Post-Grad Plans

Hi Lemon Wedge friends! It has been a while, but I haven’t forgotten about my blog. I took a little bit of time off from blogging (even though that it is a little hypocritical based on my last post about how students should be blogging – oops! #guilty) because a lot and a little have all been happening at the same time.  After an incredibility busy last school year taking graduate classes and completing my Dietetic Internship, I was burnt out to say the least – just read almost any post I wrote about my internship…I was always talking about how busy I was. Anyways, I spent this semester enjoying a lot more free time with friends (and taking some exciting trips to Chicago, DC, Pittsburg, and Raleigh), testing out the ketogenic diet, learning more about nutrition (including integrative and functional nutrition—more to come in the next few posts), completing my master’s degree, and figuring out what’s “next”.

One of my post-grad goals is to have my own private nutrition consulting practice to work one-on-one with patients, but also maybe teach classes, do some corporate wellness, work with food and health brands, and continue blogging. The development of this is still in the works, but I will definitely be sharing as things being to develop.

Before I build a business or get a “real person” job as a dietitian, I will be taking a big trip around the globe! From January to around April I’ll be anywhere from India to New Zealand to Germany and quite a few places in between. I had to take advantage of this time in my life to see and experiences places I have only dreamed about.

Now, I am officially getting back on the blogging bandwagon, but with these big plans coming up, my blog posts might be changing a little bit. As my life changes, my blog posts will be evolving with me, but I’m honestly not sure exactly what that will look like yet. I’ll still keep it nutrition and health related but you might see some exotic foods and travel tips, plus maybe some business building updates and integrative and functional nutrition wisdom.

Anyways, I can’t wait for this next chapter of my life (and blog) and hope you enjoy being along for the ride. With only 5 days until graduation, the next time I post I will officially have a master’s degree and two more letters added to my name! à Dana Goldberg, (almost) MS, RDN

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5 Reasons Why Every Student Should Have a Blog

Over the past year, I have been avidly posting on my blog/dietitian Instagram page (@DanaGoldbegRDN) which has somehow resulted in free goodies (aka healthy foods) being shipped to me from different food companies. Now, suddenly, a few of my friends are all interested in starting blogs because they think it is so cool to get free “stuff”. While free stuff (especially when it is food!) is wonderful, it is never what I intended to come from this blog, and while some people start a blog intentionally to get free stuff…or make a living for that matter, I strongly encourage all students to start a blog for other reasons…here are my top 5:

  1. A blog allows you to reflect on experiences. I talked about my career confusion in a previous post and also shared my journey through my Dietetic Internship as well as my undergraduate and graduate classes and study abroad in many different blog posts. Having to sit down and write that post on all these different experiences really makes you think critically about what you have done. What did I get out of this and what should I share with other people? It is a good way to avoid just going through the motions of life.
  2. You learn about new and different topics. Yes, the weekly posts have fallen off the train a few times over the past 3 years of blogging, but after putting out over 100 blog posts, I have to keep coming up with new and different content to share. Some of my posts are just life updates and others are things I learn in class, but others are topics family and friends mention that I have to go home and research. Not only does this allow me to share information with you, but I am also able to add to my personal bank of information to use in future careers and help future clients/patients.
  3. It helps you figure out what you are passionate about. When I first started blogging, I shared lots of different recipes. I had just moved into my first apartment and was cooking all my meals for myself for the first time, and I even considered going to culinary school! But as time went on, I realized I didn’t love my posts about recipes. I didn’t want to be a food blogger…I wanted to be a nutrition I don’t love spending hours in the kitchen or trying to take the perfect picture of my food. Instead, I realized that I loved writing posts about the science and research behind nutrition recommendations, talking about popular diets and foods, and debunking nutrition myths.
  4. You can become a better writer. I don’t claim to be Shakespeare by any means (nor do I ever aspire to be a magnificent writer), but I went through grade school DESPISING my English classes. No joke, I would come home crying from school because I hated writing and I was bad at it. I swore I would never end up in a job where I had to write, but in the end, no matter what job you end up in, you are going to have to write something at some point. Having to put words to paper every week writing posts, summarizing research and knowledge I have, is definitely a skill I can take with me wherever I end up.
  5. It is something you can share with future employers. While I may have internships and volunteer opportunities on my resume, getting a job after graduation is probably not going to be a walk in the park. I’m not knocking the internships and other experiences that I have had – they have been great – but having a blog is something that is my own. I think it shows a little bit of my personality, it is evidence of my knowledge in the nutrition field, and it shows that I have gone a little bit beyond the classic summer internships that college students have. (Maybe I am chalking my blog up to be more than it is, but I like to think that it might help me get a job in a few months 😉 )

While I have shared my experiences blogging about food, nutrition, and health, these reasons can really be applied to students in any field of study (Spanish major? Practice your Spanish writing skills. Accounting major? Share some personal finance advice or some crazy number stuff that I don’t understand. Anthropology major? Teach me about another culture.). Even if you keep your blog completely private and don’t share it with anyone, you can still reap the many of the blogging benefits.

Is Japanese food Healthy?

I can’t believe today is the last first day of school I will ever have (at least in the near future). There are only the 15 weeks (one semester) standing between me and a master’s degree! With my last “official” summer as a student behind me, I can’t go without talking about my summer adventure to Japan.

I just got home from the steaming hot country last week and had an incredible time! We did lots of walking (definitely hit my 10,000 steps every day), lots of sightseeing, and of course, lots of eating. I checked out tons of local grocery stores and had to try almost every street food we passed.

All of the sushi, ramen, rice, fish, and Japanese omelets were so delicious — I could hardly get enough! However, by the last few days of our two-week trip I was definitely craving some vegetables (that weren’t fried into tempura!). My body wasn’t use to all the starchy rice and ramen noodles. I felt like most of the food I was eating was heavy and “unhealthy”.

I put unhealthy in quotations because there is not one definition of healthy. We, in the United States, are conditioned to believe that noodles and rice (among all other starchy, high-carb foods) are “unhealthy” and cause weight gain. With that messaging, you would think that everyone in Japan would be obese, but guess what?…I didn’t notice a single Japanese person that was severely overweight.

The obesity rate in Japan is a mere 3.5% compared to over 35% in the United States! How could it be possible that Japanese people constantly eat “unhealthy” food for several meals a day but aren’t overweight?

Quite timely as I returned from my trip, I received an email with an article from SELF Magazine entitled “Our Idea of Healthy Eating Excludes Other Cultures, and That’s a Problem”. A Registered Dietitian whose family was from Trinidad wrote the article, and she discussed how our portrayal of “healthy” food is very Eurocentric and makes people think that foods from other cultures are “unhealthy”.

Think about it, most people say their night out at a Mexican restaurant was “unhealthy” – and while maybe there were a few too many chips and margaritas, this Americanized version of a Mexican meal makes us (and potentially Mexican Americans) label Mexican food as “bad”. This same notion goes for Japanese food. Obviously the Japanese are doing something right if their obesity rate is just a fraction of ours.

All of this made me realize that, as a Dietitian and health professional, I need to be more aware of different cultures and their dietary habits, and as an American society, we can’t label peoples’ cultural foods as “good” and “bad”. We also can’t expect people to give up their culture, heritage, and ancestry to eat what the stereotypical Eurocentric “healthy diet”.

Just some food for thought 🙂

Interested in reading the SELF Magazine article? Click here!

 

A few meals and treats from my trip

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My 6 Tidbits of Advice for Dietetic Interns

Last year, before I started my Dietetic Internship, a girl in the class above me reached out to provide some advice and answer any questions I had about the dietetic internship that I would be starting.

She told me, “You will learn more about what you don’t like, rather than what you do like during the internship”.

This didn’t faze me as earth shattering advice at the time, but let me tell you, when 5 months of clinical rotations had passed and I couldn’t name a single area I really enjoyed, nor could I ever envision myself being a clinical dietitian, that advice was life saving. I still had a few moments of panic (I knew I still wanted to be a dietitian, but suddenly I had no idea what I wanted to do as a dietitian), but knowing that it is okay to not enjoy parts (or whole chunks) of the internship was very reassuring. There are so many areas of dietetics that you may not be exposed to in your internship, so there is still so many other opportunities to find where you fit in. And don’t worry- I’m still trying to figure out what that niche is for me.

Anyways, since I received that invaluable piece of advice prior to starting my internship, and now having completed an internship myself, I thought I would share a few pieces of advice for any RD2Be’s out there.

  1. Going along with the advice I was given, I would tell people to find an internship with tons of different rotations/areas of experience – especially if you don’t really know what area you want to go into. I worked in more than 25 different clinical areas during my internship, and although a didn’t love any of them, there were definitely some I liked more than others and I discovered interests that I didn’t know I had. Even if you do have a specific area of interest, gaining experience in a number of different fields will make you a better dietitian all around.
  2. Practice what you preach as a dietitian. Dietetic internships can be extremely busy and stressful, especially if you are also completing as masters degree at the same time (like me). It can be easy to slack off, skip workouts, and order pizza for dinner, but as future RDN’s, we all know that those choices aren’t the best for our physical or mental health. Make sure you have plenty of fruits and veggies to snack on and especially get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
  3. Ask lots of questions! I was terrified starting my first rotation because I felt like I didn’t know enough. Guess what…you aren’t supposed to know everything – that is why you are there. I never had a preceptor who wasn’t willing to answer my oodles of questions – especially regarding areas of nutrition that I didn’t learn a lot about in undergrad.
  4. Similarly, take advantage of all the knowledge your preceptors have to offer. This goes for nutrition knowledge (again, ask questions!), but I also liked to pick their brains about life and career advice. They all landed a job as a clinical dietitian and most had other jobs and experiences prior to their current job, so they have lots of valuable information to offer about careers in dietetics.
  5. I know I probably don’t have to say this to a bunch of type A, aspiring dietitians, but say on top of your work and manage your time well. I guess this mainly goes for interns who are also getting their masters at the same time (like I did), but you definitely don’t want to fall behind and let the workload pile up. Start your assignments early, chip away at them every day, and you will definitely still have time to enjoy life!
  6. Finally, your internship is the greatest study tools and experience to prepare you to be a dietitian. I remember worrying during the first few weeks of my internship that I needed to start taking notes or studying for the RD exam (this was when I still had 11 months of internship ahead of me!). Now, having passed the RD exam, I can confidently say that there is nothing to worry about. Those 1,200+ hours spent working during your internship aren’t for nothing and prepare you very well to be a dietitian and pass your exam.

Nutrition for Bone Health

Calcium
When you think bone health, what is the first nutrient you think of? I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you said Calcium! Yep, calcium is crucial for bone health. It is the key component of hydroxyapatite, which makes of the mineral matrix that keeps you teeth and bones sturdy and strong. Our bones are also constantly breaking down and building up – and in order to properly build, they need adequate amounts of calcium. This “adequate amount” ranges from 1,000mg- 1,300mg per day depending on age and gender and mainly comes from dairy products, almonds, leafy greens, tofu, beans, lentils, and some fish fish.

Vitamin D
Now, while calcium is the key component in bone, it pretty much is no good without its partner in crime, vitamin D. Vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption, so no matter how much calcium you eat (or drink), your body isn’t absorbing much of it if you lack vitamin D. Vitamin also helps in that bone remodeling (breakdown and building) process I mentioned.

Vitamin D has become a pretty hot nutrition topic recently. In fact, vitamin D deficiency is on the verge of becoming a global public health issue. Why? Well, if you are reading this post right now, you are likely sitting inside staring at a computer or phone screen as opposed to soaking up the sun’s UV rays. Our primary source of vitamin D comes from the sun so the decreased time spend outdoors and the increased use of sunscreen that have been seen around the globe are causing vitamin D deficiency rates shoot through the roof!

There are a few food sources of vitamin D, including fortified dairy products, some fatty fish, and mushrooms, but these can’t really provide enough to meet our need of 600-800 IU per day (and most people need up to 2,000 IU per day if they are deficient).

Exercise
The final key player in bone health isn’t a nutrient; it is exercise!- specifically weight-baring exercise. Simply carrying the weight of your skeleton in activities like walking, running, jumping, and stair climbing all help in that formation of strong bones. Not to mention, exercise improves strength and balance, which can help decrease risk of falls and broken bones.

Other Nutrients
In addition to these top three, researches have also found that low vitamin C and vitamin K levels also put people at risk of poor bone mineralization. On the other hand, people who had diets high in fruits and vegetables were found to have stronger bones… just one of the millions of reasons to eat more fruits and veggies!

Controversy
A few studies have found that high calcium intake, greater than the recommended daily intake doesn’t provide any additional benefit when it comes to bone mineral density. There have also been associations between high calcium intake (especially from supplements) and heart disease risk. Moral of the story- more calcium isn’t always better.

Eggs: What do all the label claims mean?

$1 for 18 or $6 for a dozen? Standing in front of dozens of eggs (no pun intended) on the self at the grocery store makes for a very confusion decision. Free range or pasture raised? Cage free or Organic? – don’t worry, it confuses me too so I thought I would break down just a few of the many claims on egg packages to help you make a more educated decision the next time you pick up a carton.

  • Cage free means that the animals don’t live in cages

You are all probably thinking..”duh”. But just because the animals aren’t in cages doesn’t mean they aren’t packed in a barn, and most of the time they never step foot outside.

  • Free range means that animals have “access to the outdoors”.

While this “access to the outdoors” has to be government certified, there really aren’t any guidelines, criteria, or qualifications on the quality or size of the outdoor space. That means the area could be anything from a small cement square to a grassy field.

  • Pasture Raised usually means that animals spent the majority of their time in a large open grass field – think the classic image of chickens in a field.

While pasture raised sounds the best, it isn’t regulated by the government so technically some unethical farmer could slap “pasture raised” on their conventional eggs and wouldn’t get in trouble for it.

  • Organic requires that the chickens be raised in conditions that accommodate their natural behaviors.

This includes area to roam outdoors in fields, but the key word is “accommodate”. Yes, they may accommodate for natural habits, but that doesn’t always mean they actually have the ability to live naturally 24/7. On another note, “organic” eggs also come from chickens that are not treated with any antibiotics and they are fed all organic feed – all of which are tightly regulated by USDA.

This chart is a pretty good summary of all the different egg labels- but remember, while it shows that pasture raised is the best, that term isn’t regulated so anyone can use it willy-nilly. Do some research into the brands of eggs at the store to see how they actually treat their chickens.

navigating-the-lables-a-guide-to-buying-eggs.jpg

So you choose…what kind of eggs do you buy?

5 Tips for a Healthy Summer BBQ

Can you believe it is almost July?!? I sure can’t.

I hope your grill is hot and your tummy is grumbling for some barbecue because the 4th of July is right around the corner.

In lieu of this festive holiday typically filled with hotdogs and s’mores, I thought I would share some of my favorite tips and tricks for a healthy 4th of July (or any summer night) BBQ.

  1. Load up on veggies – If your cooking, grill a bunch of kebabs full colorful peppers, tomatoes, and broccoli. If you aren’t the one cooking, bring a big veggie tray with hummus or guac and fill your plate! Vegetables provide so many vital vitamins and minerals, plus they help fill you up without breaking the calorie bank.
  2. Cut the carbs in half – Yep, I’m talking about the (whole grain!) bun. This one is tricky if you are having a hot dog, but if you go for a hamburger, go open face so you only get half the bun’s carbs and calories. Or, if you are feeling super healthy, try two big pieces of lettuce for your bun.
  3. Water, water, water! – I know pop, lemonade, and iced tea are BBQ classics, but you can easily save 200+ calories by only drinking water. And an extra bonus – water will help keep you hydrated with all the extra salt you might be getting from that hot dog and side of potato chips.
  4. Choose fruit for dessert – ‘Tis the season of nice, juicy watermelons and delicious fruit salads. Take advantage of natures candy and munch on some nutrient filled grapes and berries instead of reaching for the bag of marshmallows.
  5. Get moving – Go for a walk and enjoy the weather after dinner, or play with the kids in the back yard. Planning an activity for after the meal can help prevent overeating (since nobody wants to run around on an overly full stomach). Exercise also helps your food digest better – not to mention you burn a few extra calories in the process.

Happy Grilling, Happy Summer, and Happy (early) 4th!