“There are no set expectations or “good” and “bad” behaviors.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
I was dedicated to dancing ballet through my teen years. As I reached high school, though, I quickly realized the combination of schoolwork and ballet classes or rehearsals was both physically and emotionally demanding. Aware of the prevalence and risks of eating disorders and disordered eating, I began to explore the importance of food for fuel and enjoyment. As my passion for nutrition continued to grow, I decided to pursue a master’s in nutrition education and become a registered dietitian. Through my studies and clinical training, I gravitated toward working with people with eating disorders. This important work, which involves building meaningful relationships, listening to individual experiences, understanding human emotions, and educating clients about nutrition, leads to positive changes in the mind and body.
What should someone know about working with you?
My priority is to create a warm, open space to begin the process of exploring food, nutrition, and experiences in the body. We will start where you are ready. With this approach, there are no set expectations or “good” and “bad” behaviors—this allows us to move toward flexibility. We will collaborate to help you listen to your body, understand hunger and fullness cues, build mindfulness around your senses, and honor your personal preferences. These skills allow you to nourish yourself with confidence. Because food is required for life, we will also talk about your life and how it relates to the ways you eat and move. I will work openly with your therapist, doctor, other providers, and/or family members to best support you.
How does collaboration with other providers inform your work?
Collaborating with providers—including therapists, physicians, and group facilitators—allows me to incorporate the skills and information you’ve learned outside into nutrition sessions. In therapy, a client may focus on building comfort with vulnerability, so we can explore how those feelings may be present when dining out at a restaurant or taking an exercise class. A primary care physician may bring up the importance of bone health, so we can discuss how to strengthen bones through adjustments to nutrition and movement. A group session may focus on building tolerance to anxiety, so we can review and expand on ways to accept discomfort in the body in a variety of settings. Working as a team demonstrates our support for you on this journey.
What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant to try therapy?
We often receive many messages about food, diet, exercise, and the body from media, medical professionals, family, online social networks, and more. These messages can make simple choices like what to eat, when to move, and how to feel good in our bodies quite difficult. They can also lead to unhealthy behaviors and uncomfortable emotions around food and the body—including restriction, over-exercise, emotional and binge eating, and feelings of deprivation, shame, guilt, and regret. Nutrition therapy creates a nonjudgmental space to explore these messages and how they may affect you. My style of nutrition counseling is accepting and positive, with a “one step at a time” approach. Our focus is to discover what makes you feel good for a sustainable, healthy, and satisfying lifestyle.
What are you most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape?
I am most excited about the mind-body connection and the importance of mindfulness in our everyday lives. Through my training and work experiences, I have learned the value of physical and emotional awareness, whether that is during a meal, the workday, a yoga class, or when walking down the street. Mindfulness practices help us when we’re experiencing discomfort in our body. For example, gastrointestinal symptoms, like bloating, constipation, and heartburn, can often bring up self-judgment or frustration. The gut-brain axis explains how closely the digestive and nervous system are connected—what happens to one part of our body can affect other parts simultaneously. With mindfulness practice, we can learn how to better nourish the body through our diet, some kindness, and calming behaviors.
“Our focus is to discover what makes you feel good for a sustainable, healthy, and satisfying lifestyle.”