I love dietitians! They’re smart, well-educated and enthusiastic.
Unfortunately for them, they are also a great bargain relative to similarly-educated clinicians (I ponder what the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, AND, our professional organization has been doing in the last decade as nurses value has soared…and ours has not). There are many new certificate players in the nutrition field, and that’s good and there is room for everyone in the land where 7 out of 10 Americans die of preventable lifestyle-related chronic disease. I just don’t see, however, a credential with the required biochemical and broad nutrition coursework background, from community to food service to mind-body to communications, as dietitians. Nutrition is science, and psychology and biochemistry and even after nearly 3 decades, helping people with food often pushes me to the edges of my knowledge and ability. Granted, I’m biased. I am an RDN (registered dietitian nutritionist), so have the inside view of what it takes to earn and maintain it.
The way forward for dietitians (and everyone in a female-dominated profession) is for each of us to focus on our value. How can we, as individuals, boost our personal, professional and market value? One way is to cross-train. To expand your knowledge and expertise in several areas. Dietitians, here comes Ayurveda and yoga therapy.
Yoga & Nutrition
Those of you who have known me for a while know that I have been combining nutrition with yoga since before there was so much great science explaining the mechanisms of why it’s helpful. Yoga, it turns out, makes us better choice-makers. Yoga also creates an internal biochemistry that calms inflammation and when practiced regularly can be protective against chronic disease.Pinterest
While I criticize the AND for our salary situation, I am also grateful for the ways they have supported me in my work as a writer and teacher of nutrition and yoga. I am thrilled to be speaking at FNCE in Boston this month, with world-renowned educator Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa of Harvard, and my friend and colleague the lovely Anu Kaur of the NIH. We’ll be talking about the science and practice of yoga therapy in dietetics, and highlighting how the field of yoga therapy is evolving through credentialing.
I’ll also be featuring colleagues in the field who are using yoga and yoga therapy in their nutrition practices. I’m inspired by this collection of practitioners. Thinking back to 2006-2007, when my first book came out, I was at FNCE (the Food and Nutrition Conference and Exhibition, the AND conference), and a tiny dark-haired woman came up to me at my booth, smiling ear to ear. She introduced herself, and only years later did I realize how sisterly we were. It was Beverly Price – a dietition-yoga teacher blending the two to help people with eating disorders. Now, Beverly owns a center in MI with an integrated staff including MDs, RDNs, and RYTs offering yoga-based therapies. She’s my business hero!
My work at Kripalu gives me a visible perch and happily, RDN-RYTs come to me when they are passing through. That’s how I met Andrea Leiberstein, a dietitian who works with mindful eating researcher Jean Kresteller on the program Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training (MB-EAT), offered at Kripalu and elsewhere. Andrea also trains health professionals to use Mindful Eating to help with weight and eating.
There are so many more RDNs in this budding field and I look forward to featuring them over the next months here on the blog, but if you are at FNCE, check out our talk on Sunday morning. If our last talks are any indication, it will be STO, so get there early!
For anyone in DIFM, I will be giving a short demo on plant energetics with a plant-song device from Italy at the Happy Hour, But I have to say, the best reason to stop by there is to see the incomparable Kathie Swift get yet another award (how does she find room on her mantle for all her awards?) for Lifetime Achievement in Integrative and Functional Nutrition.
I will also be at the Member Product Marketplace on Monday, offering special pricing and free shipping on my 2 books, and a special on my CE-program: Yoga and Meditation: Tools for Weight Management through Wolf Rinke. Please do come by!
Protein is critical but most Americans overdo it. Animal-rich diets have a larger carbon footprint – not so good for the environment. In a vegan (animal-free) diet, protein is widely available. We humans love us some protein!
How do we eat in balance – healthy for us and also our beautiful planet?
Recently I was teaching with a colleague I love and respect, who mentioned that the latest thinking on protein needs is 30/30/30 (grams per day). I sat up – that’s a lot of protein and has environmental implications, I thought. At that level of intake, it’s difficult if not impossible to get adequate protein from a vegan diet. I wanted to know more. This higher recommendation is nearly twice what the NIH recommends (around 50 grams – a little more for men, a little less for women).
That sparked a months-long investigation for me, that’s not yet finished!
It sent me to pubmed, the NIH’s library of clinical research, to see where the recommendation came from. All I could find were a collection of papers from something called Protein Summit 2.0, and I’m grateful that now clinical research papers need to list funding, because there they were – many of the business interests and advocacy groups whom you’d think would support it. Sure enough, papers from that gathering recommended this higher level, with nods from the egg, beef, pork and dairy industry.
Protein is critical for health throughout the lifespan, and can be a challenge if protein needs are high, as in performance athletes and those healing from injury or disease. However, it has been well established that in a vegan diet, protein is widely available. Vegans do have to be aware of protein, and taking some with each meal and snack is a great guide – think nuts or nut butters, beans, seeds and seed butters, whole grains and most vegetables. Vegan diets with these foods at the center are some of the most healthful on the planet. The planet smiles on vegan diets too, as protein is the macro-nutrient that tends to have the greatest impact on carbon footprint.
For more on the link between protein and the environment, look at this set of graphics from the World Resources Institute, and the Environmental Working Group’s Meat Eater’s Guide.
Recently a smart RDN (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) gave me the name of a researcher she respects who has been publishing studies on this higher level of protein. I have yet to investigate, but will (and will pass my take along).
What’s an eater to do? Here are my thoughts.
- No matter what your choice – vegan, flexitarian (an eater of a whole-foods plant-based diet with a little fish, eggs and dairy), or other – have some protein – mostly plant protein – with each meal and snack.
- If eating animals helps you nutritionally, please don’t feel bad about it. Honor the life that has been given. It is the cycle of nature and life and ultimately, nearly everyone gets eaten in the end.
- Honor the fact that protein is richly sustaining, and takes more resources to create – so, resist the temptation to overdo it. It is human nature to overdo it. Protein powders likely have the greatest carbon footprint of all – could you do it with an egg or seed powder? Focus on eating the CDC-recommended 9-13 servings of plants daily. Can you have a bit more of your protein from plants without suffering nutritionally?
What about me? I am a flexitarian – I eat about 1 serving of animal per day, in the form of mostly eggs, but occasionally fish or meat. I put whole grass-fed milk in my morning coffee, and enjoy a bit of ghee (clarified butter) from grass-fed cows. I mostly hit the recommended number of plants, but left to my own devices my taste would be pure starch! So, when life is full I have to remind myself to eat plants, and do on occasion retrace my day and find myself swimming in toast, and potatoes. Then it’s time to begin again, dust myself off and chop up some – hale kale!
Here are a couple of my plant-protein-rich recipes:
I’m big on soups!Pinterest
What about you – how do you honor protein and meet your needs?
Here it is. The holiday season.
Party time, candy and cookie time, rich food time. Estimates for how much Americans gain during this season range from 5 to 15 pounds, depending on who’s doing the reporting. And the particular parties you bless with your presence, I imagine. I wonder if the weight gain phenomenon is more prevalent in New England and the northern climes, but I’d love to hear stories and strategies from those in warmer places as to their situation and strategies for maintaining a healthy weight (and healthy habits) through this time. I imagine every region has it’s own spin on the bacchanal that is the holidays.
Here are few survival tips:
Accept the fact that you won’t be losing weight this month.
Regardless if you are a party momma or a stay-at-homer, there is just more high-calorie food around. Just maintaining is a feat this time of year, so relax on weight goals right now. January will be here soon enough.
Keep on moving. Practice stress management. Tie them together.
Keep physical activity top-of-mind this month, and don’t miss an opportunity to move. Physical activity is great stress management, so if you didn’t get your packages in the mail on time, didn’t get to cards this year, didn’t knit all your friends sweaters or didn’t get invited to the right parties, move a little to release the emotion that sits in your body as a result of life not being perfect.
Focus on the peeps, not the table.
Food traditions this time of year carry deep resonance and a strong pull. For me, it’s my mom’s cookies, and anything resembling eggnog. It’s not always easy to remember that the reason for the season is really love, hope and connectedness. I know that many family relationships can be challenging, and that can drive us to seek comfort from seasonal goodies in unhealthy quantities. There’s a Buddhist practice that may be helpful in working with relationships this season. The Dali Lama describes a practice of bowing down to the difficult people in your life, and thanking them for the opportunity they have provided to help you to experience spiritual growth. Love and honor them! For me, this practice a) cracks me up a little, and b) opens me up to another way to seeing things beyond the way my conditioned judgemental mind does. Somehow, it makes it easier for me to step back and see the people who challenge me differently, and to forgive them for the pain they cause me.
Resist and renounce projections as to what it “should be”
As gifted American poet Mary Oliver says, Whoever you are, no matter how lonely or difficult your life is, the world opens itself to you this season. My wish for you is to feel that magic. My wish for you is that someone does the Buddhist practice of loving you when you cause them pain. And I wish you peace.
Saving the Environment One Meal at a Time! Our modern society is more aware of climate change, and ways to combat it, then ever before. How about taking your eco-friendly lifestyle to the next step by applying it to your diet? The Environmental Working Group (EWG) created this article that highlight’s information from their full Meat Eater’s Guide. The graphic uses several peer-reviewed or government sponsored studies that measure carbon footprint, or “foodprint,” of common foods. The studies show that four ounces of foods such as lentils, tomatoes and 2% milk have the equivalent carbon footprint of less than one half mile driven in a car. The worst choice for our environment? Lamb; four ounces is roughly equivalent to ten miles driven. Chicken is the best meat choice, coming in at almost 2 miles driven. So not only are you what you eat, but so is our environment.
EWG also has a great list of resources to learn more about clean & sustainable eating. Every bite counts!
Here’s a copy of short version of the EWG Meat Eater’s Guide
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