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You are what you eat

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An interview with nutritionist Lara Field

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As a personal trainer, I get asked nutritional questions all the time. The thing is, I’m not a nutritionist—I’m just a really opinionated personal trainer. I do, however, have several nutritionist friends, so I went to one with an expertise in celiac disease to learn about allergies, organic food, and of course weight loss tips.

Meet Lara Field:
FEED is a privately owned pediatric nutrition counseling business founded in 2008 by registered dietitian Lara Field, MS, RD, LDN.

Lara has always had a passion for kids' nutrition. With over seven years experience in clinical practice at two of the top ranked pediatric hospitals in the country, Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago and University of Chicago Medical Center, Lara has been invited to speak at national nutrition and medical conferences including the American Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition and the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America.  She has been quoted in publications on her perspective on infant feeding practices.

As an advisory board and executive committee member of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, Lara always has been active in the celiac disease community. She frequently educates patients, family members, and nutrition professionals on the gluten-free diet.

Lara currently lives in Chicago with her husband, Tom, and their son, Tyler, who was born April 2008.  In her free time, Lara enjoys exercising and has completed three marathons, the2006 and 2009 Chicago Marathon and the 2007 Boston Marathon. She loves cooking and testing new recipes, and especially enjoys preparing foods for Tyler.

Ron Krit: Let’s start with food allergies. What are common food allergies and diseases?
Lara Field: Peanut, milk, soy, tree nut, wheat, eggs, fish and shellfish are the most common food allergies. Celiac disease [is another common allergy]. One in 133 people has this allergy of wheat, rye, and barley—10 times more common then diabetes. A new emerging disease is Eosinophilic Esophagitis, an allergic condition of the esophagus. Symptoms may include choking, or gagging on food, similar to reflux. Doctors first have you eliminate the common food allergies and then slowly re-introduce the foods.

Why are so many children so allergic to peanuts?
There is no concrete answer. Some call it the “hygiene hypothesis”— our desire to use anti-bacterial soaps and sanitizers are taking the healthy bacteria out of our bodies.

Organic foods are a huge market do we need to buy them to be healthier?
Pesticides are not good for you to ingest. With that said, not all food needs to be organic. Many people recommend foods with edible skin should be bought organic, such as apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries, and peaches. I buy organic whenever I can.

What about organic meat?
Probably a good idea, too—less hormones to put in our bodies. Long-term research is not available to determine how these hormones will affect us.

As a nutritionist, what are your tips for weight loss?
• Portion control and exercise, simple but true. You need both to be successful.
• Eat more veggies—they fill you up, they are nutritionally dense, and add more fiber [to your diet] to aid with digestion, and blood sugar control.
• More calcium in the form of low-fat dairy.
• Eat more whole grains. Read food labels and look for whole grain oats, whole wheat flour and fiber.
• Fiber is very important. It keeps us full and helps move food through our system.

What about supplements?
Mega-dosing is not necessary. Hopefully people are eating foods that contain nutrients and minerals. Taking a vitamin that contains greater than 100% of the Daily Value can be detrimental—you do not want to overdose, even on vitamins. Find a supplement that contains less than 100% of the Daily Value of most vitamins and minerals.

As a trainer people always ask me about the Atkins diet. What do you think of this all meat diet?
It’s not a long-term weight loss plan. It is not realistic to eat that quantity of meat without complex carbohydrates for life. Whole grains help with brain function, blood sugar control and general digestion. Eating a variety of foods is the best suggestion.

What’s your cheat food?
Sweet Mandy B’s! I like desserts. My trick, I just don’t buy them. I try not to bring sweet treats in my house.  Save these for special occasions such as holidays or birthdays. If you don’t keep it in your house it’s easier to avoid.
If you would like to learn more about Lara or to contact her, check out her  website . 

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