Registered Dietician, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist
Primary Care Partners
As a practicing, registered dietician with Primary Care Partners, Vanessa Carter recalls coaching a woman who had never exercised regularly. She began going to a local park where she would walk from her car to the first bench and sit down. She continued doing this until she built up endurance to walk to the second bench where she would sit down. Eventually she was able to walk two to three miles around the park. After time and persistence, she lost over 100 pounds! Carter notes, “Her confidence, her strength, her joints—everything just improved! No medication was used; she did it totally on her own!” Today that same woman shares her story in Breakthrough Classes, inspiring others to take similar steps toward reclaiming their health.
Breakthrough Classes are weight-management classes for adults led by Vanessa, which incorporate nutrition education as well as behavioral health with the goal of creating lifelong behavior changes for health and vitality. A licensed clinical therapist teaches on the importance of mindful eating, goal setting and the psychology behind weight management, while Vanessa offers instruction on meal planning, portion size, tracking food and basic nutrition. The class includes optional, private weigh-ins.
“We try to de-emphasize weight because a lot of times we see the long-term changes first. The immediate results we see have to do with things like blood sugar and blood pressure, while the weight changes are not always as immediate. We want to focus on positive behavior changes. Sometimes people throw in the towel too early before they’re rewarded with the weight changes they’re looking for,” Vanessa explains.
While Vanessa enjoys one-on-one nutrition coaching, she feels there’s something effective and powerful about the group dynamic in a class setting. “There are so many fad diets out there and so much misinformation and conflicting information surrounding weight-management. In Breakthroughs, participants learn how to eat. We talk about not demonizing food. You can have a cupcake and ‘forbidden foods’ and incorporate that into a healthy eating plan. As you teach, you see patients get it. I’ve had patients who have never exercised before get started because they were inspired by others. Some participants keep repeating the class year-round because they like the accountability of the weekly visits.”
Though the American trend is to eat out and consume convenience food, Vanessa is a big proponent of spending time in our home kitchens. She would love to see that trend shift as communities return to gardening and preparing meals from home. “It doesn’t need to be complicated,” she encourages. “Just chop some veggies for a salad and make a tuna sandwich.” She shares similar wisdom about exercise. “We think we have to go big or go home. But just put the shoes on; just go out the door! There’s a positive impact from those things. Depression is reduced, energy increases, and you sleep better. Longevity and quality of life are improved!”
In addition to group coaching, Vanessa advises patients with kidney disease, celiac disease, weight management issues, eating disorders, and food allergies, among other conditions directly affected by diet. Vanessa is also a certified diabetes care and education specialist (CDCES) which allows her to educate on insulin, blood sugar regulation, and the unique dietary and nutritional needs associated with diabetes. Her co-led six-week diabetes adult education class covers topics ranging from medication management to exercise, nutrition, as well as other lifestyle choices, like sleep and stress. Through Primary Care Partners, Vanessa is also the contracted dietician for Children’s Colorado Regional Outreach Clinics in Grand Junction. The bi-monthly clinic is available through Children’s Hospital Colorado for high-risk kids struggling with obesity along with co-existing health complications such as fatty liver, prediabetes, or high cholesterol.
With over 15 years of nutrition education and counseling experience, Vanessa is the cornerstone of Primary Care Partners Nutrition Department. She is available for consultation and accepting new patients. Contact Nutrition Therapy & Wellness at Primary Care Partners at 970-255-1576.