Author: Ashley Wentworth
National Nutrition Month ® was created by the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics as a way to learn more about nutrition and incorporate healthful habits into our lifestyles. Each March the Academy chooses a theme for National Nutrition Month ® and provides information and helpful tips related to the theme.
Fuel for the Future
This March, the focus is “Fuel for the Future.” According to the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, this theme “highlights the importance of fuelling our bodies at every age and eating with the environment in mind.”
As a Registered Dietitian, I am enjoying this pick. It reminds us to focus on getting enough food to nourish ourselves, something I find most people struggle with. A lot of messaging around nutrition is confusing, rigid, or proclaims, “The less, the better!” This can leave us hungry, irritable, hyper focused on food, and can erode our relationship with food and trust in our bodies. Adequate nutrition is a great step towards a healthful lifestyle.
The sustainability aspect of this theme is a great sentiment as well, encouraging us to leave our environment better than we found it. Prioritizing sustainability can be great for some, but can create a hyperfocus on food choices and can also be expensive and inaccessible for many of us. Making intentional, sustainable food choices often requires financial resources, time, and energy. Many of us do not have the capacity to participate in these options as resources are limited, we do not have many options for food shopping, and we need to choose low cost foods to maximize the volume of food we can buy—especially with the current increase in costs of living. We can also get too wrapped up in these practices as well. If you are only allowing yourself to eat sustainable options you may risk inadequate nutrition and obsessive food thoughts and behaviors.
The Academy also provides some tips to try out during the month to help us apply the theme to our everyday lives:
Each of these tips can make a big difference in your budget, time, food choices, and relationship with food. I personally use every one of these suggestions in my nutrition choices and planning, as well as in nutrition counseling with my clients.
If you’d like to start implementing any of these tips:
- Start slow! Choose 1-2 at a time to practice.
- Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to “stick to it”. It’s new and will take time to adjust.
- If it doesn’t make things easier for you, it might not work for you. That’s okay!
- Be patient. Improving health and nutrition takes time and often does not look or feel the way we see in media.
- Focus on how these changes are making you feel, and celebrate these wins!
- Physically - do you have more energy?
- Mentally - are you fueling enough and having less irritability? Are you less stressed about food choices?
- Emotionally - are you having more fun in the kitchen? Are you enjoying food and meals more?
National Nutrition Month® also aims to bring awareness to the role of Registered Dietitians.
Registered Dietitians (RD), also called Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN), are food and nutrition experts. Registered Dietitians have completed a specific, accredited curriculum for an undergraduate degree, completed a supervised practice/internship, and passed a national registration examination. We also must maintain continuing education requirements throughout our career.
This extensive training allows us to work in many different fields to:
- Make personalized, evidence-based nutrition and lifestyle recommendations based on your past medical history, budget, schedule, preferences, allergies, etc.
- Plan, implement, and help people access community food and nutrition programs.
- Develop recipes and food products.
- Provide nutrition care and interventions in clinical settings like hospitals and long-term care facilities.
- Develop and implement nutritionally adequate menus for schools, hospitals, and other facilities.
- Perform health, food, and nutrition research.
- Manage food service operations.
- Provide reliable health and nutrition information in public health campaigns.
What’s the difference between a Registered Dietitian and a Nutritionist?
Registered Dietitians are credentialed practitioners that have met certain qualifications, and participate in required continuing education to maintain their credentials. Per the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, “A credential is a professional qualification — like MD for doctors or physicians — that lets the public know that the practitioner is a trained expert. In nutrition and dietetics, the credentials for trained experts is RDN and NDTR.”
The “Nutritionist” title is not credentialed, meaning that there are no qualifications to meet to acquire this title, so in essence, anyone can call themselves a Nutritionist.
Note: All Registered Dietitians are Nutritionists, but not all Nutritionists are Registered Dietitians. Be sure to get health and nutrition information from a credentialed source. Much of the current nutrition information in the media is anecdotal and not based on scientific evidence.
I hope these nutrition tips were helpful! Enjoy National Nutrition Month®!
Today is International Day of Women and Girls in Science. This special day is observed on February 11th each year to raise awareness for gender equality in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM. Despite the needle moving forward in regard to gender equality in the STEM fields, the presence of women is still severely lacking.
Author: Ashley Wentworth
You've probably seen the headlines or heard the news stories about inflammation inside our bodies. This can be a tough concept to grasp, because you can't necessarily see the inflammation. It's not like a cut that becomes inflamed with infection or a sprained ankle that's swollen and inflamed. But there are signs of chronic, internal inflammation if you know what to look for.
Acute inflammation is a very normal reaction that takes place in your body when there's been an injury or illness (like that sprained ankle or when you have a virus). It's simply your immune system's way of removing something in your body that is harmful or just shouldn't be there.
Chronic inflammation, however, is another story.
Sometimes, the body is unable to overcome or repair the damage. This can lead to the body slowly building up an internal inflammatory response that can last months or years. Scientists now believe that inflammation is behind many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, allergies, COPD, chronic kidney disease, Alzheimer's, irritable bowl disease, and arthritis.
So while you might not be able to see signs on the outside of the body, there can be signs and symptoms that you experience as a result of chronic inflammation, including:
Chronic fatigue and insomnia
Depression, anxiety and mood disorders
Gastrointestinal complications like constipation, diarrhea, and acid reflux
Weight gain or weight loss
Frequent infections (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/)
Stop Fanning the Flames of Inflammation
The good news is that you can calm the inflammation inside your body.
- Reduce your processed sugar intake. This doesn't mean avoid sugar at all costs, and it definitely doesn't mean avoid natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables! But if your normal go-to's tend to be highly processed foods with added sugar, maybe consider swapping them for something more sustaining and less inflammatory, like whole grains, fruits, and veggies with a protein or healthier fats (like avocados and tuna). Side note: Beware assuming that "healthy" food is healthy for you. Even healthy foods can react in unhealthy ways inside your body. Get into the habit of paying attention to how you're feeling after you eat and as the day wears on. Do you feel bloated and "puffy"? Inflammation could be a culprit.
- Move Your Body. Studies show that consistently moving your body can help decrease inflammation. The type of exercise matters, though. When you engage in high intensity exercise without giving your body ample time to recover, it can increase inflammation and deal your immune system an unhealthy blow (we do have a solution for those of you who like your high intensity exercise, so keep reading...).
- Get your ZZZZs. You may be laughing right now, especially if you have little ones, but sleep deprivation is no laughing matter. Getting the sleep you need (ideally 7-9 hours/night for adults), will help in the long run. It's during sleep that human growth hormone is produced (hence, why it's also important for your little ones to be getting the shut eye they need, too), and your body heals and regenerates new cells (among a host of other things!). Create a bedtime routine for both you and your kiddos. You'll all be happier...and less inflamed.
- Master your stress. Have you read the VitaMom Club blog post on stress? If not, go read it now. Chronic stress is one of the leading contributors of chronic inflammation and can lead to depression, heart disease, and decreased immunity.
Lastly, chew on this. Turmeric (curcumin) has been shown to have major anti-inflammatory properties. But here's the thing. It's difficult to get enough of the curcumin that's found in turmeric to really make a difference in inflammation. That's why we've packaged it in a yummy gummy (sorry, couldn't resist that rhyme haha). We include black pepper in our formulation, because our bodies absorb curcumin better when it's combined with black pepper.
While it's impossible to fully avoid inflammation, it's important to start taking control of it where you can. Include daily self-care--no matter how small--as practicing consistently is what produces progress. Here's to you mom! xo
Author: Carrie Myers
In the last post, we discussed what stress is (like you needed that lesson haha) and what it does to your health. We also talked about some simple ways to manage your stress. In this post, we look at the root causes of your stress and how to dig them out.
Getting to the Root of It
Stress-relieving techniques are necessary and absolute lifesavers sometimes (lifesaving for you…and your kids!). But for chronic stress that just isn’t going away, it’s important to figure out the real root of it so it can be dealt with.
Start by asking yourself what your major sources of stress are. Go ahead—list them out.
Next, choose one of these sources. Ask yourself what exactly about this stressor is stressing you out?
For example, if your work is stressing you out, what exactly about your job is the problem? The actual type of work? A co-worker? Your boss? The pay? The hours? The commute? What?
Once you’ve narrowed down this root, let’s uproot it!
Change your perception of the stress? This is like the “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure” phenomenon. What stresses one person out, another let's roll off her back. Sometimes when we get rolling in that stress mode, we allow everything to stress us out.
Is this thing really worth you stressing out over…including the effect it’s having on your health and your family? How can you change your perception of it? One way is to look at the lessons you’re learning from it. What pearls of wisdom can you take from this situation? Offer up some gratitude for these lessons!
Change your reaction to this stressor? There’s a difference between reacting and responding. When we react to a stressor, it’s that knee-jerk, emotional reaction. There is no thought to the reaction. It’s automatic and usually emotionally-fueled.
A response, however, is more thoughtful. You take a little time to take that deep breath (hello, parachute…). This gets some of that lifesaving oxygen to your brain so you can make a more rational response.
When you’re faced, for example, with a continuously irritating, cranky co-worker (or family member...) (your saber-toothed tiger), 1. Take a step back (physically and/or figuratively), 2. Take a deep breath, 3. Respond.
If this person is used to your knee-jerk reaction, by responding instead of reacting, you might be surprised at the response you get back from them! Hey, a little shock value never hurts (the shock coming from them expecting you to freak out on them...but then you don't)!
Take action. Let’s say you’ve tried letting things roll off your back (changed your perception) and you’ve changed your reaction (way to be responsive!), but the stressor persists and you can’t take it any longer. What action might you need to take?
In the case of your job, do you need to look for a new one? Is there a conversation that needs to happen with your supervisor? Do you need to ask for more money? Do you need to transfer to a different department or shift?
Here’s the thing to remember: there are ALWAYS options, even when it feels like there are none! They might not be ideal for the long-term, but they can act as stepping-stones to get you out of a current situation and headed to where you want to be. You just have to be willing to get creative, brainstorm possible solutions (stepping-stones), and take action.
Here’s to less stress! xo