12.25.2019

"The Last Words of 2019" Weekly Wisdom.

The Last Words of 2019 Weekly Wisdom


Reflecting on this past year, what 3 words come to mind?

As the year is winding down and we all set sail on the journey of reviewing our past year, how would you sum it up?  These were not the first 3 words coming to my mind when I was thinking about 2019. More traditional reflection words came to mind first like gratitude and hope but those words didn't define my past year very well. This second set is much more on point. 

Heartbeats. They have a wingspan covering a lot of miles. I am fortunate to have amazing family, especially my Mom, and friends who have become family. There is nothing more meaning than people in your life who make your heart beat and feel all the feels. 

Connection. Over the past year, I have created so many connections with people I never would have if it wasn't for my podcast. There is nothing more special to me than this tiny little space I have in the airwaves that is creating the most meaningful professional and personal relationships with complete strangers. Words being exchanged between two people is a sacred space, which I hold with much value in my life. 

Yum. It has been a tasty year! Food is at the root of everything I do and find joy in. Sharing meals with family, discussing food and nutrition with clients, loving a new recipe one of my connections created, learning something new about any certain food - including the way it is grown, harvested and engineered, trying a new food, immersing into a new food culture while traveling, and drooling over beautiful food photos. 

Whatever 3 words come to mind when you look back on the past year, don't go with your first thoughts. Dig a little deeper. 

May you have the most amazing end of the year and see you all in 2020!

#embracethehellyeah

~AE



12.18.2019

"Time to Pause" Weekly WIsdom

Time to Pause Weekly Wisdom

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by everything going on in your life?

I don't even mean in a bad way, you just have soooo many things going on?  The other day, I was in my kitchen. My phone was ringing, I had a bag of trash in one hand, and a few bottles to recycle in the other. My doorbell was ringing and my fire alarms were going off because whatever I was cooking in the oven was burning. I literally walked in a circle, not knowing which thing to attend to first. That's when I knew, it was seriously time to pause. 

I am in awe of all the humans juggling a variety of things in their lives:  jobs, spouses, parenting to kids and/or furbabies, health issues, other family members, cooking, cleaning, volunteering...you get the idea. The calendars are full, reminders constantly going off on our phones and not a lot of time to be quiet. 

We have too much shit going on in our lives. 

No one gets a big award for the extra hustle in life. No one really gets recognized for having 70 different activities planned for your family at the end of the week. No one really likes to barely get 6 hours of sleep a night because they are busy. I honestly wouldn't believe you if you said you did like it all. There is more to life than going to the hot chocolate with Santa at the library or the free burrito at Chipotle while trying to buy presents for 50 of your closest family and friends. 

This is just a holiday example but what about outside of this time of year. Are you still filling your life with a bunch of unfullfilling stuff?  This is your gut check before the new year starts. 

Slow the F down. 

Put value on your time and the people in your life. Stop emphasizing the importance of activities, events and "stuff" and try to slow down a bit when you recognize it is getting out of control. Because my friend, you know when it begins to tailspin and you can't and don't want to do "all the things." Moments like mine, when you're standing in your kitchen, alarms and doorbells going off with trash in your hand. If you don't know which way to go, don't be a hero and just hit pause. 

#embracethehellyeah

~AE

12.11.2019

"To Dairy or Not to Dairy?" in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom


To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom

Do you find yourself questioning what foods you should be consuming?

Food, nutrition, diet culture, wellness, health are important words to all of us. Each of us may have a different definition and this is OK. We are all one our own unique wellness journey

The wellness climate is constantly changing, this is the beauty of science and why I find this area so fascinating. I have always been drawn to what people eat, why they eat it and what it provides them from a nutrient standpoint. In the current wellness climate, sustainability, safety, and animal welfare are buzzwords. There are also a lot of conversations surrounding the term"plant-based" eating. This notion is not new. Eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes has been around since I have been a dietitian and way before. Except now it is sexier. It is finding a way to reinvent itself by this trendy term, new products and of course media endorsement. 

With a current documentary being released, I find myself getting a lot of questions about what being plant-based means, what my thoughts are and how can someone do it. In many conversations and digging a little deeper into each individual, there is a gaping hole of daily intake of plant-based foods.  In my own experience and practice, people love to eat anything but or very little of these types of foods it their purest form. 

How does one going to transition from an omnivore diet (where we eat plants and animals) to a herbivore diet (all plants) and do we have to?

As a registered dietitian, I do believe we need to eat more plants and there is no way around it. But we can balance them safely in our wellness journey with animal foods. About 1 in 10 adults meet the fruit and vegetable recommendations a day. If we are not eating plant-based fruits and vegetables, then what are we eating?  We are eating pasta, breads, sweets, donuts, candy, cookies, soda, granola bars, fruit snacks and a bunch of "plant-based" processed foods. All of these foods fit into balanced eating but unfortunately, not many of us are finding the balance because we are avoiding certain foods, especially animal-based food because we have heard they are "bad" for us. 

Navigating your wellness journey is very personal and important. I am happy to help anyone soundly develop their personal road map.  I also am happy to remind people understand they can lived a plant-based life while also consuming animal-based foods. I do this by educating myself on where my food comes from, so I can share this with my clients as if they are my own family and friends. 

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a conference in Chicago with a variety of Registered Dietitians sponsored by Midwest Dairy to learn more about dairy farming practices. This experience not only confirms my desire to continue to educate myself on where our food comes from and the safety of our food, but to educate others. Conversations about food should be positive, safe and offer informative education. This is exactly what I experienced and want to share with you. 

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
Chicago, IL - Who knew there were local dairy farms so close to such a big city. Did you know fluid milk takes about 48 hours from milking to hitting the grocery store shelves?

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
Erin Hoisington, Registered Dietitian with Midwest Dairy and Katie Smith, Registered Dietitian and Assistant Professor of Sport Science and Health Education, Simpson College. 

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
We had a lovely dinner at The Signature Room. As I think about this menu, look at the combinations of plant-based foods and animal foods. Each food group compliments each other in taste and in nutrients, including dessert. Part of the joy of the meal was meeting the farmers, Andy and Sarah Lenkaitis whose farm we would visit the next day. 

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
This weekend experience took us 50 miles outside of the city to Lenkaitis Holsteins Dairy Farm in St. Charles, IL. This dairy farm is family owned by 3 generations and is managed by Andy and Sarah. The farm is home to 160 Red and White Holstein cattle.
To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
The farm has a room attached to the barn for events and tours of the farm. Our Undeniably Dairy group gathered here for an introduction to the Lenkaitis Holsteins. 


To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
Of course, we had an assortment of foods for breakfast including fruit, breads and different types of milk. When you think about milk, do you think about the different varieties available to us as consumers?  How fortunate are we to have many varieties of this nutrient dense animal food to meet the needs of all types of people. 

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
As I was enjoying my breakfast, the Lenkaitis's have windows in their conference room with a great view of their dairy operation. I was able to watch 2 cows in the robotic milkers. This is transparency at its best when it comes to a farming operation. Many farmers are willing to open up their farm and show you their operation. 

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
The Lenkaitis's have a robotic operation. Inside their conference room, Sarah Lenkaitis can watch this computer screen to monitor her cows throughout the day. Robotics enables them to monitor of all aspects of their cows more completely, which results in healthier and happier cows. 

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
In 2018, they built a new barn for their Holsteins, equipped with the latest technology to improve the comfort of their cows and safety of the people who care for them. This includes cameras for monitoring, large overhead fans to help cool the cows in hot summer months and curtains to raise or lower based on the weather. There is also this large robotic "Roomba" (bottom right) which goes through and sweeps the floors after feeding for cleanliness.
To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
 There are individual pens for cows needing special attention, especially this sweet lady who is a mother-to-be. 
To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
The Lenkaitis's grow crops to feed the cows. The cows are fed a total mixed ration twice a day and the blend is monitored by a nutritionist. Cows can eat up to 50 pounds of feed in a day. 

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
All of their cows have a collar with a RFID or radio frequency identification tag unique to each lady. It is like a Fitbit tracking the cows movement, rest, milking and feeding. The tag will also determine if the lady is ready to milk. The cows are the ones determining if they want to milk. The gate will open up into the milk area once the tag is scanned and then she determines when she is ready to go into the milking stall.  This health management software monitors the health of the cow more consistently and can catch changes in a cow much quicker, leading to faster treatment. 

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
These ladies are happy cows. They are each given a name. I graciously got to in their special space, pet them and even get some cow kisses.  

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
It was a mild October morning, with a rain storm going through during the visit. The gals were relaxing comfortably in their barn. The barn has an automated manure system to help keep the barn clean for the ladies. 

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
The barn has 2 robotic milking stations. Once the collar on the cow is scanned and she is ready to milk, the robot unit will attach to the udder, then dip her teats in an iodine-based cleaner, rinses them, milks her and then dips the teat again. While she is milking, the robot will drop pellets to encourage the lady to come back for milking. 

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
Sarah shows and explains to us the computer system monitoring the milking process. Along with this outstanding robotic system, they are also good stewards of the land by growing their own crops for feed, separating manure fiber and selling to a local landscaper. They sell genetics to other farmers and sell bull calves to farmers who raise beef steers. 

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
While the ladies are waiting in the milking area, there are back scratchers. This is part of the wellness of the cows and are a type of a "spa" treatment. Cows are happier when they can scratch their backs or necks which also encourages them to milk.

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom
The milk produced at the Lenkaitis farm goes to Dean Foods to make cottage cheese and sour cream in Rockford, IL. This particular product, Dairy Pure Mix-Ins combines plant-based foods like fruits and nuts with animal-based cottage cheese. This combination of foods has a dietitian recommended balance of high quality of nutrition. 

To Dairy or Not to Dairy in a Plant-Based World Weekly Wisdom

As I reflect on my visit to the Lenkaitis farm, it just reassures me how sustainability is being practiced in the dairy industry, especially in family-owned farms. The Lenkaitis's are ensuring their milk is good for people, good for the planet and good for the economy. Their food is safe, nutritious and dietitian approved because of the care they provide these animals. Seeing this operation and knowing the dedication this family has in providing a healthy and nutritious food products, increases my confidence in recommending dairy being a part of everyones wellness journey. 

Think of the big picture when it comes to your health. Gather as much information as you can about the food you eat. Know where it comes from, what nutrients it provides, how it fits into your budget and how your body feels when consuming it. And when you need to know more, seek out the expert of the questions you are asking - like a Registered Dietitian or a farmer. Don't stream the latest documentary to answer your questions or question your own wellness journey. 

~AE

*Thank you to Midwest Dairy for sponsoring this post AND thank you to Sarah and Andy Lenkaitis for sharing their farm and beautiful ladies with me.