We are in the era of the nutritionist. There is so much confusion around food and nutrition, and so much wacky advice flying around. This while Americans are just not able to make it to the basics of healthful eating. Nutrition-related chronic diseases continue to be the primary health issues, and each of us has our own variation of health and disease.
Because we are in a time when so much that sounds like nutrition is actually marketing and bluster, and so many who call themselves experts are so far from it, confusion reigns. Enter RDNs (Registered Dietitian Nutritionists) and MNT (Medical Nutrition Therapy). If you know me, you know that I am a mind-body therapist – I use things like meditation and gentle yoga practice as tools to help us cultivate the best of ourselves, and soothe us as we gather our courage and strength to sing our song, to sing our note.
What is MNT?
There is a large body of evidence that tells us how to manage a range of health and medical conditions with food and nutrition. MNT, or medical nutrition therapy, uses that evidence and through a qualified therapist, translates that evidence into healing. While there is a range of nutritionists operating today, with various levels of education and experience, and I honestly believe there is room for everyone, I am partial to those who have a 4-year science degree and access to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Knowledge Center for working with people with a medical condition. I am biased for sure, being one who sweated through all that nutritional biochemistry and worked in an ICU (intensive care unit of a hospital) writing TPN (total parenteral nutrition) orders to keep people alive until they could eat. Then I taught at Kripalu for nearly a decade, watching how mind-body used skillfully helped people with the will and knowledge transform. The combination of clinical skills and experiential practice are, in my opinion, the sweet spot when it comes to healing nutrition-related issues.
What conditions are we talking about?
There are guidelines for a range of medical conditions. Those I am well-versed in include:
- Weight gain – from adolescents to adults, and family-based, for any reason
- Eating Disorders, emotional eating and disordered eating
- Unexpected weight loss due to cancer, HIV/AIDS or other chronic condition
- Pre-diabetes and diabetes
- Cancer – prevention, management and prevention of recurrence
- Heart Disease – prevention, management
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Digestive approaches to auto-immune conditions (Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and others)
- Digestive distress due to:
- Irritable Bowel
- Crohn’s Disease
- Food Intolerance (lactose-intolerance, gluten, and others), and Allergies
I use an individualized approach. That includes an initial assessment of nutrition-related symptoms and medical history, review of nutrition-related labs and reports, and development of a custom way of eating that you enjoy and that adheres to evidence-based practice.
We then co-create a plan to get there – your way. There is no such thing as failure, no such thing as relapse in this world – but there is learning, through loving self-compassion, how to navigate your life in its fullness. It’s a dance of mindful skillful effort, and surrender (that’s yoga!).
Within that list, do you specialize?
While I can help address any of these conditions, and they all have relating threads, I particularly like to work with weight, women in midlife, and digestive issues. I have also had a personal experience with cancer, so helping people with that interests me.
How much does it cost?
Depends. I am a licensed nutritionist in the state of Massachusetts. If you have a medical condition and live in the great state of Massachusetts, or another state that does not have state licensure, it is worth it to give your insurance company a call to see if our work together can be reimbursed. For this, you will likely need a referral from your primary care doctor.
If you are not insured, in another state with licensure or your insurance doesn’t cover, then you are what clinicians call private pay. It’s likely that our work together could be included in your health spending account if you have one.
Bottom line, if you value your energy level and lifestyle, it’s worth it to have a skilled coach to help you move forward.
My rates are $150/hr, and most people I work with do an initial assessment, then a half-hour twice monthly for 2 months, then monthly for 4 months.
Tell me about telehealth
I’ve partnered with a practice-management group called Healthie. They provide an interface for us to work through, including journaling, billing and video conferencing. So, we can meet face to face in the comfort of your own home! I think telehealth is part of the future of medicine, and I am excited to be part of it.Pinterest
Ready to make the change? Let’s do it – Make an appointment now .
Questions? I’m all ears.
This year there are a smattering of studies suggesting that meditation, yoga and mindfulness practices improve gene expression. Gene expression relates not only to family traits like hair color, but to the smooth operation of every cell and tissue in your body for the rest of your life.
Gene expression and epigenetics
Epigenetics is the big news in genetics that no one seems to be talking about. Me and my colleagues at Kripalu, however, are very excited. The concept is that we each have an internal environment, and we have much more control over that internal “soup” in which our genes unfold that we’d thought, is good news for those of us in the yoga lifestyle world. Everything you do in life – the food you choose (and choose not to) eat, the way you work relationships, how you feel about yourself and everything around you – influences your internal environment. Epigenetics is the environment – the internal environment – you create through lifestyle.
There’s a shamanic teaching that you become the result of all the vibration you surround yourself with. So, love that car. Love that apartment, and really love all the foibles of your spouse. Life (and your health) will be better for it. This ancient teaching sounds modern and true in the age of epigenetics.
These are early, small studies but are fascinating enough to point the way for larger trials. There is geek drama here. In one study, in the journal Psychoneruoendocrinology, a group of 19 people with a regular ongoing meditation practice were tested before and after a day of intensive mindfulness meditation practice. A control group of 21 people who did not meditate were tested before and after a day of leisure activities. At the beginning of the study, people in each group had similar test results for genetic markers. After the intervention the meditation group had significantly improved levels of epigenetic regulatory enzymes, lower expression of pro-inflammatory and other chronic disease promoting genetic markers.
After one day.
The take home
Everything that you do matters. You create much of who you are by what you do and how you feel. Eating a whole-foods plant-based diet, learning how to deal with the ever-increasing levels of stress in our worlds, and doing what you can to enjoy your life matters. There are a growing number of quality resources to help you – find an author or teacher of yoga, meditation or mindfulness that resonates with you, and practice.
Here are just a few:
- Kripalu is filled with wonderful teachers, many of whom now have CD practices and books available in addition to offering workshops.
- I love Sally Kempton. She has been practicing and teaching for decades, and has a rare combination of wisdom, kindness and clarity. She’s in the zone.
- Then there’s me. My book, Every Bite is Divine uses yoga and mindfulness in combination with nutrition awareness to help find peace in the war on weight.
- Yoga and Diabetes: Your Guide to a Safe and Effective Practice, my second book, with co-author Lisa Nelson, MD comes out this summer. More on that later.
- I put time and energy into my almost-montly newsletter that aims to inspire and guide a mindful and botanical integrative whole-foods lifestyle. Yoga, Botanicals, Nutritional Science, Fun and Creativity. That’s me. Check out the newsletter here.
- You might also enjoy:
- Begin a yoga practice: tips for a happy introduction.
… And escape the self-defeating diet-binge cycle for good
- Cultivate an attitude of gratitude: Remind yourself of the people and things that make you feel grateful.
- Develop your compassion: Try to be kind to yourself and others.
- Get outraged to get motivated: check out www.aboutface.org to see just how soul-destroying advertising can be.
- Reward yourself: Develop a list of non-food rewards and honor yourself liberally.
- Empower yourself: Remember each of us is responsible for the life experience we create.
- Celebrate you body right now: What is beautiful about it? What is your best feature? Let how you feel about your best feature inform the areas you don’t feel so good about.
- Trust yourself: You know who you are and what to do to let your truest self shine.
- Be a flexible gatekeeper: can you eat and care for yourself in a loving way that allows for everyday health and occasional healthy splurges?
- Cultivate positive thoughts: when you notice a judging or negative thought, can you turn it around and make it a positive one?
- Nurture yourself: What can you feed your body and your soul and your spirit to let it grow.
- Relax: Take one-minute or even a five-breath pause though the day to center yourself and release tension.
- Nice n’easy: Make small easy changes, and over time you’ll see big results.
- Be yourself: Avoid adopting habits that you just don’t like to do – you can find enough things you enjoy to make the difference
- Connect: Cultivate positive relationships with family and friends.
- Celebrate your uniqueness: There has never been another being just like you, and there never will be again.
- Develop your strengths: what do you feel passionate about? How can you bring more of it into your life?