Monday, January 30, 2012

Guest Post: An Update from Sarah

Sarah continues to move through her recovery from Anorexia Nervosa and has made it through the most triggering time of the year for the majority of my clients - the holidays.  As Sarah moves forward from a setback of restriction, she shares her latest thoughts below.  Keep up the hard work Sarah. As always, we are pulling for you!

The past couple of days, who am I kidding; the past month has been difficult. Maintaining the healthy path of recovery is not as easy as the average person may think. I have come to the realization that listening and obeying the voices that sometimes accompany an eating disorder goes against my own personal beliefs. I have always been a true believer in the phrase what doesn't kill you will only make you stronger and so I have decided to make my new mantra, “eating will not kill me”.

You see not eating is what will kill me.  If I continue on this path of restricting, I will remain week both physically and mentally and where is the fun in life if I am too weak to enjoy it? Fulfillment comes when positive goals are met; not eating will most definitely prevent any of my current goals to be accomplished. I need to be strong enough to overcome the root cause of my eating disorder; if I am weak I am only allowing myself to stay in the "dark" place. I need to be strong enough to be a positive role model, not only for my own children, but for the hundreds of children I come in contact with. I want more than anything to be able to educate others and help others struggling with eating disorders.

If I do not eat I cannot move forward. It’s not the eating that will kill me, thus what does not kill me will only make me stronger.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Spotlight: It's our Blogaversary!

It's hard to believe I started this blog a year ago today!  Thank you to those of you who who have read and commented on my 77 posts in the last year.

I started this blog due to a large frustration with  all the misinformation presented in the media and news about nutrition and health.  Ask Amy is here to provide correct information that is backed by research or personal experience with my private practice. 

I am always looking for new ideas and topics so I encourage you to share this blog with your friends and family and send in your requests for 2012.  If you have a question feel free to email me and you'll find it answered in a coming blog. Until then... be well!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Family Nutrition: Unveiling of New Standards for School Meals: A Review

I’m a visual person so to start take a look to the right. Today the First Lady, along with Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the first changes to school meal programs in 15 years.  The aim is to clean up some of the high fat, sugary, and salty options that are current in the school system.  The thought is that by providing an extension of healthy options away from home this can help parents who are already working hard to create healthy balanced meals. The changes are said to improve the health and nutrition of 32 million children who utilize the school programs daily.  The staples of the changes will offer both fruits and vegetables at each meal, increase offerings of whole grains, offer low fat and fat free milk products,  as well as focus on calories, portion sizes, saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium.  School meal changes will be implemented within the next three years starting as early as September 2012.  Lunches are expected to change first with breakfasts following. 

When I took a look at the changes above I see significant decreases in overall calories, an increase in fiber, and a focus on low fat dairy products.  As a dietitian, I think this is a very positive step and I am thrilled to see this take place.

Critics are skeptical that French fries are still allowed on the menu and that tomato sauce on pizza is allowed to be counted as a vegetable.  Although I can absolutely see where the critics are coming from, I still see the above as significant changes that can have a very positive effect on our children.  Frankly, this is where you, the parent, come in.  Everybody should learn how to appropriately portion pizza and French fries and fit them into their meal plan.  Focus on portions and complimenting with a vegetable and fruit and don’t allow your kids to get too worked up on “good or bad foods.”  What do you think about the new standards?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Spotlight:The Year of the Dietitian?

I am a dietitian, therefore I believe in dietitians.  I do not think all dietitians are created equally.  I do not think all dietitians are necessarily great at what they do, but I do believe if you work with the right dietitian you can get results that affect your overall health in a very positive way.  What I don’t know how to do is convince the public at large that a dietitian is the professional to seek out when looking for assistance with weight loss, food allergies, high blood cholesterol, uncontrolled blood pressure, Diabetes, Eating Disorders, and much more.  It seems like a no brainer to me; simply a written order from a physician to schedule an appointment with a dietitian along with medication prescriptions.  But this doesn’t happen as easily as it sounds.
I’m still boggled after answering questions like what’s the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist. Now I’m starting to also be asked what a health coach is.  Personally, I think a lot needs to be done to better educate the medical practice and overall community about what a dietitian does and how they should be used as a resource for patients but until then I’ll give you some “food for thought.”

As I read through ads and new business ideas for 2012 I see a lot of advertisements for health coaches and nutritionists.  What exactly is a nutritionist or a health coach?  It seems to me that there is a wide variety of job descriptions such as the lawyer down the way who decided to stop practicing law and study up on nutrition and preach at the local gym or the health coach that had a defining moment in his or her life which initiated a second career.  But what are their qualifications?  Just because this individual may have been successful at transforming their life with weight loss and exercise, do you think they have the experience to tell you what will work within your life?  And  then even if the experience can be translated to yours, do you feel deep down that they have the experience to deal with your weight gain that has developed into insulin resistance in conjunction with high cholesterol? 
Yes dietitians are very experienced at menu planning and working in food service and some still choose to do so, but only a dietitian has the experience with ‘medical nutrition therapy’ or recommending the best nutrition for not only the general public, but also those with co-morbidities, food allergies, etc.  My wish for 2012 is that more practitioners embrace working in conjunction with dietitians, that the public seeks out the help of a dietitian as they strive to get healthy, and that those of us in the field can help our accrediting agency lobby and educate appropriately.  In the meantime, if you’ve worked with a dietitian and had a good experience, spread the word.  If you haven’t, maybe this is your year.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Common Challenges: Happy New Year - tips for a healthy 2012

Ah, January and New Year’s resolutions.  Those who consistently go to the gym throughout the year get slightly bothered in the beginning months of because of how crowded it is, the grocery stores notice healthier purchasing and increase their marketing and coupons on the organic or health foods, and dietitians read advertisement after advertisement on the web, in the newspaper, or in magazines promising for fast easy results as we roll our eyes (at least this one does).

I think it’s a great idea to make a resolution but it’s important to make it realistic and measureable to keep motivation and accountability intact.  Instead of saying “2012 is the year of health” why not make a specific measureable goal, share it, and have a buddy who can cheer you on?  I’d recommend changing the statement “2012 is the year of health” to, “in 2012, I will focus on eating 2 additional servings of fruits and vegetables and decreasing my lean protein from 7 oz. to 4 oz.”  Share the goal, hold yourself accountable, and monitor results.

If you are having a hard time finding specific goals here’s an idea to live by in 2012:

1)      Do not skip meals.  Skipping meals decreases your metabolism and forces your body into a state where it always feels it needs to store your food.  (see The vicious cycle of eating too little)

2)      Try to eat every four hours.  This will keep your metabolism moving forward and nourishment will provide fuel to make your body efficient.

3)      Insure each meal has a combination of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables for fiber.  This will help with satiety and provide the appropriate vitamins and minerals your body needs.

4)      Make sure you drink 64-80 ounces of water a day. Our bodies are horrible with telling us we are dehydrated.  Often times our body confuses hunger with dehydration which can cause mindless snacking.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with this note. I read a quote last week that said “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.”  This is so very true.  If you are planning to shell the money out for a gym deposit and monthly fees, why not see a dietitian first to insure you are eating appropriately? In the long run the visit with your dietitian can be less expensive and provide you with tips that can change your life.  Remember, most that go to the gym and complete cardio for 30 minutes burn approximately 250-300 calories.  You get those calories right back with a Chobani yogurt and ½ cup of fruit.  Healthy choices yes, but you are right back where you started from the calorie perspective.  If weight loss is the goal, your diet is just as important as your gym activity.  So what are you waiting for?  Make a decision that will change your life.  Call a dietitian today and get your assessment.  Need help?  Email me and I’ll even help you find a local dietitian in your area.  Cheers to a happy, healthy 2012!


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