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.
|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?|
|Erin Hoisington, Registered Dietitian with Midwest Dairy and Katie Smith, Registered Dietitian and Assistant Professor of Sport Science and Health Education, Simpson College.|
|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.|
|There are individual pens for cows needing special attention, especially this sweet lady who is a mother-to-be.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
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.
*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.