“Nutrition is a science, but it’s also deeply connected to emotion and stress.”
What was your path to becoming a nutritionist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
In college, my dream was to positively impact people’s health. Through studying medical anthropology and public health, I was exposed to an enormous gap in healthcare. I learned that nutrition is often overlooked, misunderstood, or incorrectly applied. By digging deeper, I found that nutrition holds the answer to an active and healthy life, while preventing chronic diseases. In the nutritional sciences, every day continues to be a learning opportunity.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
Nutrition is a science, but it’s also deeply connected to emotion and stress. Before the first session, I like to get a sense of a client’s baseline dietary habits through a three-day diet recall. I want to understand what their short- and long-term nutrition goals are. Then, we work together to ensure the goals are attainable and sustainable. In any first session, my first step will be to establish rapport with the client. Successful nutritional outcomes rely on my ability to coach, educate, provide resources, and, most importantly, to partner with my clients.
What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant to try nutrition counseling?
A common misconception is that nutritionists are the food police—out to take away all of your favorite things. Having a nutritious diet should be enjoyable. Your body can learn to crave healthy foods and experience more rewarding indulgences. Many of my clients fear either the cost of services or that a nutritionist will greatly restrict their diet without lasting benefits. A nutrition consultation is an investment in health, happiness, and overall well-being. By balancing motivation and education, we can build a strong foundation to give you the tools you need to lead a healthier and more nutritious life.
Is there any research-based work you’ve done that you found particularly exciting and how has that informed your practice today?
Nutritional research is limited by methodological issues and an endless stream of contradictory studies, which all leads to fundamental disagreements about what constitutes a healthy diet. The internet further obscures the truth with inaccurate information and unfounded claims. My research focuses on health consequences when populations move from their indigenous diets to western diets with processed foods. These nutritional transitions shed light on many controversies, like low-fat versus low-carb diets. My clinical research involves elimination diets, like low-FODMAP diets, and probiotic therapy in both irritable bowel and inflammatory bowel disease.
How do you keep up to keep up with and integrate the ever-evolving nutrition research?
Nutritional research is advancing rapidly, with a growing body of scientific studies. The challenge is identifying high-quality studies and integrating remarkably diverse literature and viewpoints. I apply my scientific and clinical expertise when reading new studies to assess their merit and potential impact on dietary recommendations. Dietary and medical experts have changed their recommendations over the past 50 years, and many lessons can be learned from these changes. The key is not high carb versus low carb, or low fat versus high fat—it’s finding the nutritional program that works best for your lifestyle and health. My goal is to stay abreast of all new scientific discoveries to find the ones that can really impact health.
“A nutrition consultation is an investment in health, happiness, and overall well-being.”