An Interview with Nicole Avena, Ph.D. – Healthcare Professionals Newsletter, October 2019

October 7, 2019
An Interview with  Nicole Avena, Ph.D.

With Halloween around the corner and the holidays closely approaching, we’ll soon be inundated with sugary sweets and treats. What better time of year to introduce our practitioner in spotlight, Dr. Nicole Avena, neuroscientist and sugar addiction expert? Dr. Avena has dedicated her career to understanding the obesity epidemic, food addiction and the neuroscience behind it.

Q: Please tell us a little bit about yourself personally and professionally so that our readers will be able to “get to know you”.
A: My name is Dr. Nicole Avena. I work in the field of nutrition in a few different ways. I am an Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where I do research on how the brain is influenced by what we eat. I also am a Visiting Professor at Princeton University, where I teach health psychology. I am very interested in helping people to make better, evidence-based decisions about what they eat, and their health in general. So, I do a lot of work “translating the science” in the media and serving as a nutrition expert for different companies who are looking to improve the quality of their products. I’ve written a few books, Why Diets Fail, What to Eat When You’re Pregnant, and What to Feed Your Baby and Toddler. I often give lectures throughout the US, Europe and Asia on nutrition and the brain. I really enjoy the work that I do, and I never get bored! You can learn more about our research and studies on my website. Outside of my professional life, my husband and I have two little girls and we love spending time at the beach in NJ surfing, paddle boarding and hanging out with our friends.

Q: How long have you been in the field of nutrition? Do you have any additional certifications/specializations/awards/publications you’d like to tell us about?
A: I got interested in nutrition when I was in graduate school at Princeton University (I won’t say how long ago—trust me it was a while ago!) For my dissertation, I decided to study whether some foods could be addictive, and whether there were behavioral and neurochemical overlaps between addictions (like alcohol or nicotine) and processed foods. At the time, the idea that food could be addictive wasn’t really well received, but maybe people were struggling with their body weight and health and making changes to their diet was difficult despite all of the tools and education that was out there. Fast forward to now, and we have over 90 peer-reviewed publications on this topic, and many practitioners adopt an addiction model in their treatment of obesity and overeating.

Q: How did you initially find Orgain and what specifically prompted you to begin using with/recommending to you patients?
A: I found Orgain to be a great source of “clean” protein that appeals to people with different health goals. Everyone from body builders to little kids can benefit from Orgain products, and I love how they have an assortment of options and flavors.

Q: What is your personal favorite Orgain product and flavor and why?
A: I like the Orgain Kids Protein Nutritional shake (in chocolate). I really like how it contains vegetables, in addition to protein. Many kids, especially the little ones, can be picky eaters, and it can make sending snacks and meals to daycare or school a challenge. The Orgain Kids shakes are a great way to make sure kids are staying fueled, and also getting the right nutrients to keep them healthy.

Q: How are you currently using Orgain in your practice?
A: I recommend Orgain to participants that come through our research studies, many of whom are trying to lose weight or are trying to improve their nutrition with food. I also recommend it to parents I interact with at lectures who are in search of better ways to get their picky eaters to get proper nutrition.

Q: Please share a personal story about your experience with Orgain and how it has been beneficial with one or more of your patients.
A: I was doing a book signing for my book, What to Feed Your Baby and Toddler, and a fellow Mom approached me and said she was really struggling to get her daughter to eat and drink healthy foods. Her daughter had developed a bit of a sweet tooth, and she was no cooperating at mealtime. I suggested that she try to “sneak” veggies into her daughters’ diet by adding pureed carrots to pasta sauce, etc. I also suggested she check out Orgain, which contains vegetables as well as protein. She later emailed me thanking me for the recommendations, and that Orgain had worked like a charm to get her daughter on a better track toward healthy eating.

Consumer Research

Consumers Increasingly Trust Registered Dietitian Nutritionists for Expert Nutrition Advice! 

Consumers Increasingly Trust Registered Dietitian Nutritionists for Expert Nutrition Advice!

Confidence in dietitians is on the rise! In a world filled with so much convoluted nutrition information, it’s more important than ever to stand out as an expert and advocate for your profession. According to a new Pew Research Center report, the majority of U.S. adults have a strong positive opinion of dietitians, and about half or more trust dietitians to perform their jobs with competence, to show concern for public interests and to provide fair and accurate nutrition information.

This is great news and can help reinforce the role of dietitians as the most trusted source of accurate nutrition information in your communities.

Advocating for yourself in a professional capacity can feel self-ingratiating, but if done properly it shows others that you have confidence, self-respect, and that you’re committed to your profession. Congrats RDN’s! Keep this positive public image going!

Upcoming Conference

Find us at FNCE!

FNCE 2019
New Nutrition Facts Label

We’re excited for another fun-filled FNCE! Orgain will be exhibiting at the annual Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) in Philadelphia, October 27th – 29th.

If you’re going to FNCE® this year, you’re invited to come by our booth (#1027) to try samples, taste new flavors, and pick up your free Professional’s Guide on Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label. We look forward to seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones!

Our booth hours are:
Sunday, October 27th between 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Monday, October 28th, between 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Tuesday, October 29th, between 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

You're Invited!

New for 2019:
Orgain Ambassadors Networking Cocktail Reception!
Sunday, October 27th, 5-7 PM
at the Philadelphia Marriott

Come relax and unwind from the day’s events, enjoy a complimentary adult beverage, network with fellow Orgain ambassadors, pick up Orgain merchandise and meet members of the Orgain Healthcare team. We hope to see you there!

If you are an Orgain ambassador be sure to come by our booth on Sunday, October 27th to get an invite to the reception that evening. We are limiting invitations to the first 50 ambassadors that stop by our booth on Sunday!

Look for the Healthcare Team
Nutrition in Focus

Beat Temptation this Halloween

Orgain Kids O-Bars

As healthcare practitioners and advocates for healthy eating, we are still not immune to the temptations brought on by sweets. Even with the healthiest diet and best intentions, sometimes those sugar-laden treats become far too tempting to pass up. Fortunately, careful planning can make this indulgent time of year more enjoyable than ever. Here are three tips to keep your Halloween happy AND healthy!Set Yourself up for Success

Buy your least favorite candy for trick-or-treaters AND fewer bags than you think you’ll need to prevent leftovers. If you want to avoid temptation altogether, consider non-candy alternatives like Halloween-themed stickers, pencils and glow sticks. Maybe you don’t want to be “that neighbor,” and that’s fine too. You can still appeal to the neighborhood kids with nutritious alternatives. Orgain Kids O-Bar’s in Chocolate Brownie flavor, anyone?Treat Your Body to Exercise

Treats do not always have to be candy. Indulge in self-care this Halloween and treat your body and mind to exercise. Rather than looking at exercise as a means to offset sugar intake, use it as a tool to increase endorphins, elevate your mood and conquer sugar cravings!

Make Your Own Healthy Treats
Instead of stashing bowls of candy around the house or office, get creative in the kitchen and make your own healthy treats. Everyone appreciates homemade treats, and no one has to know they’re healthy. Need inspiration? Give our Pumpkin Spice Halloween Protein Bites or Vegan Double Chocolate Dirt Pudding recipe a try.

Have Questions?

You May Also Like