I know you are, but what am I…

Hey! I’ve had a lot of thoughts bouncing around my head regarding what to write in this post today. What I decided to do is a parody of some of the styles of nutritionism from my perspective in professional nutrition practice.

Nutritionism encompasses the thought that singling out particular aspects of nutrition will define health. If that isn’t completely clear, hopefully it will be after the following examples.

Hello

The Selectivist

The Selectivist has some strong beliefs about health, but they pick and choose when to be healthy and when it doesn’t really matter. They often use essential oils to ward off illness, but still sneeze into their hands and touch your doorknob. They won’t touch a receipt from the cashier for fear of the BPA on the paper, but eat hot dogs and drink diet coke regularly for lunch. They use a very expensive water filter, but haven’t eaten a vegetable in weeks.

The Immediatist

Not worried about the long-term effects of suboptimal nutrition, the Immediatist seeks instant gratification for nutrition-related issues. They refuse to consider the power of regular, consistent eating in lieu of seeking advice from their friends on social media. They are constantly on the prowl for that one little gem of wisdom or powdered potion added to their water which will change…everrrryyyyything.

The Medical Marvel

Despite the wonders of modern science, considering both conventional and integrative nutrition concepts, the Medical Marvel bucks all aspects of evidence-based research. The Medical Marvel could not possibly benefit from regular physical activity and improved nutrition; no way, it wouldn’t work. The Medical Marvel defies the odds and the rules of science altogether. Living on shards of spinach and water, the Medical Marvel can still exceed weight standards, even in the face of utter starvation. It is truly unbelievable.

The Mathemanutritionist

Capable of the fastest calorie-counting in the West, the Mathemanutritionist can tabulate the exact (or so they think) caloric content of any common food. They are especially proficient in calculating the total energy load of processed foods, especially because the numbers are on the packages. In fact, the Mathemanutritionist will often pass up nutrient-rich foods, such as fresh vegetables and fruits, and instead choose super-processed (but mathematically reliable) packaged fare. Smart watches are a Mathemanutritionist’s best friend.

The Nextbestthingist

Every week is an adventure with the Nextbestthingist. Unsatistifed with consistency, the Nextbestthingist might be intermittent fasting this week, or doing full-on keto the next. Satisfaction is not a destination; rather, staying current with the latest nutritional fads is a priority and met with great pleasure or disdain, depending. The Nextbestthingist is certainly not shy about his voyage, and you can be assured you will hear all about the woes of this week’s carrot elimination as you grab your lunch from the employee breakroom. If you don’t ask, you will still hear it. It is often echoing through the hallways. The less people ask, the louder the echoes.

. . . . . . . . .

I shall digress. I hope you found a little humor from these funny (but true) forms of nutritionism I encounter every. single. day. All of them tend to have relatively good intentions, but are totally misled by seeking and/or receiving nutrition guidance from unqualified or outdated sources.

If you identify with any of these descriptions, you may benefit from meeting with a registered dietitian nutritionist! If that is too far a stretch, you can start with this book.

Cheers,
Casey
xoxoxoxox

How to Make a FAIL Bawse AF

Greetings, lovely people. I have to admit some failure to you. I have had a goal since opening this blog. The goal was (at first) to post once a week. I realized that was unrealistic, and vowed to post at least twice a month. Then, once beginning a doctorate program, I thought posting at least once a month was a reasonable plan. For the very first time in 2.5 years, I missed a month. I know it really isn’t that big a deal, but there is a lesson to be learned, and I will share that with you today (among other dazzling, fun thoughts!).

Here are some valuable takeaways from my failure I will share with you:

Goals are dynamic. If you try to make static goals for nutrition, exercise, or life in general, and you etch these in stone, you are nearly guaranteeing failure. Your goals must be realistic, and must be flexible for change in your ever-changing life.

Failure isn’t the end of the road. Failure tempers our success, and makes success taste sweeter. Plus, to put things in perspective, nobody is going to die if I don’t post a blog once a month. Nobody is going to die if you miss the mark on your vegetable goal that day. Find your failures, pick yourself up, and adjust the plan. Stop dwelling and move forward.

When Failing is Bawse AF

Reflect more on WHY you failed, not just the failure itself. Figure out what got in the way, and include in your next goal an action plan to adjust for recognized barriers. If you don’t figure out where the pothole is, you’ll keep spraining your ankle when you fall into it.

Giving yourself slack can be a very slippery slope. When I allowed myself to back off of writing these posts, I think I was danger-close to going on a mental vacation from this endeavor. Keep in mind, I don’t get paid for these blogs; this is truly just for fun. Therefore, I have only intrinsic motivation to keep me focused, and that makes the plan very vulnerable to failure. This is no different than exercise or eating well, as we are only accountable to ourselves. Once we give ourselves a “cheat day” or skip a day of exercise, this little vacation starts to get really, really comfy. Instead, make a realistic plan that factors in your actual life pattern, and stick to it.

Do. Not. Make. Excuses. I have traveled through 4 countries and 4 states and literally 10s of thousands of miles within the last six weeks. Six weeks! I was only actually home for about 3.5 of those weeks. Plus, I was finishing a semester of the DCN program throughout that time, drilling with the Army Reserve, working full-time, momming and wifing. Despite all this mahem, I had time to write a blog; I just didn’t want to do it. We all have to stop hiding behind the “I didn’t have time” excuse. I’ve used it. You’ve used it. And it is a LIE. True, some days are jam-packed with activities and are truly crazy-busy from dawn to dusk. BUT…we make time for stuff we want to make time for. The readers make time to read. The Netflixers make time to binge several shows after winding down for the night. We can even carve out little 5 min chunks during the day to include bits of exercise, to make a grocery list or plan some dinners, etc. We have time for what we want. Readjust how you use it. Stephen Covey has some great resources on this subject if you’re struggling. Since you’re going to say “I don’t have time to read,” (which is BS, and you know it!), you can use the Audible 30-day free trial to download the The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This will help you reallocate your time more effectively.

Let failure be the schoolhouse of life. The only way you truly fail at anything is to fail to recognize the opportunity for some really beautiful learning and growth.

Until next time…

xoxo – Casey

Is Your Brain Sick?

Namaste Focused on Nutrients

Hey there, it’s your friendly, neighborhood dietitian here. I have had some interesting experiences this week, relevant to nutrition’s role in holistic health. I’d like to share one of them with you.

This week marked the fourth or fifth time I had seen this one particular patient for outpatient nutrition counseling. The first time she came in, arms crossed in reluctance for being there at all, she was down-trodden (to say the least). She tearfully told me this was the most she had ever weighed in her life, and she was disgusted with herself.

This woman is a young mother of FIVE kids (zoinks!) and has a super-supportive husband at home. She simply had fallen off-track with healthy habits after separating from the military. Or, perhaps her habits had never been very healthy, and they simply caught up with her. At any rate, she was there to see me for help.

At visit #1, she admitted she had stopped any form of exercise since it “hadn’t help me lose any weight.” She was eating 0-1 meal(s) a day. She cried throughout the majority of the visit while telling me how depressed she was; I believed her, and it broke my heart.

Keep in mind, weight is merely an indicator of what is going on inside our bodies. We can be overweight and malnourished. Yes, it’s a thing. When our internal machine is not getting the fuel it needs to function, everything gets out of whack.

During the next few visits, the story remained about the same. This young woman was so depressed, she was resorting to near starvation. She was too depressed to do any sort of exercise, and she saw exercise simply as a punishment designed to help you lose weight.

What we continued to focus on from day one is the role of nutrients in human functioning. Our society is taught to count everything and eat as “low calorie” as possible in order to achieve a desirable physique. If that includes near-starvation? Sure! Eating only once a day and calling it “intermittent fasting”? Sure! Will we exhaust all nutrient stores in our body’s tissues and organs? Sure! Although she had come seeking a “diet” from me, I refused; but I offered her another way.

The reality is, this woman was depressed. I don’t know the details behind her military experiences. I don’t know what the first few decades of her nutrition and exercise habits were. What I did know is what her most recent health history looked like, and what her current lifestyle was.

Without eating well (or at all), the brain cannot function optimally. At the very least, our brains need a regular influx of nutrients, such as:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids – salmon, sardines, tuna, trout, herring, chia seeds, etc.
  • Antioxidants (including, but not limited to):
    • Vitamin C – bell peppers, cabbage, kiwis, oranges, Brussels sprouts, etc.
    • Vitamin E – nuts, seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, etc.
  • B-vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, folate, B12) – 100% whole grains, whole fruit, whole vegetables, milk, meat, etc.
  • Iron – meat, fish, dark greens, etc.
  • Calcium – broccoli, oranges, milk, yogurt, cheese, figs, etc.
  • And many, many others.

Luckily, this woman had begun to see a mental health professional to unpack some of the behavioral aspects of her depression and other factors impacting her mental health. However, no amount of mental health counseling can make up for the absence of proper physiology inside the body. Sure, medications can help, too; but that still isn’t the only solution, nor will medications “fix” anything without proper nutrition and exercise.

Holistic health includes nurturing body, mind, and spirit. Mental health counseling addresses mind and spirit; it cannot independently help depression if the bricks and mortar of the chemical processes that make the brain function are not there. Optimizing nutrition and exercise are critical components of a healthy brain.

Upon arrival to the most recent session we had this week, she arrived practically beaming with joy. She truly seemed like an entirely different human walking into my office. Her life hadn’t changed much; her family is (and always has been) very supportive. Her mental health counseling has continued regularly, as it had for months/years.

What was different?

She had reluctantly taken my advice to focus on developing a more consistent, more robust eating pattern. She was eating at least 3 times a day – morning, midday, and evening. If there were long breaks between meals, she was having a snack. Not only was she actually eating (which was new for her starved body), but she was also intentionally choosing nutrient-rich foods. She had begun exercising as a means of spending quality time with her family, and she was enjoying herself. She wasn’t dieting. She wasn’t counting anything.

Her brain (and body) are healing. Not only is her depression markedly improved, but she has begun to lose weight healthfully. She is enjoying her newfound increasing energy; she is smiling instead of crying. She is gaining some muscle and her clothes are fitting better. She is beginning to live, not just exist.

Remember, our body weight is merely a piece of the puzzle, it is not the whole picture. An undesirable weight (underweight, overweight, whatever) is a signal that our body is not functioning properly. Often, suboptimal nutrition is to blame. “Normal” weight does not guarantee health without proper nutrition.

Bottom line? Nourish your body with real food. Move your body, even if it is just a little bit at at time when you get started. If you take care of your body, you are more likely to have a healthy one. If you are struggling, seek guidance from a registered dietitian nutritionist.

xoxo – Casey