This is a 4-topic series focused on nutrition for babies and toddlers with eczema. I’m passionate about nutrition and believe that it’s of utmost importance to our health – after all, it’s one of the daily survival activities of breathe, drink, eat and sleep! I’m honored to have Judy Converse, founder of Nutrition Care for Children LLC, to help out in this series. Judy is a licensed nutritionist, a registered dietitian for more than 20 years and authored the first web-interface accredited learning module for health care providers on nutrition and autism.
More on Judy Converse, MPH RD LD – Judy has a master’s degree in public health nutrition and a bachelor’s degree in food science and human nutrition. She authored 3 books including Special Needs Kids Go Pharm-Free and Special Needs Kids Eat Right: Strategies to Help Kids on the Autism Spectrum Focus, Learn and Thrive. She has also testified for safer vaccines and consulted with industry partners on specialized formulas for infants and children with inflammatory conditions. Judy is available for nutrition consultation at http://www.NutritionCare.net
Starting with the Fundamentals – What’s Reliable Nutrition Information?
MarcieMom: Thanks Judy for helping us understand nutrition information. Last week, we’ve talked about not getting sufficient nutrition information from doctors and from research studies.
Supposing that doctors won’t be able to advice on nutrition and should patients not have access to nutritionist and turn to the internet for nutrition information, what is your advice on how parents can discern which nutrition advice they ought to read and adopt? (Particularly given that there always seem to be a nutritious food that suddenly receives all the magazines’ attention or different website will go all out to propose that their type of supplement works wonders.)
Judy: Assess the source of the info, and look for credentials. University degrees, clinical experience, peer review authorship, lecture experience at respected venues, and licensure demonstrate expected level of expertise. Nutritionists in the US are licensed by state, and have to complete
ongoing credit hours, pre-approved by the licensure boards, to keep their credentials. Licensure is not the same as a certificate, which can mean anything, from attending an afternoon lecture to taking unaccredited correspondence courses with no professional oversight. People often identify themselves as “nutritionists” but may have little training.
Look also at whether or not the info you are reading is from a person who simply writes a lot, or is actually in practice. Many dietitians choose careers in communications or media, and never actually see patients once they leave school. They don’t have hands on experience. For tough questions, case experience is invaluable. It’s where scientific inquiry incubates, when it comes to medicine.
Ultimately, if you’re really motivated, you may find that you need to delve into the medical literature yourself. This is unbelievably easy now with the web. I’ve met many parents in my practice who have become laudable experts on certain facets of nutritional biochemistry, in their quests to solve their children’s health challenges. I am grateful to learn new things all the time from the families I work with.
MarcieMom: Also suppose a parent decides to try a certain food or supplement for their child, what would be the time frame to look at to determine if it is making the child healthier (or improving his eczema) and what signs should the parent look out for to determine that the child is better or worse? (for instance, weight/height or skin or bowel or hair or teeth or alertness?)
Judy: First, parents need to know if a supplement or food is the appropriate measure. That is what I help parents sort out with an initial nutrition assessment. That’s best – you get a baseline, identify the problems, and choose the tools to fix the problems. But in reality, parents do tinker with supplements. I discuss this dilemma in both my books. You can waste a lot of time and money here, if you don’t approach this more methodically. There are tables and charts in my books to help parents sort out what might be the right next steps, with regard to using supplements. I explain dosing, time frames, and more.
Next, nutrition is a process, not a pill. If a child has entrenched eczema and underweight, there is probably not going to be a single answer to that, and it is probably not going to go away overnight. Unlike medications, nutrition aims to solve the problem from a deeper level and help the body heal itself. I would look at several factors in the assessment process to sort and prioritize what is
going wrong. Different problems respond at different paces; some supplements work fast; others, like fish oils, can take weeks to calm and restore the skin. Nutrition tools are only as good as the weakest piece. They all work together. If you only fix one problem and overlook others, that child will continue to do poorly, even if you’ve picked a great supplement to try.
That said, once I have the pieces in place for an initial plan, I expect a child to respond fairly quickly. Positive changes should emerge within the first month.
MarcieMom: Thanks Judy, and your explanation sheds light into why there sometimes is a disparity between what the supplements say they will achieve and why it sometimes do and don’t. I’m thinking companies selling supplements ought to help educate their consumers on it!
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