5 things vegans should pay attention to

5 things vegans should pay attention to

My mom calls me a “nerd” a lot. It’s because if you get me started on nutrition, theatre, or my dogs it’s hard to shut me up. Hence why I started blogging about it…to save my poor mom from all my ranting.

Today we get to chat about something equally nerdy and important…nutrients!

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Yaaaay! 

How often have you heard: “I need more protein”, “Where do you get your protein?”, “I heard carbs are bad…” (etc) in general conversation?

Now picture a dinner party and how many of your friends (who don’t have a condition like hypertension) are saying: “My potassium intake is INTENSE” or “My selenium is rather low today. Anyone have any brazil nuts?”

Yeah…not heard a lot. If you’re vegan, you’re a little bit more aware of these micros than someone on a standard American diet (aptly abbreviated to SAD). And if you’re not, don’t worry, you’re not going to die.

There are some micronutrients that you, or the vegan in your life, should be paying attention to regardless of diet.

What’s a micronutrient?

Like a macronutrient, a micronutrient is something our body uses to stay healthy just on a smaller scale. For example, sodium (which is part of NaCl- sodium chloride, table salt) helps our muscles, heart, and nerves fire when we need them to.

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Which ones are the ones vegans need to pay attention to? There’s a lot of micronutrients.

Here are what I consider to be the top 5 micronutrients you should be focusing on:

  • Iron (+Vitamin C) (yes, technically 2 in one…you’ll see)
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium
  • B12
  • Zinc

Iron

Iron is used for a few things in the body:

  • Oxygen transport
  • Keeping blood cells healthy.

If you are an individual who menstruates, you may already be aware that iron is needed more during menstruation since you’re losing a bit of blood.

It also helps in handy little things like energy production, DNA synthesis, and acts like an antioxidant in the body (https://veganhealth.org/iron-part-1/#functions-iron) .

Vitamin C is tagged on there because it helps increase your adsorption of iron. Simply put, it acts like a magnet: it scoops up more iron for your body than your body would get if you didn’t add any vitamin C.

Including vitamin C in an iron-rich meal can look as simple as enjoying an orange after eating some lentil salad (you can even include some spinach, another source of iron).

I’m bad at recipes and cooking (working on it!) so here’s an article on iron sources from No Meat Athlete.

Vitamin D

Necessary for bone health and calcium absorption. If you drink dairy milk, you might have noticed there are dairy products that include vitamin D and it’s because of the link between vitamin D and calcium.

Often, during the sunny months, humans can get vitamin D from the sun. However, during colder months, getting vitamin D can be a challenge (unless you’re one of those people who can wear shorts when it’s freezing…if you’re this person, you scare me with your strength).

There are vegan/vegetarian sources of vitamin D like algae, and vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) supplements.

Calcium

Not exclusive to dairy, calcium can be found in numerous sources like spinach, tofu set in a calcium solution, sesame seeds, and fortified plant milks. You don’t have to have dairy products to get calcium, so vegans rejoice!

Much like Vitamin C + Iron, Calcium + Vitamin D is a dream team of micronutrients. Calcium is needed for bone health (something you might remember from health class) but is also needed for a healthy nervous system.

B12

Even non-vegans need to pay attention to their B12 intake. B12 is not naturally from animal products as some might claim, but rather is found in soil bacteria that we used to get by not washing our produce before we ate it.

By the way…please wash your produce. You can get B12 without eating dirt.

The book Vegan for Life by Jack Norris and Ginny Messina, two vegan RDs, explains that the best way to supplement B12 is with a sublingual supplement.

If you are a vegan, you cannot skip your B12. B12 is necessary for healthy brain function and a B12 deficiency is no laughing matter.

But don’t let that scare you- B12 is easy to come by with these supplements.

If you or your teen want to go vegan, having a varied diet is key to getting these micronutrients in and making sure you’re getting what you need for your lifestyle. Just like paleo, the Mediterranean diet, keto, whatever eating fad crosses your mind, veganism just needs a little bit of time to plan for variety!

These are the top five nutrients I believe people need to pay attention to. What are your top five? Let me know!

And remember: Do your homework, eat a vegetable, and make sure to smile at someone today. Bye!

 

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Patience, jobs, and internships…oh my!

Today I want to talk about something I’ve been dealing with “behind the screen” for the past few months.

Patience, jobs, and internships- oh my!

While my first job is going fine, I discovered after graduation that there was a low enrollment number in the diabetes course I was supposed to teach. No one was at fault, and sometimes these things happen, but the hours I had weren’t enough to cover graduate school costs, a car, and groceries while living at home. So I set out in search of a second job to help supplement the one I have now.

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My fellow busybodies know that not having places to go can start to drive someone up the wall. I did my best to keep working in any way I could: I kept this blog up, which proved to be a benefit because there’s a lot of regular traffic here now- hi, daily visitor! I started learning everything I could about social media and how to market yourself to other people.

In the beginning it was difficult to know what I would be up against while I job searched in the “real world” vs my undergrad. I assumed that I would be frustrated, but in the end I would be fine- after all, I knew I’d have a job eventually, so why stress? I love working on this blog, writing, podcasting, creating stuff for you guys, so I thought that would help pass time.

(By the way, shameless plug, but have you listened to my podcast? They’re super short snippets of info that supplement the blog)

But it’s not that easy. After getting used to living on my own, buying my own groceries, and having an established routine at school, living at home was already an adjustment  and not having a regular paying job on top of that was stressful.

I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t know what to expect emotionally.

For the first few weeks I felt normal, fine, and a little bit relieved to have some time to relax.

For the next few I started feeling anxious and antsy, a bit “cabin-fever-y”. Living in the Midwest in the middle of frigid January (oh, how I miss my undergrad’s tunnels…) didn’t help.

By the time we got to February I was constantly depressed, like there was a cloud following me everywhere. I was reminded constantly that I didn’t have places I needed to go, and I felt lonely. I love my dogs, but I missed my friends at school.

I had to realize it was okay that I was looking for a job. I’m one of the lucky ones where my parents were just as upset about my hours as I was, in a “man, that sucks that that happened to you” way rather than a “what do you mean you’re not working!” way. They were patient while I sorted through the feelings and applied everywhere I could.

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I also had to realize that the depression I was feeling was okay too. Accepting that I was sad because I wasn’t working was one of the hardest parts of these past few months.

After weeks of nothing I finally broke down to my mom, crying and wondering if I would ever achieve anything, and while in the moment all these feelings felt real and painful, I knew they would pass.  Still, for the week following, I wondered if I would get anywhere.

Remember way back, when this blog was a baby, when I talked about resiliency? (Am I at the blogging stage yet where I cringe at my old posts? Or is there a time frame I’m still in? Is there a blog honeymoon stage? …Did I take my meds today?)

I had to remember those lessons too.

Sometimes we slip back and regress in the face of stress and disappointment. It can feel like you take 10 steps forward, 9 back, and you start to doubt if you were ever strong in the first place.

You just have to keep going. It sounds easy when you say it out loud or think it when things are going well, but over the past couple years, I’ve learned that waking up and filling out more applications, or waking up and job searching, is all you can do.

If you just wake up and feel depressed, that’s okay too.

Just keep going. One day at a time.

I just got a job as a diet clerk at a hospital, so I’m really excited to start getting more clinical experience before I hear back on my internship. I’ve turned in all the pre-hire paperwork and now, luckily, the waiting game is hearing my start date.

One day at a time.

Do your homework, eat a vegetable, and don’t forget to smile at someone today. Talk to you soon!

Em

4 things I learned recording my first podcast

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This week was exciting for two reasons:

One, I did my first presentation and it went pretty well.

Two, I started a podcast and while it has yet to have a name, I’m pretty darn proud of how I’m doing so far. I like writing the scripts and getting to chat- though I can understand the pressure people talk about when they mention that working solo can get daunting- it’s tough not having someone to play off of.

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This is me after 3 hours of recording

Both of these events taught me a lot, as far as the presentation goes I’ve already written about that. So here are 4 things I learned by starting a podcast:

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  1. Script it out

Now I’m a pretty thorough planner. I already have a content calendar getting me through May for this blog with lots of ideas for after that! But for some reason, the podcast came to me at random.

I had felt a bit like I was floundering with the blog and because I’m having a road block when it comes to vlogging, I began to feel like this blog wasn’t going to get anywhere. So a few nights ago, after publishing Nutrition Education and Teen Girls I thought about how I could dive deeper.

Then it hit me…Anchor! (And before you ask, I’m not sponsored, I found them a while back when I played around with the idea of a podcast a few months ago but tabled it due to time).

Thinking that it would be fun to give it a shot, I didn’t realize how recording, re-recording, and just writing an outline would still leave me up ish’s creek.

I needed a script.

By the time I realized I should script what I wanted to say, I was lucky enough to have already been recording for a while so I could just type up the bits I remembered that I said and liked, then flesh those out a bit more.

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  1. Check beforehand

Notice a bit of a pattern here?

I was looking forward to doing something similar to a live radio show, which Anchor used to offer, but their redesign made it so that it was solely focused on podcasting.

So, when it was T-minus one hour when I said I’d go live and noticed that wasn’t an option, I was scrambling to record so I would have something at the time I said.

I ended up being unable to make the deadline but now I know, right?

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  1. Patience

Despite a theatre and improv background, I still would stumble over my words and talk fast. I had to remind myself that the message would make more sense if I spoke slower and really tried to enunciate rather than just chatted into the mic.

I want there to be that casual ‘chat’ feel, but you still need to understand me to have that conversation!

Working hard to speak slowly, think about my opinions and feelings on the topic, and being patient when I made a mistake was something I learned the hard way.

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  1. Trying new things is fun!

I read The Healthy Maven’s post ‘Is Blogging Dead?”  and felt so comforted about my own doubts regarding my own blog. I had been feeling a little nervous that this wouldn’t pan out, and while I don’t do it for a job, shouting into a void only gets you so far.

It was Davida’s post that encouraged me to try new things, and to start living more so I have more to write about. And her advice about trying different avenues to reach different kinds of people gave me a bit of needed courage to try the podcast!

While these four things deal more with the podcast I created, they have a lot of weight as life lessons as well. Especially the whole ‘trying new things is fun’ and ‘patience’ one, amiright?

One of the coolest things about growing up is the ability to learn from mistakes and go on to make new ones to learn from. I know that as Center Stage grows and changes there’s going to be a lot of learning curves, and it’s more important to look at them with excitement like I did with the podcast rather than nervousness!

Mistakes happen, we just need to accept them and learn from them.

Leave a comment below to let me know what you learned this week!

Do your homework, eat a vegetable, and smile at someone if you can. Bye!

 

Nutrition education and teen girls

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For the first time in a long while I had a really week last week.

I had a job interview for a diet clerk job at a hospital some ways away in the morning, I volunteered at my old middle school in the afternoon, and I attended an orientation on human trafficking and how to spot it in the evening.

Not only did I get some good old highway driving in (#suburbiaproblems), but I also biked somewhere for the first time since November. And it wasn’t like my campus biking- this was about 20 minutes of biking through an upper-middle class town while dodging guys in small cars, with darkened windows, wearing HEADPHONES.

Come on, y’all. Please don’t tell me you’re wearing those while you drive. Think of the children.  (And me…please)

That’s why I didn’t write this post on last week- I was out and about for a while. My dogs didn’t like it one bit. Friday was another weird day for me- Grandma came over, and I even went to a theatre performance based off of the stories of male prostitutes in Chicago.

But I did want to address this article, because I was so so happy to see it show up on my Google alerts.

Malnutrition Deeply, an offset of the website News Deeply, published an article the other day titled “Nutrition Community ‘Leaving Adolescent Girls Behind’.”  It’s an interview with Dr. Marie T. Ruel, who is the director of Poverty, Health and Nutrition Division for the International Food Policy Research Institute.

Her main philosophy is that women are often left behind once past what’s called their first 1,000 days, which is the period in which health practitioners work to protect newborns and infants against malnutrition while they grow.

Other points about the interview include agriculture, value chains, and how to urge government intervention. It’s a great read and you should spend some time with it.

Adolescent Nutrition

I think the reason Dr. Ruel discusses nutrition intervention for adolescents designated female at birth/capable of child-bearing because of a few things:

  • Society’s outlook on how teen girls eat
  • The importance of pre-conception nutrition for a healthy pregnancy
  • Nutrition intervention in general towards teens

When talking about this article with people, I noted something my Dad mentioned: when someone mentions they have two teen boys, the joke is ‘How do you keep food in the house’, whereas with girls…you can’t really say that.

Even though all teens are growing at the same rate, it’s only okay for boys to eat to fuel growth spurts. Girls, both through peer and media influence, are already being told they need to eat less and that “fat” is a bad thing.

Using nutrition intervention for teen girls, letting them know it’s OKAY to eat, and that they must eat, already puts us on the right path for helping teenagers have a healthy puberty and adjust to being body positive, intuitively eating adults.

In general, nutrition intervention in teens seems to fall by the wayside compared to adult and child nutrition. Think of the nutrition education you had in school- was it one unit, maybe two in health class? What resources did you have?

Compared to childhood nutrition, where there are a lot of books and resources and TV shows for kids, and adults, who have blogs, dietitians, books geared toward them- teens don’t get much.

And we could save them a lot of stress in adulthood by teaching them now.

What do you guys think? Do you think we need more nutrition education at home, or should the school be more active?

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The Next Chapter//December Reads

December Reads I have my very first business trip this month. The idea that I’m heading out of state for job training brings up the quote from the movie A Christmas Story:

“Honors and benefits, already at the age of nine!”

I really do feel like a nine-year-old kid. I only just graduated from college. It feels like I need to be doing something else than what I’m doing. Writing a blog, weightlifting, waiting to hear back on graduate schools/applying for the dietetic internship, and working a job in my field? It all sounds like someone else’s life.

What about you guys? Does anything in this New Year really stick out to you as new and exciting, something you’re excited to try?

 

On the Bookshelf

Today I want to cover what books I’m reading and to hear about what books you guys are reading. I’ve already published some of my Goodreads reviews.

To prepare for my job as a diabetes lifestyle coach, I’ve read:

  • 21 things to know about diabetes and nutrition, by Cassandra L. Verdi MPH RD CDE and Stephanie A. Dunbar, MPH RD CDE

This is a great introductory look at the relationship between nutrition and diabetes, and where to get started when it comes to nutrition. While my work will primarily be with patients who are prediabetic, I still wanted to make sure that I brushed up on diabetes and nutrition guidelines before I started training. This was a pretty quick read, too.

  • Eat what you love, Love what you eat with diabetes by Michelle May MD and Megrette Fletcher, Med, RD, CDE

This book was recommended in an Intuitive Eating group I’m a part of on Facebook. A member had asked about books that have an Intuitive Eating aproach to diabetes care and this was the one people brought up the most. I appreciate the non-judgmental, every food has its place look at diabetes nutrition and friendly way material is presented in this book. I’ve been taking notes on how this book approaches eating, nutrition, and movement to help improve my vocabulary for when I do presentations to my group!

To better my writing, I’m reading:

  • Ready, aim, specialize! By Kelly James-Enger

I don’t know about you beans, but when I’m learning a new topic I really need all the info laid out in front of me before I dive in. I’ve read a lot of blogs about freelancing, but Ready, aim really helped me figure out the basic-basics of freelancing and specializing. This book also helps you recognize things in your life you can use as writing topics, and even lists resources to help you find experts to quote. This was another quick read!

  • You can’t make this stuff up: the complete guide to writing creative nonfiction […] By Lee Gutkind

I just started this book today (1/2) but creative nonfiction has always interested me as a writing medium. I’ll keep you updated on this, but so far I really like it!

Other books I’m reading are:

  • Hunger by Roxane Gay (FINALLY!!!)
  • Walden by Thoreau
  • Motivational Interviewing in Nutrition and Fitness by Dawn Clifford and Laura Curtis

What are you reading? If you’re on Goodreads, drop your profile below so I can follow you and get some more reading recs!