We recently interviewed Karen Ansel, a New York based dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association about trends in the nutrition field. Today, more nutrition Q&A with Maya Nahra RD, LD, of Phoenix AZ. Maya practices holistic nutrition and is not an ADA spokesperson. (If these posts interest you, we may start doing some more interviews with nutrition professionals.)
[Fooducate] What are your clients’ biggest challenges when they walk into a supermarket?
[MN] The (health) claims. When a client wants to improve their diet, they go to the grocery store and see ‘fat free,’ sugar-free,’ ‘heart healthy,’ etc. Manufacturers are clever, they work their way around the fine print to ‘improve’ their product making it more appealing to that shopper. What that shopper doesn’t know is that they may have added worse ingredients in placement of say the fat (re: your sour cream post example) or added lab made, non-calorie sweetener in place of real sugar (raw sugar, agave, honey, etc). In the end, the shopper thinks they are doing good for themselves by buying these products. I feel as though many times with clients that I am re-training them against these claims, re-iterating the important of the ingredient list vs the nutrition fact label, and defending the real, pure food way.
[Fooducate] What’s different about holistic nutrition vs. regular nutrition?
[MN] Holistic nutrition takes into account everything regular, science based nutrition does with a heavier emphasis on the intuitive, mind-body approach. According to the Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine website Holistic nutrition is defined as such:
Integrative Medicine is patient centered, healing oriented, and embraces conventional and complementary therapies. It represents a broader paradigm of medicine than the dominant biomedical model. It was driven initially by consumer demand and is now increasingly accepted by health care providers and institutions. Integrative Medicine reaffirms the importance of the therapeutic relationship, a focus on the whole person and lifestyle, a renewed attention to healing and a willingness to use all appropriate therapeutic approaches whether they originate in conventional or alternative medicine.
Simply stated, RDs in holistic nutrition take into account personal uniqueness while looking at the whole picture of health, exploring root causes of habits to maximize lasting change. Each RD who practices this way is a bit different themselves in that they have different specialties i.e. Ayurvedic Medicine, meditation, mind-body approach, etc. (You can view my personal outlook of holistic nutrition here.
Just as your blog does, we question regular nutrition, looking beyond the claims and many times using what we know instinctively to be true in practice.
[Fooducate] How can the ADA become a bit more hip and communicative with the general public?
[MN] I’m sure we all have our own opinions on this. ADA, underlying, has a wonderful, important message to proclaim to the world: Eat well to be well! Having gone through the extensive education, the nuts and bolts have taught dietitians how food affects the body right down to the very DNA. When I have a client who eats fast food 5 times a week and doesn’t own a pan to cook in, the nuts and bolts get confusing. Simplification may very well be the answer to a more hip and communicative ADA.
[Fooducate] What are some creative ways to circumvent sponsorship conflict of interest?
[MN] We can move away from the thought that bigger is better. The annual meetings held are expensive. By no means do I hold the ADA budget but what I do know is that I would not be opposed to holding smaller, local meetings or bringing my own lunch or dinner to a seminar. I wouldn’t mind having slides printed out in front of me instead of big fancy power point screens. Again, a return to a simpler way….
[Fooducate] How can more men be attracted to the field of nutrition? [MN] I do believe you hit the nail on the head about the pay scale and the non ‘meat and potato’ appeal. Let’s face it, we’re not making millions in this field, but we sure to love what we do! On a small side note, I believe the nature of a woman is nurturing in general. In nutrition, we counsel, we practice habit changes, and we spend lots of time before we see our ROI. Men can indeed be this way too, however societal pressures may push them to do otherwise. I believe as our world is changing now more than ever, we will see more men in the field.
Maya Nahra is a registered, licensed dietitian, freelance writer, certified Synergia practitioner, and holistic life coach. She received her education in Nutrition and Dietetics from St. Louis University in Missouri. Maya is owner of Pure Nutrition, a holistic private practice based in Phoenix, AZ. She has helped clients reconnect with themselves, and their planet, through food for over 5 years.