Nutrition Growth

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Growth, in nutrition, doesn’t just refer to your waistline! Nutrition is part of an overall emotional and mental progression, just as our various other life goals. Eating, one of our most frequent behaviors, is a practice in understanding, discipline, celebration, and sometimes, even forgiveness.

My “biggest loser”, Kevin, came to my office weighing over 400 pounds. Kevin has since lost 171 pounds over the course of a year and a half, quite a bit of medical nutrition education and therapy, and an enormous amount of personal growth. What began as various barriers persisted through to various ups and downs. Although Kevin continued to lose weight and seemed to melt away right before my eyes, discipline over his dietary habits waxed and waned and celebrations over victories sometimes made way to deep depression over failures. Then finally, one day, without warning or even conscious realization of its happening, Kevin began to forgive. In the midst of a self-destructive binge experience, or directing his anger with a situation or a person towards himself, Kevin suddenly stopped and realized there was no point. The self-sabotage had no point! In that moment of clarity, anger was no longer a valid reason to keep eating. It no longer satisfied him to destroy himself.

Emotional growth is good nutrition. Learning the inherent goodness of food, how it sustains and nourishes, rather than using it as a shield or weapon is growth. Pushing forward through the ups and downs and learning to forgive oneself and others is a true understanding that there are many battles we must fight. “Winning the war” is not letting those battles destroy us.

Photo Credit: Jun Belen

About The Author

Manuel Villacorta is a registered dietitian (RD) and certified specialist is sports dietetics (CSSD) with more than 16 years of experience. He was recently appointed national media spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, which identifies him as one of the United States’ leading weight loss and nutrition experts. Villacorta is the owner of San Francisco-based private practice MV Nutrition, the recipient of two consecutive “Best Bay Area Dietitian” awards (2009 and 2010) from the San Francisco Chronicle and Citysearch, and the creator of the Eating Free™ weight management program. Villacorta also developed MV Professional Nutrition (a software suite designed to assist RDs with their own private practices) and created www.eatingfree.com (an international, Internet-based weight loss and weight management program). Villacorta is a compelling, charismatic communicator—a public speaker, who is often praised for making audiences feel, heard, motivated, and engaged. His warm, approachable style, alongside his strong bilingual proficiency in both English and Spanish, have made him an in-demand health and nutrition expert on both local and national television and radio, and in articles in print publications and online. Villacorta worked closely with Dr. Nancy L. Snyderman, chief medical editor of NBC News, to provide expert nutrition advice on a number of topics for the BeWell network. He is often invited to speak at annual state and national conventions such as The Oregon Dietetic Association (where he was the keynote speaker), and The American Dietetic Association (where he spoke to other dietitian professionals about his successful private practice). Villacorta has acted as a media representative for food companies such as Foster Farms (one of the largest chicken producers on the West Coast) as well as for such California statewide health campaigns as the “California Latino 5-A-Day Program” and “Got Milk.” Prior to setting up his private practice, Villacorta worked as a public health dietitian for California Children Services and the Prenatal to Three Initiative, where he offered prenatal, infant, and childhood nutrition consulting. He has worked as a clinical dietitian for Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco and has held a faculty position with the School of Nursing at the University of San Francisco. Villacorta received his bachelor of science in nutrition and physiology metabolism from the University of California, Berkeley, and his master of science in nutrition and food science from San Jose State University. He has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards for his research, including the Outstanding Master of Science Degree Award from San Jose State University’s Department of Nutrition and Food Science.

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