Pork earned its nickname “the other white meat” because like chicken, it has a reduced amount of fat compared to beef. Maybe you’ve wanted to try one of the deliciously lean cuts, but you’re not exactly sure what to do with it. Apple and Raisin Compote is your answer. Cindy from Pennsylvania declares her compote a real showstopper when it comes to complementing pork. Add a side of Holushki Noodles and Cabbage, and you have a festive menu.
As an overweight child and teen in western Pennsylvania, struggling with high blood pressure, Cindy became a firm believer that food choices have a huge impact on health and well being. “The support of my mother and a few friends helped me to succeed with a weight loss I have maintained through my adult life,” Cindy says. “Helping people make food choices to maintain or improve health has been a long-term goal in becoming a dietitian.
After graduating from Indiana University, Cindy worked in a hospital as a clinical dietitian for 23 years. She found outpatient clinics such as dialysis and cardiac rehabilitation extremely rewarding. “Being able to work with clients on an ongoing basis allowed me to see progress and help with strategies to overcome problem areas. I got to know many wonderful people that were inspirational in their approach to life,” shares Cindy.
According to Cindy, the most challenging aspect of the renal dietitian job is helping clients find the balance that will keep their labs in healthy range. “I hate to say you can never eat a certain food! We work together to juggle intake so favorite foods, comfort foods and regional preferences can be included in the dialysis diet.” The most rewarding part of the job is seeing a patient’s energy level, lab values and outlook on life improve. "I try to remain positive even when circumstances are frustrating or when I’m not achieving the results I’d hoped. I take a deep breath, adopt a slightly different approach and move ahead,” admits Cindy.
“We live in a community where our heritage is a primary focus with many religious, regional, ethnic and familial influences. I enjoy learning about my patients’ families and cultures, and I think patients have a wealth of knowledge that can enhance variety in the renal diet — if we just consult them. My clinic is starting a new initiative to improve albumins (a measure of nutritional status), and we are asking patients to share favorite recipes for specific protein foods.
When working with her dialysis patients, Cindy says, “I would describe my approach with patients as one that celebrates their accomplishments and provides them with the knowledge and skills to improve problem areas. The most important things patients can do to improve their health are to focus on one problem area at a time and make small, manageable changes to achieve and maintain their goals.
“I have been with DaVita since 2004, and patients have always asked for menus to give them ideas of what they can eat,” says Cindy, adding, “Because the renal diet is so challenging, with the help of a valued colleague, I developed a week of dialysis-friendly menus using regional preferences. We expanded it to different calorie and protein levels. This is a wonderful tool to help new dialysis clients to learn they can still have familiar foods and stick within recommended renal diet guidelines.
Cindy reports that there is a wealth of knowledge available in the DaVita network. “Since starting at DaVita, I have been surprised to learn how much impact a team effort can have on patient lab outcomes. When we teamed up ‘phosphorus buddies,’ patients enjoyed the time and information they shared, and most didn’t want to ‘let their buddy down.
My DaVita unit is strong because my teammates’ approach to patient care, service excellence and fun, is complementary. Shared heritage is a key factor in our worksite becoming another family. Each season brings us new projects, and I love the change from one season to another in western Pennsylvania. A new season is almost like starting a new year!
Looking for something new to try on your dialysis diet? Serve a Pennsylvania-style meal with Raisin and Apple Compote for Pork, accompanied by Holushki Noodles and Cabbage. Traditionally the noodles for Holushki are homemade and dropped from the tip of a teaspoon into boiling water. But time-challenged cooks now use kulski noodles or wide egg noodles. Whichever you choose, enjoy this tasty recipe from DaVita renal dietitian Cindy from Pennsylvania.