Congratulations to Janice Baker, selected as this month's Health Hero! As a professional dietician, Janice has made a successful career of helping people point their lives in the right direction through healthier eating decisions.
We are excited to share our new Health Hero Spotlight featuring Brooke Benlifer! It was such a pleasure getting to know her and discussing our common passions for running as well as food and wellness. Brooke is a registered dietician, freelance writer, local and long distance nutrition coach, and nutrition expert in media. She has written for Men’s Fitness, Mandy Ingber, (Jennifer Aniston’s trainer), and Dr. Andrew Weil. Brooke has also appeared on Fox and CBS news.
How/Why did you first become interested in nutrition?
In ninth grade honors biology class, I completed a yearlong project on changing nutrition theories. I was always interested in medicine, anatomy & physiology and that year became more educated about fitness. I was running cross country and track and realized that health is a combination of fitness, nutrition and lifestyle. Total wellness is the focus of my practice.
What is your overall nutrition philosophy?
Celebrate food! I love food and I believe it should taste good. I enjoy creating meals from simple, whole foods such as fruits, veggies, grains, proteins, nuts, seeds and oils. I advise people to let food be their medicine, at least to some extent, rather than overusing an endless array of supplements.
What are some of your specialty areas?
Emotional Eating, Glycemic Control, Endocrine Disorders, Cardiac Health, On- the-Go Nutrition, Anti-Inflammatory Diet, Sports Nutrition, Corporate Wellness & Flat Abs Foods are some areas of expertise. I do one-on-one personalized grocery shopping, and am a personal chef for some of my clients. I love to help people prepare quick, easy meals and am currently working on a cookbook.
What is your advice for newly diagnosed Diabetics?
I would say to relax as much as possible, as stress can exacerbate blood sugar issues. In general, the more whole foods with a naturally low glycemic load that one eats, the more blood sugar levels will be controlled. Don’t be afraid of fats such as coconut, olive, canola and flax oils, avocado, nuts and seeds, and fatty fish. Incorporating good fats (and whole grains) into your diet can be liberating and an asset!
What is the most common myth about diabetes you hear from patients?
The most common myth about diabetes I hear would have to be that consuming sugar makes a person diabetic. “Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetic and unknown factors that trigger the onset of the disease. Type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle and factors. Being overweight does increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and a diet high in calories whether from sugar or from fat, can contribute to weight gain. If you have a history of diabetes in your family, eating a healthy meal plan and regular exercise are recommended to manage your weight.” (American Diabetes Association)
What is the most common myth about nutrition that you hear?
The most common myth about nutrition I hear is that if you eat after a certain time in the evening, the calories will be stored as fat. In reality, the body can’t tell time in the sense of its utilization of food for energy. If you eat at night, your body will be able to tap into unused energy the next day to fuel activity and metabolic processes. The issue with eating late at night is more about the choices people make--tending to consume less healthy meals in the late evening. If you’re hungry, the best choice is to opt for a healthy snack versus empty calories.
How did you learn about Extend Snacks and how are you currently recommending them?
I heard about Extend Snacks when I was studying resistant starches. I am constantly studying, reading, and doing research. I love learning about new food items on the shelves and write many product reviews. Many of my clients tell me that they always feel hungry and Extend products can often be recommend for these people. The shakes are really filling and can be added to oatmeal or a smoothie.
What is the most popular snack flavor/format your patients like? What’s your favorite for yourself?
Some people love crispy things, others enjoy shakes; still others prefer bars. My favorite Extend Snacks are the vanilla and chocolate ExtendShakes. I recommend the shakes in terms of satiety. The more water and air in a given food or meal, the more filling it tends to be. Smoothies incorporate air and water content needed to help people feel full. A bar may be a better choice for people on-the-go. Bars can even be stashed in the glove compartment. I recommend always having a snack with you if you're out and about for several hours, so you’re not caught empty handed and feeling ravenous. At that point, almost ANY food looks appealing!
Tell us a little bit about your freelance writing?
I have done freelance writing for Men’s Fitness and Dr. Andrew Weil, MD's website, www.drweil.com. I write product reviews for food companies and fitness DVDs, including Gorgeous Core, by Suzanne Bowen, and Yogalosophy, by Mandy Ingber (Jennifer Anniston’s Trainer). I serve on the SENSA Advisory Panel and do segments for Fox 5 News in San Diego. I also collaborate with Metromint water.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?
I absolutely love seeing people feel better as a result of dietary changes. I especially enjoy when I see people utilize the information I have given them and it contributes to their overall good health. Working in media (TV, print, fit modeling) and being hands on (vs a desk job) allows me to be very creative and utilize my knowledge to positively impact others.
To learn more about Brooke Benlifer go to the links below:
Do you know of a colleague who deserves to be in our professional spotlight or do you have an inspirational story you would like to share with us? Email Alexandra at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about how to be featured as our next Health Hero!