunted those eggs and discovered our treats at Easter, it’s hard not to dig in to our favorite things! What do we need to keep in mind?

How much sugar can I have in one day? According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, less than 10% of calories should come from added sugars per day, which is most of the sugar found in candy. (Note: 1 gram of sugar=4 calories.) Added sugars can be found on the nutrition facts label, but sometimes it is not separated from natural sugars already found in that food and is just listed as “Sugars.” For example, yogurt naturally contains 12 g lactose per cup, but sometimes has added sugar that isn’t listed as “Added Sugars”. In this case, it’s better to count “sugars” in your total daily intake, trying not to exceed the amount listed in the table below. Maximum daily amounts for kids and adults are listed below in grams, based on the calorie recommendations for gender and age group:

Age Group and Gender

Maximum Amount of Added Sugar Daily Based on DGA Calorie Levels

Child, 1-3 years

25 g

Female, 4-8

30 g

Male, 4-8

35-40 g*

Female, 9-13

40 g

Male, 9-13

45 g

Female, 14-18

45 g

Male, 14-18

55-80 g

Female, 19-30

50 g

Male, 19-30

60-75 g*

Female, 31-50

45 g

Male, 31-50

55 g

Female, 51+

40 g

Male, 51+

50 g

Source: 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Appendix 1. www.dietaryguidelines.gov

*Ranges are based on higher calorie needs, which depend on height, weight, and activity level.




















Please note that these are generalized recommendations, and you or your loved ones may have different needs!

How much is in one piece? Even the “fun size” and “mini” versions of each candy bar can still pack a pretty big punch in calories and sugar, most of which will be considered “Added Sugar.” Each type varies, and here is a list for reference:


Serving Size


Carbs (g)

Fat (g)

3 Musketeers

Fun Size Bar




Baby Ruth Bar

Fun Size Bar





Fun Size Bar




Tootsie Pop

One Pop




Good and Plenty’s

15 pieces




Hershey’s Assorted Minis

One Miniature




Junior Mints

Snack Size Box




Kit Kat Bar

Snack Size Bar





Fun Size Bag




Milky Way

Fun Size Bar




Milky Way Dark

Fun Size Bar





Fun Size Bar





One Cup




Reese’s Pieces

Fun Size Bag





Fun Size Bag





One Roll





Fun Size Bar




Sweet Tarts

Fun Size Pack





Fun Size





Fun Size Box




York Peppermint Patty

Snack Size






























Source: JumpstartMD.org. https://www.jumpstartmd.com/resources/healthy-living/fat-carbs-calories-halloween-candy/

How can I make it easier to limit intake? Pairing a piece of candy with some protein, fruit, whole grain, or vegetables makes it easier to just have a single piece at a time. A fun-size bar with some peanut butter and apples, popcorn and almonds, cheese and whole-grain crackers, or berries and pecans are some ideas that pair well with chocolate and make the candy treat a bit heartier, slowing the blood sugar spike from the candy. 

If the Easter Bunny needs to make some goodies available for someone that can’t always consume typical Easter treats, here are some ideas to promote inclusion:

  • Glow sticks
  • Pencils or crayons
  • Bubbles
  • Noisemakers
  • Puzzles
  • Notepads
  • Stickers
  • Beads
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Moldable putty and clay (make sure it’s gluten free!)
  • Kites
  • Bubble bath
  • Sunglasses
  • Books
  • Water guns
  • Legos
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Puzzles
  • Twisty straws
  • Finger puppets

    …and so many more ideas!


Happy Easter from OdomRD! Let us know if we can help with any other ideas to help the Easter Bunny make it a safe holiday for all!