Are you overwhelmed by the immense amount of all or nothing nutrition guidance on the internet? Are you totally lost on which health promoting behaviors will actually work for you? We get it- that’s why we asked Registered Dietitian Christy Wilson to share how she helps her clients find what works for them. She is the owner of Christy Wilson Nutrition, LLC, a nutrition communications business focused on teaching folks that healthy, nutritious foods are budget-friendly, beautiful and easy to prepare. Listen to this episode to learn more about what actually impacts your health and what you can stop worrying about!
What we cover:
- What is a relationship with food?
- Is weight loss the answer?
- What does it mean to listen to your body?
- What are the common signs of hunger?
- Should you be symptom tracking after meals?
- Is BMI important?
- Is health all about the food that you eat?
- How can you tell if you have an intolerance to a food?
- How does stress impact digestion?
- How to stick to your health promoting behaviors
- How to figure out what works for you to improve your health
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Christy on Instagram @christywilsonnutrition
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Our podcast is released every Wednesday and each week we take a deep dive into topics like health at every size, food & culture, intuitive eating, mental health, and body acceptance. If you’re looking for a sustainable and inclusive path to wellness, come hang out with us to learn how to take care of yourself from the inside out.
Christy Wilson: The following podcast is a Dear Media Production. Hi, I'm Wendy. And I'm Jess. And you're listening to The Food Heaven Podcast, your online resource for inclusive and accessible wellness.
Welcome back to another episode of The Food Heaven Pod today. I am so excited because we have our dietician Fran on the podcast. Her name is Christie Wilson. She's a Latina registered dietician nutritionist based in Tucson, Arizona. Shout out to Tucson. I loved it there. And Christie is the owner of Christie Wilson Nutrition, L L C a nutrition communications business.
Focus on teaching people that healthy, nutritious foods are budget friendly, beautiful and easy to prepare. Christie practices from an all foods fit lens and passionately believes that culturally relevant foods always belong at the table. Today we're gonna be chatting with Christie about this idea of figuring out what works for you.
You always hear dieticians. Healthcare providers talk about that concept of do what works best for you, but what are some practical ways for figuring that out? So we get into Christie's nutrition philosophy. As someone who has been practicing for 20 years as a dietician, we talk about what to do if you are constantly getting bombarded with messaging that you have to lose weight, but that's not really the root of what your struggles are, what your health problems are.
If you get into Christie's thoughts on symptom tracking, for example, if you feel like you're constipated and you make dietary changes, does she think you should track your symptoms to see how they may correspond with what you're eating? We also chat about the idea of getting mixed messaging. We often, as dieticians will tell patients one thing and then their doctors are telling them something completely different, and kind of how we reconcile the discomfort that might be happening from getting mixed messages.
We talk about is nutrition always the answer? What are some other things that we can look at in order to improve our health and wellbeing? And for people who have identified things that are helpful for them. And I give an example for myself of what's been most helpful for my T M I constipation, how you can stick to those things in a way.
That feels good and not that you're being so rigid. And of course, before we get into it, I have to read a listener review. This is from IR Sheets and it reads great info, super easy to listen to. I just found the podcast and I'm really loving it. Great. Easy to understand and tangible info. Plus they both have such great voices.
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Okay. We are going to get into the conversation about how to figure out what works best for you. But first, I know you've been practicing as a dietician for 20 years. Is there any universal nutrition advice that applies to everyone? For example, what is your specific nutrition philosophy that you kind of try to share with patient?
You know, when it comes to anything like universal or that, like something that applies to everybody or the masses, it kind of gets a little sticky. But I'm thinking about it, and it's not like sexy or exciting or anything like that. It's like moderation is sustainable, you know? And I think that, I love that It's, again, you know what I.
Patients moderation. I, I kind of preface it with like, this is nothing new and exciting, but I think that the topic of sustainability is something that we really need to emphasize when it comes to creating habits, healthy habits, habits that will, that we can stick to for the rest of our lives. And of course there's exceptions, but I think that that is something.
That allows somebody the freedom to, or the permission if they need that, to go off track now and then to enjoy celebrations that include foods and drinks that may not be part of, you know, their typical day. Another thing that I hear a lot too is listening to your body. You know, as a dietician it makes sense, but I also think it's kind of vague.
Mm-hmm. Especially for people who. Don't have that body awareness. Or maybe especially with hunger cues, like they might have a history of ignoring their hunger cues or their fullness cues. And so listening to their body might mean not eating for most of the day. So are there any body awareness practices that you recommend that align with, you know, proper nourishment throughout the.
I think the sort of universal, my stomach's, growling, you know, that sort of thing. I think that's something very relatable to most people and that's usually the one that I talk to patients about really at any age. Cuz I see little kids, I see teenagers, I see adults, I see elderly folks, you know, in every stage of health.
But I think that one, like that is a cue that is a. Of hunger for most people. But then that can go away and you know, like a lot of things, you ignore it, it'll go away. But then the body has these other sort of layers or like steps, you know, you ignore the hunger pings, they will go away. Next thing could be headache.
The next thing could be fatigue. The next thing could be dizziness, you know? So these are also sign. Like the next step in signs that your body is telling you, trying to send you these messages that it is time to eat. You know, you gotta stop and eat. So I'm curious about how you feel about symptom tracking, because in this conversation of how to figure out what works for you, I feel, again, like that can be pretty vague and some people might need some structure around figuring that out.
So for example, if someone is constipated and they make changes to their diet, right? Maybe you might suggest. Trying to add more vegetables or drinking more water, or even, you know, stress management. Let's say they try one intervention, do you recommend that they like, track how those symptoms correspond with what they're eating or what change they're making?
I think tracking anything in general is there's, there's utility to it. You know, it can be quite useful, especially if you are, you know, having chronic constipation or something's triggering, you know, nausea or diarrhea. You know, nothing, not a good feeling, but I think that tracking too long. Can be a slippery slope with anything.
And a lot of times patients will say, well, should I start writing down what I'm eating or tracking exercise or whatever? It's good and bad. I, I think, you know, like I said, if it's, if it's something that helps a certain symptom, You know, the examples that we just gave, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, anything like that.
I think it allows people to be able to narrow down what could be the cause of certain, you know, to feel a certain way or any sort, whatever, bodily function. So I think that that could be a really good thing because then they could sort of like really, you know, tease it out. But for other things, I, it's not something that I usually.
Recommend for people or to do it within a certain comfort zone. For instance, if patients are asking me about tracking, not so much for the purposes of, you know, helping with nausea or constipation or diarrhea, but more so with tracking their food intake. I'm not a big fan of it, especially if there is any disordered eating behaviors, history.
But it's good to know that information first because it can be triggering. But the example I give patients with respect to like exercise is I say, you know, I would never wear one of those exercise trackers on my wrist. It's not me. I don't need something like, An alarm telling me I'm not active enough or reminding me, or like, yeah, like I don't need that.
Like I already know I need to get up and move, but I will use a tracker while I'm on a bike ride because I do wanna know how far I've gone. And you know, that's just sort of something for me that it's limited and I do like that because it is encouraging to me otherwise. I don't need something telling me all day, you know, like reminding me of stuff I'm not doing in my head.
I've already got that, you know, recording going. So I think that tracking, depending on what it is, could be a good thing. But I think it's also could be something triggering for some people. Yeah, yeah, it could definitely, uh, veer on the side of disordered eating, and I think it's really hard for people who are, you know, trying to figure out what works for them.
Trying to just strike a good balance. It's hard because we get so many mixed messages. Yeah, from media, but also healthcare providers. Like I just had a patient who told me yesterday that they met with a nutritionist. I don't know if this was a dietician or if it's just, you know, a random one of those nutritionalists online.
I don't know. Mm-hmm. But this person told them to eat, you know, mostly protein on their plate so that they can. Be more full with meals and this way they'll eat less and lose weight. And she's like, I, you know, I'm like hungry all the time. I'm binging. And it's like, it's really tough when you know people come to you because they're like, well, I spoke with another.
Nutritionist or I spoke with my doctor and you know, in mm-hmm. In healthcare, it's like the doctor is really like, I feel like the person who has the most power Yeah. In a patient's eyes, and so, What do you recommend in, in that case when like, you know, you have someone who's just like really confused, can they figure out what's working best for them?
If they're constantly just getting all types of different messaging? It's so difficult to contradict something that a healthcare provider, whether they're legitimate or not, has told someone. And it's really interesting to me. As to what people really view as valid and credible information. And I think during Covid, this was a really good example because here you have people who've dedicated their lives to immunology or yeah, you know, medicine and are recommending.
Like the vaccine. And then you have these conspiracy theory folks who do a Google search and like spout out their point of view, which totally contradicts the science. Yet people really put faith into this like outlying opinion, which is what it is, or it's very cherry picked science. That. I mean, with the internet you can find anything to support any like way crazy, you know, point of view.
So for patients that are getting a lot of mixed messages and they're just throwing up their hands and they're like, I came here like as a last resort, rather than us being the first people they come to, we're oftentimes the last people that you know, they're coming to, they're like, I don't know what else to do.
I think intuitively a. Patients do work. Clients or people, they do know what to include in their daily intake, but whatever challenges they face, whether it be financial stress, Illness. You know, there's barriers to why people don't eat a certain way and they're not, you know, but, but still, the guy with no shirt in the grocery store is telling them, you know, don't eat cereal, don't eat, you know, whatever processed food.
And that could be frozen vegetables. You know, don't eat that. So I think it's really important to start. The basis, the basis of how to start including foods that we know over and over and over. Science has told us that these foods do promote good health, you know, plant-based foods, clean protein sources, and give people options, and really come up against the whole conspiracy theories or the folks who are.
Just shaming people for not being able to afford the $50 steak or, you know, the nice fresh salmon at the grocery store. Like Cann Hammond's fine. Cantu is fine. Frozen vegetables and canned vegetables are absolutely healthy foods that you can include. And as far as weight, I really don't focus on that as much.
Their doctor might, as much as you know, whoever else they're talking to might. The point is for people to be healthy for a long time, and if that means that the B M I is at 30 or 25 or 35, if their cholesterol is good, their blood pressure's good, they're happy, they're active, they're eating meals at regular.
What the hell with the bmi? Yeah. Again, there is an old-fashioned way of assessing health and weight and God, I wish we had something else to use, you know, in the medical field, but right now it's still it. Yeah, it's quick. Unfortunately, it's free. It's lazy. Yeah, it's lazy versus taking, you know, certain labs.
That's what I personally like to use and especially when I was in a clinic, is let's get their labs and see yes, how their hel like their metabolic markers are, and if their health is something that they have the bandwidth to focus on. And also, Social determinants of health. Mm-hmm. Which we're gonna talk more about on this podcast.
Not everything is in your control either. Yeah. And then there's some risk factors that are modifiable and some that are not modifiable. Mm-hmm. So it's, I think it's just very complex and yeah. It's interesting that the people who kind of rise to the top, mm-hmm. In the nutrition space, most of them are dieticians.
They have a very black and white way of looking at things. Like this is the one answer. That works for everybody, but it's, it's more tricky than that. So I guess my follow-up question is there's so much pressure put on nutrition, and I think also us being dieticians, of course we love food, we love nutrition, but I have had a lot of.
Clients where I look at what they're eating and I feel like it's the most optimized it can be without it becoming disordered. Right. But yet, mm-hmm. They're still having these symptoms. What do you do in that case? Like at what point is nutrition maybe? Not the answer or not the root cause of what's going on for them and, and mm-hmm.
It may be time to look at other things in conjunction with nutrition. Yeah. You know, it can be frustrating not only for the client, but for you as the, you know, nutrition provider. And I think there's a lot of credibility when you say, I don't know, you know? Mm-hmm. I, and there's no guarantees when it comes to nutrition.
We know what science tells us, but sometimes there, you know, there is that next step that needs to be taken if somebody's really trying to stay off of cholesterol medicine, blood pressure medicine, diabetes medicine, and that is just, it's continuing to progress despite. Doing everything right, eating the foods that you've recommended.
They, they consume. And I honestly, I used to be of the narrative of food is medicine. Like, because that's what we're taught, right? The academy tells us we're the nutrition professionals. You know, we, we, we can do it. But I think there's a lot of damage that has been created with that narrative of food as medicine because it's not.
We know food has medicinal values, but it can't replace what medication can do in a lot of cases. In some cases, yes. Can people like heal themselves with eating a certain way and living a certain lifestyle? Yes, but not always. And we also need to be realistic about that. There's also like an underlying.
Almost shaming thing to that phrase as well. It's like if you can afford to eat a certain way, if you don't have so much stress in your life, you know, maybe food can have more medic of a medicinal benefit, but you know, there's sort of like a little bit of an e. Slant to that phrase that food is medicine.
And I think we can be overly optimistic about the power of food. And it's not always about nutrition. It's not always about the food. It's about other things that impact your life. Stress. Financial stresses. Where do you live? Are there grocery stores or only fast food restaurants close to where you live?
And like you said, those social determinants of health are a huge influence on people's health. We know that stress affects blood sugar. We know it affects blood pressure. So is it all about food? No, but as dieticians. We can help people along with making recommendations about what to include in their diets, what to minimize in their diets.
So I think when people. First go into the field of nutrition. It's like, oh my gosh, everybody doesn't eat like plate method and we're all gonna be happy and healthy. And it's like, hold on. There's a lot more influence that goes into what people eat, why people eat the way they do. It's the who, what, where, why, sort of questions that we also need to find out.
Our clients to really have an impact and help them because that is what we're here for. We're here to help. Contrary to popular belief, dieticians don't exist to make your life more complicated, right. We're here, we're not the food police. No, and, and like I, yeah, I wish people would just stop viewing us that way, but that's gonna take.
Yeah, me too. Well with the plate method, so I, I mentioned this a little earlier, how I feel like protein is like one of the most prized macronutrients and something that I see happen a lot is people saying that they have some kind of intolerance and it's never to protein. It's always carbohydrates. It's always a carbohydrates.
Always, always. I was just like, okay. I mean, which of course, I mean there are certain intolerances and allergies that are completely valid, but it's just like it happens all of the time. And how do people distinguish? Like is this an intolerance or is. Diet culture, because we're constantly being told, oh, you might have a reaction to this.
You might have a reaction to that because it contains this. Right? Because, and then I feel like it's almost like, you know, we go a little crazy in our minds and we mm-hmm. We might have like that placebo effect where we're like feeling things because we're constantly being told that we should be filling things when we eat.
Foods, you know, and I think that that also ties into figuring out what works for you. Cause you know, if you're just like, oh, I can't eat this, I can't eat that, cuz I might be having an effect. It's like, then that makes it even more complicated. So how do, how do people kind of like filter out all of that to figure out if they actually are having a reaction to something?
Gosh, that's a tough question. A lot of times when people have come to me and they have a suspected allergy or intolerance to a certain food, they always seem to be, not always, but a lot of times it's stress. Hmm. You know, I got, so, especially when I worked on campus with college students, it's like everybody had GI.
And it was like, I don't know why yet. You know, it's like they're taking 19 units of classes and they have the exams and you know, all these things and it's, but it's so hard. Like you can't say, I mean, Not having stress in their life is not an option. So I think with folks who do have a lot of GI issues or intolerance issues to certain things, you want to more so encourage people to eat foods that are easy to digest, especially if like eating out, if they're eating out a lot, you know, it's K kind of like tamper it down as far as the variety of what you're eating.
I think. You start getting people say, yes, this makes my throat itchy. Like yes, that is an absolute, you do have some sort of body reaction going on and it could progress and be dangerous. So like in that case, it's not something like, Hey, it's an intolerance. Like, yeah, itchy throat, it's like red flag. But as far as like gut issues, Oh my gosh.
There's, that's a, that's a really hard one to, to combat because I think a lot of times it can be, Like sort of that, like you said, placebo effect or it's like I've been told I shouldn't be eating something and so now when I eat it, I kind of have a stomach ache. You know that sort of thing that happens.
Yeah. And gosh, I mean there are time a dozen people telling you not to eat a certain thing or there's this one ingredient in the ingredient list. This person on Instagram or Facebook said is no good. And you know what? I did feel sick after I ate that. I think I did feel sick. And so it's like it just snowballs.
And then you get people that are like coming in with these sort of crazy theories about foods that are making them. Not feel good. Course. Well, that was happening a lot with the sg. Like everyone was like, I was just gonna say, it reminds you of the msg, the Chinese food. I'm, I'm getting headaches.
Restaurant syndrome. Right. And it, and you know, like, maybe it's the salts that's. Kicking your blood pressure up and now you have a headache or like, you know, those memes during covid and when like there were no groceries, it's like the bread shelves were empty and they're like, and all of a sudden everybody's gluten intolerance just went away.
Right. Everybody's like, oh, I see. I didn't see those. That's, that's a good one. Really intolerant to gluten. Why? Right. Oh yeah. It's very tricky as you can see everyone. It's very hard being a dietician. I've been working with people because it's just, it's a lot. And in the GI issues, so when I was working in University Health, same thing, right?
Like I would have patients who came in for severe GI issues, but. When they were like, finished with finals and on break they went away. Mm-hmm. And then as soon as they started back in school, they were back. And I'm like, Hmm. Yeah. What is he telling us? You know, we, we would talk about the FOD map diet.
Mm-hmm. So much, which is, you know, this very, and it's a process to sort of like weed out all those different types of carbohydrates to see if there is one that's bothering you. Yeah. I mean for, to ask somebody to go on a diet like that and they're a student living on campus uhhuh, or you know, it's just a lot to ask people to do.
It's like, Hmm, let's do this like weed out diet. That's really complicated. It was just hard to. Well, I have a question about, let's say somebody does make some changes, like let's use constipation for an example. I'll use myself. Okay, so I have found things at work. For constipation also, I think figuring out the root cause.
Right. So for me, yeah, it's probably mostly thyroid or other medications that I have. Mm-hmm. Or was taking, and I have found things that are extremely helpful. One of the main ones is, well obviously stress, but then I would say nutrition wise, it's eating vegetables. I mean so simple. Cuz sometimes, you know, you just get really busy and you're not eating, eating vegetables or drinking water and it change.
Everything. Everything. So, so, but we all know that like eating vegetables takes a little, can take a little bit more prep. I personally know that it works for me, but sometimes I'm not in the mood to do it. How do you encourage people to stick to things that they have identified that actually work for them?
Yeah. Long term, even though sometimes they might be not be like in the mood. Yeah. I think that, When it comes to sticking to eating habits that you know, you feel better when you're following them, it can go in a couple directions. It's either you follow something that's rigid and doesn't include something, doesn't include foods that you enjoy.
Then it feels like very strategic eating. Again, is there any joy in that? No, not really. It's very, you know, Ugh, there's no appeal to it. It's just like I'm eating because I wanna poop every day. Right. You know. Not fun. No, not fun at all, which is why we know that strict. Don't work. There is no sustainability to eating in that way.
So I think like in your case, like eating vegetables, you know, is, I mean, we all know it's good for us, right? We all know that. But when you, again, kind of coming back to the listening part, when you, when you're sort of asking the right questions to a client and you're asking them what their favorite foods are, and you're tapping into that, What tastes good, you know, maybe it's not raw vegetables or it's like the sad salad that somebody feels like, oh, you know, it, it feels there's no joy in that.
Not to say salads aren't delicious, but it is not the be all end all way of eating vegetables. So my, you know, I'd. My patient. Have you tried roasted vegetables? Have you tried, you know, preparing them in a different way? Have you tried using these seasonings? So that's when sort of the culinary part of it really comes in handy.
Yeah, and I, that's my like, I love that. I'm like, let's cook together. But I think that because taste rules and it always will when it comes to why we eat what we eat, taste. Trump's everything else. It, it's, it's more influential over the health benefits. It's more influential even over cost. You know, people will splurge on eating a food they really enjoy.
The other thing is finding out. What foods they enjoyed eating as a kid, or what foods did your grandmother make or your mom make? Or did you have a really good dish at a restaurant that included vegetables? Like maybe you can find a recipe that is similar to that. So I think when you start again, kind of highlighting the importance of taste and you know, working with them as far as.
What their food budget is and things like that. Then stress time, like how much time do you have to prepare something? Could you use frozen vegetables? Like if you like the soup, like, and it has some tomatoes in there, we'll throw some more in there. Or it has one rib of salary, throw three in there.
Instead, like, you know, just find easy ways to incorporate, you know, in this case vegetables, but it's really any food into your kind of daily diet. Yeah. I love that, Christie, it was such a treat having you on. For people who wanna stay up to date with all of the great things that you're doing, where can they find you?
What are you up to? Where are you based? So I'm based in Tucson, Arizona, and I work at a community health clinic, and then I have my own nutrition communications business. My website is christie wilson nutrition.com. And then on social media, I'm mostly active on Instagram. I do it with TikTok, but you know, it's just me.
It's ridiculous and just being sassy when it comes to like influencers and stuff like that. So Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and then Twitter, which I'm not as active on anymore, but it's Christie Wilson. Nutrition is kind of, Across the board. The board? Mm-hmm. Except for Twitter. My handle on too Twitter is Christie's chomp.
And I thought that that was just kind of funny. And so I, what's chomp mean? Like eating chomping
soy? Of course. I've had my account forever, so I just kept it. It's kind of tongue. Thanks so much for listening to another episode of the Food Heaven podcast. If you haven't already, make sure to connect with us online. We're most active on the Gram at Food Heaven, but we're also on Facebook and Twitter at Food Heaven Show.
If you like this podcast, make sure to rate, review, subscribe, and share with a friend. Yep. Our podcast is released every Wednesday and each week we take a deep dive into topics like health at every size, food and culture, intuitive eating, mental health, and body acceptance. If you're looking for a sustainable and inclusive path to wellness, come hang out with us to learn how to take care of yourself from the inside out.
We'll catch you next time. Bye.