Q&A with Registered Dietitian Trisha ChericoAug 03, 2023
Substantial nutrition is vital when recovering from an injury, building muscle or even regulating hormones in the body. In a previous article, I outlined how underfueling can lead to relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S). We cannot overlook the importance our food has on our bodies' recovery but also how it filters into how we digest our food and the impacts it has on our mental health. Additionally, with my clients rehabilitating from pelvic floor related dysfunctions, abdominal pain, bloating, and constipation are common complaints. While as a physical therapist I work with the musculoskeletal and nervous systems to restore this balance, nutrition counseling may be of benefit to these clients. This interview is with Trisha Cherico, RD, LD of Align Nutrition and Wellness who offers nutrition counseling and is a wealth of information regarding these topics listed above. We have had the pleasure of connecting in our community with similar clientele and a shared interest in mindfulness approaches to recovery.
First off, tell us what drew you to nutrition counseling, and what do you enjoy the most about it?
Trisha: I love how nutrition counseling encompasses mind, body, and spirit. As someone who loves to know the "why" behind things, it was a natural progression into nutrition counseling where I spend a lot of time exploring the "why" behind client behaviors. There are many determinants of health unique to each individual, and I love working with clients and exploring that. It can take some time to link how emotions, thoughts, and feelings are related to food choices and physical activity, but it is worth it and can lead to much better health outcomes.
I get a lot of questions about treating constipation with laxatives. What is your opinion on laxatives (like Miralax)? Would you recommend it to adults in chronic cases or are there natural methods to consider first?
Trisha: This is a great question, but also a hard one to answer! First and foremost, I would recommend discussing with your medical provider anytime you are treating a chronic condition, such as constipation. There are many different reasons for constipation and it is important to get to the root cause before treating it. For example, emotions can affect our GI tract. Our bodies are designed to maintain homeostasis, balancing between when there is a threat, "fight or flight," and calmness, "rest and digest." With that said, chronic stress can affect our digestion and how our bodies break down food. So if it is determined that chronic stress is a reason for constipation it could cause more discomfort using laxatives. One may find mindful movement (yoga, meditation, breathing exercises) and easily digestible-low fiber foods (white rice and pasta, eggs, chicken, fish, apple sauce) for a time being; but again, this is all individualized and recommended based on a thorough assessment.
What are some practices that teach people to help wean off of laxatives?
Trisha: Again, I would advise working closely with a medical provider regarding weaning off of any medication, especially laxatives. Once that is established, I would also recommend making slow and gradual adjustments, that include both nutrition and movement.
One of the populations I see altered eating patterns is that of postpartum Moms, especially as they prepare to return to physical activity such as jogging/crossfit. What tips do you have for them if disordered eating has been in their history?
Trisha: For anyone with a history of disordered eating or suspected disordered eating, it is always advisable to talk to a professional who specializes in this area, whether it is a therapist and/or a dietitian. Clients need to have the ability to know themselves better and have a clear understanding of their choices and intentions. I have had clients who were not aware that they were engaging in disordered behaviors until that they progressed to much more severe.
What is the one thing that you want this audience to know that will change their relationship with food?
Trisha: That your relationship with food is far more important than anything else! Food is a big part of our lives, much more than energy and nutrients. It is a form of connection, comfort, and tradition. Without fostering a healthy relationship with food, one may miss out on the many benefits!
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