Fresh Ideas from New RD Alyssa Krejci on Meal Planning, Picky Kids, Gut Problems & More
By Nutritional Weight & Wellness Staff
August 11, 2020
In light of the world of Coronavirus, we can’t welcome new staff quite like we used to. That leads us to our first ever virtual meet and greet with Alyssa Krejci, RD, LD, LMNT. We rounded up some questions to better get to know Alyssa, her background, and the fresh perspectives she brings to our team.
Q. Welcome Alyssa! You have been a dietitian for 10 years and have helped clients with tons of different health issues. What are some of the ones that stand out or that they have in common?
Yes, wow, ten years has flown by. During that time, I have helped many clients with a variety of health-related concerns and goals including digestive problems, weight loss, blood sugar control, and food logistics/family meal planning. Many of those interested in menu planning know what to do – but need help in the doing, so I work with them to figure out how to execute their healthy eating goals. One thing I have learned is the client is in the driver seat. I provide plenty of ideas and support, but I must work with the client to figure out what will work best for them. Enabling clients and families to make positive changes in relation to food and lifestyle habits is probably my favorite part of being a dietitian. Everyone’s story is so different and unique, I love hearing them all. My end goal is for a client to leave my office feeling empowered to make better choices and feel good about those choices to live their best life.
Q: Before you joined Nutritional Weight & Wellness, your last job found you in the grocery store. Can you tell us more about that? I believe you helped shoppers learn how to shop for real foods, plan meals and prepare delicious home cooked meals?
A: Yes! A large part of my job was spent in the grocery store aisles helping patients and customers learn how to shop, plan meals, and eat real food that made a positive impact on their health instead of hurting it. I was constantly explaining food labels and the connection between what you eat and how you feel. It was so rewarding to watch shoppers as the information clicked and their excitement piqued. Hand’s on learning through cooking classes was also a regular part of my job. Adults loved the meal-prep classes and going home with a weeks’ worth of family dinner meals. Teaching weekly and monthly cooking classes for kids was a passion of mine. Kids had fun getting messy and exploring new foods and the parents and/or grandparents loved the encouraging group environment for kids to try new foods with their peers like jicama fries or riced cauliflower in a smoothie.
Q: Those are valuable skills to help others develop. How would you sum up those meal planning and shopping tips and tricks? Now more than ever grocery shopping seems monumental, so any ideas would help!
A: I always say, keep it simple. Anchor meals with a protein and pair them with plants and a healthy fat. Take the time to sit down, write down a plan for the week (post-it so the kids know what to expect), take your schedule into consideration, and be realistic! If you do not get home until 6 p.m. and you want dinner on the table at 6:30 p.m. you don’t have a lot of time. Planning and prep is a huge key to success. If I set up elaborate recipes every night of the week my meal plan would fall off track pretty much immediately. My husband and I try to always make a list before shopping, and I recommend that my clients do, too. Once you are home and getting ready for the week, pre-cook foods that take longer For example, I like to prep chicken in the pressure cooker on Sunday or Monday to use all week for faster meal prep come dinnertime.
Q: You recently moved from Nebraska back to Minnesota, where you grew up. What brought you back, and how did you know you wanted to work for Nutritional Weight & Wellness?
A: My husband grew up on a farm in Nebraska. My husband and I enjoyed being close to his family’s farm, but we always had Minnesota in the back of our minds and kept talking about the possibility more after he finished his master’s degree last year. 2020 became our year to finally make the jump and move to Minnesota. When the pandemic hit it made even the most basic parts of moving more intense, BUT we did it! We are here and finally settled into our own house as of mid-July.
I first heard of Nutritional Weight & Wellness prior to moving back to Minnesota when I found and started listening to the podcast, Dishing Up Nutrition. I knew it would be a great fit for my goals and experience. I truly care about every client and want to help them feel better through real food (I really believe this though now that I say it, it sounds a bit cliché, oh well!). Knowing that about myself, I was particularly excited about how client-oriented Nutritional Weight & Wellness is. I also was drawn to the team of nutritionists and dietitians that are really into the research and thinking outside the box to help each client feel better. I wanted to be a part of that!
Q: You have mentioned how changing your diet changed your health and in turn motivated you to become a dietitian. Can you share a bit about your story?
A: Of course! I would really say I was my first client, when I made the connection for myself that food really impacted my ability to perform in life (dance, school, overall feeling happy). I should back up and say that my mom is a professional dancer, and I caught the love for dancing at an early age. As a teen I was really active in dance (I still dance but it is mostly in my living room with my kids) and I remember being surprised when I noticed a stunning difference in my energy to train when I ate real food compared to not eating enough food and choosing a lot of high sugar foods. I’m talking sugar sweetened cereal, bagels and candy – suffice it to say it was not helping my moods or my ability to perform my best. However, when my meals included a solid source of protein, fiber-rich carbohydrates, and healthy fats, I felt that my body and mind were set up for success and able to take on my day. That right there hooked me to learn more about nutrition’s impact on my body.
Q: You had tough digestive problems, too, right?
A: Unfortunately, yes, it was not all about my moods and strength to perform. I deal with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and I wanted to learn all I could to try and feel better. That is how I discovered the LOW FODMAP diet and found relief. When it came to FODMAP I learned that for some people, including me, certain foods can lead to digestive upset. I got my FODMAP certificate of training from MONASH university and not only did I begin feeling better, but so did some of my clients with similar health issues. One client was truly suffering, (I remember she said she felt like she was chained to the toilet) but after one week of her new food plan, her symptoms had decreased so much she was able to go out without wondering where every bathroom was located.
Q: Outside of work, your life is full with two little kids. Can you tell us about your family and how you cook for them?
A: Happily! When I am not helping clients feed themselves nutritious food, I am doing that with my husband for our family. I am a mother of two, so meal planning and grocery shopping is not just something I do at work; I put it into practice daily. As a mom, I believe it is mine and my husband’s job to offer healthy meals. My kids get to decide what and how much of what is offered they want to eat. I always include at least one food that each of my kids enjoy so even if they decide to just eat a lot of one food and only taste some of the other foods, they are not hungry. We keep it simple at home and have meal theme nights (think taco night, salmon night, stir-fry night, etc.) to make menu planning easier.
We have weekly staples on hand so assembling a meal is easy. Some of our staples include frozen vegetables, canned no-salt-added beans, lettuce greens, bell peppers, mini cucumbers, carrots, bananas, blueberries, lentil pasta, potatoes, cottage cheese, lactose-free milk, eggs, salmon and ground beef or turkey. Our kids love using plates with dividers so they can have individual components of a meal but not have to mix it all together like Mom and Dad.
Q: Age old question here – how do you get your kiddos to eat more veggies?
A: This is a good question that I often hear, and, in my experience, it just takes time and each kid is different. My number one piece of advice is to model that healthy diet. “Do as I say and not as I do” is NOT a great approach. When my kids see Mom and Dad always loading up on veggies, they get used to that being normal and tend to be more open to trying the foods we are eating.
That’s a wrap! Thank you, Alyssa, it was nice to have a chance to “meet” you. At this time all in-person nutrition consultations have moved virtual (or phone if that works better for you), so if you’d like to schedule a nutrition consultation with Alyssa, please be in touch online or calling our knowledgeable front desk staff at 651-699-3438. Together you can work to get to the root of your uncomfortable symptoms, learn how to make a meal plan that works for your family or conquer other health goals.