Ariel Johnston, RD, LD, is the creator of The Tasty Balance. Here, she writes about what dietitians want you to know.
Car trouble? You go to a mechanic. Need help with your taxes? You go to an accountant. If you have a nutrition-related issue or question, dietitians are your go-to! Registered Dietitians are experts that have the education and training that ensure you get the credible advice and help you need. If you do turn to Google for nutrition advice look for articles and blog posts written by RDs. Otherwise, you may end up feeling more confused than you were at the start of your search.
Don’t let your focus be solely on the calories a snack or meal contains or if this food will help you gain or lose weight. Food has so much more to offer than just calories and considering the other benefits of food provides a healthier perspective. Frequently, health benefits are improved when foods are combined; this is called food synergy. For example, drinking orange juice with a spinach omelet increases your body’s ability to absorb the iron in the spinach because of the vitamin C in the orange juice.
Carbohydrates fuel every organ in our bodies and are essential when it comes to exercise. Our bodies store carbohydrates as glycogen, providing energy to muscles during a workout. After we exercise, those energy stores need to be replenished with carbohydrates to prevent our bodies from breaking down muscle protein for energy and help us recover. This is why the day after an intense workout, you may crave bread. It’s your body’s way of telling you what you need!
Generally speaking, dietitians promote a well-rounded, balanced diet and don't recommend eliminating food groups. Things that belong in your diet are carbs, fat, protein and micronutrients. Things that don’t belong in your diet are anxiety, stress, guilt and shame. Those feelings inevitably happen when restriction is part of your diet.
All those fad diets are just that – fads. Eating healthy can and should taste great and be sustainable. Yes, nutrition information can be super confusing especially when the latest fad diet is making promises about how much better your life will be if you eat a certain way. If you are feeling overwhelmed, just remember the basics: Make half your plate fruits and vegetables, eat lean proteins, include healthy fats, limit processed foods and make most of your grains whole grains.