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.”


National Nutrition Month Tidbits

Well, if you have any dietitians in your life it’s no secret that it is National Nutrition Month! That being said, this is a perfect time to plug the “reliable nutrition” card! If you are seeking nutrition advice or have nutrition questions, always go to your RD first! Registered Dietitians are trained and have education and extensive training on science-based nutrition information and how to apply the research and science to every day practice. Before you click “search”, reach out to one of us and pick our brains instead… please!

I also figured I would use this month as a chance to give a few basic tips to healthy eating and maintaining your healthy lifestyle within reason. There is a reason that fad diets are called fad diets… they tend to not last long or be sustainable for extensive periods of time (hens FAD). My biggest pet peeves when it comes to nutrition advice: cleansing, juicing, and over-consumption of nutritional supplements. Juicing, just to pick on one, takes a very important part of fruits and vegetables…. the fiber… and completely disposes of it. What is left though is sugar and plenty of it. Yes, it is natural sugar, but no that doesn’t give anyone the green light to over-consume it. What happens with excessive sugar and no fiber? Blood sugar peaks and dips which more than likely leads to feelings hunger soon after you’ve consumed your juice.

My tips are very basic and simple. They build upon my basic principles for healthy eating  “Pick plants often, vary your diet, don’t deprive yourself, and enjoy what you eat!” that you see on my home page. Please feel free to ask me questions, I would love to answer them, and take this month as a good learning experience if there is something in the nutrition field that sparks your interest!

3 Tips to Healthy Eating & Lifestyle Changes:

1. Follow the 80/20 rule. Make 80% of your daily food choices healthy and nutrient dense. Allow 20% for leniency, “special” foods, treats, or things you know you probably shouldn’t have often. There is no harm in treating yourself every once in a while; no one is perfect! When we deprive ourselves of what we love, it often leads to relapse or over-eating.

2. Hydrate yourself with H2O! Each time you feel the hunger bug, take a second to think if you are actually hungry or thirsty. Often times we confuse hunger with thirst. Drink water throughout the day and skip the sugar-sweetened or caffeinated beverages. Caffeine can often be dehydrating, so after your morning coffee fix keep the caffeine to a minimum. There really isn’t an explanation for the sugar-sweetened beverages other than they aren’t necessary!

3. Move towards a primarily plant-based diet. No, I’m not asking you to get rid of the meat, but I am asking you to incorporate more plant-based foods at every meal. The nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds do wonders for your body in more ways than one. Whether it be reducing inflammation, boosting your immune system, or aiding in muscle or tissue repair, there is no denying how important the fruits and veggies are (as well as other plant-based foods!) to your body. It could be adding some veggies to your omelet in the morning, throwing a handful of raw almonds into your yogurt, having a piece of fruit with lunch, or filling half your plate with colorful veggies at dinner; just make it a point to pick plants often!

 


Simple Soups

Sorry I don’t have a picture for this one, but I promise it is very tastey! When I am having a busy week, I love to pull out the crockpot. Sometimes, the last thing we want to do is think of and cook a full dinner at the end of a busy day. There are so many things you can do in a crockpot, the possibilities are endless! I made this crockpot Spinach Cannellini Bean Soup a few weeks ago and meant to post it but got wrapped up on the couch with a big bowl of warm soup and it slipped my mind 🙂 It is so simple, flavorful, and comforting. I really hope you try it out!

Crockpot Spinach Cannellini Bean Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 container vegetable broth (I believe it is a total of 4 cups)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 can of cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrots (I used large carrots, peeled, and cut them)
  • 1/2 bag frozen chopped spinach (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • dried thyme, basil, black pepper, and garlic powder (season to your liking, just remember dried herbs are much more potent then fresh!)
  • 1 cup whole-wheat rotini

Add all ingredients (except the pasta) to your crockpot and cook on low heat for 4-6 hours. During the last 1/2 hour, keep your crockpot on low and add in your pasta. Serve after your pasta is tender, and make sure to turn your crockpot off or the pasta will eventually overcook and become soggy! I finished off my bowl of soup with a sprinkle of low-fat mozzarella cheese. This recipe makes a total of about 4-5 servings. I froze half of mine to use at a later date! Enjoy 🙂


Good Morning Green Smoothie

So it happened… I got sick of having oatmeal for breakfast. Oh no! Oatmeal has been my go-to breakfast for as long as I can remember, and I knew the day would come when I just couldn’t pack one more oat into my stomach. To change it up a little bit, I have been on a morning smoothie kick. I think that smoothies can be a great way to get in a serving of fruits and vegetables (especially if you aren’t a veggie lover) and can be so versatile, different, and colorful. This morning I had a delicious green smoothie. Drinking something green may seem a little strange or unappealing to some people, but if you can stand it, I suggest you try this one! It is sweet, refreshing, and was the perfect start to my morning!

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Good Morning Green Smoothie

  • 1-2 cups fresh spinach (I just used a big handful)
  • 1/2 cup frozen mango
  • 1/2 cup frozen peaches
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup Silk Vanilla Light Soy Milk
  • 1 tsp ground flaxseed

Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. It helps to add a little bit of your liquid first so that it is near the blade. Your fruit will blend easier this way. I was able to fill 1 large mason jar plus 1/2 of a regular sized mason jar with this recipe. I saved the smaller jar for a snack later in the day. Enjoy!

What are your favorite smoothie combinations?


Sweet Potato Chickpea Burgers

I tried a new recipe of mine tonight and have to say it was pretty successful! I believe I have wrote about my love for sweet potatoes before, so when I planned on having one for dinner tonight, I thought, why not add it to a burger and see how it taste? I cook them often with beans, so I figured it would be a great pairing for a bean burger! 

They burgers were very moist, and I could definitely taste a hint of sweet potato. I topped my burger with sautéed mushrooms, onions, and a little dijon mustard. I hope you try them out for National Nutrition Month!

Sweet Potato Chickpea Burgers

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Ingredients:

  • 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1/2 of a large sweet potato cooked in the microwave until soft
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • black pepper
  • paprika
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup unseasoned, plain bread crumbs

Mash your chickpeas until fairly fine; they won’t get as mushy as black beans, and may seem a little gritty, but they will be fine! Add your sweet potato and mash as well, incorporating the beans too. Add your egg, bread crumbs, herbs, and seasonings and mix until well blended. Divide your mixture into 4, and create 4 evenly-sized patties (I froze the other 3 for later). Cook your patty until each side is a little golden brown (about 3 minutes per side). Top with your favorite toppings or condiments and enjoy!