I am sure that said it before that one of the reasons I created this website is to have the opportunity to meet, write about and introduce people I admire.
I admire them for what they do, what they might have achieved and people that are inspirational to me relating to a good and better life.
Today I would like to speak about someone I have known for a while but never got the chance to sit and discuss further with, even though I have always wanted to, due to her admirable and successful work as a dietician.
I can say with confidence that she is the perfect example and a reflection of her job, as she has an amazing and energetic personality combined with an incredible body that got me to notice her in the first place and wanted to know more.
Her clients speak very highly of her and so it was time for her to have a TDAY sitdown with me to find out more!!!
So, meet an inspiring clinical dietician and many more Alexia Potamitou….
Alexia studied Food and Nutrition with a specialisation in Dietetics, in the United States of America. She earned her Master's degree in clinical dietetics and had worked in several hospitals in the area of Illinois, Missouri and Arizona. She specialised in gastrointestinal diseases and only just recently earned her specialisation in childhood obesity as well. Impressive? Told you…. There is more…
She is an active member of the American Dietetic Association as well as the Cypriot Dietetic Association and has presented several nutritional topics in Cyprus and abroad. One of her main interests are in 'diet and cancer' and 'emotional eating’ really popular topics, unfortunately, over the past years.
She is passionate about exercise, the good life and cooking… LIKE ME!!!!
And last but not least she is the author of the book 'now we can eat without guilt!' The book in available in bookstores since November 2012.
So after telling me all about her notable career I wanted to know more… and I am sure many of you might have the same queries.
What is the best type of food (nutrients) to consume before we exercise (eg. carbs, protein, fluids etc)
AP: It depends on the type of exercise really! Let’s say you are going running; you need to consume some amount of complex carbs so that you stay energized throughout your exercise. Also some amount of amino acids for the muscles to stay focused and a balance between potassium and sodium! Of course staying hydrated is also important to work ahead! To cut a long story short I would eat some yogurt with dried fruits and nuts or a serving of fruit with peanut butter or almond butter or even a smoothie with kiwi, banana, almond butter and honey!
Post Workout (or not) Green Smoothie.... Excellent choice:
There are many theories about meat and animal protein combined with exercise. I know that you are a vegetarian, how do you justify the nutritional values?
AP: Yes I have been in and out of vegetarianism for the last 6 years. I do follow a strictly vegan diet and then at times I do add some dairy and fish if I feel the need!
I have been a vegan for 3 years now. I have always believed that our body has the ability to tell us exactly its needs! We just need to be open and listen! I think that it is really easy to take all the protein, B-complex vitamins, iron, calcium and magnesium you need when you make the right combination of food in your meals. My meals and snacks are all about combining incomplete protein so that I do end up with all the essential amino acids and nutrients that I need. For example I eat lots of pulses for protein (lentils, beans, chickpeas, broad beans etc) and I tend to add some carbohydrate with it. Lentils with rice is my favourite example of a good meal! That easy! Lentils and rice will give you all the amount of protein that you need and then you add some perfection as I call it ie: salad, avocado, condiments etc.
Is Meat bad for us?
AP: No! I think that meat became bad because we overproduce it and then over-eat it! So we need to get meat into the market quickly. Unfortunately the way our animals are being raised has changed and we have increased dramatically over the years the amount of meat that we consume.
If we start treating animals with respect and we raise them properly and if we include meat in our diet in a moderate way then all comes in balance! We have intruded the food chain and that has its consequences. You see there is scientific proof that increased consumption of red meat can lead to hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol, high triglycerides) and several types of cancer like colon cancer.
If we try to eat white meat but from a good source!!! Organic chicken or turkey is a good option of meat.
What do you think about milk?
AP: Hmmm! Thank you for this question! In our westernized culture, generation after generation was being brought up with animal based milk! All of a sudden the same kind of milk is just not good for us…I understand the confusion!
A book based a single study together with the trend of vegetarianism has changed our beliefs about milk! So let’s put the puzzle back in place! When we choose milk as an adult we are looking for a good source of complete protein, calcium, magnesium, iron and other smallbut important elements. Well you can’t get those in plant based milk!
Soy milk is my best option if you are lactose intolerant or a lactose malabsorper! Also good alternatives are almond milk, rice milk, quinoa milk or the number oneselling milk after cow’s milk in Europe which is coconut milk although those will not provide you with the goodness of milk.Now let’s do talk about the dark side of cow’s milk! Is it ok to pasteurize and re-pasteurize and re-pasteurize the same milk 5 times? Probably not! Are you confused? Yes! This is the beauty of critical thinking on nutritional matters! Decide on what is that you are looking for in your milk and go from there. Maybe a good source of goat’s milk is a good option or a good source of soy, almond, rice or coconut milk is your option!
Lately we’ve been hearing that ‘good’ fats are actually good for us and essential, for example butter olive oil etc. What is a good Fat and what is a Bad Fat?
AP:So you might assume that fat is to blame for the obesity pandemic. Actually, fat is only part of the problem. Obesity is much more complicated than just over-eating a single nutrient. Eating more calories from fats, carbohydrates, protein, and alcohol than you burn off leads to weight gain. People who get little physical activity and eat a diet high in calories are going to gain weight as simple as that!! Of course genetics, age, Sex, and lifestyle also weigh into the weight-gain formula. Dietary fat plays a significant role in obesity. Fat is calorie-dense. It's easy to overeat fats because they lurk in so many foods we love to hate: French fries, processed foods, cakes, cookies, chocolates, ice cream, thick steaks, and cheese.
Basically, there are two groups of fats: saturated and unsaturated. Within each group are several more types of fats. Let's start with the good guys, the unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats include polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fats. Both mono and polyunsaturated fats, when eaten in moderation and used to replace saturated or trans fats, can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk ofheart disease. Polyunsaturated fats, found mostly in vegetable oils, help lower bothbloodcholesterol levels and triglyceride levels especially when you substitute them for saturated fats. One type of polyunsaturated fat is omega-3 fatty acids, whose potential heart-health benefits have gotten a lot of attention.
Omega-3s are found in fatty fish (salmon, trout, catfish, mackerel), as well asflaxseed and walnuts. And fish contains the most effective, "long-chain" type of omega-3s. Plant sources are a good substitute for saturated or Trans fats, but they are not as effective as fatty fish in decreasing cardiovascular disease. Do keep in mind that your twice-weekly fish should not be deep-fat fried! It is best to get your omega-3s from food, not supplements. Except for people with established heart disease, there is no data to suggest omega-3 supplements will decrease heart disease risk.The other "good guy" unsaturated fats are monounsaturated fats, thought to reduce the risk of heart disease. Mediterranean countries like our country, Cyprus, consume lots of these primarily in the form of olive oil -- and this dietary component is credited with the low levels of heart disease in those countries.These heart-healthy fats are typically a good source of the antioxidant Vitamin E, a nutrient often lacking in American diets. They can be found in olives; avocados; hazelnuts; almonds; Brazil nuts; cashews; sesame seeds; pumpkin seeds; and olive, canola, and peanut oils.
What are the most common mistakes we make in order to lose weight.
AP: It is critical to assess our diet first and then decide on small but effective changes that we can make. A 5-10 day food diary will give us a good idea of all the changes that we need to make. Do we have regular meal hours? Do we tendto skip meals? Do we skip breakfast? Which is our stronger meal? Do we eat lots of food? Do we eat lots of sweets? Are we emotional eaters? All these questions are good to be answered before we start out weight loss journey. And then please set realistic goals as to how much weight loss is needed and in how much time. Do incorporate some workout and stay focused! Regarding the daily proportions
AP: I am writing a book on this matter!! I am very interested as to why we are dealing with increasing numbers of childhood obesity. I am very frustrated as do why we are following this westernized way of living without facing the impact. Please do take the time to make cook at home and sit with your child and eat at least one meal. Do talk about the goodness of our land and our produce. Do go swimming or joking or cycling.
Have a Happy TDAY!!!