with Elaine Hastings, RD, LD/N
My childhood has been filled with memories of some of the most wonderful family gatherings that included a huge extended family of aunts, uncles, 1st, 2nd & even 3rd cousins; if you were not blood-related by the time you left one of our gatherings you became an adopted family member. Coming from a traditional European family (consisting of Turkish, Hungarian, Armenian, and Polish descent), you would find some of the most exotic homemade dishes such as Pierogies covered in sour cream, Chicken Paprikash laden with sour cream and served over dumplings, Cream of Mushroom soup poured over the most fluffy, buttered filled mashed potatoes and Rice Pilaf sautéed in butter. Of course, the aroma would fill the air of all the delicious desserts such as rolled coffee cakes filled with nuts, poppy seeds, and sugar.
As I entered my teenage years, I realized that many of these people that I come to love were passing away at a very early age due to health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease brought on by their poor eating habits (many in their 50s); at the same time as I found myself dealing with my own self-image to manage my weight. I was driven not to gain weight and became obsessed with being the best athlete that I could be; the problem was that I did not think about nutrition and hindered my chance to be a pro-athlete. Recognizing that poor eating habits jeopardized my ability to live a happy and healthy life was the turning point in my life and it was then that I made my decision to become a Registered Dietitian so that I could help others who struggle with their eating habits.
Today’s society has marketed a belief that there is a miracle pill out there; anybody who tells you you’re going to drop 10 pounds in five days and keep it off is not offering you a healthy eating plan that should include a variety of food groups. Fad diets will not teach you how to eat in moderation and watch your portion sizes (have you noticed they come and go). Today my family continues their traditional family gatherings, but many of these exotic dishes have been replaced by low and fat-free dishes. Our family is much more committed to change those statistics of dying young. You will find our family and friends being very open with each other and sharing their struggles with food, lack of exercise, and encouraging each other to keep trying. When you ask me why I choose my career path, all you have to do is look around at the human race and see how we are struggling to remain healthy as we continue to live in a world that is a faster pace than we can keep up with.
Elaine Hastings is a registered dietitian of Associates in Nutrition Therapy in Fort Myers. She has been practicing for over 20 years and has been the past president of the Southwest Florida Dietetic Association. A “nutrition entrepreneur,” she works contractually and is also a writer, motivational speaker, product researcher, counselor, sports nutrition, and eating disorder awareness advocate. You can contact Elaine at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 239-281-7955 or visit her at http://www.AssociatesinNutrition.com.