It’s not news that eating a balanced diet helps to prevent chronic issues like heart disease and cancer. But did you know that eating well can nourish your brain, too? Particular foods and nutrients help protect and control brain functioning, and ward off disorders. Through expert recommendations from Amy McCallister, RD, owner of AM Nutrition Services, Treasure House prioritizes an overall healthy and balanced lifestyle for each resident that is enhanced with foods known to promote peak brain and cognitive function. In this blog, learn how Treasure House makes integrating healthful food options into daily diets ‘a piece of cake.’
Treasure House is home to differently abled residents, each with their own very unique dietary needs. Our dietitian meets individually with each new resident and their life coach for a health assessment where custom recommendations are created and achievable goals are set. Dietary restrictions and nutritional goals are as diverse as our residents. We must consider anti-inflammatory diets, pescatarian diets, diets that are beneficial to thyroid disorders and so much more. In addition, we think about how some foods will interact with certain medications and existing allergies. Did you know that people with down syndrome have a 15 percent lower metabolic rate? For all residents in our community, we focus on positive food choices and portion management to keep metabolisms as high as possible.
“Food heavily impacts mental health and behavior. Studies show that a balance of exercise, nutrition and supplements can have just as helpful an impact as medicines most commonly prescribed for depression,” said Amy. “Treasure House is on board with that, and is unlike any group living home in the Valley – they never blink an eye when it comes to quality nutrition as they help residents lead fulfilling lives. Eat better, feel better, live better.”
Like any family, we enjoy eating together! Amy collaborates with Brian, our in-house chef, to make sure that each individual’s needs are met at meal time. Brian ensures that healthy options are always encouraged and that there are plenty of “power snacks” available throughout the day and evening to keep energy and blood sugar even, since meal timing is important to all populations. All Treasure House staff play a role in keeping residents on track with their goals. Amy refers to Life Coaches at Treasure House as Health Coaches – they support all goals by focusing on big picture planning. A few times each month, they connect with Amy to do a status check on goals, weight, overall health and more ways to better accommodate each resident’s specific needs. Amy returns encouragement and recommendations. As an added benefit, Treasure House staff get a complimentary one-hour consultation with the dietitian so that they can lead by example.
Fast Food Friday at Treasure is a day that residents look forward to. Panda Express, In N’ Out and Fired Pie are among the fan favorites. Amy’s thoughts? “I love it!” she said. “It’s called real life. Treasure House is teaching that everything in moderation is a-ok. We’re not about deprivation.” Life Coaches can sometimes even help residents make healthier choices at fast food establishments.
Amy has owned AM Nutrition Services for 14 years of her 21-year career as a registered dietitian. “My mom had a major health issue and passed away when I was deciding my major. I felt that nutritionally, she could have made some changes to benefit her health,” said Amy. “I wanted to learn and join this ‘helping’ profession. Being a dietitian is as close to teaching as I can get.”
Amy earned a degree in Nutrition Science and Chemistry from Northern Arizona University. She began AM Nutrition Services in 2007, and manages 26 Registered Dietitians who see youth and adult patients with a variety of health issues at seven Valley locations. When Treasure House formed in 2018, the nonprofit knew that it needed to retain expert nutrition services to help resident’s stay as healthy as possible so that they could achieve fulfilling lives at Treasure House and in the community. We discovered Amy, a leading nutritionist in the Valley. In 2011, she was named a “35 Entrepreneurs under 35” by the Arizona Republic. She has made appearances on Channel 12’s Today in AZ and Ask the Experts segments.