David Egerdahl is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Patient Services Manager and Nutrition Coach in Colorado Springs, CO. His main passion is men’s diet and nutrition. David is the Dietitian you see when you want to make gains in your, health, fitness, and life. You can find David at nutritiongains.com where he offers a blog and nutrition coaching for everything from fat loss, muscle building, and better diet in general, to improving diet at work, eating for better mood, and men’s health. He also loves speaking to large groups about a variety of nutrition topics to groups, on stage or on TV. David believes good nutrition in not just important for improving and maintaining your health but also other aspects of your life from business/career, to finances, to family. He also enjoys powerlifting, basketball, and Rick and Morty.
Mathea Ford: [00:00:27] Hi there! It’s Mathea. Welcome back to the Nutrition Experts Podcast. The podcast featuring nutrition experts who are leading the way using food starts today right now with our next guest. It’s great to have Dave Egerdahl on the show today. Dave welcome Nutrition Experts. I’m excited to have you on the show and share your expertise with my tribe.
David Egerdahl: [00:00:49] No problem Mathea. Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.
Mathea Ford: [00:00:52] So, Dave we’re going to talk today about a few different topics but I’d like to start with letting you tell my listeners a little more about you and what you do.
David Egerdahl: [00:01:00] So, right now I’ll wear a few different hats. I’m a Patient Services Manager in a hospital in Colorado Springs. Basically what that entails is managing not only the room service aspect but the nutrition aspect that goes a long list with dealing with all those different diets and menus and what not. I also do a lot of diet, nutrition, public relations stuff for the hospital like last week I was doing live television. Next week I’ll be doing a heart healthy event where I’m doing a cooking demonstration on how to cook Quinoa you know things like that. And then since I just can’t stay away from nutrition counseling and coaching, I do do some coaching on the side as a kind of I guess a side hustle you could say.
Mathea Ford: [00:01:51] Where do you go to school?
David Egerdahl: [00:01:53] University of North Dakota.
Mathea Ford: [00:01:55] Okay. So, you didn’t stray too far from home?
David Egerdahl: [00:02:00] Right!
Mathea Ford: [00:02:00] So, I think it’s interesting to talk about dietitians working in Patient Services. I did that almost my entire career and I love food service. So, I would love you to talk a little bit about what it’s like to manage a room service kitchen and what kind of room service like in a hospital? Because that’s maybe a new concept for people or maybe people have heard of it and they don’t understand how it works.
David Egerdahl: [00:02:27] Sure. It is you know I think in the past the expectation for hospital food has been you know I get my Salisbury Steak and dry mashed potatoes and some jello and that’s my meal. But yeah it’s changed a lot over the years where it’s a room service style the same sort of style you would see in a hotel where patients are calling down placing their order. And we have unique sophisticated systems to track allergies, track diet needs etc. and still allow them to get a pretty decent meal in the hospital while they’re getting better. It’s a whole complicated system with not just the you know the order taking but then you know the production of it and the delivery of it. There’s all kind of it’s new technology to help track delivery times and all these sort of things. So, it’s pretty cool, unique, complicated all rolled into one but it’s it’s a fun challenge to have.
Mathea Ford: [00:03:28] So, if I’m a patient in your hospitals do I have to pay extra to get room service versus just a regular tray?
David Egerdahl: [00:03:34] Absolutely not! No. No. And I’m sure the way it gets billed is different in every hospital but I know for us it’s just part of the stay. So, no, no it’s not extra. That’s that’s the price of admission is you get that perk.
Mathea Ford: [00:03:51] So, do patients have something in their room based on their diet? What they can eat? Or how do they know what they can order?
David Egerdahl: [00:03:59] In most places, in our place I’ll use my place an example. So, we have our regular menu and then so that takes care about 60 percent of the patients because that’s what we find are our regular menu in our hospital. And then we have diabetics which makes up the next bulk. And the way we communicate that to them is through the nursing staff to doctors they’re letting them know we’re pretty tight in your diet or such and such reason. Whatever that [00:04:24] AP [0.3] and sometimes is new to them which is it’s a challenge in itself. And then we have the carb counts and the menu so that that takes care and maybe another 20 percent and then another about 15 percent maybe on a heart healthy. So, we use ways to indicate whether a meal item or a menu item rather is heart healthy was little emblem next to it that’s heart healthy and that takes care about 95 percent of the diets the rest of them get a little complicated. So, we create special menus distribute those when we need to.
David Egerdahl: [00:04:58] And then along with that, the diet operators are trained in diets by a dietitian so they can help them along the way and Health Touch which is our just our system that we use to help with meal ordering gives all that information of what sodium, fat, carbohydrate whatever nutrient you want to be tracking for that patient is in there.
Mathea Ford: [00:05:20] They have a menu in their room and they call down. It seems to me like that would be more expensive for food service. So, is your hospital more of like a higher end hospital or is it more expensive to have room service than regular like trays that people just get automatically?
David Egerdahl: [00:05:40] Not necessarily. Once you have the infrastructure there it’s not much more expensive. I hope I’m not giving away any secrets but the industry standard for a tray cost is about a dollar and 80 cents. And we are below that. So, we’re offering these these menus and the reason why we’re able to do because we’re a relatively large hospital and so we can use kind of economies of scale to make food costs low, labor costs low and then the cost of operating overhead that gets eaten up just by the sheer volume that we do.
Mathea Ford: [00:06:16] I guess what I’m thinking is somebody on a clear liquid diet. Do they get to call then order room service?
David Egerdahl: [00:06:23] Yes. Yeah! We do that right. We have a whole list of clear liquids that are you know some your typical clear liquids like [00:06:31] Brock [0.4] and jello and those sort of things but then we you know we offer Gatorade or you know certain things that are you know not the typical liquid. And we try really hard to work with the docs and nurses on protocols where they don’t have to be on clear liquids all that long. Because the research is finding that you know people are doing pretty fine if they are given a kind of a la carte. You know allow them to order some regular meal items as long as they’re not too hard on the stomach or whatever unless it’s like a G.I. surgery then there’s definitely some special considerations there.
Mathea Ford: [00:07:10] You know I’m thinking I have a regular tray and it’s got all the food on it. Whether you wanted it or not it’s got you know a milk or coffee or tea, it’s got a dessert, it’s got the entrees, it’s got vegetable sides and when people called down I’m guessing they’re just ordering whatever they’re in the mood for. So, if all they want is a hamburger and some fries or whatever. They probably eat that more so than… You find that they eat better and that they you know have eat a better portion of their trays, less food waste?
David Egerdahl: [00:07:42] I don’t know that we really track that necessarily. So, the big thing that drives why a hospital would want a room service style dining is the personalization that it allows the patient. So, most hospitals measure patient satisfaction through a third party survey and there is a financial incentive for hospitals to have a high patient satisfaction score. And also it’s just good for the hospital to be rated high on that regard. So, room service style dining drives that when a hospital has room service style dining. Their patient satisfaction scores improved immensely compared to like the older you know “Here’s what’s for lunch of thing. Take it or leave it. Patients nowadays like to have a little bit more control what’s going on in hospital stay and food service and nutrition is a big part of that.
Mathea Ford: [00:08:40] Once you’re in a hospital there’s very little that you have control over and really being able to make some choices you know you don’t know when you’re going to get your surgery or you don’t know when people are going to come near into your room and talk to you or how long you’re going to be there. But having that choice would seem to be an excellent thing. So, is it I guess I didn’t get you to answer the question is it pretty popular in hospitals or is it still some that’s growing?
David Egerdahl: [00:09:08] It’s becoming the standard. It’s becoming something that most hospitals do. The reason why you wouldn’t maybe do that sort of style dining is because if you’re a 20 bed hospital and you know there’s just not enough folks to justify doing that sort of thing. You know it might not be for you but if you’re you know 150, 200, 300 and up bed hospital it’s very… It’s not only very cost effective, it’s very good on your you know the satisfaction of the patient or the quality of their stay.
Mathea Ford: [00:09:47] Something else you mentioned that you do at your hospital is like media relations, nutrition. So, how does that work how do you get those opportunities?
David Egerdahl: [00:09:56] Relationships. So, one of the things I love to do is speak in front of groups. I love to do that. I love to you know not just you know as a patient services manager, training, staffer or running a meeting but I love to talk to groups about various nutrition topics like I do a monthly once you learn from the hospital. The last one we did was you know healthy fats because you know pretty basic topic that the layperson doesn’t have a lot of information about. I Just love getting in front of people helping them in that way providing any guided or information I can give them and do it in a way that they can receive and is meaningful to them is really important. Just having that like I don’t do that necessarily because I’m going to get anything back. I just enjoy doing it and I find that you know what the more I do stuff like that the more people will notice and say “oh they might be good for this or they might be good for that.” So I get all these opportunities and I’m not shy either so I’ll stand in front of a camera. I’ll get on a radio station, I’ll do a podcast. Not a lot of dietitians I find have that outgoing personality. Least like the ones I’ve worked with in the hospital. They’re kind of a shy away from that but I’ve always enjoyed it. In my past I did a diabetic self-management. And the part of that was a monthly course that would talk to groups of people so I just sharpen my skills.
Mathea Ford: [00:11:26] I get you because I do love talking about nutrition and I do it all the time because I have this podcast. But I just love talking and hearing that interaction and being able to see what questions people have. Being able to explain things maybe more clearly than the quick snippet that they saw on a TV show or on the morning news or whatever. So, do you find you get asked a lot of kind of questions about what’s in the news and stuff when you’re on your presentations?
David Egerdahl: [00:11:58] You know some of the common stuff. You know what’s popular now so like Vegan Diets. I get asked a lot about that. I get asked a lot about keto. I get asked a lot. You name the sad I get asked about it. So, yeah you gotta be prepared for that. And then like if anything likes comes out of the news, people will ask my opinion of it or even if they’re just doing something kind of you know that I wasn’t even aware of. Like one time I was walking through the halls of a hospital and the media relations person said they’re doing a thing on strokes and “So, what’s your opinion on that?” I jokingly said “I’m against them. If you can not have those shows will be good.”.
Mathea Ford: [00:12:42] Yeah! You could avoid that.
David Egerdahl: [00:12:42] The more you put yourself out there I feel like the more that comes back to you. It’s like it’s not anything I’m necessarily like advertising that I do or promoting that I do but you know just being willing to do it creates those opportunities if you like.
Mathea Ford: [00:12:56] Yes! That’s a good tip for people that are listening that may want to do more of that is just to start seeing where you can do some small things maybe.
David Egerdahl: [00:13:06] And definitely starting out, I mean it’s you know some people like you know what they want to be compensated for their time. I think really does it start out that way. Usually it starts out you’re kind of volunteering or you’re doing it out of sheer enjoyment. And then it builds into that once you know you started building a fan base and a demand in all this stuff. So…
Mathea Ford: [00:13:26] From your perspective, one of the things that you like to talk about on your blog and we’ve talked about is how men and women’s nutrition is different. So, can you talk a little bit about that? About how maybe people could see that it’s different because I think it’s always interesting to get different points of view.
David Egerdahl: [00:13:49] The field is still pretty well dominated by women but it is just something I had a passion for. So, it’s what I decided I wanted to do. One of my first roles was a nutrition counselor. You know I would see diabetic patients, bariatric patients, renal patient here there and then one off in between. “Oh! I want to lose weight or I want to lower my cholesterol or stuff like that. So, I started to notice that whenever I would get a guy consult, it would usually be a situation where his wife was coming along and I feel like the guy always had kind of a standoffish like “Okay, it’s going to be me and the Mrs against him and the Mrs. against mee and I got you know I got to go through this kind of thing.” You know I started to notice that and I would “Why is that happening?” So I kind of did some research and you know typically guys it is changing a little bit. The guys you know when they’re trying to get healthy they don’t really seek diet as a means to do that, they might do more exercise or something like that but I started to approach relate to guys on a guy level. And you know I started to learn more about you know the differences in men’s nutrition and women’s nutrition. Basically, there’s no difference. All the nutrients that are essential for men are essential for women. There’s no difference there but where the differences come into play is you know a guy can get it all away with eating a little bit more food just because you know the differences in size so the calories are more. But also attitudes and preferences like men tend to be more meat eaters and that sort of thing. And you start to realize well maybe there’s a the reason for that. Maybe there’s for instance men produce much more testosterone than women and there’s a whole metabolism and nutrient need that goes around all of that. So you know what are those nutrient needs? And how can we provide those from there and then? And how can we let guys take control of their nutrition rather than kind of let the Mrs. handle that kind of thing? Once I started taking more reproach were like “Sir, I’m helping you. If you’re not interested in my help I understand but you need to take responsibility for your nutrition.” I got a better response from guys because I think part of that is I’m a guy as well but the other thing is like you know “I don’t have to eat which she eats” you know and you know that’s kind of the way it ends up going sometimes is whoever’s the cook in the family and traditionally it’s been the women. They kind of just put whatever and in front of the guy and he’s like “oh! This is what’s for dinner tonight now that I have to watch my blood sugar.” So, finding ways to meet guys’ food preference in a way that you know that’s not taken away their beer or whatever the thing is that they want to hold on to and men just tend to have different goals I think than women in health. Just you know working with people that I do have found that guys tend to have more they’re more concerned with you know how they perform, how they feel rather than like finding getting a weight loss resolved or what have you. Were women there that you know if the doctor tells of their blood sugar is high they want to correct that immediately on the spot. That’s a motivator for them. It’s not necessarily for guys and I know that’s surprising to hear. “If my blood sugar is high so what? What was that matter?” So now I’m get long winded here. But yeah that’s that’s kind of you know some of the basic differences I’ve noticed.
Mathea Ford: [00:17:24] I think it’s interesting because as a dietitian you know working for a long time I noticed a pattern to. I noticed that and I’m always happy when the spouse comes along because that way there’s not the friction of trying to change later and obviously it’s a generational thing a lot of times where the woman wife whatever does most of the cooking. But interesting to think about men’s weight loss calls differently are men’s nutrition health fitness goals whatever because when we talk to them it’s that switch that you’re talking about whereas finding out what they’re interested in changing. And as you said that I think about my husband because he’s gained a little weight and he constantly talks about how he doesn’t feel good and he wants to lose the weight. So, it is related to how he wants to feel. It’s not necessarily about the number on the scale. That’s a good thought for people to have when they’re talking to people just realize you know the perspective difference that’s an excellent point.
David Egerdahl: [00:18:34] Yeah! And that’s I would say that’s the main difference because when you really like boil it down and reduce it it’s you know we all need to eat healthy and that’s what the layers beyond that are just like well what is motivating this person to want to do that? Because people say “Oh I should do this or should do that.” Is that really what you want to do? You know when you really ask that question. Well, now, I’d really rather do this you know. So, it’s finding I guess you know what that motivator is and relating to it and finding solutions for.
Mathea Ford: [00:19:11] That just reminds me a little bit that I recently had a little bit of an epiphany thinking about how we think about goals as far as trying to get away from something vs. trying to go towards something. Because once you’re getting away from something then you kind of get a little more relaxed vs. if you’re trying to go towards something. For example at A1C number or something like that. You’re more apt to reach it because you’re going for that number instead of trying to avoid something. Can you talk a little bit about dietitians do nutrition counseling? Typically, I see a lot of nutrition coaching. Can you tell me a little bit about what you think is the difference between those two and how you approach it?
David Egerdahl: [00:19:57] From a practical standpoint from the nutritionist. There’s really no difference. You’re still doing an assessment. Still coming up with some sort of nutrition diagnosis and then following up and monitoring you know when I try to think of some good differences, I know that when I was in a counseling role I was seeing more diabetic more, bariatric, stuff that was covered by insurance. So, they were referred to by a physician to me and you know that’s that whole game coaching you really is more like you know “I got a goal and I knew I really need somebody’s help to get there” whether that be you know in terms of a nutritionist, whether that’s just eating healthy or weight loss or gaining muscle or whatever it is. I guess that would be the main difference.
Mathea Ford: [00:20:48] If someone is getting nutrition coaching you seem a little bit more like not necessarily having goals of medical or lab related stuff but more just personal weight or fitness or something like that? Is that what you’d say?
David Egerdahl: [00:21:04] I think that’s fair to say. I think that’s fair to say. I think especially in a hospital setting for example which I don’t know. I kind of think of it as nutrition counseling but some may not. That’s a captive audience. They may not necessarily want to see you but you know if you’re putting yourself out there as a coach and you’re saying you know I’m offering this service for you if you’d like you’re getting somebody who maybe a little more motivated. Maybe you know has a goal in mind where you know that counselor or that person that’s the doctors you know forcing them to see a nutritionist or whatever. They might have a goal. They may not even be ready for change just yet. So, you got to kind of you know if you can try to figure out how to get them from there.
Mathea Ford: [00:21:51] Yes. Since you deal a lot with the healthy diet in the hospital and then working with people doing different things. Can you talk a little bit to the audience about how a healthy diet is different from a weight loss diet? Because I think a lot of times people think “I’ve got to get on a diet to lose weight and then I could eat differently whenever I’m done losing weight” I guess. So can you talk a little bit about that?
David Egerdahl: [00:22:18] The thing I’ve noticed is that you know people are using healthy diet and weight loss diet synonyms and which they can be at times. But you start to see some of the stuff that people are you know doing to try to lose weight are not necessarily the healthiest things point to any fad. And you can just you couldn’t. You can see well that might not be sustainable long term. You might end up having some trouble with that in the future. I remember one time going on TV they asked me to talk about diet cleanses, these liquid cleanses. I think they fully expected me to say something different that I did say because I you know I pretty much put him down as these are not a healthy sustainable way to lose weight.
David Egerdahl: [00:23:06] And essentially the weight you’re losing during that week of clenses is water weight. So, if you’re using that as a means of weight loss you know I don’t think that’s the most effective or efficient means. And then you also look at the fitness industry and you see these very fit people like fitness competitors and bodybuilders and stuff like that and they you know it’s assumed that these people must be doing you know they must have the healthiest lifestyle, the healthiest diet and a lot of things they do are very healthy, a lot of things they do are very extreme and very taxing on the body and not always the best for oneself.
Mathea Ford: [00:23:41] Sometimes, I think everybody should consider that they should be on a healthy diet whether they’re trying to lose weight or not.
David Egerdahl: [00:23:48] Right. Anything any health behavior you do is going to you know whether it’s taking a medication or follow a diet protocol or do an exercise program. It’s going to have some side effects whether good or bad. We can point all the side effects medications but you know their side effects associated with certain diets. If you start to exercise program that you’re not acclimated towards you’re going to have some pretty serious side effects you’re going to be very sore. You’re going to feel stress. You’re going to feel like you don’t want to do this. And there’s probably a reason that your body’s not ready for it. So, when I see things like you know people wanting to do Keto or people wanted to do fasting or you know I encouraged them to anything. “Okay. You know I’m not against you trying that but I want you to consider you know is this something you’re going to be able to sustain? And if not what do you plan to do once you’re done with it?” Because we all know about the yo yo diet syndrome and that’s essentially not having a plan for once your diet fails. That’s basically you know these protocols you know you see a lot of research and there’s research really to back up anything as long as you have strong enough belief about it. And there’s research to disprove it but it’s just a matter of what are you doing why are you wanting to do that? And what’s your plan B? Because if you’ve ever done a low carb diet before and you try it for a week or two or a month and you decide “this is not for me” what’s your plan B? Because that’s pretty typical is that you know people try something like that go strong for a month and then it falls apart.
Mathea Ford: [00:25:34] Being in Colorado, we all know Colorado has recreational and medical marijuana. I would just be interested what you see people using medical marijuana for that seems to be pretty effective with relations to any sort of nutrition stuff. You got any ideas about that?
David Egerdahl: [00:25:53] Typically what I see people using like edibles or smoke marijuana for is either like for a while is doing oncology inpatient nutrition and you know that’s something that’s very popular. The folks who are going through that sort of treatment it’s just like another thing it’s just like curcumins and it’s just like another thing where people you know they’ve latched on to this you know the benefits of this one single thing. And they you know build products around it to try to you know sell it basically. I got to be honest I’m not too up to date on all the research of it because I think a healthy lifestyle doesn’t necessarily need to include marijuana even though I live in Colorado. I’m probably going to alienate a lot of people in Colorado but I don’t think it’s you know it’s a cure all. I’m sure there are some benefits to it because you know you know it’s being used but I don’t know that you know that’s something I can confidently tell people you should try this because I think it’ll help you with XYZ.
Mathea Ford: [00:27:04] Okay. So, one of the questions I always like to ask my guests is what is your favorite food?
David Egerdahl: [00:27:11] Pizza.
Mathea Ford: [00:27:13] Pizza. Any specific pizza?
David Egerdahl: [00:27:15] No! Just pepperoni pizza is my favorite food. I know that’s probably you know something you don’t expect a dietitian to say. But we’re human too. We eat what we like. We like pizza and chocolate and occasional alcoholic beverage. So, I will say that I’ve tried to make more of a traditional style pizza these days where it’s more of a thinner crust, more heavier on the on the fresh ingredients maybe like I’ve tried one recently with goat cheese rather than like a mozzarella because it’s a little bit lower in fat than some roast cheeses out there. So, it’s my vice. I won’t lie. I try to eat healthy 80 to 90 percent of the time but if there’s a pizza party going on I’m going to party for sure.
Mathea Ford: [00:28:06] It’s got all the food groups. Right?
David Egerdahl: [00:28:07] No! I hate that too. I hate when people say to justify. Just accept that it’s not healthy. And that’s okay. Okay? That’s all right. That it’s not healthy.
Mathea Ford: [00:28:19] All foods can fit.
David Egerdahl: [00:28:20] Yes. But I don’t like when you know. Well, Chocolate’s healthy right? Because if you got the dark chocolate. Yeah, you know. Yeah, dark chocolate is great but have you had actual real dark chocolate? Do you really like it? Because I would venture to guess that if you had a 100 percent cocoa that you’re not too into it.
Mathea Ford: [00:28:42] Yeah! That would be very bitter.
David Egerdahl: [00:28:43] But just just just be okay. Oh that’s another thing I like is people don’t put too much pressure on themselves to feel like that they should eat away or they have to eat away. And if they don’t that it’s some sort of they’ve committed some sort of sin. Just be ok with that. Just allow it. And part of taking care of yourself is allowing you know getting the nutrients you want or need rather but also allowing yourself to enjoy some of the things you do like. I mean don’t don’t make it a lifestyle obviously but I mean don’t don’t beat yourself up if you had some cheesecake you know because it’s fine. Don’t let that ruin you.
Mathea Ford: [00:29:26] Gotcha! I love that because if you can add a little bit of mindfulness and portion you know just getting enough to really satisfy that urge and then let it go. That’s a great way to still get those things you want.
David Egerdahl: [00:29:42] I like to use the term love. We should we should love ourselves and you know what kind of ways do we love ourselves. Well, what kind of ways do we love others. We cook for them. We keep them warm, we give them gifts. You should be doing those things for yourself too. You should be putting the stuff in you that is good for you and allowing yourself some of those things that are you know delicious but not so good for you and you should be allowing yourself to have breaks and things like that. You know the things that we do to love others we should be doing for ourselves too so that we can love others better.
Mathea Ford: [00:30:15] That’s excellent point. Dave, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. It was a pleasure to have you on the show. I know my listeners learned a lot about Room Service, menus, all the different stuff we talked about today. So if listeners want to connect with you what’s the best way to do that?
David Egerdahl: [00:30:32] On Facebook. Nutrition Gains with Dave Egerdahl. I’m on Twitter David E RDN. And then I have a website NutritionGains.com where people can find me.
Mathea Ford: [00:30:43] Okay. Well, guys this has been another great episode of the Nutrition Experts Podcast. The podcast that is all about learning more so you can do more with nutrition in your life.