Samantha Pankiw is a Registered Dietitian and dancer. She originally went to school for dance and after a year of studying dance realized she wanted to go in a different direction. She began to study how nutrition impacts dancers. She became very interested in nutrition and started researching it on my own and after implementing what she learned and seeing the positive effects of nutrition, she decided to study dietetics.
UzimaOne Nutrition Podcast #2 – HOST: Frederick Neal
I’d like to first start by saying hello to all those out there listening to UzimaOne and I would like to introduce you to our next guest here on the program, and her name is Samantha Pankiw. She is a registered dietitian. We’re going to be discussing matters of nutrition, wellness and any other things that Samantha wants to bring to the table to introduce our audience as far as health & wellness is concerned, helping you to increase your level of wellness. So we’re going to kind of jump right in on this and, we’re going to say hello to Samantha. Thank you for being here.
Samantha: Hi, thank you for having me.
Frederick Neal: As I said in the beginning, we’re going to be talking about nutrition and any other thing that you want to talk about, but the first question is. What inspired you to become a dietitian?
Samantha: I’ve been a dancer my entire life and I still am. I originally went to school for dance and after a year of studying dance in college, I kind of realized that I wanted to go in a different direction and at the same time while I was dancing we started to learn a lot about nutrition and how it impacts us as dancers. I became very interested in nutrition and I started researching it on my own and after implementing what I’ve learned in my own life and I saw the positive effects of nutrition, I was hooked and from there I decided to study dietetics.
Frederick Neal: That’s very interesting, it’s always interesting to hear how a practitioner transitions from a particular activity to a wellness activity, as far as like nutrition or exercise physiology or exercise science or doctors, you know. It’s always interesting to hear how that transition takes place. That is very interesting. The work that you do, can you talk to us a little bit about how that work is implemented and how you think it impacts the patient that you’re working with or the client that you’re working with?
Samantha: I currently work at a nursing and rehab facility as a Registered Dietitian; we get a lot of patients who come to us directly from the hospital when they’re not quite ready yet to go home. A lot of them are still weak from being in the hospital, we need to get their nutrition back to a level that’s going to give them more energy to work on their rehab and be ready to go home. We just get them.
Frederick Neal: It’s fine, because this is going to be edited. If you want to start to answer the question again, or you can pick up where you left of it’s fine.
Samantha: Can I just ask you a question? Should I talk more from a dietitian, like what we would do if I was working with people in my specific job in the rehab and nursing facility, or more for the type of person who would be listening?
Frederick Neal: We are talking freely, like a conversation between the two of us, we are really trying to kind of put it on the table, what it is you do, why you do what you do, how it impacts the community that you’re in being a dietitian and that environment, how what you do impacts those individuals you’re working with, how does it help them to increase their level of wellness and what is your direct connection to that, do you kind of stay within the framework of your job or is there times when you go above and beyond and stuff like that. Let’s do the question again.
Frederick Neal: Tell us Samantha, how does what you do impacts your clients on wellness level and how do you help them to increase their level of wellness, especially when they’re in the environment that you’re in the people that you’re working with, sometimes they come in sometimes with a severe illness and is your job to help them get better. How does that look?
Samantha: I will say a very large majority of the patients that come into the facility I work in have a condition that is largely influenced by nutrition. Whether is diabetes, heart disease, they have high cholesterol, hypertension, we work with a lot of wound patients too, which to heal a wound, you need nutrition at the forefront, they need to get their nutrition up to a good level, to have the energy to complete their rehab and get back home.
Frederick Neal: You know and so many people, kind of use nutrition as the secondary thing that needs to be done. So let’s get thru rehab and let’s do the surgery and let’s make sure you get the medication and then the nutrition seems to be like the last thing, or what would you like to eat.
Frederick Neal: But it goes a little deeper than that, when you are dealing with a patient who is trying to heal a wound, is there any specific way that you’re thinking nutritionally, when you’re working with that patient, as opposed to working with a patient who is, dealing with recovering from a surgery or any other illness? Because I do know that, wounds when they don’t heal, that can be a big issue – I have a couple of friends that have had wounds that were really stubborn.
Samantha: Absolutely. So with wounds, specifically protein is the most important factor, you need to get your protein level up so that the wound can heal. Your protein needs are a lot higher than an average person’s protein needs when you have wounds because your body is using all of that protein to try and heal. You also need the proper vitamins and minerals to heal that wound, things like Vitamin C and Zinc, so we’re making sure that our patients are eating nutritious foods, supplementing with vitamins & minerals if needed and usually on protein supplements two or three times a day.
Frederick Neal: That sounds very interesting. Can you talk with our listening audience about the differences between, and in the scope of what I do as a certified trainer and certified health coach, it is always necessary for us to understand the scope of our practice and when we need to refer out. And the detailed aspect of what a coach or nutrition coach is or what a nutritionist is and then what a dietician is. Can you kind of tell us what is the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist is?
Samantha: With someone who’s a nutritionist, you can call yourself a nutritionist if you went to school for nutrition, or if you feel like you’re an expert in that area, because of research you’ve done on your own. But when it comes to being a registered dietician, in order to call yourself a registered dietician, you have to complete a very long process. First you have to complete a Bachelor’s of Science in Dietetics, like a four year degree. Then you have to do what is called a dietetic internship. This part of the process looks a little different for everyone. There are a few different paths you can take. But the large majority does what’s called a dietetic internship, which is what I did. I did mine through Montclair State University and you take some graduate courses and you also complete over 1200 hours of supervised practice. So that’s working with people who are already dietitians in hospitals and in schools, all different types of areas, so that you can kind of learn and then you take a dietitian’s exam. And once you complete the exam, you’re able to call yourself a Registered Dietitian and after that you have to continue with continuing education credits to maintain the credential. So basically when someone is a Registered Dietician, you can just guarantee that they’ve had a lot of schooling about nutrition.
Frederick Neal: The knowledge base and experience, goes deeper.
Samantha: Yes, absolutely.
Frederick Neal: That is necessary for someone who is ill and trying to, recovering from a wound or surgery. You definitely need that. That’s very interesting and I think is something is very good for people to know. I think we’ve come to a point now in time where there are so many different specialties, that people, I don’t know if people have gotten, you know, exhausted from thinking about, ok I usually just go to the doctor and now the doctor told me that I have to go to another doctor and that doctor said I have to go to this other doctor.
Frederick Neal: Like all the doctors, nobody really knows, why do I have to go to this doctor, if you’re my doctor? That’s the kind of things that I hear. This program is really all about helping people to understand the differences between each one of the practices, how you can tap into finding the ones that you need and engaging them to help you get better. The next question that I have is going to be, we are going to skip.
When you’re working with patients, do you have the opportunity to help educate that patient at all?
Samantha: Absolutely. I do a lot of education with my job if someone has, again something like diabetes or heart diseases, we bring in materials to them, of course is up to them if they want the information, but usually people are receptive and we’re able to help counsel them on going with diabetes, what is a carbohydrate, how many carbohydrates can I have at a meal, what type of carbohydrate should I eat so that my blood sugar stays as stable as possible? How can I start to plan my meals for when I go home and I’ll eat in a way that helps my diabetes. Things like that, but a big part of my job is education so that people can thrive on their own when they’re home when it comes to their eating.
Frederick Neal: That’s very good. Do you find that once this process has taken place and the patient now leaves your care, is there a recall to that, do you get the opportunity after they’ve left you to speak with them, is there a continuous contact until the patient is back to work?
Samantha: Unfortunately, after they are discharged from the facility, I don’t have contact with them. But while they’re there, we do a lot of follow ups to make sure that if information needs to be re-enforced, we go over what needs that reinforcement or if they want to expand on what we’ve talked about, we provide materials for them to go home with so that they have a reference when they go food shopping or they’re cooking or whatever it is.
Frederick Neal: Do you think that what you do has some impact on the client psychologically level?
Samantha: I do, I think that as you’re eating healthier, you feel better, you most likely will have the effect of losing weight, which gives you more energy and it makes people feel good, which psychologically it just makes you happier, more positive, ready to tackle some other things in your life. I think eating healthy, really helps people psychologically.
Frederick Neal: What are your thoughts about future plans for your practice and things that you have anything in particular, a road map for yourself that you are on right now?
Samantha: I will say, the one thing about working at the job I work out now which is a largely older population has shown me how important nutrition is starting from a younger age, because there are so many conditions people come in with that could have been prevented, from proper nutrition starting at a younger age, so I think is really important to work with people who are younger and start to get that education out there and teach about healthy eating and how to cook healthy meals and good snacks and everything.
Frederick Neal: That’s good, I will totally agree with that 100%. One of the discussions that we see happening on an ongoing basis is the fact that as the years go by and information becomes much more accessible. It’s very easy for someone to pick up a phone and find out what a protein is, what a carbohydrate is. But yet, we still have the levels of obesity, the levels of heart rate and cardiovascular decease, even childhood obesity and childhood diabetes, I mean these levels are going up. Do you have any thoughts on why that is?
Samantha: I think as people we’re too busy and we don’t put importance on planning for healthy leaving. If we took just an hour a week to plan what we’re going to eat that’s healthy. Taking the time to go food shopping and actually get that food and plan. It would be different, but we push the healthy living to the side, to get all of the other things done, because were so busy. I think there’s also a lot of unreliable information out there on the internet and people start to get confused and overwhelmed, just because there are so many different things...I read this and they told me it was healthy, but then I read this and it says it’s not healthy. It just becomes overwhelming and confusing for people. I also think we’re very sedentary because of technology, people want to come home and sit on the couch and go on Instagram, which doesn’t help. Fast food is too convenient, there’s just so many things that help us live an unhealthy lifestyle, but I think the thing to do is to sit down and plan for it. Plan for a healthy week of eating and that will make you successful.
Frederick Neal: Do you see our society moving into a place where that is going to change or do you feel, what you’ve seen thus far, is going to continue to get worse or is going to stabilize at some point?
Samantha: I hope that it changes for the better. I think a lot of people are using social media in a positive way, to spread reliable information and to start teaching people and educating people so that they know the reasons why certain foods are healthier or you know the proper portion sizes to be eating and I think education is really the key, so that people can make this positive changes and when one person is positively affected, they spread that information to their family and their friends, who then hopefully will spread that information to their family and their friends and then the community is affected and hopefully it just continues to go in a positive direction.
Frederick Neal: Do you think that nutrition sometimes has to be applied to the individual, on an individual basis or do you think it’s more, you can have 10 people and you can assess 10 people, and say if 10 of you are overweight, then 10 of you need to eat this?
Samantha: I think it’s absolutely individualized and that’s the problem with a lot of the information you find on the internet, it’s very generalized and what I’ve found from working with so many different patients is that everyone is so different and everyone needs a different way of actually doing things. Because maybe this motivates them, but something completely different motivates someone else. Maybe these types of foods work with their body, but then for my next patient, those types of foods don’t work with their body. Everyone is so different and that’s were dietitians can really individualize a plan for you.
Frederick Neal: That’s interesting, because I feel the same way about exercise, same way because I teach martial arts and is the same thing with teaching martial arts, that anytime we give a person a set of things to do, that we have to understand the person’s ability, where they are, and we have to meet them at that point to move them forward.
Frederick Neal: Moving on to the next question, we are almost done. What type of obstacles do you see in your practice that may keep you or that keeps you from really implementing the job the way that you want?
Samantha: It kind of goes back to the amount of unreliable information that’s on the internet that people hear. I’ll tell a patient something and they’ll say, no I read this on the internet, that’s not true. And it’s really just creating that trusting relationship and them understanding you know the background and the schooling that I’ve had and that maybe the information that they saw wasn’t really the most reliable and the most accurate. It’s really just breaking down all of those misconceptions about nutrition.
Frederick Neal: I think we’re leaving in a time now, that’s also, you know, so much more information has come down the pipeline over the past 100 years and if were leaving a 100 years ago, there was a lot less information. So perhaps you could even go on your own experience or your own knowledge from the community that you lived in, but in this day and age, there’s such a large amount of information about health and wellness, that it is necessary for the people out there who are trying to be healthy and want to be healthier because they’re not, that they find the registered certified professionals to sit down and have a discussion with about how to delineate the information that’s coming in and how they need to understand that information. I totally agree with you 100% and every professional that I talk to, we’re all in the same page, especially when it comes to pulling information from the internet, you don’t really have the background to decipher what you just read.
Frederick Neal: So you can’t bring it to the table, it doesn’t work. At least not like that. Is there anything that you would like to leave the audience with, a philosophy of your own or some important information that you’d like to share?
Samantha: The number one thing I recommend is to take some time each week, weather that’s Sunday afternoon for you or whenever you have time and plan your week worth of meals, go to the store and go food shopping. There are so many convenient, healthy options in the grocery store, whether is pre-cut veggies, there’s even healthy frozen meals that are extremely convenient and quick. But if you take the time and you plan, you’ll be a lot more successful during the week with your eating and overall, nutrition is never a short time thing or a diet here a diet there, is a lifelong practice of choosing the foods that are good for your body.
Frederick Neal: Good choices, always making good choices.
Frederick Neal: You always have to eat.
Samantha: Yes, if you’re a human, you’re affected by nutrition.
Frederick Neal: You have to eat. Those humans out there, you hear that right? We would like Samantha for being here with us today, it was a very interesting interview. And for all of you out there, who did not understand some of the deeper, underlined information about dietitians. We hope that you now, have a better insight. And I would like to leave you with my comment, that wellness always works better for you, when you work with a professional.