Women's Health Monthly - March 2016

When did women's nutrition get so complicated?

In honor of National Nutrition Month we took the opportunity to talk with our own Christie Naze, R.D., C.D.E., about women's nutrition. One of the main questions we had was: when did women's nutrition (frankly, all nutrition) get so complicated?

Between all the fad diets, exclusion diets, the next super food (is it chia?) and recommendations from seemingly anyone and everyone, many of us have been left wondering where to begin: What should we be eating?

Back to Basics
In a survey of nearly 500 women in our community last year, we asked what topics they feel they need more information on to live a healthier life. Nutrition was tops, even beating out aging and stress management.

Cue Christie, who specializes in nutrition issues related to all areas of women's health. She says, "We've just gotten too far away from common sense messages about nutrition." At first that might not sound like advice many of us want to hear. It doesn't tell us what to eat, or when we should be eating. Yet, it does get at the root of the issue. That good nutrition should come from within. That many of us know what good food is. What we really need to do is find the strength and confidence in our own abilities to trust our bodies and find what helps us feel our best. "Love the food that loves you back," Christie says.

Fighting Nutrition-Confusion
One of the most important points Christie makes is about the role our brain plays in achieving good nutrition. It's big. She says that many women approach nutrition thinking:  "What does my body need to weigh 10 pounds less" versus "What does my body need to feel healthy." The fundamental difference between those two statements is that the first one is a negative thought, the second a positive one. At the root of much of this nutrition-confusion is accepting positivity and self-improvement;and being open to taking small steps to get to a healthy lifestyle day-in and day-out. "We need to help women think in a different way…and often that means taking weight away as the outcome," Christie says. She also believes that most diets teach women not to trust themselves.

Getting Started & Getting Support
But what about women who want a place to go to help them get started? Christie says pictures work and is a strong supporter of the plate method to help encourage healthy eating patterns (for examples of the plate method, check out the Heart Healthy Plate from the OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute or our own Pregnancy Plate). And experts in the form of Registered Dietitians like Christie are there to help women who aren't achieving their goals or who need reassurance they are on the right track.

"It takes practice," she says. Start with what you like and start small. For example, if you know you like fruits, but you aren't sure how much you should eat, www.choosemyplate.gov can help provide a daily recommendation. From there, you can start building a healthy eating style for the long run. 

Visit www.eatright.org for more tips and info on women's nutrition.

Learn more about clinical nutrition services at the Center for Women's Health