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Ask Tufts’ Dietitian September 14, 2010

Have a nutrition question you’ve been curious about? Ask Tufts Dining Dietitian Julie Lampie, R.D. Post your questions here!


8 Responses to “Ask Tufts’ Dietitian”

  1. Which vitamins/minerals do vegetarians need to pay attention to including in their diets? Which foods are the best sources of these nutrients?

    • Julie Lampie Says:

      Vitamin B12 is one vitamin that vegetarians may be lacking as plant sources do not contain significant amounts of this vitamin. For vegans, Vitamin B12 can be found in fortified soy milk and breakfast cereals. Vegetarians who consume dairy and eggs can satisfy their requirements by including these foods in their diet.
      New research has found that individuals require more vitamin D than previous thought. As a result, individuals should pay particular attention to consuming vitamin D in their diet. Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and bone health. Fortified foods including milk and breakfast cerals are major sources along with salmon and other fatty fish. Almonds are a good source as well. Supplementation is recommended (1000 mg daily) especially during the winter months when sun exposure is not a factor in producing Vitamin D.
      Another mineral which vegetarians may be lacking in their diet is iron. The iron found in plant sources is less well absorbed than iron from animal sources. Vegetarians should include green leafy vegetables, legumes (chick peas, kidney beans, edamame), whole grains, and iron-fortified cereals and breads in their diets. In addition, consuming these foods with a rich source of vitamin C will help absorption.

  2. Amy Connors Says:

    I have anemia and I run. What are some healthy foods/snacks that will give me energy for workouts and also keep my iron levels up?

  3. Julie Lampie Says:

    Great question. If you are anemic, you should be including iron rich foods in your diet. Heme iron, from beef and chicken, are the best sources of iron as they are more readily absorbed than non-meat sources. A snack could include a roast beef or chicken sandwich, as well as light flaked tuna or tuna salad. Non-meat sources of iron which could be good snacks include fortified cereals, enriched bread & grains, and hummus. Iron absorption is enhanced by vitamin C, so it would be beneficial to eat the sandwich with slices of tomato and few spinach leaves or have some strawberries or an orange. You cold also include your vitamin C by drinking a glass of orange or grapefruit juice. If your looking for a vegetarian snack, eat hummus with slices of bell pepper.

  4. Saul Says:

    Hi there, I was I wondering how the serving utensils in the dining hall correspond to the nutritional facts listed — Is one scoop with the serving spoon generally the recommended serving size? For example, I know sausage is served in links but the serving size is 2 oz. Most people have no idea how much a sausage link weighs, especially relative to ounces, so I was wondering if there was any easy way to figure this out without a scale. Thanks.

  5. Julie Lampie Says:

    Assisting students with conceptualizing portion sizes has been an on-going challenge. Many serving sizes are established at 6 ounces, what this translates to on a plate differs based on the item. In Carmichael or Dewick, we have attempted to create display plates which feature the portion sizes indicated by the nutrition fact cards, but truthfully, this does not occur consistently or for every item. The 2 oz. sausage link you referred to is 1 link. Other items that are portioned include 4 ounces of fish or chicken, and are approximately the size of a deck of cards or cell phone.
    The large salad bowls hold about 3 cups of cereal, the smaller bowl, approximately 1 cup. The coffee mugs hold 1 cup or 8 ounces, and the plastic drinks cups hold 12 fluid ounces.
    A common practice for portion control consists of taking the serving plate and dividing it into quarters. One quarter should contain the entree, with the other quarter consisting of a starch, and the remaining half filled with vegetables. Following this pattern will help you with portion control.

  6. Rachel Says:

    Hi Julie! I’m a vegan, and I’ve been having trouble finding sources of protein at the dining hall on weekends for lunch. The salad bar is open, but plain, cold tofu isn’t very satisfying. What would you recommend?

    • Julie Lampie Says:

      Hi Rachel,
      The menu for Saturday contains at least one vegan entree for lunch and dinner, in addition to an organic whole grain and legume. Sunday brunch features the fewest vegan options as the menu is egg oriented. Therefore, I would encourage you to eat oatmeal or cold cereal with soy or rice milk and topped with nuts. Not all cereals may be options for you depending on whether you include sugar and honey in your diet. Our organic hemp granola is an option which should meet the requirements of all vegans. In addition, there is always the old standby, peanut butter. We have a delicious natural organic variety which is worth eating.and may be paired with jelly. We always offer hummus, and this too, can be paired with bread. Of course, there is plenty of fruit, even though, this is not a great contributor of protein. We always have the ability to provide you with soy yogurt, but we must know in advance to order this. In addition, next year we will be adding a vegan meltable cheese that is half decent, and will be used to create vegan pizzas. If you have any other thoughts of foods you would like to have available, please email me at

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