Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Julie Fortenberry, a registered dietitian who now (after many years of fighting it) proudly calls New Orleans home. The move to the big “Crescent City,” for this Mississippi girl, was overwhelming to say the least. As a dietitian, I quickly learned that when a client says that he or she ate a “sandwich,” he obliviously means a po-boy, and when the client says that he or she had a “glass of wine,” he clearly means half the bottle. Yes, these are adjustments on my end as a professional, yet this task I am willing to take. You see, in knowing that Louisiana is the second most obese state (directly behind my home state), I found great motivation and determination to help this wonderful state in any way that I professionally could. Flash forward 9 years, hundreds of successful clients, an understanding of how to live healthy in a city that is known for amazing food, and I am still here. I am proud of this city that I have grown to love.
This brings me to my real job. I am a mother of two lovely little girls. There is no question that being a mom has made me a better dietitian. Before, when a parent told me that she had a picky eater, I had a textbook answer. Now, I realize that there is much more to being picky than likes and dislikes. Was the child having a bad day? Are there really texture issues, or are the children just following the “crowd” (aka picky parents). I also realize how hard juggling work, parenting, and being a home chef can be. I now can genuinely understand why so many moms order takeout every evening and depend on school to provide a semi-healthy lunch for their children. I will be the first to admit that teaching your family to eat balanced is a challenge and takes more than just time.
I, too, am still learning the ins and outs of parenting and would hardly call myself a pro; however, what I do know, for a fact, is that as mothers we will do anything to protect our children. I love the quote from Maureen Hawkins, “Before you were conceived, I wanted you. Before you were born, I loved you. Before you were here an hour, I would die for you. This is the miracle of love.” It makes sense that we put what we feed our children into that category of protection as well. As you know, nutrition is greatly linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and many more medical conditions. No one would wish illness on his or her children, at any point, in their precious lives. This happens due to the lifestyle that is developed (often) at a young age. Let’s be realistic; no one is perfect nor should we be expected to be. My challenge for you, at this time, is to start paying attention to the foods your children are consuming and the foods that you are providing for them. Is there any room for improvement? I am sure all of us can make small changes that will make a big difference in the future of our children.
I worked with the New Orleans Moms Blog team to give some of their favorite family recipes a healthy makeover. I made simple nutritious changes to their recipes and want to show you that it is possible to make small changes with big gains.
As an extension of this series, we are excited to invite all of you to Langenstein’s in Old Metairie next Tuesday, October 8 at 9:30am for a personalized shopping tour. Print one of the recipes featured today or bring one of your own. I’ll walk 15 moms through the store and help you make informed product choices and smart modifications. The best part? If you so choose, you’ll leave the experience with everything you need to make a healthy family meal that evening. What’s more productive than that?
Julie Fortenberry, RD, LDN/LD
Wellness & Lifestyle Nutritionist, Touro Infirmary
Julie is a registered dietitian, licensed in the state of Louisiana & Mississippi. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Southern Mississippi. She completed her dietetic internship at Touro Infirmary in New Orleans. Julie brings real-life understanding to wellness and nutritional counseling, and believes that lifestyle changes and wholesome nutrition are obtainable. As a registered dietitian, Julie has counseled hundreds of clients of all ages and status assisting them in meeting their individual health goals. After all, she’s a working mom who has to balance her professional pursuits with a busy home life.