At Orgain we are striving every day to act with purposeful passion and believe that lending a hand to those in need is important every day of the year, not just during the holiday season. We understand the demand for high quality, clean, wholesome nutrition is a rapidly growing movement yet we realize for some individuals, such as those on a medical journey, it may be challenging to obtain. That is why we support organizations such as Feeding America as well as smaller organizations and even individuals. Rather than being driven by a set budget or a specific percent of sales or profits, we make every effort to say YES and step forward with support whenever possible. We also work with several programs that provide grants and/or complimentary products for patients with certain medical conditions. If you have a patient that qualifies, they may be able to receive Orgain products, often delivered directly to the patient’s home, free of charge. These programs include:
- CFCareForward Program - For patients with cystic fibrosis using CREON enzymes.
- HealthWell Foundation - Grant program providing financial assistance to adults and children diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.
- CareBOX - Complimentary supplies, which may include nutritional products, for patients with cancer to prevent malnutrition, infections, and injuries.
Throughout 2017, Orgain has been hard at work connecting with Healthcare Providers, like yourselves, all over the country. Getting to know many of you and learning about how you use Orgain is inspiring and helps us gain insights to better meet your needs. We recently connected with Kelly Issokson, MS, RD, CNSC from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA to learn more about how she uses Orgain to help her patients with IBD and what it’s like to complete a 30-day Exclusive Enteral Nutrition (EEN) challenge.
Q: Please tell us a little bit about yourself personally and professionally so that our readers will be able to “get to know you”
A: Born and raised in Dallas, TX, I’ve always had a passion for good food (and big hair), so it seemed natural to pursue a career in Culinary Arts. But during my time in school, a dear family member was diagnosed with a chronic health condition that required diet modification as part of their treatment. It was at that moment that I decided to focus on not just being able to prepare delicious food, but food that nourished the body and could help prevent or even manage chronic disease. After moving to Los Angeles, CA, I enrolled in a dietetic internship, completed my clinical training at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and accepted my first job as a Registered Dietitian (RD) with Cedars when I graduated. I’ve had many roles at Cedars, but over the past 5 years I’ve focused on nutritional management of gastrointestinal diseases, primarily inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). On any given weekday, you will find me collaborating with the IBD team and providing medical nutrition therapy to outpatients in the Cedars IBD clinic or in the Nutrition Counseling Center, or to inpatients in the hospital where I round with the IBD team. I feel nutrition therapy is cornerstone to IBD management, and I am truly fortunate to be able to work with top leaders in IBD and be part of the Cedars team.
Q: How long have you been an RD? Do you have any additional certifications/specializations/awards/publications you’d like to tell us about?
A: I have been an RD for 8 years. In addition to my RD credential, I am a certified nutrition support clinician (CNSC). I also hold a Master’s degree in Family & Consumer Sciences with an emphasis in Nutrition. I do a lot of volunteer work with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, and am actively involved in research projects with Cedars-Sinai and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. I recently published an article in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, where I discussed my experience on Exclusive Enteral Nutrition (EEN), an effective but underutilized nutritional therapy that induces remission in Crohn’s disease, a type of IBD.
Q: How did you initially find Orgain and what specifically prompted you to begin using with/recommending to you patients?
A: I initially heard about Orgain from Dr. Eric Vasiliauskas, a gastroenterologist and IBD expert at Cedars. He is very much into integrative therapy for his patients, and not only is he supportive of his patients who are interested in incorporating more natural and complimentary approaches into their IBD regimen, he is well versed in the nutrition science that supports these therapies. I am a big believer in recommending products that are wholesome, nutritious, and flavorful. I tried Orgain and was pleased with the flavor and nutrition profile. I try to offer a variety of options for my patients when recommending an oral nutrition supplement, and many are happy to have an organic, low sugar, grass-fed whey protein (and/or vegan) option.
Q: What is your personal favorite Orgain product and flavor and why?
A: I like the ready to drink oral nutrition supplements. The Orgain Complete Nutrition shake in chocolate is nice to have on hand in case I need a quick snack or breakfast on-the-go.
Q: How are currently using Orgain in your practice?
A: I recommend it as an option for my patients to use as supplemental nutrition (for weight gain, or nutritional repletion), partial enteral nutrition (PEN), or exclusive enteral nutrition (EEN). PEN and EEN are medically supervised diets prescribed by a physician, and shown in scientific literature to help maintain or induce remission in Crohn’s disease.
Q: We are so impressed by your commitment to truly understanding what EEN is like from a patient’s perspective. Can you briefly recap your experience with Orgain for our readers and provide background on why this approach is used with IBD patients?
A: I often recommend EEN as a nutritional therapy to my patients, as it has been shown to induce remission and heal gut mucosa in active Crohn’s disease. I understood some of the challenges my patients would face upon starting EEN, but I didn’t feel like I really understood the feasibility, or the social or psychological impact that a liquid diet would have on an individual. So, I committed to EEN for 30 days to help connect with my patients on a deeper level, and to gain insight that I felt would help me counsel my patients more effectively. Although it was challenging, I found it to be possible/bearable and at times very enjoyable. The first week was the hardest, with caffeine withdrawal, food cravings, and some initial gastrointestinal discomfort, but I powered through. Getting into a routine (2 shakes at breakfast, lunch, and dinner), eating before social gatherings, always having shakes on hand (car, work, purse), participating in non-food activities (reading, hiking, movies, art galleries), and talking about my experience with family, friends, co-workers, and patients helped pull me through the remaining 3 weeks. A huge perk was discovering all the extra time I had in my day due to not having to plan, prep, cook, clean, or grocery shop. Transitioning back to solid foods was a challenge, and I quickly learned that I needed to ease back into eating by sticking with bland, soft foods in the beginning. I think the biggest take-away for me from this whole experience, and the thing I feel will help my patients the most when starting EEN, is that you really have to approach eating/drinking in a different, more clinical way, and rely less on it as an emotional crutch. Food is there to nourish our bodies. When we eat, it should be because our body is telling us we are hungry (stomach gurgling), not because food is around, or we are bored, or we are sad, or we are celebrating. That’s not to say that food can’t be fun. Eating should be enjoyable. And I enjoyed my liquid diet a whole lot more once I looked at it as less of a chore/diet, and more of a different way to nourish my body. And yeah, liquids can be boring and monotonous, but, as a good friend once said, everything is temporary. Eventually, and sooner than you know it, you’ll be back to your solid foods! My article, “Living on Liquids: Surviving and Thriving on Exclusive Enteral Nutrition” in the American Journal of Gastroenterology can be found here: https://www.nature.com/articles/ajg2017269
Orgain Kids™ Protein Shakes provide a delicious and healthy alternative to conventional nutrition shakes, which contain genetically modified soy, artificial flavors and preservatives. (no thanks!). Our Organic Kids Protein Shakes were formulated and portioned specifically for kids ages 2-11, and serve up 8g of organic grass-fed protein, 21 vitamins and minerals, and a blend of 10 fruits and vegetables. Despite being packed full of nutritional goodness, these shakes are similarly priced to conventional brands, such as PediaSure Grow & Gain, and also taste great which means one less battle for even your pickiest patients. Orgain Kids Protein Shakes now have the HCPCS code B4160! Orgain Organic Kids Protein Shakes are a delicious and convenient option for pediatric patients who:
- are picky eaters not consuming a well-balanced diet.
- are not meeting developmental milestones due to inadequate nutrition.
- are on a medical journey requiring supplemental nutrition.
Throughout the year Orgain was present at conferences and expos across the country, but October and November provided us with special opportunities to participate at two exciting events: The Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo held in Chicago, IL and Obesity Week held in Washington, DC. In total both shows had approximately 13,000 attendees present which gave us a unique opportunity to directly connect with healthcare professionals. Although events like these can be quite busy, our team was able to have meaningful conversations with practitioners unfamiliar with Orgain and gain valuable feedback from healthcare professionals already using Orgain with their patients or clients. We learned that our product line proved to have applications for even more patients types than we imagined!
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Clinical Nutrition Department’s 32nd Annual Pediatric Nutrition Conference: Establishing Competencies in Pediatric Nutrition