Truly Nourished

Truly Nourished

Christine Bandy-Helderman
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7524-7.ch013
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A nutritionist presents case studies of patients who learned not only lessons about nutrition but also lessons about life. Details about the patients' stories are fictionalized, but the life lessons learned by the patients and the nutritionist lead to reflection on healthy choices. The nutritionist uses her faith and conversations with God to guide her as she helps patients.
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I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world. (John 6:51 NIV)



When most people come for a consultation in my office they have expectations of being counseled and educated on health and nutrition. The Registered, Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist (RD, LD/N) is the only health care professional specifically educated and trained in the science and application of nutrition. Nourishing our bodies to help treat or even prevent a variety of health-related diseases is the focus. Nutritionists need to have training and education on a variety of disease conditions, anatomy & physiology, medication interactions, diagnostic procedures, counseling and behavior modification, laboratory tests, and work with a variety of different health professionals. I studied in college for seven years receiving a Master’s degree in 1991 and then other advanced certifications and ongoing training. It has not been until the past few years, however, that I feel my true training has really begun. What I call my true nourishment and the true nourishment that I bring to others.

Food and the eating experience are highly individualized. We celebrate with food. We mourn with food. We manipulate food with our emotions. Some overeat when they are depressed. Others eat less when depressed. We have specific childhood memories of foods. Some of these memories may include having to choke down Brussels sprouts at dinner before you can leave the table. Yep, that was me and I have not eaten a sprout since! Another memory may be that fantastic smelling and tasting sweet potato pie that Grandma is known for and how it reminds you of feeling loved and safe. I have also learned about and enjoy working with a variety of different food cultures and customs.

The main focus of my education and counseling is a whole food, balanced focus. This means focus on what came right from the earth most often. More of the best (real, whole food) and less of the rest (sweets, snack chips…). The foundation of eating vegetables, fruits, low fat dairy, lean proteins, whole grains and healthy oils, nuts and seeds. Once in a while we can enjoy special holiday and celebration treats and meals or “wiggles” as I explain in my office. Balancing a week of eating should start with a foundation of real, whole food and then we can balance with some “wiggles” throughout the week. This is a good and realistic balance. I see how extremes with dieting and very unhealthy extreme restriction lead to negative emotional and physical health. The most healthy food choices, the whole food choices are the real deal. All the vitamins, minerals, protein and other components necessary for health. The processed, non-real-foods, are devoid of anything of long-term substance. We do not need these foods to survive. I think of the true bread of life, our savior and Lord Jesus Christ when I think of this type of true nourishment. He is the whole food, the real truth to our true nourishment. And since I am to reflect His character, I must give all of me when I am interacting with people. I can’t just give part of me, or the processed, non-nutritious stuff. I want to express to others a “whole me” like the whole foods perspective. The true me, the important part of me, all of me.

Every hour is a new adventure. My day may start with a diabetic, move on to a family with a three year old picky eater, switch to a forty-something bulimic, a migrant farm working family who all have high cholesterol, a few more digestive conditions, some weight loss education, and the day may finally close with a sixteen year old with anorexia. Throughout my day, I also receive random texts and emails from clients with questions or pressing concerns. I often receive requests to just send them some encouragement or words of wisdom because they are stuck in their food and nutrition planning. Or in some cases with eating disorders and patients in recovery for addictions, I receive panic texts of fear and anxiety. Yes, food and eating related. These clients are also working with professional therapists and physicians and are encouraged to talk to them and I am in constant communication with these professionals as well. There is nothing better than a team of sensitive and smart people!

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