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NEWS | April 20, 2017

NHCC dietician encourages eating right

By Kris Patterson Naval Health Clinic Charleston Public Affairs

Sweet tea is a staple of the Lowcountry but did you know a 16 oz. bottle of a popular, name-brand, sweet tea contains about 48 grams, or 12 teaspoons, of sugar? The American Heart Association recommends that men eat less than nine teaspoons of sugar in an entire day, and women, less than six teaspoons.


Living in a region famous for sugar laden and fried foods can make it difficult for people to maintain healthy diets but Naval Health Clinic Charleston has a new team member on board who is a champion for those struggling to lose weight and eat right.


My passion is to help others enhance their lives through nutrition and fitness,” said Kay Lehman, NHCC’s new registered dietitian. “My goal is to help our patients see results and make them look and feel their best.”


Lehman has been a registered dietitian for seven years. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics and a Master of Science in Physical Activity and Nutrition from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.


As a member of the NHCC Health and Wellness department, Lehman provides dietary counseling, educates staff and patients on current nutrition topics and provides health and wellness education to community members. She now offers NHCC patients one-on-one dietary consults as well as group classes.


Her key role, she said, is to help patients identify areas of their diet and lifestyles that need changing and help them develop plans to make changes. 


“I listen to the patients and base their plans on their needs,” said Lehman.  “I take into account the patient's lifestyle, likes and dislikes and try to initiate change without creating a big disruption in their overall daily routine.” 


“Weight loss is a slow and steady process but small changes lead to big results,” said Lehman.


Patients who work with Lehman should not expect a quick fix, weight loss pills or a "crash" diet, said Theresa Wood, department head of NHCC’s Health and Wellness program. Patients will, instead, talk to someone who is understanding, caring and wants to help them make lifestyle changes resulting in long-term weight loss for months and years to come.


Kay gives practical pointers and support to help clients make lasting changes,” said Wood. “This is about creating lifestyle changes so clients can keep the weight off permanently; no more yo-yo dieting.”

Lehman’s one-on-one consults involve comprehensive dietary assessments and nutrition education for a variety of conditions, including weight management, cholesterol, diabetes and other pertinent medical conditions.


Group classes are offered for weight management, heart health, diabetes and pregnancy. Patients are encouraged to follow-up at least three to six times for accountability, to assess and reevaluate goal-setting, and to get needed motivation from Lehman.


“Dietitians are an important part of any healthcare team. We’re lucky to have one on board with us here at NHCC,” said NHCC Commanding Officer Capt. Elizabeth Maley.  “Sometimes information found on the Internet can be overwhelming and often conflicting. A well-trained dietitian helps to communicate to our patients what really works for the betterment of health.” 


“I’m confident with Kay’s knowledge and skill set, she will successfully direct patients to make heart-healthy dietary changes,” said Maley.


Patients interested in one-on-one counseling with Lehman are encouraged to get a referral from their primary care physician. However, patients can self-refer for nutrition counseling by calling the NHCC Health and Wellness Department at 843-794-6910.