Nutrition / Dietician
The rigorous 2005 guidelines call for Americans to cut calories, consume less sugar, eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day and choose whole grain foods and low-fat dairy products over processed grains and regular dairy products.
For many people, creating and following a balanced diet that is also fun to eat is not easy. One way you can learn to make lasting dietary changes is by enlisting the help of a registered dietician, who can teach you about nutrition, as well as analyze your personal eating patterns. Below, Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and a registered dietician in private practice in New York, talks about how dieticians can help dispel your food myths and make you a more educated eater.
Who needs nutritional advice?
Who needs nutritional advice? Who doesn't need nutritional advice? Unfortunately, a lot of people wait until something is wrong to consult with a registered dietician. And not that that's too late, but why wait until then? You could prevent a lot of chronic diseases and fatigue and feeling ill by consulting with a registered dietician.
What can dieticians tell us about our relationship with food?
Some of us need food for comfort, some for energy. Many of my patients are emotional eaters, so they eat for the wrong reasons. You know that expression "I eat to live"? Well, those are people who eat based upon hunger. Other people say that they live to eat, meaning that they love the food: They love the taste of it, the smell of it, the pleasure of cooking, the pleasure of shopping. I think that it's important for us each to find out why we eat the foods that we eat and why we eat in the styles in which we eat. The key is also "What are we eating?" and, very often, seeing a registered dietician will help you figure that out.
How can you prepare for a visit with a registered dietician?
It's a good idea to go see your physician and have some basic blood work done: cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, triglycerides. This way, the registered dietician has more information about you both inside and out, because that would really help him or her to get a better idea about what kinds of program that would be best suited for your particular needs.
You might also want to ask yourself, "Well, what are my eating habits like? Do I stand eating in front of the refrigerator? Am I eating in my car most of the time? Do I eat off my kid's plates? What kind of food am I making for my family? Do I know how to read a label?"
Do you recommend people keep a food journal?
Keeping a food journal that records the date, the time of day, the kind of food you ate and perhaps the amount that you ate is incredibly helpful for the registered dietician, because what we look for are patterns, such as foods that may be missing and foods that may be in excess. Sometimes, people have a tendency to give you a dietary recall, "Oh, no, I never have any snacks," and, then, you might look at the food diary and see, "Well, what happened here at 10:30 in the morning? What about 3 o'clock in the afternoon? What about at midnight? What about 3 am?"
What would a dietician want to know about your protein intake?
A registered dietician might want to know how much protein you are eating during the course of a day, because many people eat much too much protein. The biggest protein misconception is that protein has no calories. Too much protein could cause you to lose calcium from your bones. An excessive amount of protein can also harm your kidneys, because kidneys are the organs that filter protein.
Still, you need protein because protein repairs our bodies' muscles and tissues. So the other thing is: What are your sources of protein? Lean proteins, such as fish or chicken without the skin that is preferably not breaded and fried, are good choices. Meat is much better when it's grilled or broiled, so that you're not getting the extra fat there. Other healthful sources of protein are cheese, egg whites and beans. Peanut butter, tofu and soy products also have protein, so you don't have to just have meat in your diet to have a good source of protein.
What will a dietician want to know about your fat intake?
A dietician might want to know how much fat are you eating, the sources of fat, including the hidden sources of fat. There is fat lurking in many of the foods that you might not think of, like crackers, for example.
Bottom line: Check with a dietician, vist some INTERNET sites that address your specific dietary questions, enlist the help of your local health clinic , and educate yourself on some of the ways a dietician can benefit you and let you eat the foods you want, without losing sight of your health and nutrition goals. This is how lifestyle changes begin, with information.
Gym etiquette tips. When finished on a machine wipe it down with a towel and disinfectant. Remember to return your weights and be discrete in the locker rooms. If you are doing multiple sets at a station, be sure to check around to see if someone is waiting for the machine. Also be sure to keep the cell phone turned off and mind fellow members' personal space.
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Q: MrCain, I try working out regular but its really hard to keep the momentum in the winter when its so cold out, (I live in Chicago) and summer when it's so hot I can't breathe. I never did become the gym enthusiast I wanted to be. I've changed my lifestyle in the way that at least I eat a lot better than I used to (no more junk food) but I'm terrified of losing tone and strength. I'm sure I'm just looking for some excuse. Is there a remedy?
A: Heres an Option: Try a seasonal program. If you tackle your workouts seasonally you'll keep your interest up, keep your body challenged and target all of the components of fitness. In the winter focus on your strength training. In the spring pay attention to card. In the summer try fun activities like swimming, inline skating and tennis and in the fall focus on mind body work. You still work all of the components every season, but focus on one each season.
Cain on Fitness Health and Fitness series by R.D.Cain 1-4
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