You’ve heard the saying ‘You are what you eat’, but do you believe it? After all, you can’t see or feel the grease from your French fries clogging up your arteries. But if you have poor dietary habits, they probably are wreaking havoc on your body, in more ways than you know. An appointment with a registered dietitian nutritionist can put you on the right path to better health.
“There are many ways diet affects your physical, emotional, and psychological well-being,” says Haley Fritz, the lead Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with Shore Medical Center’s new Outpatient Nutrition Counseling program, offered in partnership with Unidine Corporation, which manages Shore’s dietary services. “Your diet can impact whether or not you’ll develop cancer or heart disease, or have a stroke. It can make you fatigued or forgetful, or give you energy and sharpen your mind. Your diet can improve your athletic performance, or hinder your progress. An appointment with an RDN can help identify your problem areas and make significant, lifelong dietary changes.”
Here are seven reasons you should consider scheduling an appointment with a dietitian:
- You want to lose weight: Being overweight can put you at risk for acquiring a number of chronic illnesses, like heart disease and diabetes. An RDN can help you develop a meal plan so you can be successful in your weight loss journey, while getting all of your essential nutrients, and ultimately prevent or reverse chronic disease.
“Changing habits is hard!” Fritz says. “Don’t be ashamed if you’ve tried time after time to lose weight and failed. Just a little bit of help from an RDN can help you be successful. Before you spend money on a fad diet, consider instead meeting with a dietitian. Most insurance plans will cover a number of visits with an RDN, and you’ll be more likely to keep the weight off.”
- You are pregnant or want to become pregnant: A healthy pregnancy is about much more than just taking prenatal vitamins. An RDN can work with you to develop a meal plan that ensures you’re getting all the right nutrients and prevent conditions that can harm your baby, like gestational diabetes.
“It’s important to consume the right nutrients and at the right times in your pregnancy. For example, folate is important in those first three months of pregnancy for proper neural tube development. I can help you make sure you’re getting the full spectrum of nutrients so you and your baby can be as healthy as possible,” Fritz says. “And if you’re planning to breastfeed, it’s especially important to maintain proper nutrition after pregnancy.”
- You have a digestive disorder or food sensitivity: Diagnoses like irritable bowel syndrome, Chrohn’s disease or diverticulitis mean you need to make some serious changes to your diet to avoid discomfort and stay healthy. You might also have determined you’re sensitive to certain ingredients like gluten or dairy. An RDN can help you make the change less daunting.
- You want to reduce your risk of developing cancer: Whether you’ve had cancer in the past or you simply want to lower your risk of getting it in the future, eating the right foods, and not eating the wrong ones, can make a big difference. If you’re used to eating processed foods, for example, it can be hard to break the habit, but it’s important. An RDN can work with you to identify the healthiest foods for cancer prevention, and how to prepare them on a tight financial budget or time schedule.
- You want to be a better athlete: Have you hit a plateau with your exercise program? Are you interested how food can impact your fitness performance goals? An RDN understands the complexities of nutrition and its impact on your athletic performance.
- You want to go vegan: If you’ve always wanted to eliminate animal products from your diet but weren’t sure how, a visit with an RDN can put you on the right path. It’s important to make sure that you’re getting enough plant proteins, and an RDN can help you with that.
- You are Suddenly Depressed or Forgetful: What we eat not only affects our body, but our mind as well. If you haven’t been yourself lately and you and your doctor thing your diet might have something to do with it, schedule an appointment with an RDN.
RDNs like Fritz are highly trained professionals who have completed a Bachelor’s degree in nutrition, dietetics, or a related field. They’ve also completed an accredited supervised practice program, passed a national exam, and must complete continuing education requirements to maintain their credentials. It’s important to know that all RD/RDNs are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are dietitians.
For information on Shore’s Outpatient Nutrition Counseling program or for tips and recipes from our team, visit www.shoremedicalcenter.org/nutritional-wellness.
Pictured above: Haley Fritz, RDN, is the lead dietitian for Shore's Outpatient Nutrition Counseling program. To schedule an appointment, call 609-653-4600, option 5.