Experts on Nutrition in Bend Weigh In - Is Diet a Dirty Word?

In recent years, many Americans have taken to fad diets to lose weight and take control of their bodies - sometimes to obsessive degrees. But Central Oregon is a health-conscious place, where we’re known for our hikes, bikes, and skiing. We’re using our bodies every day - so what should we be providing them as fuel?

Here’s what Bend nutrition experts have to say on how to improve your emotional relationship with food, whether or not size equals health, and easy tweaks Central Oregonians can employ to improve their health.

Kristi at Effectual Nutrition

As the owner of Effectual Nutrition and a Dietician Nutritionist with a Masters of Science in Nutrition, Kristi strives to change the negative conversations we have around food. She confesses, “When I tell people what I do for a living, their response is often ‘don’t look at what I’m eating!”

Unfortunately, this is a knee-jerk reaction for many living in Central Oregon. Kristi explains that people often forget that food is meant to be enjoyed, and that it’s not supposed to be a way to punish your body. She goes on to clarify that there’s a lot of unnecessary fear around what we eat, and much of it is gleaned from marketing messages and media. Every day, another scare-tactic article comes out warning us of the dangers surrounding what we consume. Coffee can kill you! Carbs will destroy your brain! Stick to THIS regimen, or you’ll gain 50 pounds!

Kristi aims to shift the conversations around what we eat away from fear. “Eating is a group event; it’s what brings us together,” she points out. To combat this fear-based approach to nutrition, Kristi provides VIP (1-on-1) coaching, health and happiness group coaching, meal planning, and more here in Bend so you can alter your mindset around food with small, easy to manage changes. Keep an eye out for her upcoming book, “The Perfect Diet Myth”!

Kristi’s Quick Tip: Eat a single piece of fruit every day, it’s better for your body and mind than eating a perfect meal once a week!

Works With: Open-minded individuals willing to challenge their formal belief system around food who are motivated to enact change.

Key Takeaway: “There’s no right food or wrong food. all foods can be a part of what we eat. maybe don’t eat a chocolate shake every day, but you can when you have a craving or we’ll eat the entire cake.”

Bill at Fusion Fitness

Bill is the owner of Fusion Fitness in Bend. You may know that he’s ACE, IFPA certified and a certified kickboxing instructor with 20 years of personal training under his belt...but did you know he’s also a nutritional therapist?

Rather than aggressively restricting your diet and prescribing copious pills to achieve diet “perfection,” Bill works with the healing properties with food to mend your body from the inside out. “Some practitioners want to prescribe. We want to get your gut healed,” he explains.

He warns against using fad diets since they drastically affect your energy level and mood without truly fixing what’s wrong. Instead, he opts for a straightforward, honest approach - “if it walks or grows, you eat it. If it comes in a bag, box, or styrofoam, you don’t.”

Bill uses an allover approach customized to each client to help them achieve optimal health. From crafting four ingredient protein shakes to offering 12-week courses, his programs are tailored specifically to fit your body and needs, whether you’re trying to lose body fat or get to your next level of fitness.

Bill’s Quick Tip: “It’s the simplest thing on the planet. Take 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar a day for heartburn and Candida. It increases acid in your stomach to help your digestive tract all the way down.”

Specializes in Working with: Athletes and sufferers of Celiac and Hashimoto’s Disease.

Key Takeaway: “You only need to make three changes at a time...adding apple cider vinegar, a sugar detox, and drinking eight ounces of water an hour are great places to start.”

Larissa at Bend Nutritional Therapy

Larissa, owner of Bend Nutritional Therapy, became a nutritional therapist because she wants Bendites to be healthy, feel good, and enjoy life more. While many view nutrition as a way to lose weight, gain muscle, or look a certain way, her mission to help others stems from her own personal history with health. Larissa reveals, “When I became pregnant years ago, I realized that I was growing a human being. I needed to know what to feed my body in order to do that.”

Larissa focuses on helping people with personalized programs as opposed to extreme “one-size-fits-all” diets. She knows that there a lot of misconceptions around dieting, so she wants to help educate Central Oregonians. Larissa explains, “One of the biggest misconceptions around health is around fat - that eating fat makes you fat, or that low-fat diets are always good. People are afraid of fat.” She elaborates that people need to learn which kinds of fats are healthy and that they don’t need to go to dangerous extremes. For instance, she’s a bigger fan of the Whole30 diet than the Keto diet based on the latter’s extreme incorporation of fats.

Instead of looking at what you can’t eat and deprivation, Larissa encourages clients to focus on what they can have. She warns against orthorexia, an obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy, and instead suggests smaller, more enjoyable changes like cooking at home instead of eating out at restaurants. Larissa offers in-person and virtual visits to help clients support their health.

Larissa’s Quick Tip: “Read ingredients! if you can’t understand the words, you shouldn’t eat it.

Specializes in Working with: People ready to cook in a way that nourishes their body and ready to strengthen their connection between nutrition and well-being.

Key Takeaway: “There is no one-size-fits-all diet. What’s healthy for one person can be unhealthy for another, so you need to find the way of eating that works best for you. Focusing on eating more whole foods is a good way to get started.”

Abby at Synergy Health & Wellness

A registered dietitian nutritionist at Synergy Health & Wellness, Abby learned the benefit of learning how to have a healthy relationship with food early on. By growing up in the kitchen, she recognized the importance of being able to enjoy all types of food by following the hunger and fullness cues of her own body.

“You shouldn’t feel guilt around the food you’re eating; you can enjoy all types of food if you’re mindful,” Abby explains. Her focus on intuitive and mindful eating can be summarized in one phrase: trust your body. She reveals that infants understand their needs around food better than many adults do, and that much of this is due to society telling people how much or how little to eat.

Synergy Health & Wellness is a health at every size clinic, which means that all 3 of their dieticians believe that you can be healthy at any body size. Their practice doesn’t use guilt; instead, they offer 1-on-1 nutrition counseling and group classes on handling chronic illnesses without judgment or shame. Synergy’s team takes an individualized approach to help clients avoid guilt and take charge of their health.

Abby’s Quick Tip: Eliminating distractions at mealtimes helps you be more aware of how much food your body really needs.

Specializes in Working with: Clients with diabetes and chronic GI or kidney issues.

Key Takeaway: “We’re not the food police. You can fit all foods into your diet if you learn what works for your body.”

Annie at Cascade Nutrition Consulting

Annie is the owner Cascade Nutrition Consulting here in Bend. “We live in an active community,” Annie admits, “but sometimes our activity levels don’t balance out our diet choices.” For instance, beer drinking is also a big part of Central Oregon culture. She explains that adding a microbrew to your meal adds an extra 200 calories that many people aren’t even aware of, which is why it’s so important to keep track of both your activity level and what you’re fueling your body with post-workout.

As a dietician, Annie admits she’s had a recent rush of fad diet questions - everything from Whole30 to intermittent fasting. Rather than picking a fad diet or finding a specific list of rules around what you eat, Annie wants people to think instead of lifestyle changes that they can make indefinitely. Her goal is to help clients be healthy, not skinny.

Annie offers a range of services specialized to needs including diabetes, weight management, and heart health. She enjoys building relationships with each patient to help them navigate the struggles involved in making diet and lifestyle changes for long-lasting results. Cascade Nutrition Consulting is an In-Network Provider with most insurance plans.

Annie’s Quick Tip: Keep track of what you’re eating (and drinking!) when you go out and make sure it’s fueling your body.

Specializes in Working with: Clients newly diagnosed with diabetes and those focused on heart health and weight management.

Key Takeaway:  “What’s happening on the inside doesn’t always reflect what’s happening on the outside.”