Claxton Dietetic Solutions Articles

Farmer's Market Finds
Summertime has arrived! School’s out, temperatures are hot and…the farmer’s market is open! The perfect Saturday morning outing comes equipped with local vendors, fresh produce and maybe even fresh coffee. It’s no secret that eating seasonally is beneficial not only for your health but for your finances as well. Somehow though, the summer farmer’s market brings this year round truth back into focus.  The main health benefit of buying seasonal produce is that you get exposure to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables therefore increasing your intake of vitamins and minerals. Financially, seasonal produce is cheaper. And who doesn’t want that? Let’s look at what foods are popular in which season and then discuss how we can implement this into our dietetics practice! Spring - artichokes, asparagus, chives, fava beans, green onions, leeks, lettuce, parsnips, peas, radishes, rhubarb, Swiss chard Summer- berries, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, figs, grapes, green beans, melons, peppers, stone fruit (apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums), summer squash, tomatoes, zucchin Fall- apples, Brussels sprouts, dates, hard squash (acorn, butternut, spaghetti), pears, pumpkin, sweet potatoes Winter- bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, citrus fruit (clementines, grapefruit, lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines), collard greens, endive, leafy greens (collard, kale, mustard, spinach), root vegetables (beets, turnips) Now, how can we as dietitians put this knowledge into practice in new and interesting ways? Here are a few ideas I have.  ·     Community Education- Ask your local Parks and Recreation Department if you can set up a table or booth at your local farmer’s market advocating for seasonal eating. This would be a great way to get good face to face contact with your community and give them an immediate opportunity to put their newfound knowledge into practice.·     Clinical Education- Highlight seasonal eating through a “Recipe of the Week.” This would involve getting preauthorization from your FSM and/or CDM but would be a great way to educate both staff and patients on what is in season.·     Home Education- If you are an RD and a parent, exploring seasonal eating is a great way for you to boost your child’s exposure to fruits and vegetables. Allow them to get involved and pick a particular fruit or vegetable to try each week. Find a kid free recipe and let them help prepare it to get them even more involved!I hope this week’s blog post has been helpful! Get out in the community and shop your local market this weekend. And check out the recipe page for a great summertime recipe!
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
I have a vivid childhood memory of reading an old copy of Aesop’s fables at my grandmother’s house when I was a little girl and one of my favorite fables to read was “The Tortoise and the Hare.” The well-known fable tells of rabbit and tortoise that set out on a race to prove who is faster. The hare quickly leaves the tortoise behind and, confident of winning, takes a nap halfway through the race. When the Hare awakes though, he finds that the Tortoise, crawling slowly but steadily, has beaten him to the finish line.This story is a lot like ones we hear daily from clients, neighbors, family members, coworkers…really anyone who has set out on a weight loss journey. People nowadays are intrigued by fast results, making extreme lifestyle changes like cutting out entire food groups and restricting intake beyond necessity all in the name of better health and weight loss.  As dietitians we are taught to help our clients make “SMART” goals = Small, measureable, attainable, realistic and time oriented goals. This concept is on the complete opposite end of the dieting spectrum. Telling a hare to embrace the attitudes and pace of a tortoise is no easy task, but I believe we are up to the challenge and our clients will thank us in the end.  Here are some examples of SMART goals:  S: Small: Address making healthier choices at one meal (either breakfast, lunch or dinner) instead of addressing all meals at one time M: Measurable: If a client is wanting to decrease their fruit juice intake, help him/her to specify the amount of juice. “Decrease juice intake” becomes “drink 4 oz of juice at breakfast.” Then make sure the client has the necessary equipment to measure this out.  A: Attainable: Set goals that are actually achievable. 1-2 lbs of weight loss per week is something that can actually be done. Setting out to lose 5-10 lbs is, scientifically, not attainable. You as the counselor will need to help the client understand what is attainable and what is not based on particular time frames. R: Realistic: Again, this will involve you helping and counseling your client to understand that the goal of better health, weight loss, etc. are lifelong goals. Changes need to be realistic in their everyday lives.  For example, it would not be realistic for a client who loves grains to cut out all grains to lower carbohydrate intake. Portion control would be a better option for this client. T: Time Oriented: This aspect helps specify goals even further giving them an endpoint. “Lose up 1-2 lbs of weight in 1 week,” “Drink 4 oz of juice with breakfast for 1 week” and “increase physical activity to 30 minutes of cardio 3 times a week” are examples of time oriented goals.  SMART goals not only help your clients achieve what they have set out to accomplish, but they also help you serve your client better. So lets preach it loud and clear-- Slow and steady wins the race!
Carbs--The Misunderstood Macro
All clinical dietitians have been there…. sitting in morning meeting (or standing by the water cooler, nurse’s station, etc.) and we overhear another staff member talking about their latest diet. And usually this diet does not involve reducing portion size, embracing moderation or upping their physical activity level. It usually involves an extreme measure of restriction or selectivity and is likely unsustainable. In short, it’s another fad.  And you don’t just have to be a dietitian to experience this scenario. People all over the world are fascinated and mesmerized by fad diets. Looking for that magic pill to help them reach their health goals, the general population falls victim to a series of diet cycles and more often than not, does not succeed.  The latest of these fad diets is the Ketogenic Diet or “Keto.” This encourages a very low carb intake, no more than 50 grams net carbs per day, preferably 20 grams/day to put your body into a state of “ketosis.” Ketosis is when your body does not have a steady supply of glucose (carbs) so the liver starts to burn fat and turn it into ketones for energy instead.  It makes sense, and many people have experienced success using this technique, but this diet, in my opinion, is not sustainable. We also don’t know the long-term effects the keto diet will have on our bodies. But most importantly, I think this diet aids in an overall, nationwide misconception of what carbohydrates are, why they are important to the body and how we can eat them in moderation. Let’s break these down. What are carbohydrates? Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, vegetables, gains and dairy products.  Why are carbohydrates important? They are a macronutrient, meaning they are one of three sources of energy for our bodies. Our brains and skeletal muscles use this form of energy primarily.  Now for the “how.” I believe it’s very important for individuals to understand how to eat carbohydrates in moderation. This is a lifestyle skill that is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle in our oversized, overstuffed, over served Western culture.  How can we as dietitians help the general public better understand and ingest this nutrient? Simply put, education. Education, education, education. Let us not grow weary of trying to educate an uneducated society. It may seem unwanted at times, unheard, or unpopular at times, but there are individuals out there (especially diabetics) who need to hear this and most importantly need a professional to walk through this lifestyle change with them. Enter Registered Dietitians! 
Rapport Galore
A consulting dietitian is somewhat of a jack of all trades. Beyond having a full circle knowledge of clinical nutrition, sanitation and food safety policies, dietitians must also have strong relational skills to see true progress in their facilities. You might think its possible to do this job simply by going in, getting the work done and leaving with little to no interaction with the staff. That’s possible, but not what’s best for our residents or the facility. The secret to success for both yourself and your facility (s) is in the relationships.   Relationships are a tricky thing. They take time. It takes getting to know another person and making them feel heard, understood and cared for. Genuinely. This may seem a little mushy gushy for the workplace but the underlying concept isn’t. Relationship development builds trust and trust is the bridge to better communication. And let me tell you, communication is the key to EVERYTHING. So who do you need to develop a relationship with in your facilities? And furthermore, how do you do that when you are on site minimal amounts of time per week? Let’s dive in.   Who it’s important to build a relationship with at your facilities is as follows: DON/ADON, RNs, CNAs, CDM, Cooks/Aids. I know this seems like a lot of people, but let me explain why I suggest this.   -DON/ADON: They are the captains. They have a lot of pull. The DON/ADON can and will help you get information that you need if they like and trust the work you are doing. You want to be on the same team.   -RNs: They are in charge of communicating which weights need to be done and following up to ensure they were completed. In some cases they are even the ones that have to log the weights into the EMR. If the RNs like you, understand you are more than the “weight police” and care about the residents as much as they do they will help your cause. They will want to help you succeed at your job.   CNAs: This population, I believe, is one of the most important groups on the clinical side to develop relationships with. They are the ones responsible for getting your weights and reweights. And we all know we CANNOT do our job without this information. You want these people to like you, trust you and again, want to help you do your job well.   CDM: This is the most important person to develop a relationship with on the foodservice side. This person is responsible for getting you all of the information you need, for ordering, menu writing, applying recommendations, MDSs, and so much more. With a strong relationship, a CDM and RD can make a lot of positive change for a facility. But it’s important that they feel as if the relationship is one between two equals and not one between a superior and inferior.    Cooks/Aides: Consulting dietitians can sometimes feel not only like the weight police, but the cleanliness police as well. With monthly audits being done and recommendations being given, success in this area depends on whether or not the cooks/aides follow the guidelines/rules while you are away and follow them consistently. They are more likely to adhere to the rules of sanitation and food safety if they respect you as a leader and feel cared for.   Now for the how…how to get this done, with a limited amount of time available. Here are 2 quick tips to start building better relationships:   -Remember names: This one is simple. Remember the names of the staff and call them by name each time you are on site.   -Listen and ask:Listen to what is talked about during the down time (the minutes before morning meeting and/or weight meeting, at the nurses station, while CNAs are passing out trays, etc.). This does not have to seem sketchy or like you are eavesdropping. It simply means paying attention and listening to your surroundings. This is a great way to learn about your fellow staff members. Then, follow up, maybe the following week and ask them a personal question. Something that says, “I care about your life and how it is going.”   Implementing these small steps will not only help you professionally, but will help you on a personal level as well. Enjoying and trusting those you work with allows you to find more joy in your work day. Here’s to more joy!
Household Models In Long Term Care
As the old saying goes… “There Is No Place Like Home.” Many long term care facilities have taken this saying to heart and are implementing a new wave approach to serving their residents. It is called the “household model” and it aims to create a home like environment for its residents, especially when it comes to their food. Institutional hallways and tray carts have been replaced with full service eat in kitchens and dining areas with staff prepared to serve residents what sounds best. This model was created to boost resident moral, provide a more comfortable setting to live in and decrease incidences of weight loss. And results are in—these facilities are succeeding! One LTC facility that has implemented this model is Asbury Place of Kingsport in Kingsport, Tennessee. They follow a liberalized diet philosophy, that means just what you think it would mean; residents are placed on the most liberalized diet they can be on, taking into consideration ST recommendations, acute/chronic illnesses, etc. Because of the smaller scale of residents being served at this facility, resident’s specific food preferences can better be attended to than at other facilities. Meal times mirror those at your own home, with all of the residents gathered around the table, family and staff as well, cultivating conversations and encouraging adequate PO intake. It truly does seem that the happier the residents are, the better they eat at meal and snack times. But the truth of the matter is that not all LTC facilities have the ability to implement this household model as it usually entails a complete building remodel, staff training/cross training and monetary funds that just aren’t accessible at the moment. So how can we as consultant dietitians bring the experience of these household models to our other more institutional facilities? Here are a few tips! Focus on the food preferences: Make it a point to carve out an appropriate amount of time to spend with the incoming residents to assess their food preferences. Furthermore, follow up to ensure these preferences are honored and served to the residents by the kitchen staff. If the CDM is responsible for taking food preferences, spend some time training or teaching him/her do this effectively (if needed). Call the resident by name: One thing is for sure, whenever you are at home, everyone knows your name.Do your best to get to know the resident’s names and make it a point to say hello to them (using their name) whenever you pass them in the hallway or see them in the dining room. The CDM can be very helpful with this as they typically spend more time at the facility than the dietitian does. Utilize food first: Whenever you are at home, you typically don’t eat or drink a lot of supplement drinks (Ensure, mighty shakes, magic cup). Although these items cannot be completely avoided and are completely necessary in some instances, do your best to utilize food items first (fortify if needed!) when trying to increase a resident’s calorie and protein intake. Let’s do our best to make these residents feel more at home in our facilities!
The Runner's Guide to Nutrition
Running is one of the most popular forms of exercise, and for good reason! Running doesn't require lots of special gear, coordination, and can be done almost anywhere. However, avid runners know that good nutrition and running go hand in hand. Making sure you are fueling your body correctly is essential to get the most out of your runs, prevent injury, and aid in recovery. Whether you are new to running or have been racking up miles for years, here is a quick reference guide to the ins and outs of running nutrition.Pre-Run: Exercise requires energy and water. Having a small snack 30-60 minutes before your run ensures that you have the energy you need to complete your miles and really push your muscles. Aim for a snack with a mix of carbohydrates (15-20 grams) and protein (7-10 grams) such has an apple and cheese stick or graham crackers and peanut butter [1]. Also, make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Nothing makes the miles seem longer than being dehydrated.During Run: Snacks: You may think that only marathon runners need to worry about nutrition during runs, but that simply isn't the case. Any time a run exceeds 60 minutes you need to start thinking about snacking during your run. After approximately 30 minutes your body will be running low on energy stores and electrolytes which can lead to fatigue, reduced performance, and increased risk of injury. Mid run snacks are all about easy to digest carbohydrates. While some people prefer to use special prepackaged supplements, it's easy to get the energy you need from simple foods like dried fruit, pretzels or other light crackers, or bananas. You can have one big snack per hour, or snack all along the way. Whatever snack you choose it's best to aim for 30-60 grams of carbohydrate for every hour you run. Hydration: It is essential that you maintain proper hydration during runs, even during the winter. Sipping on water, sports drinks, or coconut water throughout your run helps keep you hydrated and electrolytes in balance better than just chugging water before and after your run. Aim for three to six ounces of water every 15-20 minutes while running. Running water belts, water backpacks, or even hiding water bottles along your route are great ways to make sure you have what you need to stay hydrated [2]. Be sure to follow any snacks and/or energy supplements with plenty of water as well. Post Run: Providing your body with the nutrition it needs to replenish and rebuild your muscles is critical to recovery and improving future runs. Post run snacks should be a mix of carbohydrates and protein to rebuild muscle and energy stores within the muscle. Aim for 12-15 grams of protein and 35-50 grams of carbohydrates [1]. Low-fat chocolate milk makes a great post-run snack with a great balance of carbs, protein, and electrolytes. Other great post run snacks can include fruit and yogurt, pb&j sandwich, or a hummus wrap. Try to eat within 15-45 minutes of completing your run.Running for Weight Loss: Running is an excellent way to improve cardiovascular health, reduce stress, reduce the risk of osteoporosis, and reduce the risk of Type II Diabetes [3]. Running can also be an excellent addition to a weight loss program if you keep these key things in mind:~Running makes you hungry: Running is a high intensity sport that burns a high number of calories compared to other exercises. Also, as we've mentioned in this article, you need to fuel correctly to make the most of your runs. In order to reach your weight loss goals you have to pay attention to total daily calories. Be sure to include all your pre/post/ and mid run snacks in your daily meal plan. In addition, make sure that you aren't eating too few calories. If you are decreasing daily calories in addition to running you may be eating too little and setting yourself up for failure.~You may actually gain a little weight at first: When you first start running you may experience a slight weight gain. Running, like all exercise, breaks down muscles in order to rebuild them stronger. However, this initial breaking down process can cause the muscle to retain fluids and thus increase the scale slightly. As you continue to run this process begins to even out. In addition, the large muscles in your legs involved in running burn more calories sitting still than fat does. So the more you build these muscles, the more calories you will be burning on a daily basis, increasing your ability to lose weight. ~Muscle weighs more than fat: As you build more muscle your weight may go up or stay the same even as you lose inches and improve your body shape. Muscle weighs less than fat but takes up much less space. Therefore, make sure that you have multiple measurements to track your progress and don't focus solely on the scale.Working with a Registered Dietitian is a great way to ensure you are able to maximize your weight loss efforts while still meeting all of your nutritional needs. Running is awesome for the mind and the body; but the next time you lace-up make sure you are maximize your results by pairing your runs with awesome nutrition! References: 1. Warburton DE, Nicol CW, Bredin SS. Health benefits of physical activity: The evidence. CMAJ. March 14, 2006; Vol 174: 6.  Picture Credit: 
The Return of Traditional Diets
Since the early 1900's, new methods of production, processing, and preservation have drastically changed how people eat, especially in the United States. In a little over a century we have gone from eating foods with very few ingredients to foods that contain dozens of ingredients. This change from whole foods to highly processed foods has been paralleled by an increase in chronic diseases [1,2]. However, in recent years we have seen a resurgence in the interest of traditional diets. Traditional diets refers to those diets followed for thousands of years by indigenous populations around the world. Research has shown that individuals who follow a traditional diet have lower instances of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, obesity, and depression [2,3]. Some examples of Traditional Diets are the Ayurveda Diet (India) and the Mediterranean diet (circa 1960); however, traditional diets include the eating patterns of any indigenous people world wide [2,3]. Traditional diets are composed of the foods available to a population in the local environment and season. While the actually foods of each diet may vary widely by location, almost all traditional diets have major similarities that account for their beneficial effects on overall health [2,3].1. High in plants: Traditional diets are typically high in fresh plant foods including leafy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and root vegetables. Fresh plant foods are high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals which are lost during processing and production.2. Include Fats: From olive oil and nuts to fresh fish, traditional diets include fats. Our bodies need fats (especially mono and polyunsaturated fats) to function correctly. Not getting enough fat in the diet can lead to decreased feelings of fullness (causing increased intake and weight gain), and increased risk of mental illness and depression [4]. 3. Protein: Almost all traditional diets include some form of animal protein.  Often, diets included a range of animal proteins from sources such as fish and other aquatic life, birds, eggs, some dairy, large game, reptiles, and insects. In addition, the majority of the animal was consumed, not just the large cuts of meat. 4. Mindfulness: Another component of traditional diets is a mindfulness and connection to food. Individuals are more aware of how the food was procured and therefore more mindful during eating. Many traditional diets (such as the Ayurveda diet) are closely related to spirituality and religion. A great emphasis is placed on the effects of eating, not just on the body but on the soul as well. Therefore, individuals may be less likely to eat past fullness or to waste food by eating too much at any one time. 5. Minimal Processing: While traditional diets rely on natural processing techniques such as smoking and fermentation to preserve foods, overall processing of food items is minimal. Foods are free from the plethora of added sugars, salts, fats, and chemicals seen in contemporary diets. It is important to consider that traditional diets are also associated with an overall higher level of daily activity and exercise which contributes to decreases in chronic disease [1-3]. Are you interested in switching to a more traditional diet? You don't have to follow a strict manual of what to eat and what not to eat. Seek out fresh fruits and vegetables and a variety of protein sources. Don't try to cut fat out of your diet but instead include an appropriate amount of healthy fats like those found in plant oils and seafood. Reduce your intake of overly processed items by checking the label. If an item has more than five ingredients you might want to select a less processed choice. On the most basic level, the return to traditional diets is a return to whole foods. References1- Popkin BM. Nutritional patterns and transitions. Population and Development Review. Vol 19, No 1; March 1993: 138-57.2- Willett WC, Sacks F, et al. Mediterranean diet pyramid: a cultural model for healthy eating. Am J Clin Nutr. Jun 1995; 61:1402s-1406s.3- Jacka FN, Pasco JA, et al. Association of Western and traditional diets with depression and anxiety in women. Am J Psychiatry. 2010; 167:1-74- Sathyanarayana Rao TS, Asha MR, et al. Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses. Indian J Psychiatry. 2008 Apr-Jun;50(20): 77-82Photo Credit: Harsha K R via   
Nutrition and Mental Health
Millions of Americans are  affected by mental illness [1]. From Depression and Anxiety Disorders to Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia, it's very likely that either you or someone you know is affected. Unfortunately treatment for these conditions often rely solely on pharmaceuticals and rarely take into account perhaps one of the most significant factors in prevention and treatment of mental illness: Nutrition. Mental illness and Nutrition are linked by many different routes including genetics, changes in societies and typical diets, food insecurity, antioxidant effects on damage to brain tissues, long term nutritional deficiencies, and nutrition during pregnancy and early childhood [2]. Ongoing research is providing strong evidence that nutrition has a huge impact on the prevention and treatment of many of the most prolific mental illnesses. Let's take a closer look at a few of the most well understood connections between nutrition and mental illness. Depression: One of the most common mental illnesses worldwide, Depression affects more than 350 million people [3]. Depression is typically characterized by loss of interest and productivity, increased sadness and anxiety, poor appetite, and depressed mood [2-4]. Multiple studies have shown that the diets of individuals diagnosed with Depression are typically deficient in many important nutrients including: essential vitamins, minerals, certain amino acids, and omega 3 Fatty acids. In addition, individuals with Depression frequently favor foods high in added sugars and fats which increase oxidative stress and damage to neurons and other brain tissues [2-4]. Interestingly, many of the common nutritional deficiencies seen in Depression are important elements in the healthy production and maintenance of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine [2-4]. Supplementation with these essential nutrients has been shown to significantly decrease symptoms and in many cases result in compete recovery [2-4]. In addition, diets high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and fish have been shown to reduce the risk of Depression [3-4]. Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia: Another set of mental illnesses that affect millions of people worldwide are Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of Dementia. Frequently affecting older adults, Dementia impairs memory, the ability to complete daily tasks, thinking, and emotions. Most Dementias are progressive in nature. Middle-aged obesity has been shown to increase an individual's risk of Dementia as they age [2-4]. It is thought that poor diet choices high in added sugars and fats increase the oxidative stress and damage to brain tissues. In addition, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases can cause damage to the blood vessels of the brain and thus increase the risk of Dementia. Research in long term nutritional deficiencies indicates that Dementia in later life is frequently linked to a lifelong history of poor nutrition [2-4]. However, some Dementias are reversible and are the result of specific nutritional deficiencies such as Vitamin B 12 [5]. Elderly individuals are at increased risk for poor nutrition due to decreased appetite, inadequate access to food, and other risk factors. Therefore, it is important to rule out specific nutrient deficiencies during the diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease and other Dementias.   Schizophrenia and Schiozoaffective Disorders: Studying the victims of famines worldwide has long linked Schizophrenia and related mental diseases to poor nutrition and low caloric intake during pregnancy [6]. Now, new research is showing certain nutritional interventions may result in decreased symptoms for people diagnosed with Schizophrenia and related conditions [7]. Treatment is individualized but seeks to correct blood sugar problems caused by traditional pharmaceutical treatments, improving levels of essential fats, providing essential vitamins and minerals especially B6, B12, and zinc, increasing antioxidants, and diagnosing and treating any food allergies [6]. Many other areas of mental health are also being investigated for their connections with nutrition including: Attention Deficit Disorders, Hyperactivity, Bipolar, Seizure disorders, and many more. What we eat really does have a BIG effect on our bodies, and our minds! What can you do? The evidence is clear, eating a balanced healthy diet over a lifetime can help prevent the risk of some mental illnesses. Focus on eating whole foods whenever possible, avoid added fats and sugars, and get those fruits and vegetables! Maintaining a healthy weight is also important. Working with a Registered Dietitian is a great way to ensure you are meeting all your estimated nutritional needs and get help overcoming any challenges you may be facing with your weight. References: 1-  Photo Credit: HUSO via
Declare Freedom From Diets
Its seems like every week we are bombarded by the newest super diet "guaranteed to make you lose 10 pounds a week!". However, a quick look at the rising rates of obesity around the world shows that it's obviously not that simple. The truth is diets don't work. You may loses a little (or a lot) of weight in a short amount of time, but in the end the weight comes back. So what is the answer? Instead of quick fix diets, true and maintainable weight loss requires changing our lifestyles. Let's take a closer look at why diets don't work and how a lifestyle change is different.Diet: Super restrictive. Most quick fix diets are extremely restrictive and often forbid many foods or even entire food groups. Our bodies need a variety of nutrients from different sources. Cutting out entire food groups can be damaging to your health. In addition, many people experience strong cravings and food desires when they are told they cannot have a certain food. They may be able to avoid those foods for a few days or weeks, but often then find themselves bingeing on those foods in the end. Super restrictive diets for weight loss are simply not sustainable for extended periods of time. Lifestyle Change: All things in Moderation. Lifestyle change focuses on making healthy choices the majority of the time and focusing on wholesome and well-balanced nutrition. No foods are "forbidden". If you adore ice cream it's better to have a small amount a few times a week rather than feeling deprived and eating a whole carton on the weekend. Diet: Has an End Date. Diets are finite. For most people, they believe that once they reach their goal weight they can go back to their normal eating habits. They do not learn the skills they need to lose weight and then maintain their weight loss in a healthy way. Therefore, the weight slowly creeps back on and the individual is forced to diet again creating a dangerous cycle of weight gain and loss. Lifestyle Change: There isn't a finish line. Lifestyle change focuses on small sustainable changes that last a life time. The goal is to get to a healthy weight, improve physical ability and health, and maintain those changes. Individuals learn healthy approaches to nutrition and exercise. Diet: Weight loss is misleading. Diets frequently promise extremely rapid weight loss. Unfortunately, this rapid weight loss is the result of lost water weight and lean muscle mass, not fat. When lean muscle mass is lost it reduces your ability to burn calories. This reduction can make it even more difficult to lose weight. Additionally, when individuals gain weight back after a diet, they are gaining back fat and not lean muscle mass. This cycle means that each time a person diets it is harder and harder to lose weight. Lifestyle Change: Improved health is the overall goal. Weight loss is slow and is supported with good nutrition which allows for fat loss while preserving and building lean muscle mass. A healthy weight is easier to maintain because the body is able to burn a higher level of calories on a daily basis. It's time to break out of the quick fix mentality of diets. Focus on making small changes to your nutrition and daily habits that are sustainable. Need help figuring out how to transition from yo yo dieting to a lifestyle change? Working with a Registered Dietitian is a great way to learn how to make healthy decisions and make changes that will work for you. Remember, it's not about looking good in your bathing suit for one month. It's about getting healthy and staying healthy for a life time. Photo Credit: Qui Marin Larios via at