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Collard greens are enjoyed year-round in the Southern United States and are one of a group of foods commonly referred to as soul food. Prized for their unique taste, collard greens have a texture similar to cabbage and can be prepared in a variety of ways. DaVita dietitian Lisa from Alabama offers a recipe that is flavor-packed and perfect for those looking to spice up their kidney-friendly eating plan.
A native of Alabama – and an avid supporter of the Crimson Tide! – Lisa grew up in Tuscaloosa and went on to attend the University of Alabama there, where she received her Bachelor’s degree.
Lisa has been working as a dietitian for 10 years now, and you might say that working in the field of dietetics runs in Lisa’s family. “I became a dietitian, because I always wanted to work in the healthcare field,” Lisa explains. “I learned about the field of dietetics from a relative who worked as a hospital dietitian. She seemed to love her job, and I thought it would be a good fit for me.”
Indeed, Lisa has found satisfaction in her work with renal patients. “The most rewarding aspect of my job is when my patients are doing well, feeling good and able to go about their daily lives,” states Lisa. “Also, when patients who have been working very hard to control their fluids or phosphorus meet their goals.”
Like any job, there are challenging moments in Lisa’s workday too. “The most challenging aspect of my job is keeping my patients motivated to maintain their labs within acceptable ranges,” Lisa explains. “Due to the fact that you can’t immediately feel the effects of high phosphorus levels -- like you can with excess fluid or elevated blood pressure – phosphorus is usually viewed as not important.”
Lisa describes her approach to working with patients as hands-on and matter of fact. Her message to them? “This is the way it is, and if you want to do well and feel well, this is what you have to do.”
When asked how she makes a difference in patients’ lives, this DaVita dietitian replies, “I feel that I make a difference in their lives by being their cheerleader and educator. I am here to educate them on their diet and disease so they can make good, healthy choices,” explains Lisa. “I am here to motivate them to hang in there and remind them of how far they have come and how well they are doing with their diet and dialysis regimen.”
And although Lisa is a great cheerleader for her patients, ultimately patient must take an active role in their own healthcare. “The most important thing that a patient can do to improve their health is to be present in their healthcare,” Lisa affirms. “This means they must understand their lab values and what they mean. They need to ask questions if they don’t understand and let their healthcare team know of any situations that may prevent them from meeting their healthcare goals.”
One tool that Lisa uses to educate her DaVita patients is food demonstrations. “I have found that food demos are a great way for patients to try healthier renal alternatives. Patients will then be more likely to purchase that product or make that recipe,” says Lisa. “My goal is to give variety within the renal diet.”
Interacting with patients, with all their various personalities, is the thing Lisa likes best about her job. “I have a very fun group of patients who love to share their points of view on various subjects with me and each other,” Lisa explains.
Another aspect of Lisa’s job that she appreciates is the support provided by DaVita. “I love the supportive dietitian group and the educational tools that we have available, such as the Dietitian Connection website with its wealth of handouts and bulletin board ideas, including the new Phosphorus Challenge where patients can have fun while expanding their knowledge of the renal diet,” Lisa explains.
Lisa says that she loves the vibrant atmosphere of the college town where she works. Her DaVita center is special, because of “the strong team that we have built. Everyone’s main objective is to give the best care to our patients.”
The next time you’re looking for a kidney-friendly side dish that really wakes up a meal, remember DaVita dietitian Lisa from Alabama’s spicy take on Southern-Style Collard Greens!
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