- With Mayo Clinic nutritionists
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.read biographyclose window
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.Katherine Zeratsky and Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer K. Nelson, M.S., R.D., L.D., C.N.S.D.
Jennifer Nelson is your link to a better diet. As specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, she plays a vital role in bringing you healthy recipes and meal planning.
"Nutrition is one way people have direct control over the quality of their lives," she says. "I hope to translate the science of nutrition into ways that people can select and prepare great-tasting foods that help maintain health and treat disease."
A St. Paul, Minn., native, she has been with Mayo Clinic since 1978, and is director of clinical dietetics and an associate professor of nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
She leads clinical nutrition efforts for a staff of more than 60 clinical dietitians and nine dietetic technicians and oversees nutrition services, staffing, strategic and financial planning, and quality improvement. Nelson was co-editor of the "Mayo Clinic Diet" and the James Beard Foundation Award-winning "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook." She has been a contributing author to and reviewer of many other Mayo Clinic books, including "Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody," "The Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and "The Mayo Clinic/Williams Sonoma Cookbook." She contributes to the strategic direction of the Food & Nutrition Center, which includes creating recipes and menus, reviewing nutrition content of various articles, and providing expert answers to nutrition questions.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
As a specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, Katherine Zeratsky helps you sort through the facts and figures, the fads and the hype to learn more about nutrition and diet.
A Marinette, Wis., native, she is certified in dietetics by the state of Minnesota and the American Dietetic Association. She has been with Mayo Clinic since 1999.
She's active in nutrition-related curriculum and course development in wellness nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and nutrition related to weight management and practical applications of nutrition-related lifestyle changes.
Other areas of interest include food and nutrition for all life stages, active lifestyles and the culinary arts.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served a dietetic internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and worked as a registered dietitian and health risk counselor at ThedaCare of Appleton, Wis., before joining the Mayo Clinic staff.
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March 28, 2012
Play it safe when taking food to a loved one in the hospital
By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
As much as hospitals try, the food they serve may not meet expectations — especially when people don't feel well. As a result, you may be tempted to bring a meal or special treat to a loved one in the hospital to show your concern and to help make the person feel better.
In your concern, you might not ask if this is safe. It's important to know that in some circumstances this act of kindness could have unintended and even deadly consequences.
Here are some guidelines that my department has put in place to help people navigate this thorny issue:
- Before you bring food in, check with the nurse, doctor or dietitian. Your loved one may be at risk for infection or may need to follow a very strict diet. In some situations, even normal bacteria in foods (such as uncooked items like fruits or salads) or excess nutrients (such as those containing vitamin K, or unknown substances like gluten or allergens) can be dangerous.
If you get the OK to bring food in, make sure you prepare food safely. The Department of Agriculture has excellent information on their website about food safety for people who are vulnerable to infection. Throughout the steps of food preparation, it's important to follow the mantra:
- Clean. Wash your hands, utensils and cutting boards before and after contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs.
- Separate. Keep raw meat, poultry and seafood away from foods that won't be cooked.
- Cook. Use a food thermometer — you can't tell food is cooked safely by how it looks.
- Chill. Refrigerate foods within 2 hours and keep the fridge at 40 F or below.
- Bring only enough food that can be eaten at one time. Consider single-serve items, such as individual yogurts, packages of crackers and peanut butter, and wrapped cookies. That way there are no leftovers to worry about.
- Don't store perishable foods in the room. In addition to being unsafe, they can be unappetizing.
- Label all food items. Put the name of your loved one on the food container and the date that the food was prepared. You don't want your kind intention causing problems for another patient.
These are basic guidelines. The hospital may have ones that are more specific. I hope you find them helpful.
- Jenniferblog index
- Food safety in the hospital. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. http://mayoweb.mayo.edu/sp-forms/mc4300-mc4399/mc4346.pdf. Accessed March 26, 2012.
- At risk populations. USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/At_Risk_&_Underserved_Fact_Sheets/index.asp#messagecards. Accessed March 26, 2012.
- Bee food safe. USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/Generic_BFS_Message_Card.pdf. Accessed March 26, 2012.