“Nutrition is connected to so many things: our social lives, our culture, our childhood, even where we live!”
What was your path to becoming a nutritionist?
I grew up volunteering, working, and interning in hospitals. I was and still am fascinated by the human body’s relationship to food. On my way to becoming a doctor, I took a sharp turn in college and let my love of liberal arts steer me toward an english degree with a minor in biological sciences. I wanted to work with books and landed a job in publishing in NYC. By chance, I ended up working mostly with books related to food—cookbooks, self-help books, diet trends—which reconnected me with my love of food as it relates to health. Soon enough, the scientist in me started bubbling up. It was the merging of these passions that set me on a course to become a registered dietitian nutritionist.
What should someone know about working with you?
Everything stems from a mindful and collaborative approach. Whether we are trying to get to the bottom of a gastrointestinal issue or shaking off years of yo-yo dieting, it all starts with this foundation. Cultivating a healthy lifestyle means using a whole-body approach. Together, we’ll explore the connection of food to our general wellness, health, exercise, and sleeping and self-care habits. We’ll create a highly individualized plan with sustainable solutions, starting with a detailed assessment of health history and lifestyle. We’ll create goals together—and we’ll work together to achieve them.
What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant to try nutrition counseling?
Nutrition is connected to so many things: our social lives, our culture, our childhood, even where we live! Nutrition counseling must take all of this into account when creating a plan forward. Not only is nutrition counseling a judgment-free zone, but it’s also a space to talk through symptoms you are having (yes, we talk about gas and poop!) and discover barriers that you may not have known were there. Finally, nutritionists are not the food police. We aren’t going to take away all of your favorite foods—I promise!
What is your approach when it comes to nutrition and diet?
Real foods. No diets. Everyone has to find an eating pattern that works for them. I feel strongly that cultivating a healthy lifestyle is truly a journey, not a destination. How do we empower ourselves to make real food choices and listen to our bodies—to eat foods that lift us up and don’t drag us down? I work closely with clients to sift through the white noise of the diet and wellness industry, with an understanding that some days are better than others (and that’s okay). Our work is about ditching the old food rules, building new tools that allow us to trust ourselves, and saying no to quick fixes and short-term solutions.
How does your work in public health nutrition inform your practice today?
Prior to opening my private practice, I worked for the NYC Health Department developing programs and policies to bring healthier food to places like schools, hospitals, and daycare centers. This work instilled in me a deep understanding of food systems and the food environment, with an important viewpoint of how these interact with us as a population and as individuals. We live in a food environment that bombards us with unhealthy messages and products at every turn. Working with clients through a public health lens is always useful in keeping me grounded—and in keeping clients focused on their health, rather than the latest diet fad or wellness trend.
“Our work is about ditching the old food rules, building new tools that allow us to trust ourselves, and saying no to quick fixes and short-term solutions.”
Interested in speaking with Ashley?