Dispelling Diet Myths
Dietitian Kaitlyn Seguin answers diet questions
KAITLYN SEGUIN’s interest in nutrition started at an early age when she would log into the family computer at eight years old to research the best diet for her gymnastic performance. She says that in high school she helped her mom through her weight loss journey and knew at that point where her career was headed.
Seguin is a registered dietitian who specializes in working with families and children.
“Becoming a mom gave me a new perspective. I was so grateful while I was pregnant and breastfeeding to know how to fuel my body,” she says. “Now as a mom feeding a toddler, I am confident in how I’m feeding her for her growth while also teaching her how to have a healthy relationship with food.”
Now that she is a parent, she has experienced firsthand how challenging it can be with so much information on the internet on what to do and what not to do.
“Then the mom-shame and mom-guilt creeps in. I want to support parents in feeding their families with confidence while still enjoying their lives without any guilt,” she says.
One key thing to consider when working with a dietitian is to find someone that fits with your personality and mindset.
“Not all dietitians are the same nor do we have the same experiences. If you’ve worked with a dietitian in the past, but it wasn’t the right fit, I encourage you to keep looking.”
WILMA caught up with Seguin, who recently started her own nutrition counseling firm Dietitian Kaitlyn, to discuss common diet misconceptions, myths, how to approach healthy eating with kids, and more.
WILMA: When should people consider working with a dietitian?
Seguin: “I believe anyone can benefit from working with a dietitian as part of preventative healthcare. Most medical conditions (e.g. obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, etc.) can be improved with diet and lifestyle changes. I’ve had patients able to get off certain medications after working together for a few months.
Because I specialize in women and children, I think a dietitian is a great support during and after pregnancy. In addition, there are so many changes in a baby’s eating during the first year or so of life that a dietitian could help a mom navigate. Dietitians can be very helpful when parents are concerned about picky eating, potential food allergies, or appropriate growth.”
WILMA: What are some of the common misconceptions you have heard about working with a dietitian?
Seguin: “People are often worried that I’m going to tell them they can’t eat any of their favorite foods. I assure them that I am not the food police. In fact, I often help my patients figure out how they can incorporate those favorite foods, in moderation of course.
I also hear people say that they know what to do, but they just don’t do it. I don’t simply provide nutrition education. I help people create new habits that fit into their lifestyle. I’m constantly working with my patients on modifying or adding to their goals. I highlight why people are looking to make changes to their life to give them motivation; it’s often so much more than looking better in a bathing suit.”
WILMA: What are some diet myths that people should be aware of?
Seguin: “Restrictive diets are often effective for weight loss in the short term, but here’s why I’m wary of them. When you lose weight fast, it’s likely a lot of water weight, not fat. Low-calorie diets cause your metabolism to slow down, so you’d have to eat less and less to continue to lose weight (or maintain what you’ve lost). When you finish your diet and go back to your normal routines, most people gain more weight than they initially lost.
I choose a lifestyle change approach because I want my patients to be healthier for the rest of their lives. And I want them to be happy in doing so.”
WILMA: For those wanting to start changing their eating to meet health goals or just to get more fruits and veggies in, what are some first steps they can take?
Seguin: “I always recommend setting specific goals that are very attainable. Often people want to change a lot of things at once, but change is just hard. Make it easier on yourself by slowly adding in more and more over time. When setting a goal like drinking more water, ask yourself these questions: When will I drink more water? If I don’t feel like drinking water, what will I do? Do I have a water bottle that I like to drink out of? When I’m not at home, how will I be sure that I can drink water? Will I be able to do this forever or just for a couple weeks?”
WILMA: When it comes to their children’s eating habits or health, what advice do you usually give parents?
Seguin: “There are so many things for me to discuss with parents depending on their specific concerns. My best overall advice is for families to eat meals together. There’s extensive research into the benefits of family meals from kids eating habits and lower rates of obesity to improvements in mental health.”
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