Mind And Body Health: Tips From An ISU Dietitian
Lisa Nolting, student wellness dietitian at Iowa State University, is also a wife and mom of two young children. She shares tips for breakfast and how journaling and visualizing give clarity to decision-making.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret, the reason I became a dietitian is because I love food. The nutrition part is pretty cool, but food? Well, food is my first love. Thankfully, being a dietitian allows me to practice both food and nutrition.
Not only is March exciting because it’s the beginning of spring. It’s also National Nutrition Month, a month dedicated to dietitians sharing evidence-based food and nutrition information.
I grew up on a farm in northwest Iowa, where I learned about food and the farm-to-fork connection. I attended Iowa State University (ISU) and completed my dietetic internship at the University of Iowa Hospital. After graduation, my first job was working as a K-12 school nutrition director for a few years, and then I returned to ISU. I have been working as a campus dietitian for almost eight years. Outside of my job at ISU, I operate a virtual nutrition coaching business, wrangle two small children with my husband and spend as much time as possible outside.
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Staying Active, Listening to my Body
As a working mom with two kids, staying active is critical to my overall wellbeing – mental, emotional and physical. Our 5-year-old son never stops moving (or talking), so to keep up with him, I keep my body moving daily. Running has always been a big part of my life, and I also enjoy spin class, lifting weights, yoga, Pilates and bike rides with my family.
Over the years, I’ve learned to slow down and really listen to my body. Some days that means a higher intensity workout to release anxiety and other days it means a walk around the block with the kids or some gentle yoga to stretch sore muscles. I follow the same advice I give my clients: the best type of movement is the type you look forward to doing because you’ll keep coming back to it, over and over.
Fueling the Day with Protein
Everyone in my family wakes up hungry, so for us, having breakfast with fat, protein and carbohydrates gets our day started on the right track and fuels our busy days. I typically make some type of egg recipe in bulk on Sundays so that a nutritious breakfast is quick and convenient on weekday mornings.
I often make Individual Sausage Casseroles, including eggs, cheese and a kick of chili powder, all baked in a muffin pan. They reheat and freeze well for an easy, go-to breakfast. Another favorite is an Egg and Croissant Brunch Bake; in this recipe, cheese, brown sugar ham, caramelized onions and spinach are baked into creamy eggs and topped with a crispy golden croissant topping. To save time, I buy pre-diced ham, which is delicious. Blueberry Sweet Potato Breakfast Meatballs, made with pork, are always a hit in my family. I make them on the weekend and put them in a gallon Ziploc bag. Then I can pull out a few at a time to heat in the microwave for breakfast and serve them fruit or toast.
Using Journaling, Visualization and Affirmations
Most of my days also begin with a cup of coffee and 20 minutes of journaling and visualization. I usually pick a prompt (I keep a list on my phone) and write. Sometimes it’s about the journal prompt; other times, it’s just a brain dump of all the things in my head. I then write five affirmations for the day to help my subconscious mind align with who I want to be. For example: “I am patient” and “I take care of my body.” These simple words help me remember to behave how I want to show up in the world. Lastly, I try to visualize what I want my life – and my family’s life – to look like in a year. This helps to make decisions based on where my family and I are headed, rather than getting stuck in the day-to-day grind that can be overwhelming at times.
Another way that I relax is by taking a daily walk during my lunch break on campus. The movement and fresh air help clear my mind, and the views on ISU’s campus never get old.