Ask The Expert: Corey Walsh, RD and Nutritionist
Where do you work and what is your job title?
I am a registered Dietitian and licensed nutritionist.
What sparked your interest in the field of nutrition?
About a year after Katrina, I left the medical and psychiatric institutions to create Real Life Nutrition Counseling,LLC. We work with individuals particularly in the areas of eating disorders and disordered eating. This can be a wide umbrella as most people are on diets, losing and gaining weight repetitively, and body dissatisfaction is so widespread. Others come in to enhance their fitness, stamina, and endurance with their athletics. In addition, clients come in for general health and wellness learning to create new sustainable habits. Some come in to improve lipid profiles, or to manage diabetes... Regardless if an individual with an eating disorder, an athlete looking for solid sports nutrition, a parent with concerns over their child’s eating and health, we set out to implement realistic changes that become part of a lifestyle. Gut health is something that seems to come up in most appointments regardless of the particular reason that individual has come in for support.
Where did you attend school and what are your certifications and degrees?
Having grown up in New Orleans, and loving the music culture and heritage, I started my education in radio production at Emerson College In Boston. However, it became clear to me that that was not the right path. Upon transferring to the University of New Hampshire, where I received a BS in human and animal sciences, I stumbled upon a nutrition class that I thoroughly enjoyed. When I found that I enjoyed doing the homework, I decided that must be the place! I went on to do my dietetic internship at the University of Connecticut at Storrs.
What is your personal athletic background?
As a child, I lived in New Hampshire and I enjoyed hiking and ice-skating on frozen lakes. I enjoyed playing tennis through my teens. I thoroughly enjoyed step aerobics in college (lol). I’ve always enjoyed walking, especially with friends. And rollerblading is so much fun whether alone, listening to music, or with a friend. I find I laugh the whole time... I’ve been practicing yoga for the last 23 years. About seven years ago, I attended Soul School, a Yoga teacher training program through Wild Lotus Yoga here in New Orleans. Over the pandemic, I brought pilates into my activity regime. I’m very much enjoying that. Certainly the stretching aspects of yoga and Pilates are a great balance to the cardio side of things, especially running! I find it helpful to have many options of activity in order to not burn out and to minimize risk of injury. It’s important to meet ourselves where we are. If one day we need a run in the park, another day, a mellow yoga class might be just what the doctor ordered. Our bodies want to move. Our bodies do not like all the sitting we’re doing. Ideally we would be active most days of the week. I find It is important to have a variety of options that one relatively enjoys to keep an active lifestyle. As we all know, movement benefits us physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s important to the aging process to help minimize medical issues as we move through life. It’s also a great stress reliever. Whether getting frustrations out through a good run or calming and centering lying on a yoga mat. It is heart and brain healthy. Activity supports stable blood sugars and can help moderate blood pressure. It supports our metabolism, which is very helpful as we age. With each decade, our metabolism goes down a bit, particularly after 40. Keeping up strength, balance, and agility as we get older is crucial as we’re at higher risk for falls. Falls leading to broken bones are one of the major Medical issues that bring older people into the hospital and can often lead to more serious medical complications. Staying balanced, and agile can inhibit these things greatly. Let’s face it, we feel better when we move. It’s nice to walk through life, feeling strong, balanced and capable.
What type of clients do you normally treat?
Many of my clients have an actual eating disorder, while others may fall short of a technical diagnosis. Regardless of that technicality, most individuals present on some sort of a diet or another. And they have been for most of their lives. They are at a point where they are ready to break free from struggling around food, weight or body image issues. Regardless of what brings an individual into the office, I am here to help people get back to their intuitive natural habits related to self-care. We focus on the basics of nutrition, balanced meals, portion control, reasons we need carbs, protein, and fat, blood sugars... We talk about sleep, fluids, getting fresh air and sunshine, spending time with friends, doing things that are fulfilling. Many of my clients are exploring the emotional and mental sides of self-care in more depth in therapy. As I sometimes describe it, we lay down the foundation, or the black and white facts related to food, eating, and the bodies needs. -Consistent sufficient fueling throughout the day tailored to that person’s needs and preferences. Balanced meals and snacks, fluids... Once we’ve covered the “ black and white”, it allows us to have the ability to look at ways in which emotions or mental may be impacting eating. On the other hand, how and what we are eating may be impacting emotions and mental health! Another crucial piece that I hash out with clients is the diet mentality. It’s hard to live in this world and not have some diet thinking. There are a lot of distortions and non-truths out there. Dieting is contributing to making our country larger and is a strong contributor to eating disorders. With that said, one of my main responsibilities with clients is to help them not go down a diet path. Another one of my main responsibilities to my clients is to meet them where they are. This may at times also be one of the challenges. While everybody eats in public, and we walk around with each other in our daily living, I find most peoples relationship with food and body is a very intimate, deep place. And often there are a lot of painful feelings involving shame, guilt, and remorse. Part of our work together is helping them let go of those, and bring in loving kindness, comfort, and TLC. I work with all sorts of individuals. Parents of youngsters, middle school, high school, college through adulthood, all genders and gender identities. Some individuals come to me for overall health and wellness, wanting to get healthier as they age. Many people that I see have been struggling with food and body image for most of their lives in some form or fashion. I see athletes from the local high schools and colleges . It can become a fine line doing what’s needed to perform your best versus it tipping into an unhealthy focus. It’s very important to be aware of the impact in sports like running, and the impact on body, fat and menstrual cycle. It’s not uncommon for some individuals to lose their menstrual cycle related to excessive activity and insufficient caloric/nutrient intake.
Do you do any work with coaches, schools and gyms?
I work with coaches, schools and gyms. If I have a client who is active on their team, I will speak to the coaches. I will talk with trainers at times. I do provide nutrition groups for schools and teams.... The most important nutrition daily practices an athlete can add. That is a big question?!?. I am going to go with sufficient balanced meals spread consistently throughout the day. Eating a wide variety of nutrients and food groups, including whole grains, and other complex carbohydrates. Fine-tuning the amounts of what that individual needs to meet their needs based on their activity level. Staying well hydrated. really —the basics. And to remember to get sufficient complex carbohydrates. Many tend to leave those out for various reasons. But, in reality these are recommendations i am going to make to anyone! For an athlete, they will be tailored differently... I think it’s wonderful if a person comes to a Dietitian in a proactive manner because they want to get healthier and make adjustments in their self-care habits. Yet if somebody is finding that their eating habits are impacting their mental, emotional, or physical health, then at that point, it’s crucial to get to the medical doctor, the dietitian, and likely a therapist. At any point if the physical wellness is being compromised and they are unable to change that on their own, it is wise to get support. If somebody is very caught in their eating disorder, meaning for example, they are at a low weight or they are binging and purging frequently, then I am generally recommending they meet with me on a weekly basis. Depending on how challenging it is for them, sometimes we meet twice a week. It is very individual. Most people I see on a weekly basis.
Are there some simple items you recommend runners keep on hand in order to stay fueled and hydrated?
I think it’s important to keep whole grain crackers, bananas, nuts, nut butters, good quality milk, and Greek yogurt. A whole-grain, nut and dried fruit mix can be handy on the run. Certainly keeping sufficient fluids on board. If the person is going to be sweating excessively in this heat, they may want to replenish with a Gatorade or some other electrolyte supplement.
Should teenagers take a vitamin supplement to keep their energy level up?
I recommend at any age that an individual takes a multivitamin supplement. I think it’s a good insurance formula as most people have some holes in their diet. I think a B complex is a good idea as well as vitamin C, and potentially fish oils. Although, I also recommend checking with your MD to make sure there aren’t any contraindications.
What proportion of meals is best for a teenager? 3 meals over a day’s time or multiple meals?
Meal structure throughout the day is individual for all ages. I generally recommend that we eat within an hour of waking up and meals are every 4 to 5 hours. Which puts us with potentially one or two snacks a day that are three or four hours after the last meal. Some people benefit from small, frequent meals, but not everybody. Of course if somebody is about to go for a run, I would want to check in on the volume and make sure that the snack is not too high fat, which could slow them down and make them feel sluggish. It’s always a great idea to have a reliable snack that you trust won’t give you any G.I. distress on a run...
Can you explain the differences between a dietician and a nutritionist?
A Registered Dietitian is licensed with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which is the governing board for dietitians in the United States. As a professional in the state of Louisiana, I am also a licensed Dietitian.
What would you consider the most important point to remember about nutrition?
The most important point to remember in Nutrition?! How can I pick one most important point?! There are so many. I would recommend a wide variety of food groups, brightly colored vegetables and fruits, heart healthy fats, wholesome complex carbohydrates, sufficient dairy, plenty of water. Balanced meals throughout the day. Listening to the body, honoring hunger and fullness...
How much water should an individual consume per day? And during exercise?
We need a decent 8 to 10 cups of water a day. And in this heat of New Orleans, especially if we’re out getting activity we need more than that. On a daily basis, a good rule of thumb is that if your urine is light yellow or hay colored, you’re probably getting plenty of fluid. On the other hand, if your urine is dark and minimal, it’s suggesting you need more fluids. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how much anybody needs per particular work out, considering the timing of the work out and the heat factor. If somebody is, for example, long distance running, they may want to be replenishing a cup of water every 15 minutes or so. It’s crucial to remember to replace fluids at the end of a run. And maybe those fluids have some electrolytes in them. We might enjoy watery food such as grapes or watermelon or soups or an electrolyte supplement.
For more personal nutrition counseling or questions, contact Corey:
Corey C Walsh, RDN, LDN Real Life Nutrition Counseling, LLC coreywalsh.com