Nutrition messages change on the daily. What advice do I follow? How do I know what to believe? What’s the difference between a registered dietitian and nutritionist?
National Nutrition Month is coming to an end, and I wanted to share one last message: A registered dietitian nutritionist can provide sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences and health-related needs.
The titles of registered dietitian and nutritionist do not mean the same thing:
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (often referred to as a Dietitian): A health professional who has been specifically trained in nutrition and meets national standards of practice. Registered Dietitian Nutritionists complete 1200 supervised practice hours and have to pass a national credentialing exam. On top of that, they are required to maintain continuing hours of education. Dietitians are held accountable for their conduct so the information you get from a Dietitian is reliable, professional advice.
Nutritionist: The term nutritionist can be given to anyone. Most nutritionists have no formal nutrition education and a few have qualifications in areas like food science or human nutrition. While most are well-meaning, be cautious if choosing to take advice from a nutritionist as they may not be fully informed.
I realize it’s difficult to sort through all the conflicting nutrition messages on the TV, internet, and in magazines. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. If a new diet is cutting out 80% of healthful foods, it may not be a healthy diet. If you’re reading a nutrition article, check to see if the author is a Dietitian. The main thing to remember: Keep it simple. Don’t over-complicate food. Stick to real, fresh, healthful foods. Veggies, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and dairy.
If you have questions about nutrition check out reliable websites like eatright.org and foodandnutrition.org or ask your Registered Dietitian Nutritionist! Check with your insurance provider, because your visit with the Dietitian might be covered.
Healthy eating is one of the most powerful tools to reduce the onset of disease. And what’s more – eating healthy can be delicious and enjoyable by accommodating personal taste preferences, cultural food traditions and budget restrictions!
Small changes like adding new vegetables to traditional dishes, and cooking meals at home adds healthfulness along with deliciousness to the food we eat.
Being a native of southern India, I enjoy home-cooked vegetarian meals using a lot of Indian spice mixes with my family. Traditional meals include rice served with stews and sautés made from lentils, beans, peas and vegetables. On weekends, I make the more elaborate southern Indian breakfasts like crepes and steamed cakes made from a batter of fermented rice and lentils, and dips made with coconut, lentils and vegetables.
I try to incorporate whole grains, local and seasonal vegetables and fruits into our meals to get the most nourishment (as seasonal and local produce are at their peak freshness and nutrient levels). Involving my kids in the process, like buying vegetables together at the Farmers’ Market, and washing, prepping and setting the table for mealtimes, helps them learn about the food they eat and gives them a sense of accomplishment. This in turn teaches healthy eating patterns which may continue in adulthood.
I also enjoy experimenting with cuisines from different parts of the world which opens doors to a wider variety of delicious and nourishing foods. Many grocery stores sell herbs, spices and spice mixes used in different cuisines at pocket-friendly prices. Hope you take time to enjoy food traditions and find creative, healthful and nutritious ways to add flavor to food, starting this month!
Nine years ago, my mother sent me an article from her hometown newspaper in Davis, Calif. It was highlighting a charity event that several local schools were involved with. It was called “The Empty Bowl Project,” wherein students created bowls and hosted a luncheon to sell them, with all the proceeds being donated to local food shelters. I was immediately inspired and brought the article to school and shared with my ceramics classes.
My students were equally enthusiastic about taking up the cause, and so we embarked on our own Empty Bowl Project here at San Marcos High School. It’s been an amazing journey ever since. Students have learned to use their ceramic skills for the greater good and the true meaning of giving. And the infectious ripple-effect of altruism has grown steadily every year. We have had record-breaking marks every year since we started, raising over $20,000 for local food banks.
Every year it gets larger and more people jump on board to support the cause. In fact, it has grown so large that to meet bowl demands; I had to start a secondary support event called “Midnight Madness Bowl-ing Marathon.” For this, a few weeks before our Empty Bowl event, I select a small group of dedicated students to make bowls all night until sunup. For our continued efforts, we have been nationally recognized by the California State Senate as a “We Fight Hunger” school, and last year were featured in an international Empty Bowls exhibition at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. It’s one of the few events that bring together students, parents, staff, District Office personnel, and School Board Members all for a great cause. It’s become a marquee event here on our campus. We look forward to supporting The Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank while continuing our quest to fill others’ empty bowls well into the future.
Happy National Nutrition Month everyone! During the month of March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics focuses on ways to promote healthy, nutritious food choices. National Nutrition Month serves as a great reminder to enjoy delicious, healthy meals and developing good eating habits.
The theme for 2016 is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right,” which encourages everyone to take time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors, and social experiences food can add to our lives. – EatRight.org
Here at the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, we are committed to providing nutritious food and combating nutrition-related diseases among those we serve. We even distribute over 7 million pounds of fresh produce each year! That’s why we love celebrating National Nutrition Month!
How can you participate? Here are some simple ways to get involved:
1. Organize a food drive to support the San Diego Food Bank.
2. As a family, commit to trying a new fruit or vegetable each week of National Nutrition Month.
3. Plan to eat more meals together as a family during National Nutrition Month.
4. Take a field trip to a local farmers market or garden.
For the next 4 weeks, we’ll be posting helpful blogs and tips to encourage everyone to participate in National Nutrition Month. Stay tuned!