Understanding “health” as a whole can be quite tricky. Health is a layered and complex topic to tackle for most people; a starting point is often hard to find. There is a lot of information that is readily available for us, but a majority of it might not make sense unless one has a background that allows one to understand some of the diction that is present when researching healthy foods, diets, and lifestyle changes. Women in particular struggle a lot with this, and sometimes the internet and social media present an unhealthy view of fitness and health. Dieting, detox, and cutting out certain foods might not be as healthy as we think. With all of this in mind, I sat down with a registered dietician, Denise Hernandez, and asked her some questions about health, specifically with women in mind.
What is the most common advice you give to your female clients?
I commonly recommend that my female clients follow a personalized approach when attempting to work on their nutrition. Many times, women heed the advice of social media personalities, celebrities, or public personas. What they fail to realize is that one size does not fit all. They may cause more harm than good in their pursuit of "health." The best way to get a personalized approach is to visit a registered dietitian who can take into account your health and nutrition history and align it with your goals.
2. What are some self-care tips you wish you could share with everyone?
The self-care tips that I remind people of are tried and true. Get adequate sleep, water, and exercise! When it comes to nutrition, my favorite tip is to include more servings of plant-based foods per day. Plant-based foods include vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. What I tell my clients is to include one of these foods at every meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks). Incorporating these foods will give your body an advantage because when we eat them, we inherit their natural ability to fight off disease and damage.
3. Tell me about how you got into this profession & your background?
Having prematurely lost both of my grandmothers to heart disease, I decided to become a dietitian because I wanted to help others prevent chronic disease. I believe that the approach should be preventive instead of reactive. I saw the value in using food as medicine, as much as can possibly be done. I received a Bachelor of Science in Biological and Physical Sciences, then went on to complete a Master of Science in Nutrition at Texas Woman's University. I have been licensed and practicing since 2012. Currently, I work out of the Houstonian Fitness Club, seeing both members and non-members. I also work as an online nutrition coach helping clients across the country achieve the results they desire: optimum health. I also enjoy helping women achieve better metabolic states, something that is often damaged when chronic dieting is the case.
I've worn many dietetic hats throughout the years: nutrition coach, health educator, adjunct teacher, and corporate wellness seminar leader.
4. Any book recommendations you'd pass on to your clients? My utmost favorite nutrition book is "Intuitive Eating" by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. It helped me make peace with food and has taught me some useful strategies to help my clients find the same peace. Chronic dieting is so harmful to a woman's body and will many times lead to serious consequences. A renewed mindset around food and your body is crucial to sustainably reach your goals.