I’m a dietitian, and I love vegetables, donuts, and ice cream.

Ok everyone, that National Nutrition Month post is finally here! Each year during NNM you hear me babble about some topic that I think will resonate with others. While this post might be a little different, I still hope it give incite to some of the myths and misconceptions that come with being a dietitian. I have read a few other bloggers discuss similar topics, or talk about the evolution and change that is occurring with “food talk” or talk of nutrition on social media and other outlets. I think it’s time I give my opinion and let you in on some of my biggest struggles when it comes to being a dietitian.

My NNM topic this year is going to be on, well…. myself in a way. I say myself, because I’m a Registered Dietitian, but I hope that some of my other dietitian friends read this and get a giggle or two out of it. While we all have different ways of working, promoting and using our knowledge to help others, or getting involved in different things outside of daily work, I think its important to clear up some of the myths and misconceptions about being a dietitian.

1. Because I’m a dietitian, all I want to talk about is fruits and vegetables. 

Yes, I love eating healthy. I love talking about food and creating healthy recipes; I love helping others, but food and nutrition does not rule my life. With that said, very rarely am I able to turn off the “dietitian” switch… and that isn’t by choice. We live in a world now where food and nutrition talk is everywhere. Flip through Pinterest, scroll through Facebook, or take a look at a few Snap or Instagram stories. Everyone is talking about what they are doing to get healthy, why they are qualified to talk about it, and what new diet they tried or want to try is. Recipes float through Facebook and Pinterest like water. Tips for weight loss can be found with one easy google search.

I can’t tell you how many times I get asked… “what do you think of this diet?” or “do you think this is healthy?”. While I appreciate the questions and am happy to help, I just wish sometimes I was able to have a conversation that was about something else…. really anything else. Imagine if you were an engineer and the second you got home and pulled up Facebook all you saw were blueprints for homes, articles about new lumber material, or design elements that people were trying on their own. It would be a little exhausting, don’t you think? Think about each time you went to a social gathering or party. What if as soon as you walked in the first conversation started with…”hey would you mind looking at this sketch I did, I’m thinking of designing a new shed for the backyard,” or “what do you think about that Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit, I’m sure you saw it right?” With all the chatter about “being healthy” sometimes it doesn’t surprise me that there is an actual eating disorder designated to being obsessed with eating healthy called orthorexia nervosa. While I love to share my journey with eating healthy and love to create and post recipes, I hope that I do it in a way that is positive and uplifting. I hope I show off my credentials as a dietitian in a way that inspires other to not deprive, but to have a good balance of healthy and happy in their life.

Also, shout out to hub — he definitely keeps me grounded and fully supports my need for a good ice cream sundae every once in a while!

2. Because I’m a dietitian, I’m judging everyone on the food they eat.

Let me start off by saying I absolutely love ice cream. My mouth waters when I see a donut inside of a cute little bakery. I almost always pressure my husband into getting dessert after dinner at least 2-3 times per week. I have a huge sweet tooth, and some days there moments when I couldn’t care less how many cups of vegetables I had that day.

It is very rare that I actually pay attention to what other people are eating. If you point out to me that you are eating something “unhealthy,” well then yes, I’m going to notice. Typically, I don’t walk around with my food sensers on looking for chips, fast food, or candy. There are moments when I have felt uncomfortable because others make a situation uncomfortable, not because I care what everyone is eating. I love french fries, but when someone points out “oh boy the dietitian is eating french fries!!” they become a little less appetizing and I can immediately feel my face flush!

3. All dietitians do is talk about weight loss.

Dietitians can talk about weight loss, but they can also talk about so many other things. Nutrition is probably one of the most versatile subjects to study, making our job field have even more variety and opportunity. In one day, I can talk about type 1 diabetes and the relationships between carb-counting and blood sugar control, the importance of nutrition during pregnancy, how to lower blood pressure through a low-sodium diet, a high protein/high fat diet to help a child whom is failure to thrive, and yes, I can talk about weight loss. I have friends who work in bariatric surgery, friends who work in intensive care, friends who don’t work with patients or clients at all and talk about infant formulas all day. Dietitians do not only talk about weight loss, and while we may know a thing or two about it, some don’t like talking about it at all. Here’s a little extra tidbit of information — I actually do enjoy talking about weight loss, so ya’ll are in luck!

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Now… I’m sure maybe at this point you are thinking, “someone took a grumpy pill this morning.” NO!!! I promise I didn’t, and I LOVE my job. I am so, so, SO proud to be a Registered Dietitian, and I absolutely love working with people and helping others connect the food choices they make with certain elements of their body or their health. What I don’t love is the way our society has morphed nutrition into a fad. I don’t love how healthy eating is something that you SHOULD talk about if you are doing it. If you had a salad at lunch, you better shout it from the roof tops because you just found the next best way to prevent heart disease by eating a bowl full of vegetables! Nutrition is something that I studied for 5+ years and am still studying, did 1,200 hours of supervised practice on, and took a nationally recognized exam for. Nutrition is so much more than eating salads, and health is so much more than looking fit and showing off your abs for the world to see.

I hope that when people look at me, they see so much more than someone who talks about food. I hope I wear my title well, because the last thing I want to do is contribute to others feeling poorly about themselves. I am constantly trying to combat what society has made “healthy” and what I know to actually be “healthy”. Normalcy in eating and food choices is something that varies from person to person and what works for one may not work for another. Healthy eating is not restrictive; its not obsessive; and its not all that I think about. I the words of Ellyn Satter,

“…normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your hunger, your schedule, your proximity to food, and your feelings. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but it keeps its place as only one important area of your life.”


Why Is Weight Loss So Grueling?

This week I am giving a talk at my workplace about weight loss. As a dietitian, everyone always assumes this is all I talk about or all I know how to do. While this sometimes makes me squirm (dietitian’s can do so much more!), I still applaud those who actually ask me questions or come to me before going somewhere like the internet, social media, or to someone who doesn’t have any credentials that make them qualified to talk about personalized nutrition recommendations.

This question, “Why is weight loss so grueling?” is a question that has many answers. The first problem with weight loss is that so many people think they have the key to weight loss. Social media can be a powerful thing, but it can also be extremely negative to those who are desperate for answers or desperate to feel good about themselves. Sometimes I scroll through my Instagram or Facebook feed and see post after post about healthy eating, dieting, extreme exercise, and I just think to myself… how discouraging. For those who want to lost extreme amounts of weight, looking at some of these posts can create frustration and even fear that the body or the self-image they want is worlds away.

A few other things people commonly jump to when seeking weight loss are extremely low-carb or fad diets which cause quick weight loss fast. Here is a little piece of advice from someone who has stepped in both sides of the playing field. I have tried the fad diets and I have done what I know is best for my body. Fad diets are fantasy diets, just like the fantasy that you can lost 20lbs in 1 month and keep it off forever. Safe weight loss is about 1-2lbs per week. By safe,  I mean weight loss that comes from simple modifications, drinking primarily water, and eating a well-balanced… let me emphasize, BALANCED… diet. This is also weight loss that will stay off long term.

The hardest thing about watching people try to “not eat carbs” is that many people don’t realize carbs are in so much more than just bread, grains, and starchy vegetables. Carbs are in milk and other dairy products, fruit, just about any product that is processed (yes, check your protein bars… I bet there are carbs!), and it is not the most evil macronutrient ever created! I remember sitting with my husband at a restaurant and (rudely) eves-dropping on the woman next to me explaining to the bartender that she was on a no-carb diet as she sat there and drank a glass of wine. Oh how I wanted to chime in and help.

Low-carb diets will produce weight loss short term, but often times these diets aren’t sustainable long term. Many people become discouraged after they stop their low-carb diet and see their weight slowly creeping back up to where it originally was. Instead of practicing deprivation, try practicing balance. Focus on your 5 main food groups and avoid giving foods a negative connotation. Weight loss will come with time, but look for other signs from your body that you are making positive changes. How are your clothes fitting? How do you feel walking up a set of stairs? Does your face look any different?

I cannot stress enough that if you are wanting to lose weight and keep it off, seek the help of a professional. Turn off your social media apps and stop comparing yourself to other people. Those who think they have “found the key to weight loss” maybe discovered something that works well for them but for 80% of the country isn’t feasible or realistic.

One last comment about weight loss. No one is perfect. Even those who seem the most confident see flaws in themselves. There have been times where I have questioned myself and my appearance as a dietitian. Is this silly? Of course it is! What I just want to make known is it is OK to not like something about yourself. Always think about your overall health and how you feel in your own skin, now how you think you should appear to others. I try to be more confident in myself every day, it just takes a little time and a little self love…

 

Happy Sunday everyone 🙂


What did I think of the Whole 30?

Ok, so I announced a few weeks ago that I was doing the Whole 30, but I never mentioned if I finished or how it went. All of these thoughts and feelings are my own. You or someone you know may have had a completely different experience.

To answer the first question of did I finish? No. I did not finish the Whole 30 for a few reasons. First, I want to say it drove me nuts that I stopped. I am a person who loves a challenge, and I like to see things all the way through. So, even though I started to have poor feelings about what was happening to my body and started to question some of the concepts, I still didn’t like that I was stopping.

I stopped the Whole 30 at day 13. In those 13 days I lost approximately 6lbs. I was currently 5’2″ and 112 lbs, so this brought me down to 106 lbs. I really didn’t want the weight loss to continue, but I was at a loss of how to increase my calories without drowning myself in even more nuts, avocado, and eggs than I was already having. Red meat is something I never really had in my diet (I grew up not eating it!); I’m allergic to fish/seafood; and I was already having 2 servings of chicken per day and 1 serving of eggs per day. I felt a little stuck.

Besides the weight loss, I also didn’t like the way I started to think about food. I never think obsession is a good thing when it comes to healthy eating. I have never been a restrictive person with what I eat. That is not how I choose to live my life, and trying this diet just enforced my belief in this concept. I didn’t want to develop a poor relationship with food… everyone has their limits, you just need to know when to recognize yours. This was a big eye opener for me that I needed to continue the way I have always lived my life and keep food something that is enjoyable and a part of my life…. but not my whole life.

Some positives from this experience:

  • I realized how many foods actually contain added sugar. Even as a dietitian who chooses a lot of plant-based foods, does a lot of home-cooking, and tries to eat whole foods frequently, I was shocked as I dug a little deeper into some of my basic kitchen staples. I was amazed to find sugar in my pasta sauce, canned tomatoes, and even in a jar of organic salsa. I have chosen since stopping the Whole 30 to make a conscious effort to continue to monitor my sugar intake and look for foods with minimal, whole ingredients.
  • I realized what an impact reducing sugar had on my skin. I have always struggled with keeping my skin clear. Cutting back on the quantity of sugar I had in my diet helped tremendously!
  • I realized that as a dietitian, my credentials and education have given me the true tools to living and teaching how to live a healthy lifestyle. I can’t stress enough that if you have any type of body issues, whether that be the desire to loose weight, gain weight, maintain weight, or just feel good in your own skin and reduce your risk of health problems, go see a dietitian. Dietitians are trained to meet you where you’re at in your life and create a plan that is best for you, your every day life, and your desires. Dieting is something that is short term in terms of happiness. What I mean by that is seeing the scale go down by a few pounds may be satisfying now, but as soon as the diet is over it can cause feelings of disappointment, sadness, and even depression when he weight trickles back in. A dietitian can help you create a better lifestyle for yourself so that happiness and healthy living is long term.

So in short, would I recommend the Whole 30? I think the decision is up to you. I highly recommend that you know yourself and pay attention to your body if you do choose to try it. I recommend you seek advice from a Registered Dietitian on how to modify the concepts of the Whole 30 to better fit you, your lifestyle, and your goals. Eating a diet that focuses on more fruits and vegetables, proteins, healthy fats such as nuts and avocado, and eliminating added sugars is something that I support. Just remember to give yourself a break, don’t deprive yourself, and know when restriction becomes obsession. Lastly, carbs are not evil. Learn to moderate and choose the right carb sources, and I promise you, you won’t blow up like a balloon after one meal containing whole wheat pasta. 🙂

 

For any additional questions regarding my experience or thoughts about this process, feel free to email me @ chelseamrd.1@gmail.com. Thank you!


Whole 30 Journey

So, I think I have made it perfect clear I’m not about “dieting.” It almost pains me to admit that I’m trying the Whole 30, primarily because it means that yes, I am currently attempting to follow  a strict and regimented diet. I wanted to take the chance to explain why I am doing this and how it has been going so far. All of these thoughts and opinions are my own and in no means am I recommended that someone do or do not try to do the same. It has been an interesting experience so far, and to be perfectly honest 26 more days seems like quite a bit!

The Whole 30 can be used for a variety of reasons. The biggest reasons people choose to try to Whole 30 from what I have ready in the book thus far are to figure out if intolerance to certain food groups or components of food groups such as wheat or dairy exist, to lose weight, to kick sugar cravings or any other unhealthy habits with food, as well as to help with a variety of other health-related reasons (GI-related disturbances, diabetes control. etc.). I can’t speak on behalf of many of these reasons. I don’t have outstanding health issues, and I don’t feel the desire to lose weight. I am trying the Whole 30 to see what the hype is about. I hate not being able to give an educated opinion on something, so when someone asks me “How will I feel on the Whole 30” or “Do you know what the Whole 30 consists of; would you recommend trying it?” I want to be able to respond with confidence in my answer. Now, if my sugar cravings go away while doing this, I also won’t complain 🙂

Transitioning Into More Structured, Planned Eating

When it comes to meals, I like simplicity and nutrient dense. Let me elaborate on that a bit more…

Something I commonly have for breakfast is home-made oats or oatmeal bakes. In these recipes (Here are a few links to some of my previous recipes! Vegan Baked Blueberry Oats Peachy Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal Berry Almond Oatmeal Bake ) I add rolled oats, a variety of fruits such as raspberries, bananas, or blueberries, nuts, chia seeds, almond milk, and often times top them with a nut butter. This is something easy that I can whip up on a Monday morning, throw in the oven while I shower, and eat it the rest of the week for breakfast. It fills me up and combines 3 or more food groups to give me a well-balanced, nutrient dense breakfast.

Another thing I commonly cook with is quinoa or beans. One of my husbands favorite dinners is a quinoa enchilada bake with ground chicken, black beans, and veggies, topped with cheese, and baked in the oven for a simple and easy dinner that really only takes about 30-35 minutes (including the time for the quinoa to cook!).

Quick and easy has been hard for me to come by with this diet. I remember day 1 waking up ready for breakfast and thinking, this is going to take a lot of effort. I made sweet potatoes with eggs, sauteed mushrooms, onions, spinach, and avocado with a side of fruit which was delicious, but way more than I was typically use to eating. Come about 9 am, I was starving again. Give me another week or so (I’m on day 4), and I can let you know if it gets any easier.

I think many of the Whole 30 recipes are nutrient dense and packed with protein and healthy fats, but they are also time consuming and require lots of planning. I am interested to see how my body feels as I continue this process. The fatigue and crankiness that were supposed to set in with day 2 and 3 didn’t, so I’m just waiting to see what the end of the first week brings! I am hoping to try out some new recipes for ya’ll this weekend and get them up asap! Any comments or suggestions as I go through this process would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again and happy Friday everyone!

For more information on the Whole 30, you can visit this website: Whole 30 or purchase the book at your local bookstore (also available at Cotsco!).


How Not To Be The Party Pooper

Have you ever worked extremely hard to eat healthy, follow a balanced diet, and feel like you are beginning to see results, and then all confidence in yourself slowly diminishes as you walk into a party where dessert, party foods, and alcoholic beverages surround you in excess. I bet a few of these statements happened to cross your mind at this time…

_________ is going to be offended if I don’t try her food. Guess the diet will have to take a halt today.

 

Boy a margarita looks good, but everyone seems like they have already had 2 or 3. I can either play catch up or be the odd man (or woman) out.

 

The desserts look fantastic. I haven’t had a cupcake in weeks… maybe I’ll have just one. And I’ll try _______’s homemade cookies too, they were always my favorite. Maybe I should grab a plate of fruit… that way I’m not totally cheating right?

 

I could just make a dish of what I brought. Do you think anyone will notice if I don’t have anything else?

 

Salad…. or burger? Ugh, I guess its salad.

It is time to put a stop to the stress and food-brain madness. There will always be temptations, and you will always feel like there is no way this can work out ok without sending your food belly over the edge, but I am telling you that you can have it all. You can enjoy yourself for the day without totally throwing all your hard work down the drain and feel like you are having just as much fun as everyone else there. Just follow a few of these quick, easy tips to partying properly and you will no longer feel like the party pooper, but rather a party participant!

Happy Party Participants…

1. When you first get there, take a lap around the food table. what strikes your eye first? A juicy burger with all the toppings? A scoop of that decadent potato salad? Mrs. Smith’s ooey gooey 4 cheese spinach and artichoke dip with bacon bits? What do you really want? Once you have made this decision, grab a plate and fill 3/4th of it with with fruit, veggies, or a combo of the 2. Most barbecues, graduation parties, or simple summer get togethers will have some sort of fruit tray, veggies and dip, or salad to choose from. Let this consume the majority of your plate, then allow yourself your indulgent item. If it’s the burger, save yourself 60-80 calories but only using 1/2 of the bun. If it’s the dips, choose celery sticks or pretzel crisps over pita or tortilla chips to do the dipping. If it’s the potato salad, take 1 leveled scoop. Whatever you are really craving, allow yourself to have it. If you don’t, you are just going to be thinking about it for the rest of the party and how you wish you had taken it (and that isn’t any way to help your party mood!). Once you have filled your plate, take a seat and eat your veggies, salad, or fruit first. Veggies and fruit both contain fiber and many have a high percentage of water. In combination, these items will begin to make you feel a little full, even before you have gotten to your special item. Once you have had your fill (including your special item), STOP. Don’t over-stuff yourself. Leave yourself some room so that you can enjoy a special treat from the dessert table a little later.

      Don’t think this will work for you? If you aren’t a fruit or veggie lover, fine. Take your burger, potato salad, or dip and enjoy, BUT leave at least 3 bites left on your plate. Sounds silly right? Well, those 3 bites will save you calories in the end. Saving a little is better then nothing right? 

2. When choosing alcoholic beverages, don’t worry about only having 1 or 2. No one will notice, I promise, as long as that drink is in your hand. If everyone around you is on their 4th or 5th drink, I’m guessing they think you probably are too. If someone offers to get you one, politely decline and say you will grab one in a minute after you finish your conversation with so and so. And don’t forget, have a glass of water in between each drink to help flush out your system and keep you on your toes!

3. Mixers can make or break your beverage. Most common mixers such as juices, margarita mix, sour mix, or sodas contain calories. Aside from the calories that you are getting from the alcohol, you are often adding anywhere from 80-300 calories per drink in mixers. Let the alcohol shine here. If you are a liquor person, choose mixers that are between 0-50 calories per serving, such as club soda, water with a splash of lime or lemon juice, seltzer water, fruit flavored water or seltzer, or if it is already flavored, add a bunch of ice and that is it. Keep in mind, adding ice in general adds volume to your drink, so if someone thinks you are being skimpy, add a few ice cubes and suddenly your beverage has doubled in size. If you enjoy a nice glass of white wine, try a wine spritzer instead with half club soda and half a white wine of your choice. If you are a beer drinker, either choose a lighter beer or choose whichever beer your prefer and leave 2-3 sips in the bottom of each beer (just make sure to dispose of it before someone sees!). As a general rule of thumb, keep it to 1-2 drinks and spread it out throughout your time there! If you are driving, you shouldn’t be indulging in alcoholic beverages anyway!

4. When it comes to desserts, sharing is key. If you have come with a group of friends or a significant other and have a few different desserts that you would like to try, ask someone if they would like to share with you. Make a plate of 3-4 or your favorite items, then split them! This way, instead of feeling overly stuffed after 1 cookie, a piece of fruit pie, and a cupcake, you feel a little lighter and have only consumed 1/2 the calories. I practice this concept all the time (just ask my boyfriend; he’s always my sharing buddy!).

5. I think this is the most meaningful tip that I can give. Stop the worrying! If you think everyone is watching your every move, I promise they are not. No one will notice if your don’t take that extra helping of pasta salad, or if you go back for seconds on veggies rather than dips. You should be proud of your efforts! And always remember….it is your body, so it is you who makes the decisions on what goes into it; not everyone else!