The Nation's Health + [vegetables]

Eat Like a Dietitian

Recently I came cross a new blog, Not On a Diet (yay!) and this article all about tips to eating like a dietitian.

One of the most difficult things for me is going out to eat with people I may not know too well, but may know my profession (dietetic/nutrition) - "food police". As I'm sure other dietitians and nutritional professionals can attest to - people try to model or may choose food differently on fear of being judged or even judge me (!) based on what I order. Here is a tip: I eat well 90-95% of the time so I can have a treat once in a while.

On to a slightly different topic - I've addressed how it is difficult when trying to give advice to family and friends about nutrition... generally I try to avoid it. Why? Simple - they don't listen to advice like a stranger would. Ok, so this may seem backwards to some people, but it goes along the lines of - professional respect. Personal and professional respect are two different things (ideally you'd get both, but that's not always the case). In order to really have that sense of professional respect from a client, there needs to be a distance - you don't want to know every detail of your healthcare providers life, right? It brings them down to a more human level - and let's be real - we want advice from someone we see as someone with strength or someone we perceive is better than us (a pillar of support). With family and friends, that distance isn't there... they know your "faults" and then tend to rationalize when not following advice to the letter as, "well "Ingrid" is a dietitian and I know she ate a brownie yesterday so I can too."

It is definitely a fine line - really the best thing I (or any dietitian) can do with family and friends is tell them - "If you are really serious about changing, we can set up a meeting at my office or I can refer you to another dietitian I trust can work well with you." And then try to lead by example.

So what do I do? (similar to Sumner's article)

I meal plan and plan ahead. After studying nutrition for almost 7 years and personal experience, I know the importance of not skipping meals (blood sugar drops and low energy states) and always eat breakfast. Carbohydrates in particular - they help to stabilize blood sugar and are brain fuel. And agreeing with Sumner - I am rarely found without food close by (something usually in my bag or desk drawer). For my family and friends, they know I can get cranky when I'm hungry. :)

I get my fruits and vegetables - color is everything! Simply put - the more natural color, the more nutrient dense (think important phytochemicals and antioxidants). To mix in with the color I'll add some whole grains, beans, and sometimes nuts (yep - super healthy). Following something as simple as looking for the most colorful option can minimize calories and boost fiber intake.

I pick flavor for satisfaction instead of feeling really full. This flavor is added with herbs and spices at bring life to every bite.

I try best as I can to not eat when I'm not hungry - don't eat something just because it's there. Ask yourself, "Am I hungry?" before you start to reach for the break room goodie basket. One of the biggest problems we face can be an over abundance of food - we eat because it's available (which was good for our hunter gatherer ancestors, but not for the 21st century us) or when we're bored. Finding other hobbies or avoiding situations we know will be temptations is the best way to start.

And the bottom line is that diet is not A DIET! It's not a short term thing - it's a lifestyle change. It is a conscious effort to pick the right foods that will help keep us healthy and make us feel better. Portion out correct amounts, never directly out of the box or bag. Making small changes that can be maintained - if you go back to old habits, it's back gaining weight, more health problems, and nothing to show for all the work that was done.

Living a healthy balanced lifestyle with nutrient dense foods and plenty of physical activity.