Get Wise! Wisdom Teeth Extraction

I recently had all four of my wisdom teeth extracted. It was not a fun experience. However, I am here to help my lovely blog-followers who happen to have them out next. These are just my personal words of wisdom. Of course with this and other things pertaining to medical advice, consult your physician, or in this case, your oral surgeon.

Gosh-where to start. Besides being uncomfortable for longer than normal (apparently you are NOT supposed to be uncomfortable for three weeks), my biggest issues are listed below and what I would suggest if you need to have your wisdom teeth removed:

1. Get enough protein
Protein is important in wound healing and it was so difficult for me to get enough after I had my teeth extracted. I didn’t want to eat anything in the first place, so eating a typical source of protein seemed out of the question. I would suggest Clinical Strength Ensure. I don’t know what I would have done with out this stuff. It has 13 grams of protein per bottle, 350 much needed calories (especially when you have no appetite) and contains Revigor- the amino acid metabolite HMB- which slows the breakdown of muscle and increases protein synthesis. I actually started drinking the Muscle Health Ensure first, but they both have the Revigor in them, so they both worked for me in the same regard. Keep in mind that Ensure also has a high protein shake option, but it doesn’t contain the Revigor. I would highly suggest getting one that contains Revigor.

2. Follow post-op directions to the T.
Around the end of the first week, there were so many people I talked to who thought it was crazy that I still was not using straws, or chewing regular, crunchy foods yet. The oral surgeon gave me a list of things that I was told to-do and what not to-do and I followed them religiously. I followed them religiously and still ended up having issues down the road…can you imagine if I had not followed those directions? I’m sure I would have surely regretted it. You are told not to use a straw, consume a soft food diet, rinse with 3 parts water and 1 part Listerine. These really are quite simple to do. Just do it-trust me; it’s worth it.

3. Consume something substantial if you’re taking narcotics.
I wasn’t thinking properly and didn’t eat anything but one pudding cup in 24 hours. Needless to say, since I was taking the prescribed narcotics (Vicoden), I needed something in my stomach at the same time. Eventually I got nauseous and ended up vomiting. Luckily, it only happened one day and I quickly learned from it. Eat something (even as small as a pudding cup) before you take your narcotics—each time. The 3 Vicoden that I took over 24 hours required more than only one pudding cup.

4. Take ibuprofen regularly and the antibiotics as prescribed.
Many people do not know the difference between ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and Acetaminophen (Tylenol). Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory. It actually decreases inflammation present in the body. Acetaminophen only blocks the pain receptors, tricking the brain into thinking that the pain is gone. In other words-Acetaminophen, in my book, is a big fat cheater while Ibuprofen is out there doing all the Mother Theresa healing that it can.
You will be told to take Ibuprofen on a regular basis (usually 400mg every 6-8 hours) and to take your prescribed antibiotics regularly. Do both of these like your life depends on it. Honestly, I took the ibuprofen for the first 2 weeks even if I didn’t feel any pain. Why? Because like I said above, it soothes inflammation and HELLO-you just had teeth ripped out of your mouth. You’re going to be inflamed for at least 2 weeks while those holes heal. The antibiotics need to be taken until they are completely gone-no matter what. The last thing you want is an infection in your mouth. Yuck and ouch.

5. If you are still in pain of any sort two full weeks after surgery, call your oral surgeon and get into see him. You should not be in pain. Don’t worry, just get in and have your surgeon look around to see what is going on. I went in 3 times over the first 3 weeks and got everything straightened out and my questions answered. I do hope you find an oral surgeon as awesome as mine!

Questions? Please feel free to comment or share your own experiences with us!

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A celebration of crawfish

Since I drove over the Atchafalaya Basin last week and went to the Louisiana Crawfish Festival the same weekend, I thought I’d tell you about crawfish today and my first-time crawfish experience.

Crawfish are crustaceans that are also known as crayfish, crawdads, mudbugs or yabbies and live in fresh water. They resemble lobsters, but are considerably smaller. There are approximately 60-100 million pounds of crawfish harvested annually in Louisiana in the Alchafalaya Basin.

Often prepared for soups, bisques and étouffées only the tail of the crawfish is served. You can also enjoy them boiled. There are even social events called ‘crawfish boils’ where people gather together to enjoy good food, fellowship and possibly music. At crawfish boils, the entire body of the crawfish is served. Though the entire body of the crawfish is served, not all of it is eaten.

I learned the proper way to eat boiled crawfish last weekend. According to the grandfather-like-man who stood across from me at our crawfish table, it is proper to pinch and pull off the tail, pluck off the shell, remove the mud vein and eat the flesh. It is also entirely customary to suck the head that you just removed from the tail! I was extremely hesitant about this until the man and his grandson across from me insisted that I do this…there was no way out. Needless to say, I survived and it was pretty tasty! (Each time, however, was just as creepy as the first). Since the crawfish are boiled in a seasoning mixture, when sucking the head of the crawfish, you are able to taste the spicy seasoning.

Though this is something anyone should experience while they are in Louisiana, it may not be something I regularly recommend. Crawfish (and other seafood) boils and the seasonings they contain may be very, very high in sodium. This is an event that should definitely be done in moderation and if you have control over the seasoning used, find a sodium-free or low sodium mix. Please be especially mindful if you have blood pressure, heart, or fluid issues.

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A Nutrition-Packed Week!

Wow. This week has been action-packed full of nutrition information! I attended the Louisiana Dietetic Association (LDA) Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo Sunday through Tuesday and then Thursday through Saturday is full of Registered Dietitian Exam Study Course workshop. Lots and lots (and lots and lots) of nutrition information. The LDA conference was good. I attended a wine and cheese reception in the evening and had my picture taken with Deuce McAllister (former New Orleans Saints running back). I asked my dietetic director to be in the picture with me. It will be a nice accent to my dietetic office in the future! On Monday I attended workshops on non-nutritive sweeteners (ie Splenda, Truvia, NutraSweet, etc), “out of the box” careers in dietetics, Nutrition Care Process, the power of protein, kidney and mineral health, Spanish in the dietetic field, information on licensing, registration, etc.

Overall, it was a pretty good conference. It was my first official conference in the field of dietetics. I got an awesome bag to carry all my awesome info and goodies from the exhibits. The speakers for the most part were good, however, they all seemed to be sponsored by some big name research company who most likely were biased one way or the other. Also, the ‘vegetarian lunch’ was very unsatisfying. The best thing that happened to me during the 3 days at the conference, however, was that I won one of the door prizes! I will be helping myself to some Target-shopping soon enough.

I got home Tuesday night and thought to myself that I could not handle one more piece of nutrition information for at least a week…then I reminded myself that Thursday through Saturday were going to be filled with more nutrition information than I could ever believe possible. Needless to say, I survived. The last 2 days have been filled with Food Service and Management, Food Science, Basic Nutrition and Medical Nutrition Therapy. Tomorrow will consist of Community Nutrition Services, Education and Research and Test Preparation Guidelines. YIKES. I have a lot of studying to do before July!

For those future dietitians out there, I highly suggest taking an RD study course. There are methods of taking the exam that you are given, a binder full of lab values, risk factors, calculations, rationale and so much more that will be priceless when it comes to studying for the RD exam. I know there are several study package options out there and they are not cheap, but you have to think about how you learn the best. It may be very helpful. I have heard from a few people that it just doesn’t seem worth it because it costs so much. Overall, you just have to decide where your priorities lie.

I hope you will check back soon for some delicious information on crawfish….I know I would! 🙂

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10 Simple Ways To Increase Your Fiber Intake

I love fiber. Probably more than any normal person should. In order for more people to love fiber as I do, I would like to share some facts about fiber and how you can increase your fiber intake easily and comfortably.

Fiber is an intact and basic plant material that is not digestible by the human gastrointestinal (GI) tract enzymes. Not all fiber is the same; it may be soluble or insoluble. Soluble fiber partially dissolves in water, making you feel fuller longer, which in turn has the potential of assisting in weight loss. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, so it speeds up the passage of material through the digestive tract.  Besides these mechanical properties, dietary fiber has the potential to do so much more. Studies have shown that it decreases the risk of tumor formation, and decreases total cholesterol1.

Now, you’re probably wondering: “Where do I start?” Keep in mind that suddenly adding a substantial amount of fiber to your diet right off the bat may not be the best approach. It is suggested that you gradually increase your desired fiber intake over the span of one month. Your digestive system will need time to adjust. Some side effects of adding more fiber to your diet may include constipation, cramps or abdominal bloating, increased gas, intestinal rumbling and possible diarrhea. Being patient and giving your body the time it needs to adjust will minimize discomfort of the side effects. Some of these GI disturbances may result even if you do initiate a gradual introduction of fiber to your daily routine, but can be expected to subside within a week’s time. However, with a high fiber diet, regular gas is normal as well. Another important thing to remember is to get enough water. Generally, people should aim at drinking about 2 liters of water each day. Water is needed to facilitate the effectiveness of fiber intake and decrease constipation.

Some easy ways to increase your fiber intake on a daily basis:

  1. Start your day with a bowl of high-fiber cereal (aim for 5g or more per serving). Bran or shredded wheat cereals are great choices.
  2. Adding fruits or berries to your morning cereal is a quick way of adding more fiber.
  3. Snack on raw vegetables throughout the day such as broccoli or cucumbers.
  4. Consider trading in traditional pasta for whole wheat pasta. Whole wheat pasta comes in every shape from spaghetti to bow tie!
  5. If you typically cook with white rice, consider trying brown rice.
  6. Meat and potatoes? Be sure to keep the skins on the potato for more fiber.
  7. Need to satisfy that sweet tooth? Try munching on a whole apple-the peel is where the fiber is.
  8. If you enjoy baking or even occasionally make pancakes, consider mixing wheat flour in with your typical white flour. Substituting the flour completely may change the taste of the food more than your prefer, but even substituting a small amount will add some needed fiber.
  9. Have a salt craving? Popcorn is a great alternative to reaching for chips or pretzels and adds a substantial amount of fiber and fullness to your diet.
  10. Adding fruits to your night-time snack is a fiber friendly alternative.

It is recommended that adults consume anywhere from 25-38g of dietary fiber each day. The amount that you consume does partly depend on your daily calorie intake. The more calories you are taking in, the more fiber is required. Additional good sources of soluble fiber include oatmeal, legumes and beans, lentils and a number of fruits. As for insoluble fiber, aim to include whole wheat grains, brown rice, wheat bran and a number of vegetables, just to name a few.

Stay tuned next week for my review on the Louisiana Dietetic Association Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo!!

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Diabetes, anyone?

Growing up, I didn’t think diabetes was a big deal. I knew that diabetics had to check blood sugars daily, change their diet, visit the doctor more often and start exercising. However, after studying nutrition in college, I realized that diabetes is serious. Perhaps I thought it was more serious than others I knew who had diabetes and I didn’t even have it! I think that people take for granted how our bodies work when they are functioning normally. It may not be until you get diabetes (or study nutrition, etc.) that you realize how wonderful your pancreas, liver, and the food you eat is for your body-if handled appropriately. I can’t tell you what it is like to live with diabetes, but I can tell you what it is like knowing the facts and how to treat and even prevent diabetes. I would hope that once someone is diagnosed, one’s life would change. Afterall, who wants to develop heart disease unnecessarily (or at all), go blind or have a part of your body amputated? Not me! I’m sure having diabetes is not easy in the least, but I would take all the changes if I could avoid all the consequences of ignoring my condition.

I’m not saying that diabetics ignore their conditions. One of my internship rotations lately was spent in a diabetes management program for 2 weeks. This event got me thinking that if I was in the shoes of a diabetic for a day or even a week, I’m sure I’d get sick of all the needle sticks, glucose records, carbohydrate counting and having to be active enough everyday-but I would be certain not to take it for granted.

I learned a lot from this rotation-but there is one thing in particular that I really got thinking about. If we all ate a ‘diabetic diet’ we would all have a really good chance at avoiding a number of health problems down the line. I mean think about it. If we all ate proper portions of the proper foods from each food group, didn’t over indulge in sweets, breads, and the like but instead fell in love with vegetables, protein and fiber, we could avoid developing diabetes or a number of other health conditions that plague our society and our rising health costs.

It sounds really obvious, doesn’t it? But…look around you. Maybe you need to look at yourself. Or not-who cares what we put in our bodies right now? We have so many years left of life! We should eat for today and start our healthy lifestyle tomorrow-or next weekend-or after the new year! Right?

While sitting in on a patient consultation the other day, I realized that people don’t think about living a healthy lifestyle as a part of daily life; to most, this is a ‘diet’. Many people live life how they want, eating what they want, sitting as much and avoiding movement as much as they want never batting an eye at the fact that eating well, movement and exercise is more than “being healthy” or “being on a diet”– it is life. You cannot sustain life by doing the above without some consequences. These consequences go beyond gaining weight, getting too large for your current clothes, making a new years resolution only to break it and hope that Lent comes sooner than later. The consequences may lead to these but possibly much more: Diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s…what does your family history tell you?

Check back next week for 10 easy ways to improve your lifestyle by adding more fiber to your diet!

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A new blog for all my lovely followers

I started blogging about my dietetic intern experiences through my personal social network page back in August when I came to New Orleans. I probably should have started this blog at that time, but I didn’t feel like it was time. Well, now it is time. I will continue my blogging from this site in order to maintain a faithful following and in hopes of drawing in a few more outsiders. I encourage your input, ideas and suggestions that you would like to see written. I have a few ideas and a lot of writing practice that needs to be perfected. Enjoy!

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