Nutritional counseling program impacts lives

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When Tyra Smalls was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, she wasn’t sure how it would impact her life. The condition, which causes increased sensitivity to pain, can also be amplified by certain foods, but doing her own research left her confused and frustrated.

After consulting with her primary care provider and sharing her concerns, which included some extra weight, she was told about a program at the Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS) which helps people understand the role food plays in their diagnosis and overall health called “Eat Right. Live Right.”

Smalls set up an appointment with Outpatient Registered Dietitian Heather Barrett, coordinator of the Eat Right. Live Right. program, who helped her understand the role certain foods play in triggering her fibromyalgia and in her overall health picture.

“Many of our referrals come from patients who are dealing with health concerns which are directly related to their diet,” Barrett said. “The program is designed to offer one-on-one counseling which allows me to look at a patient’s individual goals and needs, analyze their current diet and educate them on the best way to move forward.”

According to Barrett, the program is open to people of all ages to help meet their health goals while educating them on the safest ways to accomplish these goals within the context of their overall health picture.

Patients are referred to the program by their primary care providers with diagnosis
including, but not limited to: celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

While many people will do their own research online, the results can be overwhelming, raising more questions than answers.

“Many of our patients will come to us in their first meeting confused and frustrated by everything they’ve read and been told by family and friends,” Barrett explained.

“As a dietitian, I am able to answer those questions, analyze the patient’s individual diagnosis and goals and start them on a plan,” Barrett added.

In the first meeting with Smalls, Barrett began by explaining why certain foods needed to be eliminated or limited.

“Fibromyalgia can be amplified by everything from processed foods to those that are high in sugar and carbohydrates, as well as unhealthy fats and alcohol,” she explained.

For Smalls, the program offered much more than just education.

“I needed help gaining control over my health,” she said. “I was greeted with a prompt and timely phone call by an outpatient dietitian. She was very knowledgeable, professional and pleasant to talk to.”

“To my surprise, in just one session, I learned so much and felt confident in the tools I was given to begin a healthier lifestyle right away,” Smalls continued. “I would highly recommend the Eat Right. Live Right. program to anyone who needs guidance on making smart and realistic choices regarding their health.”

Barrett works with each patient to create a plan that is built for long term success, while keeping their individual health concerns in mind.

“As a registered dietitian, I know the importance of building a plan that will be successful and sustainable,” she said. “Many people will start diets that involve completely cutting out a food group. While these programs may show good results initially, they typically fail as soon as those foods are reintroduced into the diet.”

Smalls said she feels that the program has set her up for a lifetime of success.

“Heather suggested healthy alternatives for the foods I already enjoy and love so that I never have to feel restricted,” she said. “In addition, I learned what foods trigger inflammation and noticed a reduction in my Fibromyalgia pain within the first few weeks. And the best part is, I lost 6 pounds in my first two weeks and never felt more satisfied.”

Anyone interested in the program, should talk with their primary care physician and get a referral. For more information about the program, call 315-624-5207 or visit mvhealthsystem.org/eat-right-live-right.

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