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VA Capitol Health Care Network


Eat Healthy, Feel Great!


Integrating colorful fruits and vegetables into your daily diet is a large step towards achieving a healthier you.

By Andre Parker
Friday, August 14, 2015

When I say nutritionist, do you think weight management? If so, that is correct, but good nutrition extends far beyond weight management. At VA, our Registered Dietician Nutritionists (RDN) not only can help you choose the right food for your physical state, but can assist with managing health issues, including:

• diabetes
• gastrointestinal issues
• heart disease
• kidney disease
• managing side effects of cancer
• fertility and diet assistance while pregnant
• eating disorders
• other chronic diseases

What is a Registered Dietician Nutritionist?
A RDN is not your regular nutritionist. In addition to having a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, RDNs have completed multiple trainings and layers of education that lead to certifications in specialized fields, such as sports nutrition, renal nutrition, or oncology nutrition.
Your benefits of working with a VA RDN are receiving the highest level of nutrition counseling and personalized advice. Your RDN will not give you a “one-size-fits-all” food plan or general advice; you will receive an easy to follow program tailored to fit your needs, eating habits, lifestyle, favorite foods, and medical health history.

Weight management is only one factor in choosing the right food says Karen Sassaman, RDN. “We are looking at the whole Veteran and not just one aspect of their food intake. We consider medication, activity, and disease process.”
Your VA RDN will monitor your progress and adjust your plan to help you succeed in achieving a healthier you.

Food for Thought
Did you know that good nutrition is important for your mental state? The National Institutes of Health found that poor diet, skipping meals, a dominant desire for sweet foods, and lack of adequate vitamins affects cognition, behavior, and emotions.

According to the Regional Research Institute for Human Services, Portland State University, vitamin D deficiency is linked to cognitive impairment, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. To avoid becoming vitamin D deficient, daily vitamins are recommended. Along with vitamin D dietary supplements, good sources for vitamin D include fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel; and vitamin D fortified foods such as an orange, milk, and yogurt. Your VA RDN will work with you to ensure you are receiving the right amount of minerals and vitamins daily.


Utilize TeleMOVE! wherever you are! When you combine your daily physical activity with the good eating habits you learn from the health modules, you increase your ability of losing weight and keeping it off.

Your VA RDN is available to you four ways:
• face-to-face at the medical center
• Clinical Video Telehealth
• through the Home Based Primary Care program
• MOVE! or TeleMOVE!

If you prefer to come in to the medical center, you can meet with your VA RDN face-to-face with. All you will need is a referral from your primary care provider. You can schedule your appointment by phone or at the medical center.

With Clinical Video Telehealth, instead of having the cost and inconvenience of traveling by road or rail, you can meet with your VA RDN at your local CBOC, with the assistance of a technician, via a monitor through a secure connection. Talk with your provider to see if this is an option for you.

If you have difficulty traveling to and from a medical center, due to a complex health care need and a routine clinical-based visit to the medical center for care is not effective or feasible, Home Based Primary Care may be the option for you. With the Home Based Primary Care program, your team of RDNs, pharmacist, social workers , psychologist, and nurse practitioners work together to address your medical, social, and behavioral concerns. Ask a member of your health care team if you qualify for this program.

For a more active session, you can enroll in MOVE! You have the option of attending a 16-week group class at the medical center. The classes are two hours long; the first hour includes lecture and group discussion led by a RDN, psychologist, and a rec therapist, while the second hour consists of a physical activity. Each week covers a different topic and new activity. Some activities include playing volleyball, swimming, walking, or utilizing the fitness center equipment. The RDN will also be available to you for a one-on-one session if requested.

For those who can’t make it to the facility, Tele-MOVE is available. You can participant from your home using a telehealth monitor connected to a phone line or cellular line. You would use the equipment daily by reviewing the lessons on the monitor, answering questions, and recording your weight for 90 or 180 days. You will perform your physical activity independently and are encouraged to send in your food logs by mail or email to your care coordinator every two weeks. Aside from the landline, all of the equipment will be provided to you. For more information on MOVE! and TeleMOVE! talk to your care coordinator.

Choose which way you’d like to receive care from your personal VA Registered Dietician Nutritionist! Contact your health care team and schedule your appointment today!



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