Forge is excited to kick off a new series, Cooking with Laura, focusing on nutrition during and after cancer diagnosis and treatment. Nutrition is a critical, but often overlooked component of survivorship. We are delighted to partner with Laura Rutledge, MA, RDN, CSO, a Registered Dietician Nutritionist who focuses on oncology nutrition. Keep reading below to get to know Laura and keep an eye out for great information, tips, and even recipies that Laura will be sharing with forge!
Forge: Tell us a little about yourself!
Laura Rutledge: I’m originally from Huntsville, AL but have lived in Birmingham for over 30 years. I am married to a wonderful man, Patrick, and we have two rescue dogs, Harry and Murphy. I enjoy taking the dogs on long walks, reading cookbooks and cooking (of course!). I also enjoy camping. Before I was married I even had a little pop-up camper. There was only enough room in it for one person (and a dog) so we sold it after getting married, but I would love to get another camper someday and explore the National Parks.
Forge: As a Registered Dietitian, what sparked you interest in focusing on oncology nutrition?
LR: I started working with people diagnosed with cancer about 15 years ago. From myths and misinformation online to well-meaning but often overbearing friends and family, patients are often overwhelmed and confused about what to eat. I enjoy taking the science and evidence related to cancer and nutrition and educating patients on foods and dietary patterns that will help them through their cancer journey. My interest in oncology nutrition led to me obtaining certification through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as a Certified Specialist in Oncology (CSO).
Forge: You’ve worked in a variety of settings – from patient care to undergraduate and graduate education? What has been your most fun and rewarding moment thus far?
LR: Each setting has provided many fun and rewarding moments! I never pictured myself as an educator growing up but I have found that role to be one of the most rewarding. Teaching students and educating individuals has challenged me to remain up to date on current research and trends. I may not know every answer but that just means I’ll learn something new in trying to find it!
Forge: Why do you feel that nutrition is such an important component of cancer survivorship?
LR: Nutrition is important at all stages in the cancer journey – from cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment, and survivorship. Good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle can help prevent and manage some of the chronic health conditions that can occur after cancer treatment such as cancer recurrence, heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
Forge: You started Nourishing Plate as a way to provide evidence-based information. What’s the most important bit of information you try to share with someone facing a cancer diagnosis and treatment?
LR: Every person’s cancer journey is unique. Each person must discover what will work for them. Regarding the diet, it is important to focus on the overall dietary pattern, not a specific food. No single food, vitamin, mineral, spice, herb or supplement can prevent or cure cancer!
Forge: What is something you are planning to share that we might not expect in your upcoming series with Forge?
LR: Hopefully I’ll dispel some myths and provide evidence-based information about nutrition and cancer which can lead to a healthier relationship with food. I also hope to encourage people to try some new foods or prepare items in a way they may not have done before and love it!
Laura Rutledge is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who loves to eat, think about food and talk about food Laura graduated from Auburn University with a BS in the Coordinated Dietetics Program and completed a master’s degree in exercise physiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is credentialed as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) and licensed as a dietitian in the state of Alabama. I am also a board certified specialist in oncology nutrition. Laura works in the Bruno Cancer Center at St. Vincent’s Health System and is the founder of Nourishing Plate which provides healthy recipes and evidence-based nutrition information for cancer prevention, treatment, and survivorship.