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A Dietitian's Favorite Month

It’s National Nutrition Month®!!! I always get so excited for this month! It’s a month to share what Dietitians do. A month to share how eating foods that nourish your body can give you a healthy life!

This year’s theme is “Celebrate a World of Flavors”, as culture, diversity, and inclusion are embraced and where we can all learn a little.

Humility to not know everything is OKAY! I’ve been such a strong advocate for telling someone when you are not sure, for acknowledging your knowledge deficits, and for desiring to learn more. So, this month, I’ve started learning about foods from cultures I don’t usually deal with and embracing recipes and ingredients they use.

I grew up overseas in Germany in my elementary school years. Each grade level had a different theme for the year to focus on. I remember third grade very distinctly- each classroom was given a country and we studied the history, arts and humanities, sciences, and the culture. My classroom, Mrs. Listers, (and if you know of the football quarterback, Andrew Luck, I was in his class!), we got Greece! OMG- this was so fantastic, I loved every moment and then my family took a trip thereafter and I was like a kid (okay, yes I was a kid) in a candy store, but regarding history and places to go, things to see, and the food! We got to learn about the different areas of Greece, the history of the temples and Kings, the Olympics, all the islands of Greece and of course the food! So at the end of the year (or Springtime), we had a day where we presented our projects, dressed like we were in Ancient Greece, and ate food items that were Greek. We had so much FUN learning!

I share this story because in being a dietitian, it is very easy for me to appreciate other cultures, religions, and their practices. However, because we are not immersed in other cultures and cuisines due to a moderate amount of Western diets being practiced, it can be challenging to keep up on preferences and food items used.

If you’ve seen a dietitian or maybe heard one talk, you may find some recommendations pretty consistent:

  • Fruits, Vegetables, Whole Grains, Dairy, Protein, water intakes, low-fat, complex carbohydrates, etc. etc.

It can be easy for a dietitian to recommend these items or find the missing items in someone’s diet when recalling their food intakes. However, a dietitian also utilizes cultural and religious preferences to acknowledge that brown rice may not be appropriate to make sushi or use in a Latin dish because of the consistency or because it is hard to find.

Nutrition recommendations need to be inclusive of cultural and religious beliefs. Someone may not be culturally diverse, but may have health conditions, food access, or budget-related issues that limits their ability to expand their palate and purchases of different food items- a dietitian can work with you on that!

So, how will dietitians work with you to provide these personalized recommendations?

Dietitians will ask what your food preferences are, including if you have specific cultural or religious foods and beliefs you follow. This will enable the dietitian, when making recommendations, to include foods you normally have, whilst improving the nutritional context of your dishes. You may have to tell the dietitian if they are not versed in your culture or religion, what foods are usually consumed and when (during the year, for fasting, certain days after a holiday, etc.) so they can make sure these are included in your recommendations.

It’s a great idea for you to try out new foods and flavors! I suggest trying other flavors from restaurants and then determining what flavors they use. Then you can try to create these at home. It's a fun family night, date night, or time to immerse yourself and learn in the kitchen! An example of this idea could be Asian cuisine- soy sauce is a great flavor, however, there tends to be quite a bit of salt in there. So if you have high blood pressure or heart failure, salt is something to monitor and limit if appropriate. If you like this cuisine, learn how to make the food at home so you can enhance the nutrient content! Find a low-sodium soy sauce (or use less of the regular), add more vegetables to a stir fry or the dish in general. Use more plant-based proteins such as beans, edamame, or nuts/seeds to keep the cost down and provide less saturated fats. These are some small changes you can make to still enjoy these flavors!

Embrace the culture you enjoy and try new things! A dietitian can also help you plan those meals and snacks. Use a variety of foods and work with a dietitian to come up with more ideas so you don’t get bored. Determining your schedule can help you know when a snack may need to be fit in and whether or not you may need it on the go or can prepare something at home.

It's a great time to spread the word, share your favorite recipes, and learn to be culturally diverse and you may find your next favorite food!


Information provided on this website does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to assist in the diagnosis, treatment or alleviation of any medical condition. Persons seeking to address a medical condition should consult with a qualified medical professional. Emily Richters Fasciana LLC will not be liable for any damages, losses, injury or liability suffered as a result of reliance on the information provided on this website.

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