National Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day: What do Dietitians Say About Popular Food Trends?
Happy National Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day! Read more to find out what Registered Dietitians have to say about some of the most popular food trends, diets and lifestyles. Whoa Dough has the inside scoop for all things gluten free, plant-based, vegan and vegetarian. Learn about the nutritional benefits, as well as important recommendations from highly qualified food experts.
A gluten-free diet, while initially daunting, provides a great opportunity to branch out, get creative, and try new foods!
Shelley Case, a registered dietitian for 27 years, acts as an incredible resource for those suffering from gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. Her published book, titled ‘Gluten-Free Diet’ includes essentially everything people need to know about the gluten free lifestyle. From early stage diagnosis to navigating eating out at restaurants, Shelley Case truly covers it all easing the tension of newly diagnosed individuals. Shelley shares her thoughts that a gluten free diet is one of the most difficult lifestyles to adopt due to the dominant presence of gluten in a traditional diet. Shelley Case appears to support the gluten free diet for those who suffer negative effects such as bloating, inflammation, stomach aches and fatigue. However, she stresses the importance of monitoring the amount of vitamins and minerals one consumes without eating gluten. She explains “Many people following a gluten-free diet are not getting enough fiber, iron, calcium, vitamin D, and other nutrients” (GlutenLoveToKnow). This occurs because most gluten free products are made from white rice flour, tapioca, corn and potato starch which tend to be lower in protein, iron, B vitamins and fiber. Additionally, Shelley Case encourages individuals looking to try a gluten-free diet to eat a wide variety of naturally gluten-free products, rather than only resorting to gluten-free snack food alternatives. Fruits, vegetables, gluten free-grains such as quinoa, millet, rice, as well as legumes, beans and chickpeas serve as a great option for incorporating protein, vitamins and minerals into a gluten-free diet.
Transitioning to a vegan lifestyle can be very challenging, however has been made much easier due to accessible nutritional information, as well as numerous plant-based substitutes. Most nutritionists and registered dietitians agree that a vegan diet, while not completely necessary for optimal health, acts as a sustainable and sufficient lifestyle when properly educated and implementing the necessary protocols. Andrea Laughlin, a registered dietitian at Sage Nutrition, supports this ideology and says that cutting out animal products isn’t always necessary when trying to achieve optimal health. Additionally, plant-based holistic nutritionist, Sarah B, states, “The benefits of a whole-food, plant-based diet which can be vegan are: higher nutrient density, lower saturated fats and knowing that you are putting less strain on the Earth’s resources” (SheKnows). While it is not completely necessary, there are many health benefits of a vegan diet.
Ultimately, it is important to fuel your body with the essential nutrients it needs to properly function. However, this looks different for everyone. There are various pros and cons to a vegan lifestyle, which is why it is important to evaluate if a vegan lifestyle will be the right fit for you and your body!
Similar to a vegan diet, there are many misconceptions and myths that come with a vegetarian diet. Many people assume that individuals lose out on many important health benefits because they are not consuming meat. While meat products do contain very high levels of iron and other minerals, which are essential for human health, these vitamins and minerals can be supplemented into our diets in many other ways than just eating meat alone. Additionally, decreasing consumption of meat and opting for more plant-based options can decrease risks of illness, disease and a multitude of other health related problems. Judy Engel, a registered nutritionist, supports this statement in sharing, “Evidence also suggests that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from certain heart diseases, and that those who follow a vegetarian diet tend to have lower LDL [“bad”] cholesterol levels” (NewsInHealth). Dr. Susan Krebs-Smith is another nutritionist working alongside Engel, however part of her role is to monitor trends in cancer risk factors. Researchers like herself have found through extensive research that vegetarians have a much lower risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome (a condition that raises your risk for heart disease and stroke). Although many nutritionists support a vegetarian diet due to its multitude of health related benefits, they draw critical attention to micronutrient levels. Similar to a vegan diet, it is essential for vegetarians to prioritize vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, zinc and vitamin B12 to maintain optimal health.
Every diet and lifestyle, including gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian, has its many pros and cons. We urge you to use this information sourced from nutritionists and dietitians to explore the different eating trends and lifestyles. Everybody is different and remember what works for someone else may not be suitable for you so make sure to consult your doctor and do what works best for you!