5 Steps for Branding Yourself as a Nutrition Expert

Build credibility of the dietitian brand by becoming an expert in your field.

Build credibility of the dietitian brand by becoming an expert in your field. Photo Credit: Flickr

You can also view this article on the Food & Nutrition Magazine blog, Stone Soup.

 

As registered dietitians, we should be seen as the go-to resource for nutrition information. Unfortunately, misinformation about diet and food runs rampant on social media and the Internet, many times promoted by self-professed experts with little to no schooling or training about dietetics.

What can we do about this information gap? By making an effort to brand ourselves as nutrition experts we will increase awareness of the profession and instill credibility in our skills.

We are exposed to brands every day. Whether on TV, billboards, magazines, food packaging, or storefronts, brands identify the product or service of a “seller” and serve to differentiate them from others. While branding on the business level is common, it’s becoming just as important on a personal level, especially when it comes to being recognized as an expert in a field of work.

While branding sounds like it should come naturally, it does take effort. Here are five steps to brand yourself as a nutrition expert:

1. Be Up-to-Date on the Latest Research

Research is continually evolving and it’s our job not only to be aware of new findings, but also to be open to new approaches to diet and lifestyle. More importantly, we must be able to translate new findings into appropriate recommendations for the public. Subscribing to scientific journal newsletters, building relationships with researchers personally or through social media (such as following them on Twitter), or attending nutrition conferences are ways to stay up-to-date on the latest science.

2. Align with Other Professionals in Respected Organizations

It’s not enough just to be a member of professional organizations to build the credibility of your brand — you need to make the next step. Take on a leadership position, commit to attending meetings or mentor other members. A major part of your brand is the people you surround yourself with. Getting involved with your state or district Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics section is an easy way to link arms with like-minded nutrition professionals.

3. Invest in Continued Education

To truly be an expert in your field, you must be willing to continually learn. Make it a priority to attend conferences (such as the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo), listen to webinars and read books about your profession. Equally as important to gaining new knowledge is strengthening basic skills such as writing, public speaking and social skills. If you feel that you lack these skills or they are weak, take a class at a local community college or join an organization such as Toastmasters (a public speaking organization) to sharpen your skills. Knowledge is power for building your brand as an expert in the field of nutrition.

4. Be Present on Social Media

Being present on social media is essential for building your brand. It’s important to respond to messages and requests because they may open the door to new opportunities for growth and development. To be an expert, you must be connected with your community and accessible to those who need your guidance. In addition to a presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, create a “resume webpage” where your credentials and accomplishments can be shared.

5. Find a Mentor

Finding a mentor to impart knowledge and provide guidance can help you make choices that are true to your brand. Reach out to someone you respect and actually ask them to be your mentor (rather than just calling on them when you have questions). Set up reoccurring meetings and come prepared with discussion topics. Advice from someone who is knowledgeable about your career field is invaluable when developing your brand.

The question is no longer if you have a personal brand, but whether you will choose to guide and cultivate the brand or to let it be defined on your behalf by someone else. Start building your brand as a nutrition expert today and be an influential player in the future of the field of dietetics.

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When it Comes to Our Kids’ Diets, Let’s Get Real

It takes more than parents to help kids eat real. Photo Credit: Stone Soup

It takes more than parents to help kids eat real. Photo Credit: Stone Soup

Parents want the best for their kids, especially when it comes to their health. While many things can keep kids healthy — like proper sleep and regular doctor visits — what’s on the dinner table may have the greatest influence on a child’s health now and well into adulthood.

That’s why educating parents and kids about the importance of eating balanced meals with “real foods” is one of the focus areas for national Food Day — held October 24th and aimed at inspiring Americans to change their diets and national food policies.

On the front lines advancing this initiative is registered dietitian nutritionist Jaimie Lopez, who meets with families daily to counsel them on gaining proper nutrition. It’s not always an easy task. One of the greatest challenges that parents face, she finds, is the lack of clear, concise information about which foods are smart choices and which should be avoided.

“With so many food products and so much information regarding what should or shouldn’t be consumed, families can feel overwhelmed about how to feed their children a healthy diet,” Jaimie says.

A major part of this confusion comes from food labels. Food packaging is cluttered with claims such as “low-sugar,” “high fiber,” and “good source of calcium,” but a careful review of the nutrition facts panel reveals that the food may not be as healthy as the packaging implies, Jaimie adds.

If food labels can be confusing to a nutritionist, how’s a parent supposed to make the right choices?

Keep reading this article on the Food & Nutrition blog, Stone Soup.

How much protein should I be eating?

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A protein-rich diet isn’t just for those who like to show off their “guns”.

Protein has become buzzword in the nutrition world. It is popping up on the front of food packaging and health magazines. I am usually a skeptic when it comes to the latest food craze—and with good reason—but I have to admit that research backs this one up.

From stimulating muscle growth to boosting satiety and improving blood sugar control, a diet higher in protein can help you reach your health goal whether it is to drop a few pounds or age healthfully. In fact, evidence shows that we may need more protein than previously thought.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein has been set at 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day for adults 19 and older. That means a person who weighs 150 pounds (or 68 kg) would need 55 grams of protein per day. However, that number is required to prevent deficiency, or levels where health complications may develop. A higher protein intake may not just keep you healthy; it may substantially improve your health and well-being.

The Institute of Medicine’s Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) for protein is from 0.8 to at least 2.5 grams per kilogram of body weight. For the same 150-pound person, the range of protein intake would be  between 55 and 170 grams of protein per day.

Note: To put things into perspective, a six-ounce steak is 40 grams of protein, three-ounce chicken breast is 30 grams, and one large egg is 6 grams.

A diet higher in protein is no longer just for bodybuilders who are looking for a bulky and toned physique. Many studies have shown that a protein-rich diet is key for weight loss and maintenance. One of the main reasons is that eating a high-protein diet can increase satiety so you are fuller, longer. Also, stimulating muscle growth an increase your metabolic rate, meaning you will burn more calories.

Another thing to consider is that as we get older, we gradually lose muscle mass. Eating a diet higher in protein can slow this process so you can have mobility and optimal health as you age.

Convinced that you need to bump up the protein in your diet? Here is how, from breakfast to dinner:

Breakfast:

  • Scrambled eggs and Canadian bacon or turkey sausage
  • Greek yogurt with almonds and berries
  • Cottage cheese with fruit and nuts
  • Whole-wheat toast and nut butter (I like almond best!)
  • Smoothie with whey protein powder and fruit
  • Steal-cut oatmeal with non-fat milk and dried cranberries

Lunch:

  • Grilled chicken salad
  • Tuna sandwich (Use Greek yogurt instead of mayo.)
  • Turkey, Swiss cheese, and vegetables in a whole-wheat wrap
  • Mexican salad with chickpeas, black beans, and avocado (Salsa makes for the perfect dressing.)

Dinner:

  • Tofu stir-fry
  • Grilled salmon or other fish with bakes vegetables
  • Roasted pork tenderloin (a lean cut of red meat) and dinner salad
  • Ground turkey sautéed with herbs and spices for lettuce wraps

Choose lean proteins and don’t forget about complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. A balanced diet is a healthy diet!

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What I Ate Wednesday

 My eats for the week:

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{Lemon lime sparkling seltzer water for when I want something other than plain water.}

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{Eric’s favorite–buffalo chicken lasagna. I made it healthier by using low-fat ricotta cheese and reduced the number of lasagna layers; paired with a salad.} 

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{Heirloom tomatoes for an afternoon snack.}

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{I am currently addicted to smoked salmon… on Ezekiel toast with a bit of low-fat cream cheese, paired with olives and asparagus with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.}

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{These seaweed chips were surprisingly delicious and conquered my salt craving. I love trying new foods.}

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{I had some “about-to-go-bad” apples in my fridge so I decided to make baked apple slices. They were SO good.. just like home-made apple pie. Sprinkle with a dash of sugar and cinnamon and bake until tender.}

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{Lunch with my co-workers is always an adventure. This is my first time trying Korean food and, man, was it good.}

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To-Die-For Vegetable Marinade

Vegetables get a bad rap. It seems that they have to be drenched in Ranch dressing or drowning in Valveeta cheese to even have a chance as a successful side dish. Unfortunately, these fat-laden toppings can take away from the many health benefits vegetables have to offer.

Veggies are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals (plant-derived compounds that have been shown to positively influence health). Diets high in vegetables have been linked to reduced heart disease, obesity, and digestive issues. Five servings of vegetables is recommended per day (one serving = 1/2 cup of chopped vegetables; 1 cup of raw, leafy vegetbales; 6-8 carrot sticks).

A healthy alternative to adding fatty toppings to veggies is to use a marinade–add flavor by soaking veggies in a liquid mixture with various condiments, spices and herbs. Try out my favorite marinade below:

Step 1: Cut up your favorite veggies.

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Step 2: In a plastic zip-lock bag, add in olive oil, balsalmic vinegar, dijon mustard, fresh chopped garlic, and a little bit of honey.

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Step 3: Place veggies in bag with marinade and massage the bag so vegetables are covered. Place in fridge for at least 30 minutes. Then, grill, sautee or bake!

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You can also use this marinade for chicken or pork. Enjoy!

What I Ate Wednesday

Some times all you need is a little inspiration to show you that eating healthy can still be delicious. Check out my eats for the week:

{“Blanched” Green Beans: A cooking technique where you boil vegetables until they are tender, then place them in an ice bath, followed by sauteeing, grilling, or even boiling again. Using this method keeps veggies crisp rather than soggy.}

{Yummy Mexican salad with tortilla crusted tilapia from Costco, fresh salsa for dressing, Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, and a little splurge with a Corona Light.}

{A great snack for on-the-go, the creamy texture of V8 juice fills me up. I also enjoy an afternoon mocktail–pour V8 over ice in a glass, add olives and a dash of pepper. Delish!}

{Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and I LOVE cereal. Instead of being tempted by sugar coated treats, go with a low-sugar, whole-grain, high-protein cereal and throw in fresh fruit to punch up the flavor. Blueberries are my favorite.}

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5 Tips For Ordering a Healthy Pizza

Pizza doesn’t have to be unhealthy. Nowadays, pizzerias are are offering more and more options for you to build a healthy meal. Follow these 5 steps to enjoy pizza without the guilt:

1. The Crust. If it is possible, go with a whole wheat crust. It is more “nutrient dense” than white flour crust, meaning that it has more vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Also, opt for thin crust or lavosh (similar to a thin cracker) to cut out extra calories. Deep dish is a big no-no. And don’t even get me started on cheese-stuffed crust.

2. The Sauce. Stick with classic sauce. You may have the option to choose cream-based sauces (such as creamy garlic); however, they can be loaded with fat. Even better than classic sauce, some restaurants have a “naked” pizza that has a light glaze of olive oil and fresh tomato slices in place of the sauce.

3. The Cheese. Although it may be tempting to load on the cheese, it can really add to your waistline. Ask to have the cheese just cover the sauce to avoid extra calories and fat.

4. The Protein. Sausage and pepperoni are not exactly lean proteins. Instead, go with grilled chicken.

5. The Toppings. Veggies, veggies, veggies! You will be surprised by all the different varieties you can come up with. Pile on the veggies to create a hearty meal.

Before you dive in, limit yourself to no more than 2 slices of pizza (of course, you have to consider the size of slice), and pair your pizza with a mixed green salad instead of breadsticks. Enjoy without the guilt!

Staple Items in a Nutritionist’s Fridge

There are a few items that I always have in my fridge….

1. Cut-up Veggies: Easy to take to work or have as a snack with hummus

2. Fresh Berries: My favorite cereal or yogurt topper

3. Cottage Cheese: Perfect side to a sandwich or turkey burger (my go-to dinner)

4. Greek Yogurt: Packed with protein and very filling

5. Eggs/Egg Whites: 1 whole egg and egg whites on an english muffin with fajita seasoning is to. die. for.

6. Whole Wheat English Muffins: to go with my eggs or with almond butter.

7. Lunch Meat: easy lunch. I usually go with turkey, swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mustard.

8. Water Alternative: I get sick of drinking plain ol’ water all the time. Sparkling water or  a 1/2 water 1/2 gatorade concoction is what E and I enjoy

9. Minced Garlic: I put garlic with basically anything that I sauté.. I could eat it by itself–definitely my favorite cooking flavor

10. Yellow Mustard: Low in calories and high in flavor 🙂

11. Salsa: On eggs, with blue corn tortilla chips or as a salad dressing, you just can’t go wrong.

12. Isagenix Cleanse: I love my Isagenix products and always have a bottle of cleanse on hand for those much needed detoxification Monday’s

13. Left Overs: I could probably make a cookbook with all the delicious meals I have created using leftovers. Perfect to take to work for lunch

14. 1% Milk: For my cereal, of course. I can’t do skim milk… too watery for me.

15. Wine & Beer: OK, I’m a dietitian, but you have to have some leeway.

………..

What’s in your fridge?

To be Vegetarian, or not to be?

vegetarian

Although I love a perfectly grilled filet minion, I am becoming more and more convinced that a vegetarian diet has astronomical health benefits. A plant-based diet is not only low in cholesterol and saturated fat, it is also high in fiber. Research shows these diet characteristics can greatly decrease the risk for heart disease. The benefits do not stop there; improvements in blood glucose control and weight management can prevent the onset of chronic diseases such as diabetes, respiratory problems, hypertension, and some types of cancers.

The disadvantage of a plant-based diet is that vegetarians put themselves at risk of being deficient in the essential nutrients that come from meat sources including iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin D, protein, and vitamin B12. The good news is that these nutrients can be provided through foods other than meat. For example, iron, which is found in meat products, can be included in a vegetarian diet through spinach, legumes, broccoli, wheat germ, and dried fruit.

Fabulous Food Find: I discovered a fascinating product for vegetarians during part of my internship with Chef and Dietitian, Michelle Dudash, while I was assisting her with recipe development for her new cookbook, Clean Eating for Busy Families. Nutritional Yeast is a powdery substance that is rich in vitamins, especially B-complex vitamins, and low in fat & salt. At first glance, it has a strange resemblance to fish food; however, I was won over by the nutty cheesy taste. It can be sprinkled on hot popcorn, garlic bread, or added to a stir fry. The brand we used was “Bragg Nutritional Yeast Seasoning” and I found it at Fry’s Marketplace.

nutritional yeast

Other foods that I have greatly increased in my diet to “take the place” of meat include beans, lentils, chickpeas, lima beans, fish, cottage cheese, tofu, and eggs. These foods fill me up, which was my greatest concern when trying to cut out meat. Fiber from the fruits and vegetables also keep me satisfied.

If you are thinking that you want to try a vegetarian diet, I suggest starting off slow. Aim to have at least one meal a day that is meatless. Next, try “Meatless Monday” or “Tofu Tuesday.” Most importantly, choose a vegetarian diet as a means to improve your overall health, not just as a weight loss diet. I have seen too many people who use a vegetarian diet as an “elimination” diet, meaning calories consumed are decreased because they cannot eat meat. This can lead to weight loss, but it is not appropriate motivation. In this manner, a plant-based diet can become a fad diet that could be detrimental to your health. Do the research, know what nutrients you need to supplement in your diet, and think of it as a lifestyle change—not a temporary weight loss diet.

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Power-Packed Breakfast

Your mom was right. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and science is backing her up. After a night of sleep, your body needs the fuel from food to preform both physically and mentally. I am amazed at how many people skip breakfast, or even worse, consider coffee as their breakfast meal (Ahem, Eric.). Of course the caffeine is going to give you a boost, but it is simply masking the need for food. Most of the time, the caffeine will wear off and you will be famished by lunch time. And lets face it, a meal with fresh vegetables and lean protein is not going to be on your mind at that point.

Not only will eating a balanced breakfast give you energy, it has been shown to help with weight management. Mayo Clinic Nutritionist, Katherine Zeratsky, R.D. L.D., points out that eating breakfast can help reduce hunger later in the day, promote healthy food choices throughout the day, and increased ability to preform physical activity.

A balanced breakfast should consist of complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and minimal amounts of fat. Avoid simple carbohydrate items that are composed mostly of syrups and table sugar–aka that cheese danish in the office kitchen is not a balanced breakfast.

Here are some power-packed breakfast ideas!

  1. Opt for Whole Grains: 100% Whole grain breads, bagels, cereals and tortillas will deliver sustainable energy and provide essential fiber. Top with peanut butter and fresh fruit like blueberries!
  2. Lean Protein is Key: Avoid excess fat by choosing lean proteins such as chicken or turkey sausage, eggs, or beans. Turkey bacon is another great alternative.
  3. Try Steal-Cut Oats or Quinoa as an Oatmeal Alternative: These grains have higher protein content. You can also add protein powder to your oatmeal for that extra kick.
  4. Greek Yogurt or Cottage Cheese mixed with Yogurt: Pump up the protein in yogurt by using Greek yogurt or mixing low-fat cottage cheese in with regular yogurt. (Always check the sugar content of yogurt–aim for less than 10 grams.) Top with granola and fresh fruit for a complete meal.
  5. You can never go wrong with Eggs: Eggs are a fantastic source of protein. Pair with a complex carbohydrate source such as a whole-wheat English muffin or tortilla. Make hard-boiled eggs to grab on-the-go, or scramble eggs in a coffee cup and cook in the microwave. I like to top my eggs with salsa.
  6. Protein-Packed Smoothies: Whey protein is the most easily digested protein powder. Add in a variety of fruits (and veggies if you’d like!) with low-fat yogurt or milk.
  7. Nut butters: For a quick meal, lather whatever nut butter you prefer (peanut, almond, etc.) on a whole-wheat grain or mix into oatmeal. Top with sliced bananas or blueberries.
  8. Leftovers: Chicken stir-fry with brown rice or spaghetti with turkey sausage from the night before can make for a balanced breakfast. There is no need to waste!
What a Nutritionist Eats for Breakfast:
Eggs with Heirloom Tomatoes
Egg Whites with Heirloom Tomatoes & Spinach
Fruit & Yogurt
Fresh Fruit with Vanilla Greek Yogurt & Almonds
Peanut butter Toast with Shake
Whole Wheat Toast with Peanut Butter & Honey. Isagenix Isalean Shake.
Egg Sandwhich
Egg Sandwich with Hot Sauce.

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