Diet and heart health--obviously the two go hand in hand. Or mouth and blood-pumping organ or...something like that--I’m not a doctor! Luckily Our Town spoke with Roberta Clarke Jenero, MS, RD, LDN, a licensed dietitian and author who founded Figure Facts, LLC, a website for nutrition-conscious individuals. Clarke Jenero is also a spokesperson for the American Heart Association. In honor of National Heart Month (or as I like to call it, National Blood-pumping Organ Month), she spoke with Our Town about her nutrition Apps for teens, whether she practices what she preaches, and tips for heart health.
Our Town What inspired you to work as a dietitian?
Roberta Clarke Jenero I wanted to be able to help people understand how to fuel their bodies for health and weight management. As a teenager, I participated in competitive tennis, swimming and recreational ballet and jazz dance, and taught aerobics in college. I remember thinking it would be great if I knew how much I should be eating to maintain a healthy weight. In the athletic off season, my activity level would decrease, but often my appetite soared and I would gain weight because at the time, I did not understand how to adjust my intake and how to use food to help control my appetite.
OT What are the biggest stumbling blocks for someone trying to improve their eating habits?
RCJ Choosing to go to the extreme to change your food plan. The extreme change in what you are eating may work for a while, but ultimately leads to abandoning the plan and reverting to old eating patterns/habits. Some other stumbling blocks may be: thinking that your favorite foods are forbidden, eating less by skipping meals.
OT Do you always practice what you preach?
RCJ I really do! What I preach is not a diet, but I live it. I live it every day and can honestly say I have not struggled with my health or weight since I have learned how to fuel my body.
OT Take us through a day of meals.
RCJ I follow the gluten free diet for health reasons:
Two cups of water before breakfast.
Breakfast sandwich on GF roll with one egg, one slice low fat cheddar and one slice maple turkey.
Two Sunsweet Ones Prunes, 1/2 cup soy milk mixed with 1/2 cup 1% milk.
A cup of butternut squash soup and a smoothie made in my Nutri-Bullet containing: 1/4 cup cottage cheese, 1/2 cup yogurt, 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed, 1/2 peach, four leaves of romaine lettuce, 1/2 banana and 1/2 cup blueberries.
Handful of potato chips before dinner
Salad with Romaine, two beets, eight Sunburst yellow tomatoes, five black olives, 1/2 cup diced cucumber and juicama salad w dill and cilantro, 1 Tbsp Olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. 3 oz of cranberry pork tenderloin 2x3 inch piece of GF carrot and walnut cake with 1Tbsp whipped honey almond cream cheese for the frosting!
One piece of dark chocolate and 1grapefruit after dinner.
OT Any guilty pleasures?
RCJ Dark chocolate, cookies, brownies or cake are the items I will make room for in my healthy food plan on occasion. I do try to make these items more nutritious by choosing ingredients lower in saturated fat and higher in fiber, Omega 3's and monounsaturated fats. The carrot cake for example, had chopped walnuts, 1 cup of shredded carrots and 1 apple made into applesauce in my blender, 1 egg, water plus the cake mix.
OT What led you to found FigureFacts.com?
RCJ I realized as a dietitian that my clients were having life-changing results by making agreeable adjustments to their food intake, without feeling like they were dieting. I wanted to automate the nutrition tracking process taught in their sessions to get detailed food records for use as a teaching tool. FigureFacts is a one-stop database that showcases the good, delicious foods that can make up a tasty but healthy diet. Food can be healing and therapeutic to the body, and FigureFacts helps people keep track of everything they take in and need.
OT What sort of assistance does the site provide?
RCJ The website provides a virtual RD experience. As a member, you have access to an RD for questions or concerns, our nutrition tracking tool, your nutritional profile and diabetic exchanges based on your age, height, weight and activity level, adjustable based on your current nutritional needs. Figure Facts is "For Life" for two reasons – 1) The programs we put in place can be used for life while optimizing your nutrition. 2) The plan provides guidance for individuals at different stages of the life cycle.
OT Why are your mobile application for teens and kids effective?
RCJ Our Kids and Teens Apps were developed to address the epidemic of obesity and diabetes in our children today. The apps allow the individual to track their nutrient intake, customize their database with favorite foods, access an RD with any questions or concerns, and send their food intake and journaled items to their physician and/or RD via email from the app. It’s an App I hope parents will encourage their kids to use at the dinner table.
OT Right now Americans struggle both with obesity and with eating disorders. What can parents do to stress nutrition and fitness but avoid giving their kids food issues?
RCJ The best place to start as a parent is to be a role model for your children when it comes to food choices and physical activity. Kids, especially young children, are eating what you provide for them and often want to eat what their parents eat. They are doing what you do, so if you get active they want to follow you. Teaching children about what's in the foods you give them and why it's healthy for them is encouraging and will not lead to food issues. Older children are subject to peer pressure, so it's great to set the foundation for healthy eating early and they will tend to crave healthier food choices later in life.
OT February is National Heart Health month. Tips for heart healthy eating?
RCJ Stay hydrated by drinking at least a 1-2 cups of water before breakfast and each meal thereafter and 1 cup before bedtime, unless otherwise directed by your physician. Learn to cook and season foods with herbal blends for flavor to help lower sodium intake. The AHA new guideline is 1500mg or less per day! Understand what your body needs and make healthier food choices that you love to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. All whole grain foods, all fruits and vegetables, including starchy and root vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, non-fat and low-fat dairy and dairy-alternative products, lean cuts of meat, poultry, fish, limited consumption of eggs and the usage of egg whites, as well as heart-healthy sources of fat, such as olive oil, flaxoil, etc. all contribute to the making of a heart-healthy diet. Check out Figure Facts Heart Health App in iTunes. We loaded lots of heart healthy eating tips in the guide section of the app.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for sites like Pop Matters and
afterellen.com Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," was called “poetic and heartrending” by ALA Booklist. Sarah is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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