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Battling Nutrition Misinformation on the Internet

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As a registered dietitian I am constantly battling the nutrition misinformation (i.e. quackery) that is published on the Internet.  Luckily for me I have many esteemed colleagues who are in this fight right along with me. …. 

5 Things a Dietitan Would Never Say

As a registered dietitian, I spend much of my day helping clear up confusion around which foods are healthy (and which are not). As more and more people hit the Internet to consume and share (via social media) food and nutrition information, misinformation is spreading faster than the latest Grumpy Cat meme: One week, maple water is the best thing for your health; the next it’s coconut oil, and now …bone broth.

So, where does all this nutrition hype come from? Many times it stems from a popular blogger, celebrity or website that highlights a new food trend. The buzz is generally based on preliminary or flimsy (poorly designed) research or simply anecdotal information.

Unfortunately, because anyone can claim they’re a “nutritionist,” this misinformation can pose a health threat. In some cases, adding trendy foods to one’s diet may elevate risk factors for chronic diseases. And eliminating entire food groups, as is often recommended without justification, can lead to nutrient deficiencies.

Here are five common phrases I’ve heard five “nutritionists” say (these are things a dietitian would never say):

1. It works for me … so it will for you, too.

Just because the so-called expert lost a lot of weight or improved his or her health doesn’t mean their trick will work for you. A one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition generally works for no one. Nutrition recommendations should be individualized, based on one’s genetic makeup, age, sex, food preferences and lifestyle.

Anyone who believes that a particular type of diet would be beneficial for everyone makes no scientific sense. As a dietitian, I don’t expect an Olympic athlete or cardiac rehab patient to eat like me. Instead, I provide a personalized approach to help each client achieve his or her individual health goals.

2. I have no formal training in nutrition.

While all registered dietitians can be called nutritionists, not all nutritionists are registered dietitians. To be a registered dietitian nutritionist, you must complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in nutrition science and supervised training in an accredited program that includes clinical and community settings. In addition, all RDNs have passed the national comprehensive exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. RDNs must also complete continuing education requirements to maintain our RDN credential.

The term “nutritionist” is not accredited. In fact, it may represent someone who has taken an online certification course, or it could be someone who feels entitled to call themselves a “nutritionist.” If your nutritionist isn’t qualified to work for a hospital or physician’s office, that’s cause for concern.

3. You can’t trust the medical “establishment.” When someone uses charged statements such as “If you want the real truth…” or “The FDA is using us as guinea pigs,” it’s most likely not credible. Trusted health organizations such as the American Heart Association, Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health develop nutrition recommendations based on overwhelming peer-reviewed evidence and can, in fact, be trusted. While it’s true that as the science evolves, recommendations may be updated, reputable health organizations make evidence-based recommendations.

4. The food industry fills our foods with toxic, addictive and cancer-causing ingredients that are essentially unregulated.

“Toxic.” “Cancer-causing.” “Made from petroleum.” These are terms often used by so-called nutrition experts to describe ingredients in the foods we eat every day. The statements are often misleading and an exaggerated s-t-r-e-t-c-h of the truth designed to raise fear about our food supply and the government agencies that oversee the safety of our food.

However, a real nutrition pro will focus on your personal diet, and assist you in finding the right foods – in the right amounts – to help you achieve your health goals. When you follow healthy eating principles, it’s great to be aware of what’s in your food, so you can make informed food choices, but no one should be fearful of the U.S. food supply. For the most part, ingredients singled out by some watchdog groups are generally found in soft drinks, fast food and other foods that aren’t on most RDs’ recommended lists of foods to enjoy.

5. This ____ (fill in the blank recommendation) helps “brain fog,” “elevate energy,” “leaky gut, “adrenal fatigue,” “acid-base balance.”

Often, I can identify non-dietitians just by the terms they use to promote a food or their diet philosophy. They will use non-medical terms that sound intriguing but can’t be proven effective, as there is no standard diagnosis for terms they use, such as leaky gut or adrenal fatigue. In fact, these highly subjective terms are not even recognized by most qualified medical professionals.

As dietitians, we are trained to treat risk factors for chronic conditions that have been proven effective through research. These include risk factors such as overweight and obesity; elevated blood glucose and insulin; high blood pressure, elevated LDL-cholesterol or C-reactive protein; and other clincally measureable risk factors for diseases.

By: Julie Upton, MS, RD, CSSD
http://www.usnews.com/topics/author/julie-upton

BBQ Chicken Pizza

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1 T olive oil

¾ c red onion, thinly sliced

2 boneless chicken breast halves

½ c homemade or commercial Korean bbq sauce

2 c smoked Gouda cheese, shredded

1/3 c fresh cilantro, chopped

1 16 oz. fully baked thin pizza 

1. Heat oil in large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add onion. Sauté until caramelized, about 8-10 mins

2. Preheat grill to high

3. Coat chicken with bbq sauce. Grill, marking both sides, until chicken is 165°F

4. Slice chicken into ⅓” wide slices

5. Mix cheese & cilantro

6. On crust, spread ½ cheese mix, chicken, rest bbq sauce, red onion, remaining cheese mix

7. Transfer pizza to hot baking sheet. Bake pizza on hot sheet about 15 mins

Stop Focusing on the Actual Goal

Beach-denise-credit

For a company that is wild about wildly important goals…say what?!?

You need a goal (or two, but not more than 3!) and it needs to be measurable. The process of identifying and agreeing upon a goal (what can be even better, cleaner, tastier, safer) brings focus…to everyone. And, by the way…”focus” is the single word to which both Warren Buffett and Bill Gates attribute their success — not determination, not smarts, not courage, not creativity — but focus. 
BUT, to achieve your goal? Spend your time focusing on your “systems“.

“If you’re a coach, your goal is to win a championship. Your system is what your team does at practice each day…When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time. None of this is to say that goals are useless…goals are good for planning your progress, while systems are good for actually making progress.” 

So, you have a goal…pulse-check…what are your systems for achieving it and maintaining the desired result? Focus, focus and refocus on that.

Focus on Eating Real Food

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Even a science based professional finds their head spinning with all the contradictory information about dietary fats.

Recently another study was published disputing years of recommendations to keep our total fat consumption to less than 30% and saturated-fat to less than 10% of our calorie intake. Although this particular study I am referring to was not the ideal way to measure the effect of dietary fat on cardiac mortality (i.e. death), it helps put things in perspective. Rather than demonizing one specific macronutrient, be it carbohydrate, fat, or protein, we should focus on eating whole food. When we consume whole food we naturally eliminate processed foods with little nutritional value. Perhaps this is another lesson to teach us that it is far better to focus on real food rather than individual nutrients. When you eat a balance of real food there is no need to count carbohydrates, protein or fat because you naturally get what you need.

Bottom line, consume whole foods such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts and seeds, vegetables and fruits and whole grains; and limit (or avoid) consumption of processed foods. You don’t need a science background to understand that.

Focus on Eating Real Food

veggies

Even a science based professional finds their head spinning with all the contradictory information about dietary fats.

Recently another study was published disputing years of recommendations to keep our total fat consumption to less than 30% and saturated-fat to less than 10% of our calorie intake. Although this particular study I am referring to was not the ideal way to measure the effect of dietary fat on cardiac mortality (i.e. death), it helps put things in perspective. Rather than demonizing one specific macronutrient, be it carbohydrate, fat, or protein, we should focus on eating whole food. When we consume whole food we naturally eliminate processed foods with little nutritional value. Perhaps this is another lesson to teach us that it is far better to focus on real food rather than individual nutrients. When you eat a balance of real food there is no need to count carbohydrates, protein or fat because you naturally get what you need.

Bottom line, consume whole foods such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts and seeds, vegetables and fruits and whole grains; and limit (or avoid) consumption of processed foods. You don’t need a science background to understand that.

Come Together

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Whether you watch football or not, chances are you heard a lot of hype during the last two weeks. This year there was plenty to discuss and debate. Emotions can run very high when folks have strong feelings about “their team,” and with the opinions around “deflate-gate” there was more “who are you cheering for?” buzzing around.

How does this relate to our business?

How often do you see something differently from your colleague, employee, client? Every day we are faced with different opinions, beliefs, viewpoints and preferences. Sometimes, these differences are in areas we feel very strongly, if not passionately about.  What if someone criticizes “your team” or your work?

There are many scenarios and opportunities for folks to disagree. But what we do and how we react makes all the difference in how we work together:

  • Will you listen to what the other person has to say completely before landing on what you think?
  • Do you really hear how the other person feels and why?
  • Do you want to understand where they are coming from?
  • Can you be accepting of their opinion even if it differs from yours?
  • Can you let go of the fact that they may not agree with you?

The more we can answer yes to these questions, the further we will all go. Reaching yes gets easier and easier as we focus on CV#5.  Regardless of how we feel about a situation, we can always Be Kind, Be Positive, and Be Gracious. 

Yes, even when we are cheering for different teams we can do that.

Clean Eating Tips

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Clean Eating. This is a term that is overused & misused extensively.  The best “definition” (I use this term loosely) is by Eating Well’s registered dietitian.  Clean eating is “about eating more of the best and healthiest options in each of the food groups—and eating less of the not-so-healthy ones. That means embracing foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains, plus healthy proteins and fats. It also means cutting back on refined (i.e. processed) grains, added sugars, salt and unhealthy fats. And since you don’t have to count calories or give up whole food groups, it’s easy to follow.”

Clean Eating Tips:

Limit processed foods

Bump up your vegetables

Cut down on saturated fat

Reduce alcohol intake

Un-sweeten your diet

Watch the salt

Choose whole grains

Up your fruit intake

Nix refined grains

For more specific information click on this link to view the slide show and to browse delicious lunch recipes. 

Kale Butternut Chopped Salad

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Serves 8

1     butternut squash, peel, cut ó”

2 T  olive oil

Salt & pepper

10 c tuscan kale, chopped

½ c  dried cranberries, coarsely chopped

½ c  pumpkin seeds, toasted

½ c  feta cheese, small crumbles

¾ c  vinaigrette (balsamic or champagne)

 

1. Preheat oven to 400°F

2. Toss squash, olive oil, s&p. Roast for 20 mins, cool

3. Mix kale with 2 T vinaigrette, marinate for 20 mins

4. Toss chopped kale, squash, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, more vinaigrette

The First Step

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It’s not rewarding. It’s not coaching. It’s not training. It’s not orienting.

 

It’s hiring.
How good are you at it?

 

You probably have a few people you’d love to clone because they do a great job, are self-motivated, are a team player. AND, you probably have more than one with attitude, attendance, quality of work issues. Even if you have only one in that second category, it’s too many. You cannot reach all your goals unless the entire team is on board and capable of doing the job that needs to be done. So, how do you accomplish that? You spend the right time on hiring (no warm bodies!) and you see recruiting as a 24/7 activity. Make your operation a “magnetic” place to work, so when you have an opening you have people in line who want to work for you. And…before you hire someone who is unemployed, be sure you’re comfortable with why they are.

 

There are plenty of articles debating what is more important: skill or attitude?

 

Both! Short-change either one and you will live to regret it.

 

Top 5 things you must say yes to before you hire the next person:
1. She has a great attitude.
2. She has the skills to do the job (and I know this for reasons beyond that she told me so).
3. She is self-motivated. (A major thing managers spend time on is motivating others — hire people that are pretty good at motivating themselves, too!)
4. She really wants to be part of this team.
5. My gut says she’s the right one.

Recognizing a Good Whole Grain

italian bread

While the Internet is filled with propaganda about how grains are killing us, I am still a firm believer in the importance of whole grains as part of a healthy diet.  While the bulk of our diet should be from vegetables & fruits (think leafy greens, plant based proteins, whole fruits, etc.) there is still room to incorporate a variety of whole grains.   My current favorite whole grain happens to be quinoa, which is a quick and easy protein source (my Pinterest board is filled with quinoa recipes).  However, my preferred whole grain is bread so I am constantly experimenting with different whole grain varieties.  My latest accomplishment is whole-wheat pretzel rolls.  I have a great love for pretzels rolls, although most I have encountered are of the refined flour variety.  I modified a recipe by exchanging the unbleached flour for whole wheat with beautiful results. Serve these warm with butter of perhaps an egg sandwich (egg, spinach, pick your fancy), so many possibilities.

Recognize a good whole grain

Soft pretzel rolls (I used 100 % whole wheat flour with beautiful results)