March is National Women’s Month and National Nutrition Month so we sat down with local Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Denise Fields, to celebrate women in the nutrition field and obtain a little professional advice for our readers.
Fields first earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Exercise Physiology from Valdosta State University. Exercise physiologists help change people’s lives for the better by developing exercise programs that help people prevent or recover from chronic diseases as well as improving muscle strength, cardiovascular health, flexibility and decreasing body fat. They understand the science behind the pertinent foods, fluids, and supplements and their proper timing. Some physicians may prescribe exercise regimens for their patients and refer them to exercise physiologists.
Fields pushed her passion for health and wellness further by earning a Bachelors of Science in Dietetics from the University of Georgia becoming a RDN. According to Johns Hopkins, a RDN is a skilled health care professional in the field of nutrition and dietetics qualified by rigorous education, internships and a national exam with continuing education credits to maintain her license. Additionally she became a Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition (CSO) giving her the expertise to educate and counsel patients diagnosed with cancer on their nutritional needs.
Fields says, “My passion is health and wellness. I have worked in a variety of settings and love nutrition counseling, teaching and program development. I love to make nutrition easy for people and show them that the right foods for their body can make them feel so much better.” For over fifteen years Fields has been using her in depth knowledge to improve her patients’ lives.
She channeled her passion into this HealthLife interview offering advice for our women audience. Her first order of advice is self-care. “Women are so busy providing care for everyone else they sometimes forget to take care of themselves, so I emphasize the importance of self-care with my patients,” says Fields. “If you aren’t healthy then you won’t be able to care for others because nutrition impacts all aspects of our lives.”
- Eat 4 times a day: Breakfast, Lunch, Snack, Dinner
- Create a schedule: Eating around the same time everyday prevents over eating due to excessive hunger with breakfast being within one to two hours of waking.
- Food Combination: Always eat a protein and carbohydrate with each meal including snacks to maintain a healthy balance in blood sugar levels.
- Fuel your body: Think of your body as vessel that needs quality fuel for energy. Eat foods that provided substantial nutrition not empty calories.
- Lose the ALL or Nothing mindset: Creating a healthy eating routine is a marathon not a sprint.
- Meal Prep: Prepare several meals, like breakfast and lunch, for the week to ensure you make healthier options instead of an unhealthy option out of hunger of convenience. If dinner is where you fall short on healthy choices then meal prep several dinners.
- Keep it simple. Not all meals need to be prepared from scratch. Frozen and raw vegetables are easy and still nutritious. A Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with your favorite veggies with fruit is an easy, quick and affordable meal prepping.
- Use left-overs resourcefully. For example, baked or grilled chicken can be used for quesadillas, stir-fry or soups.
- Read labels: Sugar is hidden within so many packaged foods. Choose products with 5g or less “added sugar.”
Additionally, Fields advises women to talk to their physicians about iron, vitamin d and calcium. Menstruating women typically need about 18 milligrams of iron a day while that decreases to 8 milligrams after menopause, but vitamin D and calcium needs increase for post menopausal women. She suggests eating more foods with vitamin D and calcium as well as enjoying a little sunlight from time to time. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to depression and unbalanced blood sugar levels.
Furthermore, she suggests being mindful of where you get your health and nutrition information. Unfortunately, both true and misleading information is on the World Wide Web. She encourages information from credited professionals like registered dieticians and websites like myplate.gov for guidance.
Lastly, her advice on popular diets is, “If you don’t see yourself continuing this diet a year from now then it’s not the diet for you.” Also, most people are not aware that some insurance plans cover nutrition services with registered dieticians, like Fields, who accept insurance. If you feel it is time to get off the hamster wheel of failed dieting you may consider working with a registered dietician.
Written by Erica Thrift. Photography submitted by Denise Fields