Trick or Treat the healthy way!

Nutrition Notes: A few tricks to manage Halloween treats

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Trick-or-treat! With pumpkins, costumes and candy galore, we all know Halloween is right around the corner. Halloween is a fun-filled family holiday loaded with pillow cases full of candy! It is fine to enjoy some sweet treats on Halloween, but often times it is easy to overdo it! This year, before your ghouls and goblins hit the streets, try to remember these tips to avoid sugar highs followed by those upset tummies.

Eat a healthy snack before trick-or-treating. This tip seems simple enough, but it is often forgotten. By providing a healthy meal such as a peanut butter sandwich, fruit or a cheese stick, it can reduce over snacking on sweet treats.

Think outside the box. When your doorbell rings what will you be passing out this year? It doesn’t have to be candy. Try something new such as: cereal bars, snack packs of fruit, nuts or trail mix, gold fish, raisins, popcorn, etc.

Go ‘mini.’ Candy bar calories add up quickly so opt for the bite size candy bars.

Post trick-or-treating candy inventory. After hitting the neighborhood and wondering how to manage all of the candy at home, consider letting the kids choose a couple of candy pieces each day and try to pair it with a healthy snack such as a fruit or vegetable.

Get creative. If you are having a Halloween party, have the kids help in the kitchen. There are plenty of healthy Halloween snack ideas. Check out a few examples here: Healthy Halloween Treats & Halloween Treats Kids Will Love.

Most importantly, remember to have a safe and fun Halloween weekend with friends and family. If you have any fun Halloween recipes, please share them with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

When you go door to door asking for candy, see if your neighbors will donate food to the Food Bank.

Scare Away Hunger by Trick-or-Treating for Canned Goods

by Robin Skale, Food Procurement Coordinator

We often think of Thanksgiving as the kickoff to the holiday season of giving, but why not start with Halloween?  Get a jump on giving this year by trick-or-treating for canned goods!  As you go door to door on Oct. 31 with the kids in your life visiting neighbors, ask them for nonperishable food donations instead of candy. Let them know you are hosting a Halloween food drive that will benefit the San Diego Food Bank, and their donations will help feed hungry children, families, and individuals during the holidays.  You can also create and hand out flyers that have hunger facts and statistics about San Diego, and information about the Food Bank’s programs.  Be sure to bring a rolling suitcase or wagon to help carry the donations!

Food items that are most in demand are canned tuna or chicken, peanut butter, canned fruit or vegetables, pasta, rice, beans, cereal, and canned soup or chili.  All donation items must be unopened and nonperishable.

You may drop off your food donations directly at the Food Bank during our walk-in donation hours, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. We are located in Miramar at 9850 Distribution Ave. San Diego, CA 92121.  If you cannot drop off your donations, we can pick them up from you!  Just schedule a pickup date by registering your food drive here.  You will receive a confirmation email within 72 hours.

Start your holiday season the right way by helping those in need.  Encourage your friends, family, and neighbors to host a Halloween trick-or-treat food drive!

Food Bank Nutrition & Wellness Educator, Jenna Olson, teaching the importance of eating healthy.

San Diego Food Bank makes senior nutrition a top priority with SONDAS

by San Diego Food Bank staff

Through the Food Bank’s SONDAS (Solving Obesity and Nutritional Disease Affecting Seniors) Program, impoverished San Diego seniors receive the nutritious food they need, the nutritional education they lack and the personal support necessary to make lasting changes to their lifestyles. Guided by the experienced hand of the Food Bank’s Registered Dietitian, Jenna Olson (pictured in the photograph above), the SONDAS Program has seen the implementation of our first-ever nutrition curriculum specifically for seniors and increased the distribution of fresh produce to this targeted population. The series of workshops and presentations kicked off in March and covers a variety of topics that are relevant to our senior population including:

- Eating Healthy on a Budget
- Making Healthy Eating Part of Your Lifestyle
- How to Navigate a Grocery Store
- How to Incorporate Physical Activity at Home
- Steps to Shake the Salt and Sugar Habit

Attending seniors receive nutrition-related handouts of the material discussed in class as well as various recipe cards that often coincide with the fresh produce participants receive at three out of the six sessions.  Senior participants have shown eagerness to take steps to improve their lifestyle while attending these classes.  For example, seniors have reported that they are using the MyPlate guide for making meals for their grandchildren. While other anecdotal examples of the program’s positive impact include reports from participants that show they have created a meal plan reflecting a better, more well-rounded diet, have tried new fruits and vegetables that they have not tried before and some seniors even starting to work in their apartment complex’s garden a couple of times a week alongside neighbors.

The Food Bank’s SONDAS Program is part of a larger Senior Initiative that is an important component of our comprehensive efforts to address hunger and food insecurity throughout San Diego County.  In a very short time period, hundreds of seniors have added more fresh fruits and vegetables to their diets and received the relevant nutrition education that underlines the importance of eating right and regular physical activity.  As SONDAS continues, we expect to see thousands of seniors benefiting from the work of the Food Bank team and the healthy approach to aging they promote. The Food Bank’s senior nutrition education initiative is funded in part by a grant from The California Wellness Foundation and by a grant from The Walmart Foundation.

Interested in learning more about the SONDAS program, volunteering with the program or having the classes at your site? Contact Jenna Olson, RD for more information at 858-863-5197 or


Time to get healthy before flu season kicks up!

Nutrition Notes: Flu-Season Survival Guide

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

As everyone starts to stock up on hand sanitizer and tissues in preparation for flu season, it is important to remember that healthy eating during cold and flu season is essential to avoid getting sick. It is always important to get the daily requirement of essential vitamins and minerals by eating a balanced diet following MyPlate guidelines, but the next few months call for extra nutrient-packed defense systems! When the body is healthy inside and out, it has an easier time fighting off infection. In order to prepare the best protection, it is important to remember that staying healthy doesn’t end at the dinner table. In order to boost your overall health, remember the following tips:

Get plenty of rest. Sleep is important for all ages and the proper amount can directly influence how you feel as well as daily performance at work or school. The Center for Disease Control recommends that adults get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, while school-aged children get at least 10 hours of sleep.

Eat a well-balanced diet.  Incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into meal and snack time provides immune boosting nutrients that help shield the body from infection. Get some snack-spiration here.

Exercise regularly. If exercise hasn’t found a home in your daily routine, try to make room for it gradually. It is best to aim for 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise daily. It is important to never get discouraged if you get off track with your exercise routine. It is never too late to restart your journey to a healthy and happy you!

Decrease stress. Work, traffic, family, house work… it all adds up and without an outlet, the body runs on overdrive and the stress can be an additional avenue for a sickness to form. Try to find 5 to 10 minutes each day upon waking and/or before bed to meditate or take self-reflection time to de-stress. If you have additional time, try incorporating some yoga or balance poses.

Cut back on unhealthy habits. It isn’t time for New Year’s resolutions just yet, but it is the perfect time to cut back on bad habits. Try to make one simple healthy change over the next 30 days. Some examples: read for 30 minutes every day, try a new fitness class, have a fruit and vegetable with every meal. It takes about 20 to 30 days for a habit to form, so you will be well on your way to a healthier you just in time for the holidays!

Over the next 30 days, challenge yourself to make one, maybe two simple changes that will aid in a healthier & happier you. Here is a short video for some inspiration: Try Something New for 30 Days. Share your 30 day small changes with us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram and stay healthy this flu season!