- With Mayo Clinic nutritionists
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.read biographyclose window
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.Katherine Zeratsky and Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer K. Nelson, M.S., R.D., L.D., C.N.S.D.
Jennifer Nelson is your link to a better diet. As specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, she plays a vital role in bringing you healthy recipes and meal planning.
"Nutrition is one way people have direct control over the quality of their lives," she says. "I hope to translate the science of nutrition into ways that people can select and prepare great-tasting foods that help maintain health and treat disease."
A St. Paul, Minn., native, she has been with Mayo Clinic since 1978, and is director of clinical dietetics and an associate professor of nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
She leads clinical nutrition efforts for a staff of more than 60 clinical dietitians and nine dietetic technicians and oversees nutrition services, staffing, strategic and financial planning, and quality improvement. Nelson was co-editor of the "Mayo Clinic Diet" and the James Beard Foundation Award-winning "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook." She has been a contributing author to and reviewer of many other Mayo Clinic books, including "Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody," "The Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and "The Mayo Clinic/Williams Sonoma Cookbook." She contributes to the strategic direction of the Food & Nutrition Center, which includes creating recipes and menus, reviewing nutrition content of various articles, and providing expert answers to nutrition questions.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
As a specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, Katherine Zeratsky helps you sort through the facts and figures, the fads and the hype to learn more about nutrition and diet.
A Marinette, Wis., native, she is certified in dietetics by the state of Minnesota and the American Dietetic Association. She has been with Mayo Clinic since 1999.
She's active in nutrition-related curriculum and course development in wellness nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and nutrition related to weight management and practical applications of nutrition-related lifestyle changes.
Other areas of interest include food and nutrition for all life stages, active lifestyles and the culinary arts.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served a dietetic internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and worked as a registered dietitian and health risk counselor at ThedaCare of Appleton, Wis., before joining the Mayo Clinic staff.
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Sept. 5, 2012
What messages are kids getting about nutrition?
By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
At a recent picnic with my extended family, my 8-year-old child and a 12-year-old nephew were discussing the calorie content of a certain food. My mother commented to me that she didn't even know what a calorie was when she was their age let alone be worried about it.
And as a parent, my mother certainly didn't worry about whether I was getting the right number of minutes of physical activity each day.
Times have changed. Obesity and eating disorders are on the rise among children under the age of 12. One might lay the blame on any or a combination of the following: technology, safety, shifts in parents working more or outside the home, or food choices.
Rather than playing the blame game, however, perhaps we need to step back and reflect on our reaction to weight and childhood obesity.
In our well-intended fight against obesity, have we yelled too loudly, sending the wrong messages to children? Put too much emphasis on weight rather than health? Created feelings of anxiety and regret around food and numbers on a scale?
How do you talk to kids about food, health, exercise and weight?
Here are few suggestions:
- Be a role model. Actions speak louder than words. Let your children see you enjoying all food — in reasonable portions and in the context of a nutritious diet.
- Get up and play. Be active inside and outside. Dance, hop, jump, skip. Visit a park. Don't just sit on the bench.
- Be happy in your own skin. Negative talk about your weight puts the focus unnecessarily on appearance rather than health and a positive body image.
- Don't treat food as a reward. Remember food is first and foremost nourishment. This one gets complex as food is ingrained in our culture, making it difficult to separate food from emotions. But try to focus on the occasion (for example, a birthday) and not the food (cake).
- Stay connected. Plan, cook and eat meals together. You can see firsthand how your child chooses foods and portion sizes. Gently guide his or her choices. Watch for red flags of a possible eating disorder, such as eliminating foods or entire food groups, and strange behaviors with food or at meal times.
- Talk about cues. Educate kids about listening to their body's hunger cues rather than eating in response to external cues such as "it looks good" or "I'm watching TV so I need a snack."
As kids grow and mature, their body image and self-esteem evolve. If you have concerns that your child has issues related to weight or food, talk to your health care provider, sooner rather than later.
Any advice to share with a fellow parent? Anything you've done that has worked well for your child? Or anything you'd do differently? Please share.
To our children's health,