Allison Childress Ph.D., RDN, CSSD, LD is an Assistant Professor and Chief Clinical Dietitian at the Nutrition and Metabolic Health Institute. She is a licensed in Texas and New Mexico and maintains a consulting practice as well. She sat down with Oola to give us some insight into her experience and the Dietetic industry!
Oola: What inspired you to focus on the field of diet and nutrition?
Allison: I love food! I love the power that it has to fuel, heal, and maintain health. I also have a heart for helping people and if I can do it with food, there’s no better career on earth!
Oola: You’re board certified in Sports Dietetics. Can you elaborate on what that entails?
Allison: A registered dietitian can become Board Certified in Sports Dietetics after completing 2,000 hours of sports dietetics practice and taking an exam. It is the premier sports nutrition credential in the U.S. A dietitian with a CSSD can provide medical nutrition therapy for athletes and are uniquely equipped to practice in sports and apply skills and nutrition science knowledge in fueling fitness, sport and athletic performance.
Oola: What’s a common misconception people have about working with a Dietitian?
Allison: That we are the food police! Many of my clients come to their first appointment and tell me “I know what you are going to say. If it tastes good spit it out.” Or they might say “Ok, tell me what I can’t eat.” And that is not what a registered dietitian is about! We are here to educate and provide tools to change behaviors. If you want to keep sweet treats in your diet we will help you do so in moderation. We want our clients to be healthy AND happy in their lives.
Oola: One day we read in the news that something is bad for us, the next day we read it’s good. Is there a rule of thumb or method to use to figure out which to believe?
Allison: The reason for this? Nutrition is a science, not an opinion. Just as science in medicine is changing and improving, so is science in nutrition. In fact I tell my Pre-Med and Dietetics students that a lot of the information they are learning now could change completely in as little as five years. And this is a good thing! We want science to be up to date. However, this can be confusing to most people. So a good rule of thumb when you are unsure is to ask an expert. Find a registered dietitian in your area and make an appointment. He or she can answer your questions with the most up to date information. We make it easy! Head over to *www.eatright.org *and click on Find an Expert!
Oola: What’s a food that a lot of people consider healthy that is actually pretty unhealthy?
Allison: Great question! Salads! While there are always exceptions, most salads, especially those eaten in restaurants or as takeaway have several hundred if not over 1000 calories. Many times we order a salad because we perceive it to be the “healthiest” item on the menu but after we add toppings and dressing, the fat, sugar and calories can really add up!
Oola: Eating healthy while traveling can be a real challenge. Any tips for making it more manageable?
Allison_: _If you are traveling for pleasure and it’s not something you do often, then indulge! Trying local cuisine is one of the best parts of visiting somewhere new. However, many of us travel regularly and eating healthy can be a challenge. First of all, pack non-perishables like nuts, protein bars and powders, dried fruit, cans of tuna and crackers so you have a go-to lunch or quick snack. This can be a big money saver too! Second, beware of liquid calories. Extra coffees, that drink on the plane, a soda here and there can add up fast. Many coffee drinks have an entire meal’s worth of calories in them! Drink lots of water instead. Traveling can dehydrate us quickly, your body will thank you for the extra fluid and it may help curb hunger too! Third, make time to move your body. If you are in the airport, walk instead of taking the train. If you are at a hotel, make sure you check ahead of time for a fitness center.
Oola: What’s a big trend in american diets that you think is really positive or negative?
Allison: The vilification of carbohydrates. People are actually afraid of carbohydrates. Halloween costume idea, anyone? Carbohydrates are the preferred fuel for your brain, fuel for physical activity and exercise, and contain a multitude of vitamins and minerals. Carbs are good for you!
Carbs are good for you!
Oola: If you could only keep one of the following items in your diet for the rest of time, which would it be: Coffee, Ice Cream, or Bacon?
Allison: Can I pick coffee flavored ice cream with bacon sprinkles? Yum! I think it would have to be coffee because I drink it everyday! I wouldn’t know how to start my day without it!
Oola: What advice do you have to give to our readers for living life to their tastes while maintaining a healthy diet?
Allison: There really is no official definition of “healthy diet”. Intuitively we can interpret it to mean any diet that improves overall health. So many times we get stuck on the physical when it comes to health: Body weight, fat, lean muscle, glowing skin, shiny thick hair and we don’t focus on other aspects of health. There are actually six components of health, which includes other important aspects like emotional health and social health. And diet definitely plays a role in those. While physical health is important, so are the other five components. So your healthy diet may look different than mine, and that is okay. Nutrition is not a one size fits all approach.
Oola: Anything else you’d like to comment on while we have you?
Allison: It is never too late to make a change. I finished my PhD right before I turned 40. I competed in my first fitness competition at 41 after having two babies. Your body will go where your mind leads it. If you do the mental work and get your mind going in the right direction, your physical health will follow. You really can’t have one without the other.
Your body will go where your mind leads it. If you do the mental work and get your mind going in the right direction, your physical health will follow. You really can’t have one without the other.
More About Allison:
Allison Childress, in addition to being a Registered Dietitian, is also an Assistant Professor and the Chief Clinical Dietitian of the Nutrition and Metabolic Health Initiative. She is a licensed in Texas and New Mexico and still maintains a consulting practice. Her specialties include weight management, cardiac, women’s health, and bariatric, pediatric and geriatric nutrition. Finally, Allison is board certified in Sports Dietetics and is a certified personal trainer.
If you enjoyed the insight Allison provided in this interview, be sure to continue to follow her here:
Company: Allison Childress, PhD, RDN, CSSD, LD
Company Site: http://www.depts.ttu.edu/hs/ns/childress.php
Specialties: Weight Management; Cardiac; Women’s Health; Bariatric, Pediatric and Geriatric Nutrition
Designations: Ph.D., RDN, CSSD, LD