[Image description: Different kinds of fruits and vegetables are shaped into a heart against a white background.]
It’s no secret that nutrition can be difficult to plan, let alone discuss. Sometimes it might feel overwhelming, confusing, and even a little bit nerve-wracking to try to identify the “dos and don’ts” of healthy eating. The important thing to remember is that there is no good or bad; right or wrong. Each person has different challenges, preferences, and viewpoints when it comes to healthy eating. In many ways, it could be seen as a good thing that there are so many different meal plans, recipes, and weight management approaches, because it means there’s something for everyone!
If you are looking for advice about how to adopt a healthier lifestyle and/or manage your weight, Amwell’s Registered Dietitian Margaret Apura has over 20 years of experience helping clients with their nutrition. Keep reading to learn more!
Thanks for joining us, Margaret! To start off, how do you manage your own nutrition on a day-to-day basis?
I try to focus on eating mostly plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains with some lean protein (like chicken and fish) and heart healthy fats (like olive oil).
You make healthy eating sound simple. What are some common reasons people seek nutritional counseling and support online?
People connect for all different reasons such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. The most common reason by far is for help losing weight.
Do you help people of all ages with online nutrition counseling?
Yes, our nutritionists counsel both adults and children.
That’s great to hear. Diving into healthy eating in the time of a pandemic, do you think COVID-19 has had an impact on online visits for nutrition?
Absolutely! A lot of my clients reported gaining weight during the pandemic and are now connecting for help with losing those extra quarantine pounds.
What tips do you have for those who are struggling to manage their nutrition right now?
When the pandemic hit, many of my clients started ordering takeout on a regular basis. It’s fast and convenient, but unfortunately not very healthy. My number one tip is to cut back on ordering food to no more than once or twice a week. Instead, try preparing more meals at home using fresh or frozen veggies, lean protein (beans, chicken, tofu), and whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, pasta).
Would you say most clients schedule online nutrition visits as needed or on a regular basis?
About one-third of my visits are follow-up clients. Learning to lead a healthier lifestyle takes work that often requires multiple visits over weeks or months. We’re here to support you the whole way through!
How do you approach weight management and meal plans with your clients during an online visit?
I learn what my client has tried in the past to lose weight — what works for them and what doesn’t work. Then we come up with a meal plan together that’s tailored to meet their dietary and lifestyle preferences.
Do eating disorders come up with your clients? If so, how does that initial conversation usually unfold?
Our group has seen more patients with eating disorders since COVID-19 started. I think for some, the isolation caused by the pandemic helped them come to terms with it and reach out for help. If someone has disordered eating it usually comes up while assessing the client’s eating habits and weight history.
Yes! There are Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitians who work with all types of eating disorder clients. The registered dietitian (RD) is usually part of a multi-disciplinary team that includes a medical provider and behavioral therapist, all of whom work together to treat the eating disorder.
What are some additional resources and next steps for someone who is looking for that kind of support?
The National Eating Disorders Association is a great first step to learn about eating disorders and how to get help. You can also go to Find an Expert (eatright.org) to choose a qualified registered dietitian who is right for you.
Do you have any advice for people who are new to online nutrition counseling at Amwell?
It’s just like an in-person visit with a nutritionist, only much more convenient! Simply download the app on your phone or smart device, or connect through the web. Also, make sure your camera is working properly so we can see one another. We have appointments 7 days a week, including evenings.
What is one tip to help people build a healthy relationship with food?
Eating healthfully is a lifestyle approach, not a diet. In my opinion, a healthy relationship with food means eating nutritious foods most days but allowing yourself to have “fun” (or less nutritious foods) some of the time and not feel guilty. All foods can fit in moderation!
Looking for more nutritional support? Talk to a dietitian from home!