This week I had the pleasure of meeting Alexandre Grzeczka aka @ledretch on Twitter. We had a chat about his job as a dietitian and nutritionist, about his usage on social networks, and about the Withings products. Here is a summary of our interview.
Hi Alexandre, could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
In 1998 I started working as a dietitian and nutritionist in a pharmacy where I got the chance to meet and advise many patients. Then in 2002 I set up my own consultancy services and since 2005 I’ve also been running a clinic where I treat certain diseases. In general I help my patients and blog readers adopt a balanced diet. I consider myself a “food manager”.
Why is having a blog and using social media useful to you?
My blog and my use of the social networks are to some extent an extension of my job. I started my own blog in 2007, at that time, I wanted to share my expertise on dietetics and talk about what I was experiencing in my job. During this phase I was trying to find the best ways to learn more about my readers. It’s important to note that 90% of the blogs on dietetics mainly offers recipes that are often complicated to make, and the remaining 10% concern the physiological dimension. It seemed to me that it was necessary to contribute with some more practicable advice by providing daily information on diets, hence the name Dietinthecity.com (The blog is in French, red.) Today the best way to convey messages and create communities around specific themes is to have a blog and use the social networks.
What is the editorial line of your blog?
I post articles by intuition. I write them based on questions from my patients. The idea is to transmit pedagogical, practical and entertaining messages.
Have you noticed any change in your patients’ expectations during the last couple of years?
Yes. In the 90s, people were very much concerned with their appearance. The media and the fashion industry have had an enormous impact on the way we see our bodies, especially the female body. Today, the tendency is evolving, aesthetics has become less important, and the obsession of being “as beautiful as in the magazines” fades gradually.
75% of my clientele is made of women between 35 and 65 and today they mainly contact me because they want to lose weight for their health or for dietetic reasons. They are very aware of the fact that their health is linked to their diet, and that “you are what you eat”. My patients are beginning to understand that taking care of their diet means taking care of themselves and that it will improve their health.
What advice can you give for this summer?
You should take into consideration that the body doesn’t need as much energy during summer. It’s easy to succumb to the temptation with all the barbecues, picnics, pasta salads, rice salads, extra rounds of meat, aperitifs etc. All these calories are stored and need to be burned. A low-calorie diet is recommended but I advice you to enjoy your holidays first and foremost. Try to choose lean meat, reduce your consumption of starchy foods, avoid mayonnaise, and drink alcohol in moderation. Sport is the best way to stay slim or to lose weight, (but be careful when it’s very hot! red.) Exercise is also a good excuse for not paying attention to what you eat. Don’t fool yourself by thinking that a splash in the pool, shopping, or going for a walk is enough to stay slim. To lose weight, between 100 and 120 heartbeats per minute are required, so a good option would be jogging, bicycle rides, or swimming.
In short, what you eat today will affect your state of health tomorrow! What’s crucial is to learn how to avoid fat when you eat. It’s much easier to avoid putting on weight than to lose weight.
What do you think of the Withings products?
Whether it’s the Body Scale or the Blood Pressure Monitor, the biggest advantage of the Withings products is definitely that they are so easy to use. Another advantage is that you can retrieve all the measurements on a database where you can analyse them, e.g. by comparing them. I think this dimension is one of the features that you should try to make the most of.
What do you mean by that?
The fact is there’s a huge amount of data in the universe of “digital health”. Some users quantify their health and then they share this information on the social networks. For example, with the Body Scale, they can share their measurements on Twitter. Using other apps, they can also share what they’ve been eating or drinking, how many miles they’ve been running or walking etc. (Remember our conversation with Emmanuel Gadenne on self-tracking?) I think it’s essential that the professionals analyse the available information in order to guide and help the users in the best possible way.
My idea for the future is to create a virtual consulting room, which focuses on dietetics and health in general. The professionals have access to the patients’ measurement and in that way they can provide a specialist’s advice for the patient. This web service would then be a meeting place where professionals and patients could meet and talk about nutrition and as an extra advantage it would have a large functionality as well. In short, using the social networks allows you to develop the relationship between patients and professionals at any time.
We thank Alexandre for taking the time to meet us and we recommend you to follow twitter account. He tweets in French and in English.