Hi Fellow Mountaineers!
Welcome to the Dietitian Dish page where I, your campus registered dietitian (RD), will be bringing new blog posts every month to share evidenced-based nutrition information with all of you. The Dietitian Dish will be where I share the latest nutrition related information — from fun nutrition-related tips and recipes to the mechanisms related to mood disorders and the microbiota-gut-brain axis for example. 1 Sounds fun right!?! When thinking about when to launch our Dietitian Dish page (with the help of our savvy and creative media friends), I thought what better way to kick off our first post than during National Nutrition Month! (If you are a RD reading this or one of our very own students who are soon-to-be RD’s, happy and belated National RD Day! :))
Food and Nutrition Experts
In honor of National Nutrition month and our first blog post, I thought it pertinent to first share with my Mountaineer friends a little bit about my background and why you should read/listen/chat with a RD like me! RD’s are licensed as food and nutrition experts who have completed their bachelor’s degree at an accredited program that meet strict and specific guidelines related to topics like: anatomy, organic and biochemistries, physics, psychology courses, and more specific nutrition related courses (just to name a few!).
An RD also has to complete the infamous Dietetic Internship, where we obtain over 1,200 hours of supervised practice. Finally, an RD must pass the Commission on Dietetic Registration Examination (whew! Insert long breath here). In a couple of years, RD’s will be required to also have a master’s degree. Long story short, RD’s know their stuff and are experts in the field. It is important to check out someone’s credentials before taking any food and nutrition advice, because here's the secret, Nutritionists aren’t the same thing and this title doesn’t require all the education and experience that an RD credential does.
Now that we have that out of the way, I want to officially introduce myself! Hi! I am Sina King and have been a RD going on four years now. My professional background is in sports nutrition, as I was the Director of Sports Nutrition for Olympic Sports at WVU prior to becoming your campus RD. I also have some experience working as a clinical dietitian (aka working in acute care at a hospital). I completed my undergraduate and graduate schooling at the University of Akron in nutrition and exercise physiology. Fun fact: I played basketball there also! I knew I wanted more experience before I became a RD, so I decided to come over to WVU for more schooling and to complete my dietetic internship. After that, voilà! I became a RD and now I get to work with some amazing people at WVU (and now am officially a Mountaineer for life!). But I can’t end my introduction here without telling you what I like to do for fun (because we all need a little of that, right?). In my spare time I enjoy reading, practicing yoga, running and baking. If it’s your birthday, let me know because I make some awesome cupcakes!
National Nutrition Month
So why does nutrition have a whole month dedicated to it? Well, if you ask me because nutrition is kinda the coolest subject out there, but I’m a little biased. In reality, the goal of National Nutrition Month is to spread awareness each year on new information researchers and educators have learned to help us make the most informed decisions possible about foods and how it impacts us. It’s an opportunity for everyone to “rally the troops” so to speak to deliver nutrition education messages to the public while promoting the profession of dietetics.
This year’s theme focuses on personalizing your plate and understanding your individualized needs because there's no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition and health. What you eat, how much you eat and how often you eat is specific to your genetics, your body, your lifestyle, your preferences, your goals and your culture. So you may be thinking, so how can I personalize my plate if I need an individualized plan? Well, that’s where I come in (along with my fellow RD’s). If you are a student at WVU, make sure you visit our Dietitian Services page online to reach out to me and set up a meeting!
Before we talk about what healthy eating looks like, it’s important that we understand the different definitions of the word “diet.” When we usually hear “diet,” it refers to a way of restrictive eating that results in weight loss or better health. However, “diet” also has another definition! When RD’s and other healthcare professionals use this word, it often refers to one’s average eating habits. So if a doctor asks, “What is your diet like?,” they’re actually asking you what you usually eat! (kinda confusing, I know!) Both definitions will be used as we continue this post.
So, you might be asking, “What diet should I be following?”
The simple answer is none of them!
Most of the “diets” that we hear about in the media, news and on social media are popularized with an array of harmful messages including guilt-tripping and body shaming while encouraging non-evidenced based food and calorie restriction. While it may sound tempting to jump on the diet bandwagon because of these tactics and carefully curated “before” and “after” ruses, the majority of reliable research points to the same conclusion….Drumroll please…. “diets” don’t work. 2 (Now before I completely lose you, here are the facts. Keep reading!) The fact is, 95% of people who lose weight when dieting gain the weight back in five years. Furthermore, about ⅔ of these folks will gain back even more weight than when they initially started the diet. 3 To top it off, frequent fluctuations in weight and eating habits, also known as “yo-yo” dieting, have been found to increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and blood pressure even more than consistently maintaining a larger weight. 4, 5 If this comes as a shock to you, you aren’t alone! This information isn’t talked about in the media or on the news because how would people and companies sell you their diet plans, workout plans, latest cleanse products or new supplements if you knew following the latest intermittent fasting, ketogenic diet or calorie restriction weren’t what's best for you? This evidence is solid proof that at the end of the day, diets don’t help us, they hurt us.
The truth is, all varieties of food can be included in our daily diet. Research shows us that our bodies need all three macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) to keep our body working optimally and feeling the best. Each macronutrient provides important functions for our bodies and are essential to include in a balanced diet. For example, carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy, so when we restrict this macronutrient our body goes into a starvation state called “ketosis” which uses other macronutrients as a source of energy. While this may sound like a goldmine for fat burning and weight loss, we actually know that ketosis does not just burn fat, it also burns lean muscle tissue, causing fatigue, weakness, and decreased immune function. 6 These effects put our bodies in an extremely vulnerable position that increases our risk for getting hurt and sick.
When you read about the latest “healthy diet” or “cleanse” online, you might also find a list of “bad” foods to avoid. It is important to remember that food shouldn’t be associated with moral value. For example, labeling a food “bad” or a meal as a “cheat meal” typically leads to this food having a moral implication. Meaning, if you eat it, you are “bad” for doing so. Then the preoccupation with this “bad” food happens. Meaning, you spend more and more time thinking about the “bad” foods and “cheat meals,” which takes up precious mental space, changes mood and hormones and takes away your ability to receive feedback from your body. It all comes down to the fact that, chances are, if you are craving a certain food, your body probably needs it for nutrients and energy or your body is trying to tell you something. So with that said, you might be able to guess what my “diet” recommendation is. Here goes! Eat all macronutrients and work with a professional RD or therapist to learn more about getting in tune with your body’s messages. Because at the end of the day, your body knows best!
This isn’t Farewell
I think that about does it for our first official Dietitian Dish post and oh, I am just getting started! I hope you come back each month (the third week of every month to be exact) to join me as I share with you information related to all things nutrition, as well as things connected and impacted by our nutrition like mental and emotional health, our physical health and the environment all around us. So this isn’t goodbye, but until next time! In the meantime, be sure to reach out to me if you would like to talk about the content, want to set up a meeting to discuss your individualized plan, or just want to say hello!
* Erin Kelly, a graduate student of dietetics at Marshall University, contributed to this post.
- Kaplan, B.J., Rucklidge, J.J., Romijn, A., McLeod, K. (2015). The emerging field of nutritional mental health: inflammation the microbiome, oxidative stress, and mitochondrial function. Clin Psychol Sci, 3(6), 1-17.
- Mann, T., Tomiyama, A.J., Westling, E., Lew, A.-M., Samuels, D., & Chatman, J. (2007). Medicare’s search for effective obesity treatments: Diets are not the answer. American Psychologist, 62(3), 220-233.
- Dulloo, A.G. & Montani, J.-P. (2015). Pathways from dieting to weight regain, to obesity and to the metabolic syndrome: an overview. Obesity Reviews, 16(S1), 1-6.
- Nivedita, N., Sreenivasa, G. & Malini, S.S. (2015). Oxidative stress and abnormal lipid profile are common factors in students with eating distress. J Eat Disord, 3(42).
- Case, T., Lemieux, S., Kennedy, S.H., Lewis, G.F (1999). Elevated plasma lipids in patients with binge eating disorders are found only in those who are anorexic. Int J Eat Disord, 25(2), 187-93.
- Rosenbaum, M., Hall, K.D., Guo, J., et al. (2019). Glucose and lipid homeostasis and inflammation in humans following an isocaloric ketogenic diet. Obesity (Silver Spring).