We’ve seen the fitness equipment roll through, and now Turbo Tax is available at Costco. I’ll pick up a copy to organize my information, print it out, and then send it along to my accountant. Why not just send it in to the IRS? Because after years filing pretty-straight-forward returns on my own using tax preparation software, I came across a situation that stumped me and had to consult a professional. The end result was that because of his depth of knowledge and ability to look specifically at my situation, he addressed the immediate issue and then found that I was actually due a substantial refund. The software is a great tool, but it’s limited. Guess who has used the services of an accountant since then?
I love the fresh-slate idea that comes with a new year. It’s a time to reflect on what went well in the past, and what changes we hope to make in the future. I recently visited a local book store and was overwhelmed by the number of books on display for January addressing better health. There were stacks of books about mindfulness, diet, and exercise. It occurred to me that if my initial feeling was overwhelmed, what must the lay person feel like walking in just trying to get some direction on where to go to get healthier? I’m also pretty confident that many of the titles I saw this year, will be gone in 2019. Just like fashion, diet trends tend to come and go.
As a nutritionist, it’s a busy time of year as many people aim to make health changes part of their resolutions, often with a “kick start” diet. It really shouldn’t surprise me. Every day I am asked about this diet or that one, what I think about a particular supplement, tips for family members diagnosed with conditions that will require medical nutrition therapy (think diabetes, irritable bowl syndrome, fatty liver disease, to name a few). My answer is often: “It depends . . .”, “Maybe . . .”, “That requires more information for me to answer.” Here’s why: every person is absolutely unique. What I recommend for a student athlete is going to be different than what I recommend for a middle-aged mother with early-stage liver disease. Even within the field of sports nutrition, recommendation for endurance athletes differ from those for strength training sports, and within the season cycle for each athlete. And then there’s the detail of making it all work. How does the parent struggling with weight issues prepare foods for a family that includes a track star and a gymnast with IBS? The books on the tables don’t cover that, nor do most of the “Top 10 Tips for . . . .” that flood the internet. They don’t interpret lab results; they don’t know your home situation, so can’t coordinate multiple needs into one menu; and are hard pressed to make recommendations for specific supplements based on an entire medical picture; and they probably aren’t available to discuss your particular food hang-ups you’ve been carrying around since the ’90s.
This is where having some professional help can be invaluable. There are many tools available to get us started, including some good (and not so good) information available in print and on the web. You can bring your questions and concerns to someone trained to create individualized plans that meet your specific needs and will offer sustainable strategies for lifelong health and good eating. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (find a pro) can help you find a registered dietitian in your area, and with the capabilities of virtual medicine, many dietitians are available via on-line counseling. Sometimes the best “kick start” is going straight to the pros.