FNCE 2017

I had the privilege to attend the 2017 Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) this past October, held by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This well attended conference was celebrating it’s 100th year and had over 12,000 attendees. I fully admit my initial allure to dive into this mass of dietitians was for continued education credits (of which our profession needs to accumulate on a five year rotation). However, upon reflection of the experience my takeaways were far greater than logistical numbers to hold my credentials.

What I learned at FNCE 2017: Food is powerful.

Food creates and enhances happiness, despair, sickness and physique. It is simple -food is fuel- and complicated –insert any number of questions or comments here- all at the same time. It can not be avoided; it touches all lives to suffer or thrive, for without it we would not survive.

chicago from Sears tower

Case in Point:

I attended a session on nutrigenomics, where we heard about individual phenotypes response to caffeine, salt, and sugar, as well as what current research is still being done on potential individual nutrition needs based on genetics.

I sat in on a talk regarding the new theories of daily need for vitamin B12, based on severe symptoms experienced by vegetarians, and which lab values to assess to determine true deficiency.

There was a detailed talks on hypothyroidism and body composition (spoiler alert this condition has little positive to say about related weight and lean mass outcomes).

What about allergies and intolerances? They have increased, mostly in kids, by 18% in the last ten years. That is just those with allergies, systemic responders, not those with self report of negative food-related symptoms disrupting their lives. There are a plethora of self diagnosed food conditions; is this a product of the modern food system and environment or a psychological cry for power over food choice?

I marveled at the development of vertical farming inside large containers in Brooklyn. This is a concept spreading across the country and attracting young farmers who want to marry agricultural science and technology to control the growing environment to feed their neighborhoods.

I heard about the predicted future technologies that will allow you to blink against a contact computer chip to see the nutritional and economic data of a particular food item. Versus the hard facts of today, how 900 million people die of hunger every year; that’s one every four seconds.

Genetic engineering has advanced our abilities to grow more food and be more sustainable per region, we are headed in the right direction to conserve water, land and health of the environment, but not fast enough, as our population is predicted to rise to 9 billion by 2050. Then the issue is how do we not only feed those people, but nourish them as well, all while being kind to the earth.

Oh yes and then there is HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). As professionals in nutrition we must be careful with our relationships with other health care providers. As the healthcare community as a whole strives to bring the best services to patients for prevention and treatment we must be aware of antitrust laws, anti kickback statutes and state licensure and billing laws, on top of our defined scopes of practice.

Then still more sessions I attended focused on the consumer. The average person in the United States wants to eat less fat, sugar and salt but they still don’t know how to do this, as more and more products and more and more media bombards them with controversial food information.

Following this I sat in on an almost two hour talk on the latest “diet” trend of intermittent fasting and all the potential positive outcomes of such a practice. This talk ended with the conclusion that there is not enough research to say with certainty that it is an evidenced based practice for health improvement; not surprisingly, more research is needed. No truth and more confusion for the masses.


More research is needed in every facet of food and nutrition, as theories in our field are young and vulnerable. Yet in the background I’m thinking sure, but more research means more time and what will happen over that time? What will become of the next thirty years as we continue to live longer, yet still have few answers to improve quality of life through our most basic need of food?

And to that, again I say, Food is Powerful. I listened my way through this conference sitting in on only a handful of over 100 available sessions, which collectively covered more areas of food and nutrition than any one person can hope to comprehend.


If all of that was an overwhelming whirlwind don’t worry, the takeaway I have for you is more simple. As provided by FNCE 2017 keynote speaker Kimbal Musk: #realfood. That’s (hashtag) Real Food. At the very least use it to nourish yourself. Find what that means for you and be well.

If you want to do more I encourage you to seek out the research and read it with a critical eye; get in in touch with food and nutrition professionals to ask questions and have discussions; learn about and get involved in your local food and/or health care system.

Determine what piece of the powerful food puzzle you are passionate about and make a stance towards using the power of food for good.

Thanks for tuning in to my conference debrief! Please feel free to reach out to me for details, comments and questions.

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Rainstorm in your Sinuses

We have to admit that mother nature has been upping her game recently; hurricanes, tropical storms, fires and earthquakes… even without these natural disasters, every season of the earth’s rotation brings new weather patterns.

Have you ever stopped to think about how the weather may be affecting your health?

Clamming 2014

“You better check yo self before you wreck yo self. Cos I’m bad for your health, I come real stealth…” –Ice Cube

Ice Cube has got it right. When it comes to our health we must stay aware of all aspects of our environment, internal and external, and this includes what the sky looks like out your window every morning.

Not that we as individuals have much control what nature will bring us, but the more in-tune we are to our own bodies as they fit into the world around us, the better clarity we will have as to our well being. Knowledge equals power to make the best informed choices for us.

Here are a few awareness tid-bits on how changes in our surrounding climate may stealthily sneak up on us:


Sudden temperature changes, humidity changes, smog and smoke in the air:

  1. Can cause allergy-like symptoms= sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, nosebleeds, ear infections, fatigue; also associated with asthma and sinusitis (inflamed sinuses).
  2. How to prevent, help, or not make these unwanted affects worse during these times= avoid alcohol, spicy foods, polluted air, cleaning chemicals, and scented products; rinse sinuses with saline solution as desired.
  3. NOTE: there weather-related symptoms have nothing to do with the immune system, however they mimic actual allergy or cold symptoms so be mindful of which you may be experiencing!

Cold weather or sudden drops in temperature:

  1. Can be hard on the heart, as the body works to regulate your body temperature.
    • Avoid vigorous activity in the cold, especially if you have heart disease.
    • Keep indoor temperatures at 64-75 degrees Fahrenheit (World Health Organization).
  2. Can cause joint stiffness and pain.
    • Avoid weight –bearing activities during these times, or seek a warmer environment if pain persists.

Sudden weather changes; thunderstorms, rain storms, windstorms and the like:

  1. Can cause headaches and migraines due to barometric pressure changes.
  2. If you make the connection between the weather and your headaches, do your best to avoid up and down swings in weather by finding a consistent climate to live, work or play.

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There is also a condition called Seasonal Effective Disorder that is worth noting. This condition includes experiencing poor mood or negativity, irritability, extreme fatigue, change in appetite, or just pure sadness, when the seasons change. There is controversy over why this occurs; some studies show drops in the production of hormone serotonin when days get shorter and darkness comes sooner, however it can also occur throughout the summer months as well. The best remedy is to spend time outside each day in the daylight, no matter the season, as the light and fresh air has been shown to boost serotonin levels, energy and happiness. It may also be worth having your vitamin D level checked, as it may drop off in the winter months and deficiency has been linked to some symptoms of seasonal effective disorder.

There may be other effects of the natural environment on your individual wellbeing, no matter if they have been scientifically researched or not. Pay attention to how YOUR health responds to climate patterns and do what you feel is best to ensure the consequences are for the better, no weather… I mean worse.

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Sources:

WebMD, “The Weather: Wreaking Havoc on Health”, by Elizabeth Heubeck; online at http://www.webmd.com/allergies/features/the-weather-wreaking-havoc-on-health#1

National Institute of Mental health, Seasonal Affective Disorder; online at https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml

Mayo Clinic, Vitamin D; online at http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/vitamin-d/evidence/HRB-20060400

 

What is the Meaning of Life?

Has this question ever be asked to you? Do you have an answer?

During the troublesome times of my youth— you know, tragic things like when homework got in the way of a friend’s party invite or I missed the winning point at a sport tournament— I would express my upset in spins of emotion from rage to depression. Instead of getting angry back at the insensible reactions to my teenage turmoil, in the mist of my verbal objections my father would ask:

“Is this the meaning of life?”

It would stop me in my tracks every time. Never once did I find that whatever ailed me was worth my whole life.

As I grew older (dare I say wiser) I once asked my father what should have been the obvious question: “If this (insert singular petty event) isn’t the meaning of life, what is?”. His response was even more insightful than his original statement: “I don’t know, but when you find out I would like to know as well!”

 


I recently attended a conference, the Art & Science of Health Promotions, in which I was asked to articulate my purpose in life. The question brought tears to my eyes as I recalled the above childhood memories of my father. The context of this discussion at the conference was to explain, articulate and theorize on spiritual wellbeing and how this broader picture of how we each fit into the world triggers our thoughts, emotions, actions and overall health.

Spiritual wellbeing, the untouchable and often unthinkable pillar to holistic wellness! Defined by Brian Luke Seaward as the accumulation of our relationships, values and a meaningful purpose in life. The piece of the wellness puzzle that is easy to loose. Without it, can we truly be whole?

A few days later in this same conference one of our keynote speakers, Victor Strecher, spoke on his extensive research around what having a purpose in life does for our physical, mental and emotional health, and how you can not weed out one from the other. In a nutshell, having a purpose in life IS the meaning of life and the key to health and happiness. Plus, he had studies to prove it.

If you are interested in learning more on this topic and the evidence, I encourage you to read Victor’s book, “Life On Purpose”; I admittedly have not yet read it, as I have just returned from the above mentioned conference, however I have no doubt I, or you, will not be disappointed.

 


Our ability to dream and rationalize, to create and control, to stay our course when the outside world wants to tempt us into regret, stems not from pure willpower, but from purpose.

As intuitive as it sounds, articulating your purpose is not always easy. What is important to you? What are your morals and values? These are big questions. But as you think about them, discuss them with friends and family, and apply skills and knowledge as necessary to enhance them, your path in life will form in front of you. I have no guarantees it will be a straight path, but it will not be a wall of resistance.

As Victor states, it is important to distinguish a purpose in every aspect of your life, and keep a balance in each; too much focus in any one direction can lead to burnout or regression. For instance, what is your purpose in living a meaningful life for you as an individual? For you as a friend and family member? For you as a co-worker? For you in your community at large?

I encourage you to think on this question— what is your meaning(s) of life; keep them near, refer back to them often and live your life by them to your best ability. It is important to note that this is not a box to put yourself in or a label to stamp on your forehead, but a fluid exercise that should not restrain but expand.

Grandma Flower Love


In this stage of my life I have the courage to state my meaning of life, and it goes something like this:

Be a loving daughter, cousin, niece, aunt and wife. Do onto thy neighbor as you would do unto those you love. Take time for adventure and enjoy the outdoors. Support wellbeing in all those I meet. 

I have yet to ask my father what his meaning of life is, but I look forward to the conversation, as he continues to be a huge inspiration and drive for my purpose on this earth.

 

What Does it Mean to be at Your Ideal Body Weight?

How much should you weigh? Who decides? How do you know? Why does it matter? …

Siltez Bay 2014
Here is a little secret about your body weight:

No one can predict what weight your body is healthiest at. You are unique in your physical make-up.

Here is another secret about your body weight:

If you physically, mentally and emotionally feel and act as healthy as you can be then your weight does not matter. When you are at this point, you ARE at your ideal weight at that stage in your life.

Let’s say that again… at THAT stage in your life. Any other time in your life may result in a different weight to best support the healthiest you then.

So what does it feel like to be the healthiest you?
What qualifies as the healthiest you?

Only YOU can answer these questions.

Does volunteering in your community bring you satisfaction; does walking to work bring you clarity; does your bed time routine bring you peaceful sleep; does cooking for your family bring you happiness?

No one can put a weight to these health markers.

I encourage you to spend some time determining what your personal health markers are. Think quality over quantity; subjective over objective.

What are the next best steps for you now?

Keep track of your progress in terms of these intangible markers, not the number on a scale. FEEL the positive impact and KNOW you are succeeding in your ideal body, whatever the weight may be.

 

The pictures included in this post are a random assortment of what makes ME the healthiest and happiest me. Thank you for letting me share the joys in my life 🙂

 

Health Snapshots

Below I would like to share with you some of the pictures that I have been posting on instagram. You can follow all my posting there, @nutritionbyjules, to see more fun photography of all things health related- food, cooking, gardening, recreation and activity! These are also streamed to my Facebook page and Twitter if you use these social media outlets!

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From the garden!

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Art of the ride. Lavender in the spokes.

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In light of my recent blog on how to butcher and prepare pork, I acquired some local leaf fat and made my first attempt at rendering lard. It was a fun experience! The multiple steps are depicted here in this picture:

Step I= cut the leaf fat into cubes (as best possible).

Step 2= place fat cubes in crock pot on low with a little water at the bottom and let fat melt overnight. I ended up letting it stew for about 20 hours. I also used too much water, which ended up separating from the fat when I strained it.

Step 3= strain the leftover chunks, or cracklings, from the liquid fat. I used a stainless steel strainer, which ended up not being big enough and I had to strain multiple times/batches to get through it all. I think in the future cheese cloth would work better. The cracklings can be saved and used as well.

Step 4= let the fat cool into a creamy white, soft but solid form. Keep in jars to use as you would butter for cooking and baking. Extra will freeze nicely. I ended up with 5 small jars from one chunk of leaf fat.

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Hemp milk latte. Hemp milk is a great protein source and alternative to highly processed cow’s milk. It also contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. As it is becoming more and more popular you will find it in more places for purchase. This latte was made at Backporch coffee roasters in Bend, OR.

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Soaked almonds. Nuts, among other plants, have phytates, phenols and other inhibiting agents that bind the nutrients in the food and can have toxic effects when consumed in excess. Soaking helps loosen these to protect the body from their potential damage and to release nutrients, allowing the body to better utilize them.

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A few fish meals. Salmon cakes, Oregon rock fish tacos, wild caught salmon with Brussels sprouts and fresh Alaskan halibut stew!

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Just for laughs. Humor is good stress relief. Goof it up!