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Chat with an Inspiring RD: Hope Warshaw

As part of my National Nutrition Month “Chat with an Inspiring RD” series, I sat down with Hope Warshaw, MMSc, RD, CDE at a local coffee shop in Alexandria, VA.

Hope is a registered dietitian and prolific author based in metro D.C.

Based in metropolitan DC, Hope has been a dietitian for more than 30 years and has owned her own business, Hope Warshaw Associates, LLC, for 20 of those years. She is an expert on diabetes and passionate about healthy restaurant eating, and she has authored nine books. To me, this is a pretty impressive resume and I was curious to meet this inspiring RD.

Since Hope has written four books on dining out healthfully (including Eat Out, Eat Right: The Guide to Healthier Eating Out and Guide to Healthy Fast Food Eating), I thought it’d be fun to pick Hope’s brain for her favorite healthy restaurant tips, her view on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and, of course, how she gets her food “fix”.

RK: You write a lot about healthy restaurant eating. What are your top three tips for eating restaurant foods, especially for the “corporate road warrior” or for people who travel a lot?

HW: Number 1, think about the analogy of not bringing unhealthy foods into the house. It’s the same thing when you’re eating out. If you order less, you’ll have less food in front of you. And, you’ll likely eat less.

Number 2, it’s important to be aware of, and minimize, fats. It’s the butter and gravies, sauces and cheeses. Controlling salad dressing is a big one; always order it on the side. Use 2% or fat-free milk in your coffee instead of whole or half and half.

Apply the notion that every little way you can shave off calories helps. It’s not the one big thing, but it’s the five small steps you can take that will add up to a big impact. So, if you’re eating less and controlling fat, you’ll be negative in the calories column.

Third, is the high sodium count of restaurant foods. They’re sodium count can be astounding. You can eat your daily allotment of 1500 mg of sodium in one restaurant meal!

RK: What’s your food weakness and how do you get your “fix”?

HW: I like sweets as much as the next person, but I don’t waste calories because I can’t afford to. If I’m going to have some ice cream, it’s going to be Haagen Dazs or Ben and Jerry’s and a favorite flavor, but the serving will be one half cup. I was chuckling the other day… thinking that my daughter is going to grow up and think that half a cup of ice cream is everyone’s serving size of ice cream. She’s going to serve someone half a cup and they’re going to say, “Gee, thanks for the tasting.”

RK: With regard to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, do you think anything is missing or were you surprised by any of the guidelines?

HW: I was following the development of the guidelines very closely. I listened in to several of the meetings and I went to the hearings after the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Report came out. It was interesting to see the interactions and dynamics. I was disappointed in the January 31st press conference. There was little substance to something that should have been substantive.

Sometimes I get angry that the importance of nutrition is, almost, laughed at, particularly the concern about childhood obesity. I don’t think parents understand how important the issue of feeding children healthfully really is. Excess pounds on children isn’t just innocent blubber. I want to say to parents, “Let me paint a picture for you and tell you what’s going on in a child’s body who is packing on pounds in their youth. You are setting them up for a life of weight challenges and weight-related diseases.” Parents need to take the job of teaching children to eat healthfully and feeding children healthfully very seriously. I fear that many parents have abdicated this important responsibility.

We’d love to hear from you. How do you get YOUR healthy restaurant “fix”?

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