Sibley is known for our incredible nurses and doctors, but what most parents don’t realize is that we also have a team of specialists who also help to mend and manage children’s health. March is National Nutrition Month, so we’re highlighting our own Sibley Nutritionist, Laura Hamilton.
What do you do here at Sibley?
I am the only Dietitian for the entire Sibley practice so I work on any and all aspects of Nutrition when it comes to our Cardiac Patients. Starting with our more fragile patients <1yr who need help with feedings, (formula/breastfeeding) and/or overall nutrition management before or after surgery. I make sure they are meeting their nutritional needs for appropriate growth.
I am also on the Preventive Cardiology team, where I meet with patients >3yrs and their families to help them get a better understanding of how their diet and food choices are affecting their health, both positively and negatively. We focus mainly on patients who have elevated Cholesterol and/or elevated blood pressure. I then work with the parents, and their children to create a better eating plan that works for them.
What’s the best part of your work?
I really enjoy talking to families who have convinced themselves that to improve their nutrition, they have to be perfect every day. They often get overwhelmed by that idea. But I’m a dietitian and even I’m not perfect every day! When I see people realize that they can find ways to fit solid healthier choices into their lives and that they don’t need to let perfect be the enemy of good, I get really excited. We can all work with our imperfections and our particular struggles to be successful, healthy eaters, at every stage of life!
What led you to nutrition?
I have a BS in Health Science. When I graduated, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so while I decided, I started working as a personal trainer. While doing that, I just realized that you can’t just exercise your way to a different physical appearance or better health. What really makes the difference is what and how you eat.
I then went on to get my master’s in nutrition at Syracuse University, and decided that becoming a Registered Dietitian is what I wanted to do for my career. I absolutely love this career and feel like it has not only made me a healthier person overall, but making other people feel better by just making small changes to their current eating habits is so rewarding. Small changes in habit make larger impacts on your entire life!
What’s the hardest part about your job?
Like everyone who gives health advice, it’s difficult when you talk to people who aren’t ready to make changes. Sometimes, you have to just give people the best information you can and hope that one day down the road they’ll remember it and take it to heart. You never know.
What are your nutrition-advice pet peeves?
I hate diets that don’t incorporate normal eating patterns. Anything that promises unrealistic results in short periods of time do more harm than good! If it’s a diet that’s super hard to do, you’re not going to be able to continue it. I can say that from experience – I’ve been up and down that road and I know how it ends!
That said, you can pull bits and pieces from any number of diets. Want to try the Whole 30 principle of cutting out sugar for 30 days? Go for it! When you are done find pieces of your current lifestyle that you can see yourself changing for good. Then after a while you find a new normal that is also beneficial for you. NO ONE is perfect, I promise! If you need some chocolate, have a piece, you are fine!! (Make it dark chocolate for additional health benefits!)
Also there are no “good or bad” foods, I have never met a food that was mean or nice.