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“There is no one size that fits all when it comes to nutrition,” says Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN, author of Southern Comfort Food Diabetes Cookbook, and nutrition and wellness expert for NOW Foods. “Nutrition should be individualized while respecting and honoring the social, cultural, and historical aspects of food that play a role in our lives.”
For most of us, food is a central part of the holidays. If you find it challenging to navigate the abundance of foods, Feller has three simple tips:
1. Nourish your body. “I do not recommend restricting food intake before or after holiday gatherings,” says Feller.
2. Be mindful of alcohol intake if that is something that is present at the gathering.
3. Think about adding a fruit or vegetable to your plate at the gathering.
Q&A with Nutritionist Maya Feller
Here’s more of our interview with Maya Feller. For more information on Feller, including delicious recipes such as Healthy Breakfast Hacks and Recipes for Empowered Aging, click here. Also, watch out for Feller’s soon-to-be-released cookbook on global cuisine.
BN: You specialize in medical nutrition therapy for the management of and risk reduction of non-communicable diseases. Sounds interesting! Can you share more?
MF: Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) uses the nutrition care process as a model for treating diseases. More specifically, it is the practice of using evidence-based nutritional interventions to prevent and manage diseases. In my practice we focus on nutrition and lifestyle modifications that patients can make to prevent as well as manage non-communicable conditions. MNT sessions include an in depth nutritional assessment where we review clinical parameters as well as an individual’s pattern of eating and current or past symptoms as well as desired health related goals. Follow up sessions are focused on monitoring the nutrition interventions and modifying them to help the patient reach their desired health goals.
BN: What are the most important and essential things for people of all ages and backgrounds to know about their nutrition?
MF: There is no one size that fits all when it comes to nutrition. Nutrition should be individualized while respecting and honoring foodways; the social, cultural, and historical aspects of food that play a role in our lives. Our food and nutrition habits develop over time and are shaped by patterns.
BN: What are the most common nutritional mistakes people make?
MF: We often look at nutrition from a binary perspective where we vilify or create a health halo around foods. The culture of dieting is incredibly strong and perpetuated by the wellness industry—this fuels extreme crash and fad diets that are both damaging and dangerous.
BN: Tell us about your cookbook Southern Comfort Food Diabetes: What tips can you share for diabetics?
MF: My cookbook offers diabetic-friendly recipes of the southern comfort foods that we all know and love. The recipes focus on including whole and minimally processed ingredients that support level blood sugars. Just as there is no one size that fits all with nutrition, there is no specific diabetes diet. Nutrition recommendations for people living with diabetes need to be individualized and can and should include a wide variety of foods with a focus on reducing glycemic variability.
BN: What is a typical day of food look like for you?
MF: I love food and my patterns of eating are often linked to the season. In the warmer months, I often start the day with a homemade green juice or a smoothie, but may also have eggs and veggies. Lunch could be a plate of greens or a sandwich and dinner is often lots of veggies, beans, and sometimes animal protein.