Inside Carolina: USC's register dietitians
By Liz McCarthy, firstname.lastname@example.org, 803-777-2848
With football season and hearty tailgating food right around the corner, faculty, staff and students may not be thinking about the healthiest foods. But USC’s nutrition experts can help anyone find the right balance. We caught up with Lisa Money and Sarah Walsh, USC’s registered dietitians, to find out how nutrition consultations work and how they are helping Carolina get healthy.
What does nutrition consultations entail?
Money: “We do some prevention, as well as address nutritional issues that might come up with patients – diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, eating disorders or just poor eating habits. We’re here to help students, faculty and staff on an individual basis.”
How do the consultations work?
Walsh: “Some people just come in or they will be referred from a doctor or counselor. We talk about whatever issues they have. Depending on the problem, we talk with them about how to facilitate behavior change.”
Money: “We start with an interview to find out about diet history. We don’t prejudge what they might be eating. We ask for a three-day food record. We also assess the patient’s knowledge of nutrition. Based on their knowledge, motivation and nutritional problem, we formulate all of that together to come up with a care plan for them.”
So it’s individualized?
Walsh: “If two different people come in for weight loss, they could have two different goals and plans that we give them based on their lifestyles and their motivation. It depends with every person.”
What kind of testing do you do?
Money: “We do a skin caliber test for overall body fat and metabolic testing as well. About 50 percent of what we do is showing students how to plan a menu, how to shop, what foods to buy and teaching them basic survival skills.”
Walsh: “We’re here for students, faculty and staff for any question. The Internet can be a plethora of information, almost information overload. Not every source on the Internet is credible. Anyone can send us a quick message (via My Health Space) or stop by to make an appointment just because you never know what you will find on the Internet.”
What do people need to know about what you do?
Money: “I’ll steal a line from a mentor dietitian that I know: ‘A healthy relationship with food is more important than any half-cup of broccoli that you will ever eat.’ We’re making sure that we can teach people about the psychology of their relationship with food. It’s just as important as anything they are putting in their mouth."
Walsh: “We’re shifting away from a weight-focused approach. We’re much more concerned about healthy behaviors. Weight isn’t always necessarily a description of how someone’s health is. We try to push healthy behaviors and having good relationships with food.”
Money: “I continue to strive to see what is working. I don’t want to just spin my wheels here. We do evidence-based practices here so we are constantly looking at what other schools are doing, what has worked and what doesn’t work. Then we try to put that in place here.”
What is USC doing about healthy habits?
Money: “USC has invested time and energies in policy. By creating policies through Healthy Carolina, USC is creating a culture of health. Bad eating habits have become a part of the culture of America, and USC has taken the step forward. If we can at all influence the next generation to have decreased chronic diseases that’s all worth it to me.”
One tip from the experts:
Keep a journal. It’s the easiest way to be accountable and it helps identify if you are a stress eater or a bored eater. Check out free sites like MyFitnessPal, which recently partnered with Carolina Dining to include all on-campus dining options nutritional information.
Once a month Walsh and Money take groups to various grocery stores in town to discuss healthy food options. They also help with Campus Wellness’ Choose to Lose program and Human Resources’ Sweet Success diabetes management program. In September, Walsh and Money will release a healthy tailgating guide in connection with Carolina Dining during the Healthy Carolina Farmers Market.
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