Eating is something that we all do, some with more intent than others. Despite the frequency, fueling our bodies and the importance of that fuel isn’t something we should overlook in our day-to-day life. Andrea Chapin, a Registered Dietitian at Lodi Health, puts things into perspective by comparing our bodies to a car, and the food we eat as fuel. “It’s understated how well you can operate when you choose the right fuel,” Chapin continues, “there is no denying you will sleep better, feel better and look better.”
As a Registered Dietitian, Andrea received her bachelors of science from San Diego State University, followed by a dietetic internship and supervised practice through Sacramento State University that ultimately brought her to San Joaquin. Her twelve-month internship rotated between St. Josephs and Lodi Memorial Hospital, and upon its completion, Andrea was offered a job at St. Josephs where she worked until her move to Lodi Health in 2011. Andrea’s daily duties as a clinical dietitian focus on the importance of food, and its influence on the human body. Together, she works with physicians, nurses, pharmacists and speech therapists to identify patient needs. She sees everyone from young children to teens with eating disorders and adults with diabetes and heart disease. As Andrea notes, seeing an impact from a change in diet takes time, so an important component of nutrition therapy is outpatient follow up once patients leave the hospital. “Diet plays a major role in the leading causes of death and disease in our country,“ Andrea states. Diet can help just as easily as it hurts. And this is something Chapin is extremely excited about.
“Our entire culture is shifting toward preventative care and wellness,” she says. And Chapin is part of that shift outside of her full time job, where she assists competitive athletes and recreational exercisers through private sports nutrition coaching. Here, Andrea finds extreme joy in the power of food, as she helps her clients reach their athletic and fitness goals with customized eating plans. “I think it’s fascinating that food plays such a huge role in athletic performances…you can improve performance without supplements; if you eat right your athleticism will really benefit from that!”
As a dietitian Andrea also educates anyone looking to simply improve their health and eating habits. She commonly hears that it’s too expensive to eat healthy, but she quickly rebuttals with the simple fact that, in the end, it will be much more expensive to not be mindful of your body, noting the medical costs of ill health. “And some of the healthiest foods are free!” Andrea says, as she describes living in San Joaquin to living in a giant fruit basket. With the opportunity to buy local, from the source, the cost is very affordable.” For those looking to take the first steps toward a healthy diet, Andrea suggests beginning with small, reachable goals. “Start with things like, drink more water, or aim to eat more vegetables.” She also notes that people are so concerned with the number on the scale, when really the measurable outcome is how you feel and function throughout the day. Yes, today our culture is go-go-go but, with the advantages we have here in San Joaquin, Andrea challenges us all to start the New Year off with fruits, beans, vegetables and other whole foods grown here in our community. “You will feel better!” she promises.