“...So if we nourish our body properly, we can prevent chronic disease. Or if someone is already does have a particular condition, we can also utilize food, diet and lifestyle to prevent the progression of that disease and help improve people's quality of life.” “...I think insurance and America is a very complex beast where even people in the medical field probably can't even explain kind of all the nuances and all of the specifics regarding around nutrition coverage…”
Edith Yang’s expertise extends to diverse specializations, including pediatrics and Asian cuisine. Join us as we explore how Edith’s knowledge and dedication are expanding access to nutrition care, making a positive impact on health while helping people live their best lives. Let us learn how she is turning nutrition into a powerful tool for change.
Edith Yang an Asian American Registered Dietitian who is Board-Certified in Renal Nutrition, a Certified LEAP Therapist, Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, cookbook author, and the owner of Healthy Mission Dietitian, Inc – a hybrid model insurance based private practice.
[0:32] Shireen: Edith Yang’s expertise extends to diverse specializations including pediatrics and Asian culture. Join us as we explore how easy it is knowledge and dedication are expanding access to nutrition care, making a positive impact on health, while helping people live their best lives. Let us learn how she is turning nutrition into a powerful tool for change. Sutent. Edith Yang is an Asian American, registered dietitian who is board certified in renal nutrition, a certified lead therapist, fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, cookbook author and the owner of the Healthy Michigan dietitian Incorporated, a hybrid model insurance based private practice. Welcome, Edith.
[1:20] Edith Yang: Thank you so much. I’m so excited to be here and chatting about nutrition today.
[1:25] Shireen: Well, we’ve got tons of nutrition questions for you. So before we dive into that, Edith, can you tell me a little bit more about your background as a registered dietician, and really your journey into this field of nutrition and dietetics with a specific focus on prevention and also within vulnerable populations.
[1:44] Edith: So I’ve been a dietitian for a little over a decade now. And I’ve worked with multiple different populations and age groups from babies all the way up to the elderly. Initially, I was actually really hesitant to work with those with end stage diseases, particularly end stage kidney disease, just because those disease states tend to be really complex. And then the diet is also particularly confusing, just because it’s very individualized per person. I started to work with those with kidney disease as well as a geriatric population. And basically, getting involved with those patients is actually what sparked my interest and helping those that were most vulnerable. In these particular setting skilled nursing dialysis centers, I found that a lot of those patients ended up there with these chronic conditions at the end stage and they had no guidance, they didn’t know some of them didn’t even know that they had kidney disease. And so they were also not given any guidance on this particular diet or disease state. So this encouraged me to jump into private practice to get into the Chronic Disease Prevention and Management before the diseases ended up progressing to the end stage.
[2:57] Shireen: That’s interesting. And you know, when you’re talking about sort of this point of care, which is more around end stage, right, you mentioned that many people with chronic conditions really end up in that in sort of in that space, whereas end stage of a particular disease without any you know, a lot of it also ends up being not knowing how they got there, not knowing what all led them up to that point. How can your work and really improved access to nutrition care really change this narrative systematically?
[3:27] Edith: I really believe that our food fuels our body, right if things ourselves and so what I really want to empower people with is understanding how food nutrition, diet and lifestyle how all of these factors can really impact the body, right, our food, we eat it, and then it breaks down in our body and feeds our body. It feeds our organs, it feeds ourselves. So if we nourish our body properly, we can prevent chronic disease. Or if someone is already does have a particular condition, we can also utilize food, diet and lifestyle to prevent the progression of that disease and help improve people’s quality of life.
[4:06] Shireen: You know, Edith, it’s interesting that you mentioned this concept around end stage in particular. And for this episode, we really want to focus on kidney disease. Now, kidney disease in itself is a disease that is different at every single stage. So first, I’d like for you to help us understand a little bit about the different stages of kidney disease, and then help us understand what are some common misconceptions around nutrition? Because as I understand, even the nutrition needs are different across these stages. So can you just speak a little bit to that?
[4:36] Edith: So kidney disease, like you said, there are different stages, stage one, stage two, stage three, stage four, and then there’s stage five. At stage five, there are some people not on dialysis. And then there are some people who are on dialysis. There are different nutrition recommendations for each stage. And so it really depends on. the person and their particular health history, medical history. Those factors do determine kind of how we will guide them as dietitians with their nutrition therapy. At this, currently, doctors are not really recommended to see At this point in time, a lot of patients don’t know about their disease or chronic kidney disease, typically until around stage four or stage five. At least that’s what I generally see in my practice. At the stage one and stage two point, there’s also many doctors who aren’t even mentioning to patients that they’ve been necessarily do have kidney disease. So that’s one thing I think that there’s this gap between kind of patients getting proper care. Another issue is that I find a lot of patients because they’re not provided with the proper information or education. They go online, they research Dr. Google, they kind of read, you know, either people’s own anecdotes about what’s helped them, or they just reading information that’s maybe outdated. As you know, you know, health research, all these things, medicine, they’re always evolving, always changing. We’re always finding new things that do help particular conditions and then also finding out that maybe there’s other things that Back in the day, they used to say it would be helpful, but maybe not so much anymore. A lot of patients that do come to me, in the beginning, they’re barely eating anything. They think that being on a renal diet means not eating anything, and they eliminate so many nutritious foods. Another factor that I’ve seen that kind of prevents people from getting care or like they have this misconception is that dietitians are the food police and basically they believe that I may be telling them or another dietitian may be telling them that they can’t eat anything at all and they have to only chomp on salads all day or something like that.
[6:43] Shireen: That is so interesting. And you know, when you mentioned Dr. Google, it’s a free doctor. That’s absolutely useless, right? It’s the best way to think of it. And it is really quite unfortunate from what you just mentioned. It’s so unfortunate that people have these misconceptions where you’re talking with people just stop eating or reduce eating. That’s got to have such a bearing on the condition. That is already complicated to begin with. How do you see sort of people evolving the way they approach their disease, where whichever stage they may be in, how do they evolve through that journey?
[7:16] Edith: I think it really depends on if they have a good healthcare team and a good support system around them, if they really don’t have a health care provider that’s talking to them about their chronic disease state, or family that’s supportive of their condition and like wanting to help them survive and thrive, that really kind of determines whether or not they’re going to evolve in a positive way throughout their disease state or in a negative way.
[7:42] Shireen: That’s helpful. You have such a diverse range of specializations from kidney disease to pediatrics and working also within Asian cuisine. How do you really tailor your nutrition recommendations to suit the unique needs of each population or even related conditions.
[8:00] Edith: So, I look at each patient as a unique individual. And I want to get that comprehensive history from them. medical history, health history, I also want to take a look at their current lifestyle, and also any food preferences or cultural religious food practices that they might follow. And I use all of this information to tailor a nutrition plan that’s going to best fit their specific needs.
[8:24] Shireen: That’s helpful. Can you provide us specific examples, again, with this focus on kidney disease, on what kind of recommendations you would provide, for instance?
[8:35] Edith: I’m really, really lucky I have such amazing patients. And I just love this kind of area of nutrition that I’m in honestly, every day, I feel like I’ve been able to make such a positive impact on my patients lives, I’m super duper honored to be a part of their health journey. Because of the way that I approach this is very person centered, right? Not like patients but person centered, I’m able to help people learn to enjoy food again, and not be afraid. And I’m empowering them to take control of their specific condition.
[9:08] Shireen: And so can you give us an example of what that looks like in action?
[9:12] Edith: Yeah, so I educate them on how their food may impact their lives. If they weren’t given any background on their particular stage of kidney disease, I kind of go over that as well, because I think it’s really important that for them to understand and really just providing education at a level that they are at a level that they understand to help them kind of be empowered and not afraid of what’s going on with them is really the way that I can help my patients to just thrive and survive.
[9:41] Shireen: Oh, I love that. What are the primary barriers or challenges that you see specifically in vulnerable populations when trying to access nutrition care and how can some of these barriers really be addressed? We hear about social determinants of health all the time. What do you see and again, how do you work with them?
[9:59] Edith: Yeah, there are so many factors that really can kind of prevent patients from getting care. A lot of patients don’t know that they have nutrition coverage. I think insurance and America is a very complex beast where even people in the medical field probably can’t even explain kind of all the nuances and all of the specifics regarding around nutrition coverage. So that’s one thing. And then as you mentioned, the social determinants of health I think there’s so many, you know, factors there transportations support, language barriers. Also, often people with kidney disease often have other comorbidities. And so they may have lots of doctor’s appointments that can prevent them from getting, you know, other types of care. I think, too, there’s also those stigmas about dieticians. And I do like to focus you on the language, because in America, we are not like a melting pot, but my husband likes to call it a tough salad, right? All these different cultures that are kind of together and mixed together in this in this country. There’s not a lot of dietitians, particularly from different cultural backgrounds. And I think that’s a real barrier to I’ve had many Chinese patients come to me and say, it was so hard to find you everyone else I talked to wasn’t of my same background. And so they don’t really understand what I’m eating, and they can’t help me, right. They’re just telling me to eat XYZ. But those are not the food that I necessarily eat. And so I’m not used to that. So I really like they just really excited to kind of see someone that understands their food preferences and cultural food concerns.
[11:39] Shireen: There’s I feel like there’s a lot to be said for, you know, picking up on this element that you mentioned around cuisine, and then really culture, specifically, as we’re talking about Chinese cuisine and culture. How do cultural factors really influence nutrition choices? So the obvious one is, of course, some of the ingredients that we will cook with that? Can you speak to have more from a broader lens? And then how can you help individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds really, again, help make those healthy food choices, especially as we’re talking about something as complicated as kidney disease?
[12:11] Edith: Yeah, so for me, There’s I feel like there’s a lot to be said for, you know, picking up on this element that you mentioned around cuisine, and then really culture, specifically, as we’re talking about Chinese cuisine and culture. How do cultural factors really influence nutrition choices? So the obvious one is, of course, some of the ingredients that we will cook with that? Can you speak to have more from a broader lens? And then how can you help individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds really, again, help make those healthy food choices, especially as we’re talking about something as complicated as kidney disease?
[13:49] Shireen: That is interesting that you mentioned the importance of culture. I do also want to switch gears and talk a little bit about children and caregivers. What unique considerations should parents caregivers be aware of when it comes to nutrition care for children with kidney disease?
[14:08] Edith: Yeah, so this population is a more difficult population to kind of provide nutrition intervention for just because children are very particular about they want to eat. They’re also their taste buds. I believe at that age, I think that there’s certain flavors that are a lot stronger in their mouths or on their tastebuds. And so really not trying to force anything upon them, but kind of meeting them where they’re at involving the child in their care is really important, especially if they’re at an age where they can speak and they do have their own opinions. So being really conscious and involving them and also trying to educate them again at a level that they’re at. So I’m not going to be throwing out complex medical jargon when I speaking with them, but I’ll kind of you know, break it down into a way that is more easy for them to understand in part two. biller to you can also kind of take approach of like what they’re currently learning in school and trying to like apply it in the same manner like that. But really, it’s involving the child learning or getting to know their food preferences as well to kind of be able to tailor something that they’re actually going to eat and not be, you know, having mealtimes be a battlefield.
[15:20] Shireen: Absolutely. How do you envision or what do you envision rather for the future of nutrition care? Especially as it evolves? You know, you mentioned a few moments ago that the science is continuously evolving. Where do you see things trending toward when it comes to nutrition care for people with kidney disease?
[15:38] Edith: I think that now there are more and more people that are wanting to know and be aware about nutrition and making better choices. I envision or I would love to see a world where there’s more people who are more knowledgeable about kidney disease and working on prevention. I really think that we need to kind of start at a younger age, I think that there should be more nutrition education being taught to children and parents to promote healthy habits. I think it really starts there.
[16:08] Shireen: If you have to say something to the parents who are here, even adults, just in general, around managing their nutrition around managing again, with a strong focus on kidney disease, where would you tell them to start? Where would they go after this episode?
[16:22] Edith: I would recommend parents to reach out to a dietitian actually, I know that there’s a lot of information on the internet, which some I think are positive, but there are also a lot that can be kind of negative information. So reaching out to a dietician or following someone’s blog or maybe their social media that is a dietitian is a good place to start checking with their insurance if there’s you know, insurance coverage to meet with a dietitian, I think is also good practices are good ways to kind of figure out the right information because again, if you just go to someone just to follow them, you know, it may not be information that’s tailored specifically to you especially if you know there’s family history of something or something else going on that you may need a little bit more personalized nutrition approach for.
[17:11] Shireen: That’s very helpful. At this time, Edith, we are toward the end of the episode. I would love for our listeners to know how they can connect with you and learn more about your work.
[17:20] Edith: Yeah, so have a blog on my website and also on my website that’s probably the best place of information to find out more about me it’s healthy mission dietitian.com I also post on Instagram once in a while it helps admission dietitian I started at TikTok but I’m you know an older person so um, you know, not as hip on that but you’d like to follow me there and help the mission that digestion also Facebook as well.
[17:45] Shireen: I don’t think anyone like majority of the population can ace Tik Tok to begin with, I don’t think it has anything to do with age. It’s like a whole another beast of its own. So yeah, do not be hard on yourself when it comes to TikTok. Yeah, but this is very helpful. Thank you so very much for your time here today. Eat it to our listeners who tuned in to another episode this week. Thank you so much for joining us. And, uh, you know what time it is, head over to her social media to her Facebook to her Instagram, and answer this super, super simple question. How do you stay proactive on the topic of nutrition around your loved ones with kidney disease? And it can really be any kind of chronic condition by tell us how do you stay proactive on all sorts of nutrition topics associated with that particular disease. Again, head over to our social media at Yumlish either on Facebook and Instagram, and we will see you there. Edith, thank you so much again for your time.
[18:41] Edith: Thank you for having me. I had a great time. Bye.
[18:44] Shireen: Bye bye.