David Wiss is in the Process of Earning his PhD Public Health from UCLA in the Department of Community Health Sciences!
His Personal Statement has been included here:
I am a working Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with an academically focused private practice specializing in patients with challenging eating and substance use disorders. In addition, I supervise several educational groups at various addiction treatment centers throughout the Los Angeles area. My interest in this unique patient population led me to develop specialized dietary curriculum for people in early recovery. Currently, there are no “best practice” protocols. To this end, I am pursuing a PhD in Community Health Sciences in order to improve the impact of nutrition interventions in patients with various addictions, as well as develop curriculum for clinical practices on a larger scale. My overall aim is to reduce disordered eating in early recovery and to improve the quality of life for patients with disabling addictive disorders.
Introducing the concept of food and nutrition into an addiction treatment program is not an easy task. Many patients in early recovery are not ready for multiple health behavior changes, since most are simply trying to get past the immediate crisis of addiction and the associated life adjustments of abstinence. In fact, sobriety can magnify pre-existing dysfunctional eating behavior. Many patients began using drugs and alcohol in their early teens, and never developed a healthy relationship to food, and may have damaged their gut microbiota through the use of alcohol, pills, opiates, and other substances, creating significant barriers to nutrition interventions. Most are unaware of the links between nutrition and recovery. Meanwhile, an increasing number of people in recovery have reported that the inclusion of healthful food as a healing modality has been beneficial for their overall mood and mental acuity. In several of the treatment centers where I work, patients are surprised when they discover that making small nutritional changes (such as drinking water or eating breakfast) can impact energy levels, overall sense of wellness, and optimism about being sober.
Unfortunately, traditional medical insurance plans do not cover nutrition services for addiction recovery. This is in part due to a lack of objective evidence about the efficacy of nutrition interventions in addiction recovery. My goal is to develop evidence-based guidelines for nutrition interventions in substance use disorders, which will hopefully lead to new policies and protocols for nutrition standards. Specifically, I am proposing an investigation of various measurable outcomes such as weight changes, nutritional status, inflammatory markers, length of abstinence, quality of life, and self-efficacy, in individuals receiving nutrition education and life skills training (shopping, cooking) compared to individuals who do not (control group).
My Master’s Thesis “Nutrition and Substance Abuse” was a multidisciplinary (psychologists and dietitians) investigation into the special needs of patients with addiction/alcoholism in the Veterans Affairs healthcare system. The survey study examined differences between veterans (who were engaged in recovery) with a history of alcohol or drug abuse and those with no history, all of who were enrolled in a weight management program. One of the significant findings in the study was that individuals with a history of substance abuse reported more difficulty controlling their eating when they were depressed. This research was published internally and awarded the Carrie Latt Wiatt Scholarship by the Family & Consumer Sciences (Nutrition) department at California State University, Northridge (CSUN).
During my dietetic internship year, I spent four transformative months at UCLA Medical Center where I worked with the eating disorders unit. During this time, I also began to teach nutrition classes at local addiction treatment settings. It quickly became apparent that patients in most treatment centers do not receive targeted nutrition education. After graduation from CSUN in 2013, I opened a private practice to treat patients with addictions, eating disorders, and those struggling with weight management, body image, and mental health issues. I founded Nutrition in Recovery to offer a range of nutrition and wellness services to private sector addiction treatment centers. At this time I was also on staff at Breathe Life Healing Centers, developing their binge eating disorder program as Director of Nutrition. After years of working in the field, I feel ready to pursue a PhD degree at UCLA.
Since becoming a registered dietitian, I have continued to be involved in research and education. I have published two book chapters and two peer-reviewed journal articles on eating disorders and addictions. In the past three years I have chaired five webinars sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on topics related to my area of expertise. Additionally, I serve as a consultant reviewer for the Journal of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. From 2012-2014 I was a member of the executive committee of the Behavioral Health Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group where I gained insight into the role of nutrition in the treatment of mental illness. As the Research and Grants Committee Chair for the Los Angeles District (California Dietetic Association) I created a video series about the importance (and lack) of research in dietetics. Since that time I have felt a strong determination to “be the change I wish to see” in the nutrition field, which means conducting original studies using validated research methodology. I am seeking the training and support from the UCLA School of Public Health to achieve these goals.
Personal career highlights of mine have included teaching opportunities at conferences, hospitals, and at local universities. In my private practice I am a preceptor for numerous dietetic interns, where I can “give back” as well influence the future of my field. For several years I have volunteered at the United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles teaching nutrition courses to post-guilty-plea defendants in the conviction and sentence alternatives (CASA) program. This work with underserved populations in the criminal justice system has created a sense of purpose and duty that I would like to develop further. This experience has led me to believe that an academic career would complement and fulfill my life’s mission: to use nutrition to help people.
I am also proud to be a co-founder of an organization called Dietitians for Professional Integrity. We are a group of concerned dietetic professionals looking to advance our profession and credential through advocacy for greater financial transparency and ethical sponsorships within the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Our efforts and dialogues with other dietitians and our Academy leadership have spurred policy changes regarding industry-sponsored educational sessions at our annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo. We believe the American public deserves nutrition information that is not tainted by the questionable interests of the food industry, who funds most of the nutrition research in the United States. With publication bias and ways of spinning conclusions in favor of their agenda (profit), the food industry has succeeded in undermining public health initiatives to reduce intake of high-energy foods with very little nutritional value. There is more advocacy work to be done and I am highly motivated to conduct innovative research within the emerging framework of food addiction. From my perspective, the Community Health Sciences Program at UCLA offers me an excellent pathway to advance these goals.
Another goal in obtaining a doctorate from the UCLA Department of Community Health Sciences is to broaden my knowledge and skill set in order to evaluate and interpret complex data using statistical analysis. Advanced graduate training will improve my ability to think in a formal, logical, and structured way, and to assess needs on a population level. In recent years, research that demonstrates a connection between food and addiction has gained momentum and increased public attention. I have been called to contribute to our understanding of how brain chemistry, hormones, and gut microbes influence human behavior. My aim is to bridge this gap and establish a better scientific basis for nutrition in recovery. Traditionally, we have looked at eating disorders as individual (and family) issues, but now is the opportunity to further understand them as public health issues.
Addiction and eating disorders are both major public health problems worldwide. There are numerous questions that relate to food, addiction, eating disorders, and recovery that remain unanswered. Can nutrition be used to improve addiction outcomes? What is the best practice for treating co-occurring eating and substance use disorders? How can dietitians help with recovery from mental health disorders? What policy implications can address food addiction on a societal level? What new programs can be developed for underserved populations that struggle with addiction and nutrition-related challenges?
The UCLA School of Public Health will provide an opportunity to investigate some of these questions, which will hopefully translate into more effective health policies that could impact the way we treat addiction and eating disorders. In order for nutrition in addiction treatment to improve, we need strong leadership and unbiased data. My goal in pursuing a doctorate in public health is to produce data that guides treatment. I am confident that my work in this area will create strong evidence to improve funding for nutrition services, creating opportunities for dietitians to work in publicly-funded as well as underserved addiction treatment centers. Dietitians desperately need more evidence of effectiveness in order to advance our profession. With new information it may be possible to change the way we approach addiction treatment, but more importantly to improve the recovery process amidst the current addiction crisis.Read more
Addiction Recovery Revolution
Hello Friends! Addiction Recovery Revolution Summit is here!
I recently participated in an online seminar series, Addiction Recovery Revolution, that will go live March 4th!
I will be featured on March 8, 2017 and was honored to be included with 29 other Doctor’s, Holistic Healers, Therapist, and Activists.
With Addiction afflicting a whopping 32% of our population the seminar will present you with insight and knowledge from experts in the field.
Addiction Recovery Revolution will offer innovative methods to help you STOP addiction and stay in recovery. All the speakers will present you with viable solutions. This is a FREE seminar and gift giveaway! You will be inspired….I promise! Please log on and receive my free gift and be inspired.
Join the Revolution!
Addiction Recovery Revolution
Learn innovative methods to help stop addiction and keep you in recovery.
Are you seeking recovery?
Have a loved one who is suffering from addiction? Maybe you want to strengthen your recovery!
My desire is to change the statistics of addiction recovery one person at a time! By joining the summit I believe we are on the path. You have entered a room filled with individuals who are saying, “It can be done, follow me.” I can’t wait to share with you all these amazing people that are scientists, doctors, healers and activists who are all offering hope. This mission is not mine alone. It is a revolution and I have a reserved a seat for you to listen to some of the innovators within the recovery community! Listen for yourself, or your loved ones. I pray that you open your mind to expand your definition of recovery, NEVER stop fortifying your healing journey but continue to learn and grow. Most of all NEVER GIVE UP! There something from each professional that can be of service to you or your family. Act on what feels right for you. Please share the message of the summit and extend your hand to others still afflicted with the darkness. This is a FREE seminar with no obligation other than an open mind. We look forward to seeing you soon!
David Wiss, MS, RDN, CPT, offers how nutrition can be a key component to long-term recovery! Nutrition in Recovery aims to bridge the gap between nutrition and addiction recovery. Through informing and encouraging behavior change with respect to food!
Learn why nutrition is imperative to good brain function. How whole food can offer the edge necessary for long-term recovery.
Click HERE for the interview!
Click HERE for your free gift!
Join us in the Facebook group! We want to hear your Ah ha moments.
Public Health Private Profits One Day Conference April 1, 2017
The Los Angeles District (LAD) of the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics presents our first annual conference on April 1, 2017 at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The conference is titled “Public Health and Private Profits: A Dialogue about Critical Topics Shaping the Future of the Dietetic Profession”
We are beyond excited to host this event to discuss issues which we feel are of paramount importance to our profession, and are not being adequately addressed at the state and national conferences.
The event is approved for 5.5 CPEs for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists
Learning Codes Covered:
Topics which will be discussed include:
Michele Simon, JD, MPH “Avoiding Conflicts of Interest When Working in the Public’s Interest”
Bonnie Y. Modugno, MS, RDN, CLE “Selling my Time, not my Integrity”
Andy Bellatti, MS, RDN “Public-Private Partnerships: A Political Slippery Slope”
Amanda Maxham, PhD “Why GMOs are a Good Thing”
Melinda Hemmelgarn, MS, RDN “GMOs: What Dietitians Need to Know”
Peter Pressman, MD “Food Addiction: Clinical Reality or Mythology”
David A. Wiss, MS, RDN “Food Addiction: What Dietitians Need to Know”
Register for the Conference HERE
Conference Website HERE
David Wiss MS RDN article on Food Addiction in Appetite Journal
“Preclinical Evidence for the Addiction Potential of Highly Palatable Foods: Current Developments Related to Maternal Influence”
David A. Wiss, Kristen Criscitelli, Mark Gold, Nicole Avena
It is well established that obesity has reached pandemic proportions. Over the last four decades the prevalence of obesity and morbid obesity have risen substantially in both men and women worldwide. Although there are many causative factors leading to excessive weight gain including genetics and sedentary lifestyle, the transformation of the food environment has undoubtedly contributed to the dangerously high rates of obesity. The current food landscape is inundated with food engineered to contain artificially high levels of sugar and fat. Overconsumption of these types of food overrides the homeostatic mechanisms, which under normal circumstances regulate appetite and body mass, leading to hedonic eating. Evidence from the animal literature has illustrated nutrition-influenced perturbations that occur within the mesolimbic dopamine pathway, as well as maladaptive behavioral responses that result from chronic ingestion of highly palatable foods. These neurobehavioral adaptations are similar to what is observed in drugs of abuse. Recent evidence also supports that maternal exposure to these foods is capable of provoking neurobehavioral alterations in offspring. Therefore the purpose of this review is to summarize the current developments on the addictive potential of highly palatable foods, as well as illuminate the impact of maternal hyperphagia and obesity on the reward-related neurocircuitry and addiction-like behaviors in the offspring.
Thoughts from Mr. Wiss…
It was quite an honor to work with Dr. Mark Gold and Dr. Nicole Avena, who are both considered pioneers in the area of food addiction research. To describe Food Addiction in Appetite Journal is considered a major contribution to the field. Excited to see what the next publication will be!
Full article available HERE
Another recent article by David Wiss titled “Incorporating Food Addiction into Disordered Eating: The Disordered Eating Food Addiction Nutrition Guide (DEFANG) available for download HERE
Wiss DEFANG (Download)
Incorporating Food Addiction into Disordered Eating: The Disordered Eating Food Addiction Nutrition Guide (DEFANG)
David A. Wiss, MS, RDN; Nutrition in Recovery LLC
Timothy D. Brewerton, MD, DFAPA, FAED, DFAACAP, HCEDS; Medical University of South Carolina
Although not formally recognized by the DSM- 5, food addiction (FA) has been well described in the sci- entific literature. FA has emerged as a clinical entity that is recognized within the spectrum of disordered eating, par- ticularly in patients with bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder and/or co-occurring addictive disorders and obe- sity. Integrating the concept of FA into the scope of dis- ordered eating has been challenging for ED treatment professionals, since there is no well-accepted treatment model. The confusion surrounding the implications of FA, as well as the impact of the contemporary Westernized diet, may contribute to poor treatment outcomes. The purpose of this review is twofold. The first is to briefly explore the relationships between EDs and addictions, and the second is to propose a new model of conceptualizing and treating EDs that incorporates recent data on FA. Since treatment for EDs should vary based on individual assessment and diagnosis, the Disordered Eating Food Addiction Nutrition Guide (DEFANG) is presented as a tool for framing treatment goals and helping patients achieve sustainable recovery.
DEFANG Fig I (Download)
This publication is Open Access and can be viewed and downloaded online HERERead more
David Wiss YouTube Interview
Liv’s Recovery Kitchen interviews David Wiss, of Nutrition in Recovery. Liv delves into how nutrition can impact recovery from addiction and alcoholism. David provides a very insightful overview into how to adopt a realistic approach to nutrition, the prevalence of disordered eating, the adoption of substance-seeking behaviours in recovery and his new food group. Spend 20 minutes on another incredible David Wiss YouTube interview.
Liv’s YouTube Channel HERE
Liv’s Recipes HERE
Other topics in this YouTube Video:
Proper Nutrition Messaging
Making Small Changes
Beans, Nuts, SeedsRead more
BHN Webinar DEFANG – Disordered Eating Food Addiction Nutrition Guide
David Wiss has been actively involved with the Behavioral Health Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group ever since he has been a dietitian. His first webinar “Nutrition Interventions for Addiction Recovery: The Role of the Dietitian in Substance Abuse Treatment” in 2013 was a huge success. Since that time that presentation has been updated several times and given all across the country. See the latest version HERE. 2017 will be the year of the #DEFANG!
This new webinar is titled: “Incorporating Food Addiction into Disordered Eating: The Disordered Eating Food Addiction Nutrition Guide (DEFANG)” and will take place on Wednesday December 14th at 9am PST. Register for the webinar HERE. This information was originally presented as a poster at the International Conference on Eating Disorders but has since been updated. The article is currently in press through the journal Eating and Weight Disorders – Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity.
Although not formally recognized by the DSM-5, food addiction (FA) has been well described in the scientific literature. FA has emerged as a clinical entity that is recognized within the spectrum of disordered eating, particularly in patients with bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and/or co-occurring addictive disorders and obesity. Integrating the concept of FA into the scope of disordered eating has been challenging for ED treatment professionals since there is no well-accepted treatment model. The confusion surrounding the implications of FA, as well as the impact of the contemporary Westernized diet, may contribute to poor treatment outcomes. The purpose of this review is twofold. The first is to briefly explore the relationships between EDs and addictions, and the second is to propose a new model of conceptualizing and treating EDs that incorporates recent data on FA. Since treatment for EDs should vary based on individual assessment and diagnosis, the Disordered Eating Food Addiction Nutrition Guide (DEFANG) is presented as a tool for framing treatment goals and helping patients achieve sustainable recovery.
After the presentation, attendees will be able to describe the relationship between eating disorders and addictions.
After the presentation, attendees will be able to identify neurobiological advances in the field of food addiction.
After the presentation, attendees will be able to incorporate recent data into eating disorder treatment by using the DEFANG.
What Else is Going on at Nutrition in Recovery?
Mr. Wiss will be presenting “Nutrition Therapy for the Addicted Brain” to the dietitians in the San Diego District Saturday December 10th at 10:00am. This 2-hour presentation will summarize the latest information available that links nutrition and addiction.
Nutrition in Recovery was also recognized as one of the Top 100 Nutrition Blogs You Must Follow to Live a Healthy Life!
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The Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) is the largest nutrition conference of the year. This year FNCE 2016 was in Boston October 15-18. View the sessions from 2016 HERE and the exhibitors HERE. Mr. David Wiss attended this year, presenting his poster “Hands-on Nutrition and Culinary Intervention Within a Substance Use Disorder Residential Treatment Facility” with Kristie Moore MS RDN.
David also attended FNCE 2016 to carry out an important mission spurred by Dietitians for Professional Integrity, which is to elevate the public perception of the dietitian credential by severing ties with problematic food companies. Mr. Wiss wrote an important guide for fellow attendees HERE.This document highlights five 2016 FNCE sessions with conflicts of interest that concern us, particularly in regards to speakers who have industry ties that directly relate to the topics they are speaking about.
Mr. Wiss generated a report after the conference, stating: “We recommend a vetting process to ensure that the companies and trade groups at the expo hall are appropriate for a nutrition conference. Some may argue that the presence of purveyors of highly processed foods is necessary so dietitians can be aware of products our clients may come across. However, we can easily remain aware of that by visiting company websites or simply perusing the aisles of local grocery stores. At least that way we are not learning about a new product via a company rep that has been given talking points to specifically market the product.” Read the full recap HERE.
While at FNCE, Mr. David Wiss was interviewed by a member of the Associated Press who published an important article: Do Candy and Soda Makers Belong at a Dietitian Conference? Mr. Wiss states that conflict of interest has “been an important topic in the pharmaceutical world, and now it’s becoming a much more important topic in the nutrition world.” Other articles reporting on the conference discussed close ties between nutritionists and the food industry, and how many nutritionists want to sever those ties.
FNCE 2016 was a lot of fun! We networked, attended some great sessions, and continued to advocate for a future that is not riddled with industry influence. We are thrilled with the progress made in the last three years.
It is encouraging to see incremental changes at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual conference.
We have also identified the following areas for improvement:
1. Discontinue CPEs for industry-sponsored educational sessions
2. Implement a vetting process for expo hall exhibitors that examines companies not just by the products they sell, but also by their political actions (i.e.: what do they lobby for/against?)
3. Acknowledge well-researched and thoroughly documented issues surrounding bias and influence so we can address them cohesively as a profession.
Cape Cod Symposium on Addictive Disorders (CCSAD)
In June of 2016, Mr. David Wiss spoke at the West Coast Symposium on Addictive Disorders (WCSAD) in La Quinta, CA. It was a seminal presentation, leading to several new contracts with treatment facilities in the Los Angeles area. The talk was well-received by attendees and thus David was invited to speak at the Cape Cod Symposium on Addictive Disorders which is September 8-11, 2016 in Cape Cod. Please read David’s post about WCSAD HERE. Mr. Wiss is very excited to speak at CCSAD and has made several updates to his slides.
Nutrition Therapy for the Addicted Brain
1. Discuss the impact of addictive substances on nutritional status
2. Explore disordered and dysfunctional eating patterns in addicted populations
3. Propose nutrition therapy guidelines for specific substances and for poly-substance abuse
2. Food and Mood
3. Substance Use Disorders
4. Food Addiction
5. Disordered Eating
7. Gut Microbiome
8. Nutrition Therapy
Local Presentation in Southern California
David Wiss has been very active with his local chapter in the Los Angeles District. Recently he was invited to give a presentation on “Food and Mood” and will be thus be presenting “Nutrition Therapy for the Addicted Brain” from the slides above. The presentation takes place at Fullerton College on Saturday September 17 at 10:15am. For more information and to purchase tickets, please go HERE.
West Coast Symposium in La Quinta, CA from June 2-5, 2016
The West Coast Symposium is one of the funnest addiction conferences of the year. Most private sector addiction treatment centers in Southern California will have some form of representation there! David Wiss MS RDN, Founder of Nutrition in Recovery will be speaking on Saturday June 4th at 10:45am. View the full agenda HERE.
Nutrition Therapy for the Addicted Brain
1. Discuss the impact of addictive substances on nutritional status
2. Explore disordered and dysfunctional eating patterns in addicted populations
3. Propose nutrition therapy guidelines for specific substances and for poly-substance abuse
Reflections from David Wiss
When I first began to investigate the connection between nutrition and substance abuse back in graduate school, my primary findings were that substance abuse was associated with malnourishment. This was obvious and made lots of sense. I then began to wonder if specific substances caused specific deficiencies. I quickly realized that this research had not been done, since substance abuse can cause primary malnourishment (from not eating properly) and second malnourishment (from altering health) and it is virtually impossible to control for primary malnourishment (for research purposes). There was established evidence that alcohol caused deficiencies of thiamine and some other vitamins, through mechanisms such as decreased absorption (altered gut health) and increased utilization (altered metabolism). But there was little to no evidence for illegal drugs, since it is unethical and quite expensive to conduct prospective studies, not to mention poor patient follow-up in this population. So all of the drug-induced malnourishment studies were retrospective and under-powered.
Originally I hypothesized that addressing nutritional deficiencies would improve treatment outcomes. While I still believe in the importance of this today and would love to see some fresh data collected, in recent years I have shifted my attention away from nutritional deficiencies and towards eating behavior and food preferences. The reason for this is because it is easy to address nutritional deficiencies with dietary supplements. The challenge is addressing the cause of the nutrition deficiencies in the first place, which is the addiction and the associated eating behaviors. In other words, giving addicts nutritional supplements and then allowing to eat the way they have been eating will eventually re-create the malnourishment. So how do we help people in recovery get a new relationship to food?
Nutrition therapy guidelines for specific substances can be found in a chapter from an academic textbook written by myself and Therese Waterhous which is available for purchase online HERE. If you really want a copy, email me and I will send it to you 🙂
My first obsession was on Food Addiction, as this research began to explode once the Yale Food Addiction Scale had been validated in 2008. An archived webinar on Food Addiction through the Los Angeles District of California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics can be purchased HERE.
My next obsession was on hormones. I had to figure out how hormones (leptin, insulin, ghrelin) interacts with addictions and eating behavior. A recorded webinar on this fascinating topic can be viewed HERE.
My latest obsession has been on the microbiome. This was the missing piece to the puzzle. It turns out that the gut is the second brain and many neurotransmitters have an intestinal source. Turns out that bacteria that live inside of us can influence our eating preferences and eating behavior! Most of the research is on animal models, but a comprehensive recorded webinar can be watched HERE.
Bringing all of this information together, I have created the June 2016 version of “Nutrition Therapy for the Addicted Brain” and I am making my slides available for viewing. This is a special share for everyone at the West Coast Symposium on Addictive Disorders! Enjoy!