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“By 2040, over 640 million of us may be living with diabetes.” On November 14th, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) hosted World Diabetes Day and offered information from the 7th edition of its Diabetes Atlas. These numbers are staggering and yet we know the best thing we can do as health care professionals is to never lose sight of the fact that our patients and clients are more than a number. They are people struggling with illness, looking for answers that will speak to them and the unique and challenging lives they lead.

In its World Diabetes Day campaign, the IDF identified “healthy eating as a key factor in the fight against diabetes and a cornerstone of health and sustainable development.” The dietitian has never been more needed in the fight to curtail the diabetes epidemic.  The American Diabetes Association identifies a registered dietitian (and ideally one who is also a certified diabetes educator) as a key member of the health care team who can help a patient:

  • learn how foods affect blood sugar and blood fat levels
  • balance food with medications and activity
  • read food labels
  • plan meals including eating out and special events
  • include ethnic or foreign foods into meals
  • find good cookbooks and make food substitutions
  • and more….

Keeping Joslin Diabetes Deskbookabreast of what’s new is essential for any dietitian, but even more important in the dynamic world of diabetes prevention and management. This month we are featuring a new self-study course based on the 3rd edition of the Joslin’s Diabetes Deskbook: A Guide for Primary Care Providers (48 CPEU/ CEU). This classic resource is a must-have for your practice. The new edition has been completely revised to provide evidence-based diabetes information, as well as the most up-to-date approaches to the diagnosis, management and treatment of diabetes.

Skelly Skills also offers a range of other diabetes continuing education activities including our brand-new on-demand webinar series Mindful Eating for Diabetes Made Easy (6 CPEU/CEU) which includes a free eBook, with dialogue and handouts to help you use mindfulness techniques with your diabetes clients. Also, please sign-up for our e-newsletter to be notified of our free CE monthly webinars, many of which are diabetes-related.  

Three Ways to Blue Zone Your Client’s Life

As you know, Skelly Skills is a labor of love for me, not just because I love helping RDs and CDEs be the best they can be, but also because (ok, selfishly) I get to learn cool things all the time, too!

The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living LIke the World’s Healthiest People is this month’s new CE course and is the perfect example of this. Dan Buettner’s new book, based on his bestselling Blue Zones, is a dietitian’s dream: grounded in science, and accessible for any client. It was a fascinating read.

In fact, that’s how we knew it would make a great addition to Skelly Skills’ CE lineup: it contains the three ingredients every CE course we launch ideally provides. First, it’s practical, and immediately helpful to RDs in their practice. Second, it’s based on studies of dietary and lifestyle patterns, not a single nutrient or food. If you’ve read Michael Pollan’s work, you know that what he terms nutritionism (or the obsession with a single nutrient or food) has led us away from whole, plant-based diets, in favor of focusing on the macro- or micro-nutrient du jour. The Blue Zones research reminds us that we exist in synergy with our environment, and that only by eating, and living, holistically can we achieve not just longevity, but healthy longevity.

Third, The Blue Zones Solution gives lots of great baby steps that anyone can start doing today. It doesn’t feel overwhelming: pick one or two and start doing them now. You can add more down the road, but every small step you take will get you more aligned with the Blue Zones lifestyle–one that’s strongly correlated with healthy longevity.

Here are three baby steps you or your clients can take today:

  1. Eat more beans! It’s no surprise: they are strongly correlated with longevity in every Blue Zone studied
  2. Walk together/talk together and belong: Moais (groups of friends who commit to one another) are a way the Okinawans in Japan, famed for their longevity, stay healthy and happy. Give it a try in your workplace or community.
  3. Assess yourself: the Blue Zones Vitality Compass is free and fun and gives you or your clients a score based on the elements of Blue Zones longevity. You can take it here.

Healthy Regards,

Sheila

How my 8 year-old got my 5 year-old to eat broccoli

sensory-wonders (1)Becoming a mom is always a humbling experience, but never more so when you’re a Registered Dietitian who used to (smugly) tell other moms what to do. Having an advanced degree in nutrition and experiencing firsthand the near-complete lack of control you have over a small being’s food preferences is the ultimate in hubris.

Witness my own situation: after breastfeeding both my kids and lovingly handcrafting meals from scratch from birth, I ended up with an older kid who loves to eat pretty much everything (and has no concept of when he might be full), and a younger one who is the very definition of a Supertaster (code for ridiculously picky, and able to narrate the various sensory attributes he does NOT like of a given food). Oh, and he also decided to become a vegetarian after a visit to a nearby farm when he was 4.

Thankfully, I read Ellyn Satter’s books when I worked in WIC and her wisdom would resonate in my head pre-mealtime (“The parent decides what and when, the child decides if and how much.”) I also welcomed my kids into the kitchen to cook with me at every possible opportunity, as well as used mindful eating techniques to help my older one recognize and honor hunger and satiety cues. But I still struggled with my younger one’s refusal of so many foods. Little did I know the answer was to get out of the way!

Let me explain. When the after-school enrichment schedule came out, I was delighted to see that Little Chefs was one of the offerings. This after-school cooking club for kids was guaranteed to give my 8 year-old six weeks of pure joy. And it did. Unfortunately, my 5 year-old was too young to take the class. But, like most younger sibs, he was the very definition of a starry-eyed second-born, interested in whatever my older son was doing. So, after the first class, when my 8 year-old came home with broccoli quiche he had made, my 5 year-old begged for a piece. What? I thought to myself. He NEVER eats broccoli when I make it!   To my astonishment, he ate an entire piece, gushing the whole time about how delicious the broccoli tasted. My older one, also not a huge fan of broccoli, had a similar response.

What a revelation. As important as it is for kids to cook with you, I’ve also discovered it’s critical to give them some independence in the kitchen (when they are old enough, of course). We now have a ‘Kids’ Choice’ night once a week, where my kids choose the meal components and cook/assemble it themselves, with my oversight. Not surprisingly, broccoli quiche has made the menu, but also other meal ideas I would never had made for dinner, like corn, tomato and bean salsa and pasta salad (also both recipes from the Little Chefs class). Seeing my kids wolf down sun-dried tomatoes and olives in a pasta salad nearly brought tears to my eyes.

As millennial snow-plow parents, getting out of our kids’ ways can be a foreign concept. But when it comes to eating healthfully, giving them the independence and skills to choose what sometimes, and letting them serve as role models to younger sibs, also can positively influence if and how much.

This month Skelly Skills is focusing on building healthy families–please join us for our FREE continuing education (CE) webinar for RD and RDNs and CDEs on “How to Help Families Build a Better Diet” (1 CPEU / CEU) on April 28th with mindful eating expert Megrette Fletcher, MEd, RD, CDE, author of Discover Mindful Eating for Kids: 75 Activities for Picky Eaters, Overeaters, Speed Eaters, and Every Kid In-Between (35 CPEU / CEU). You can register here.

Healthy Regards,

Sheila

Here’s to us (“Cheers!”, “L’chaim!”, or as my aunt in Cali would say: “Chin Chin”)

love fruit and vegetable

Skelly Skills has a free CE course on Nutrition411.com called ‘5 Ways to be a Better Dietitian’. I like it, and what it represents: that we can always improve. That’s what continuing education is all about–Skelly’s raison d’etre if my high school French doesn’t fail me.

However, since Registered Dietitian Day is this month, I’ve been thinking about how great we already are. (As a parent, this kind of thinking is a decided no-no. If you haven’t heard, we are raising a generation of ‘praise-junkies’–they all want trophies and someone doing back-flips when they do a purely mediocre job.)

But here’s the thing: this does not apply to RDs. We are experts at setting the bar higher, going to all ends to improve, and generally (in my opinion) not feeling like we get any respect for the tremendous value we bring. Now that I’ve worked with educating and training RD/RDNs for 11 years, I’d like to pay homage to the 5 Ways we are Already Awesome:

  1. We really want to help our clients (really). I’m constantly astonished at how selfless RDs are when it comes to making someone’s health better. I spend a lot of time on RD listservs, and the dedication to helping clients (after-hours and at all hours) is truly inspiring.
  2. We have tremendous empathy. Let’s face it: all day long, we work with people who have often made some not-so-great choices in their lives. Many of them continue to, in spite of knowing otherwise. It could be easy to become cynical and judgmental. But we don’t. In my experience, it’s rare to find an RD who doesn’t show tremendous empathy for the clients she works with–understanding the many factors beyond their control that led to their current situation, and plugging away to find new techniques and strategies to help them.
  3. We give back. I’ve never seen a profession that volunteers more than ours. Period.
  4. We help each other. RDs shelve their egos in favor of the greater good. While sometimes we lament the larger impact this has–professions that are more ego-driven naturally get more recognition and prestige, because their members demand it. But we are looking to make each other better, regardless of whether we are acknowledged or compensated for it. For this reason, we freely share information, advice and best practices, simply to support and empower each other.
  5. We are ethical, and make ethical decisions. I love how careful and concerned RD/RDNs are about doing the right thing, and making the ethical choice. It’s this integrity that forms the bedrock of trust our profession and the RD/RDN credential need to ensure we are the nutrition expert of choice.

Happy RD Day to all of you. I’m so proud to be a part of this wonderful profession!

Sheila