Dare To Do Dietitians

Meet the Dare to Do Dietitians

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Whether your goal is to have more energy, decrease your blood pressure or cholesterol, lose weight, or get more sleep, healthy eating is key. For Dare to Do, we’ve partnered with three experts at UW who really understand nutrition and weight loss. Read on for their insights on nutrition resolutions.

Ben Atkinson UW

Ben Atkinson currently works in Harborview’s Nutrition and Foodservice department where he manages a talented group of outpatient dietitians, oversees the department’s technology programs, and supports worksite wellness activities in retail food areas. He has worked at Harborview since 2008, when he started as a dietitian in the Madison Clinic. Outside of work he likes polishing shoes, riding his bike, and riding his 1988 Mongoose Miniscoot Pro scooter.

What advice would you give someone if they included weight loss as their new year’s resolution?

Ben: I ask more about a person’s overall health goals, knowing how hard it is for most of us to lose weight. Often, there’s something else that they ultimately desire — better lab results, reduced likelihood of getting diabetes or heart disease, or increased energy level.

What do you think is the biggest myth around weight loss?

Ben: The biggest myth is that there needs to be a complete overhaul of what someone is currently doing. There is no need to exercise for several hours per day, eat only lettuce, or otherwise do a complete 180. Small, reasonable goals that are met over short periods really add up. A skyscraper isn’t built overnight; there are many small tasks that go into finishing it. So we should use the same strategy when working on our personal health goals.

What healthy habit do you personally do daily or weekly?

Ben: I start the day off with some kind of beneficial activity. It’s either eating a healthful breakfast, like cooked oats with fruit and milk, or doing some physical activity, like riding my bike to work. Then, at least if the day involves less-healthful activities (I’m thinking about this winter’s worksite potlucks and all of the holiday indulgences), I know that I did at least one thing to make my mind and body healthy.

Ben and his team are offering two 30-minute seminars at Harborview Medical Center on Wednesday, January 27. Click here for more information.

Judy Simon

Judy Simon MS, RDN, CD, CHES is a clinic dietitian at Roosevelt Clinic in the Women’s Health Center and is an adjunct faculty member of the Nutritional Sciences program. She specializes in nutrition counseling for individuals, couples, and families. She provides evidence-based nutrition counseling in eating disorders, reproductive nutrition (fertility), and weight management. Judy is recognized nationally as an expert of nutrition and fertility.

What advice would you give someone if they included weight loss as their new yearʼs resolution?

Judy: I would find out what the individual feels they need to reach their goals. Do they need to spend time planning and batch cooking? Ideas for dining out? Support from family? It is imperative to what is motivating someone to help them make lasting lifestyle changes.

What do you think is the biggest myth around weight loss?

Judy: I find that most people are feel very let down from following the latest fad diet. They may be able to follow rigid rules in the short term, but unfortunately they are often unable to sustain the changes in what they are eating. Diets have a poor success rate and often lead to weight gain instead of loss!

What healthy habit do you personally do daily or weekly? 

Judy: Planning! I look at my calendar every week to see what is ahead. I like to batch cook on the weekends and schedule in my exercise. I aim for being active every day and I find it increases my success. That includes scheduling regular fitness classes and walks with friends. I currently take Pilates, yoga, and spin classes.

Judy is providing our weekly nutrition tip for Dare to Do. Week one’s tip was to make your kitchen work for you: If you want to eat healthier, get your kitchen organized. This is a great time of year to go through your cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer and organize what you already have. This will make it easy to plan a weekly menu using the ingredients you already have in different dishes. For more weekly tips sign up for the Dare to Do challenge here.

rj owens

RJ Owens is the Executive Chef at Harborview Medical Center. He began working in food service when he was 14 by bussing tables and started cooking professionally when he was 16. At a young age, he really enjoyed working in the hospitality industry, but was concerned with how food was prepared in commercial kitchens. He thought the portion sizes of food items containing high levels of fat and salt were too large, and the way in which the foods were advertised did not present consumers with the information they needed to make a conscious decision with regard to health.

He decided that in order to build a career in the hospitality industry, he would need to become more educated in the realm of nutrition and healthy food preparation. He attended the University of Florida and obtained an undergraduate degree in Food & Nutrition Sciences, followed by a master’s in Public Health in Nutrition at the University of Washington. During this time he also became a registered dietitian.

As a chef, do you believe that you can make a dish just as yummy when it’s healthy?

RJ: Of course, it just requires a different approach to food preparation and cooking. Many times healthy herbs, spices, and acids (lemon, vinegar, wine, etc.) are overlooked in favor of manufactured foods and/or salt and saturated fats. By exploring different combinations of herbs and spices, the nutrition profile of foods can be improved and the flavors enhanced. In addition, techniques such as toasting and crushing seeds and whole spices (versus ground spices) greatly improves flavor while maintaining the integrity of the product.

RJ will show us how to make healthful and tasty salads — with samples! — at the upcoming Harborview seminars. Register here.

Thank you to our UW partners for sharing their expertise and guiding us towards a healthier lifestyle!

One Thought on “Meet the Dare to Do Dietitians”

On January 21, 2016 at 1:49 PM, Katie Farver said:

Wow, what an amazing group of dietitians! They really know what they are talking about and walk the talk.

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