This month, we’re delighted to feature registered dietitian nutritionist and mom of three, Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDCES, CPT. Erin is a nationally recognized nutrition & diabetes expert who shows busy moms how to make time for health, even when they feel like they have no time for themselves. She owns a private nutrition practice and is the author of multiple publications including the “2 Day Diabetes Diet,” “Love Your Age” (Prevention/Rodale), and the “Belly Fat Diet For Dummies.” As a media go-to source, she regularly contributes to outlets including Parade and EverydayHealth, and has made appearances on “The Dr. Oz Show” and “The Doctors.” Erin also shares nutrition tips & recipes on her blog & social media channels “Healthy Mom, Happy Family.” Learn more about Erin and Orgain’s other seven nutrition advisors here.
1. We would love to hear about your journey toward being a RDN. Why did you decide to pursue this profession?
I became a dietitian almost by accident. My original plan when I entered college was to study Physical Education and coach gymnastics with my long-term goal of opening my own gym and training high level athletes. Luckily, my freshman year I took a sports nutrition class and fell in love with it. So, I asked my college advisor how I could teach people about nutrition and that’s when I learned about the career of dietetics!
2. What is the most rewarding part of the work you do?
I absolutely love seeing the impact a few small dietary changes can make on someone’s overall health and well-being. Seeing a person with diabetes finally have more energy by just making a few adjustments at meals to bring blood sugar down or watching a former picky eater try new foods and love them…. That’s what is the most rewarding part.
3. What is one of the most frequently asked questions you receive from parents or caregivers on adequately nourishing their school-aged children and what are some of your recommendations?
One of the biggest questions I get from parents is, “How can I make sure my child gets in the nutrition they need every day when they aren’t consistent with what or how much they eat?” And I get their frustration because kids tend to love one food today and not be interested in it tomorrow or eat a whole meal one day and barely take a bite of food the next. So, the most important thing I stress to parents is to look at the big picture. Look at what your child eats throughout the week, not just one single day. And focus on your responsibility as the parent: you are in charge of what food is served, when it is served, and where it is served. The rest is up to your child. So, let them determine how much, if any, of the food they will eat. But continue to be consistent in your offerings of nutrient-rich foods.
I also encourage parents to increase exposure to nutrient-rich food as much as possible, since increased exposure often leads to acceptance of the food over time. Involve your child in age-appropriate ways as much as possible in food shopping, food prep, cooking, and even meal planning. It goes a long way in improving their wiliness to try new foods.
4. Can you please share any advice for healthcare professionals in counseling their parents or caregivers on preparing meals and snacks for busy school schedules?
The busier we are, the more planning ahead is essential. And meal planning is no different. To keep it simple, I like to use my ‘sticky note meal planning’ strategy. On seven sticky notes, write down seven different meal ideas for your family. Then stick them onto a calendar to plan out your meals for the week. From there, you can quickly build your shopping list and determine what needs to be prepped in advance. The best part about this strategy is how easy it makes it to meal plan for the following week. All you have to do is rotate the sticky notes and you are ready to go, and you can even reuse last week’s shopping list too!
For back-to-school season, having make-ahead breakfasts on hand is a great way to ensure your family has the fuel they need in the morning to start the day off right without added stress. Taking time one day per week to prep breakfasts in advance with options like egg muffins, Greek yogurt pancakes, or even my family’s favorite breakfast cookies can ensure you have a filling, nutrient-rich meal ready to go in just minutes.
Helping clients with simple meal planning strategies that take only a few minutes along with sharing simple make-ahead meal options is one of the best ways to help them succeed during this busy time.
5. What interested you in becoming a member of the Orgain Nutrition Advisory Board?
I have always been a big fan of Orgain’s product line for myself, my family and my clients. I love their high-quality ingredients and also love how easy they make it to take nutrition with you on the go. So, it was a natural fit for me to partner with them since I already loved the company and was recommending it to my clients! I am so honored to be part of the Orgain Nutrition Advisory Board and am thrilled to be able to share my love of the company with a wider audience.