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
Digestive approaches to auto-immune conditions (Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and others)
Digestive distress due to:
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.
Ready to make the change? Let’s do it – Make an appointment now .
Questions? I’m all ears.
Confused about what’s healthy and what’s not? You are not alone!
It’s a challenge to follow a healthy lifestyle in our anything-but-healthy culture. But for most of us, it’s worth the effort to be the most vibrant, healthy version of ourselves that we can.
No matter who you are – how old, how physically or financially limited – you can improve your life by making healthier food choices, moving more, and connecting with others. As a nutritionist for nearly 30 years, I’ve seen people transform their lives through modest lifestyle changes practiced over time.
Here are a few ideas for laying the groundwork for healthy eating.
Don’t believe the hype. The idea of a pill, potion or diet that will magically excuse you from the reality of how our human bodies work can feel irresistible. But like low-payment mortgages and other investment schemes we’ve learned so much about in the past few years, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. The FDA recently warned that some diet aids can actually do serious physical damage.
The only way for the average person to stay healthy over the long haul is to eat a healthy diet that honors their needs (and for most, features plants) and to be adequately physically active. Within that guideline are limitless paths to get there. The pill or diet might help with a jump-start, but eventually, we all live within the laws of our human physiology.
Take a positive, additive approach. Weight loss or getting healthy is best experienced as an exercise in getting to know yourself and how your body works. One key is to find some joy – some fun, in learning how to care for yourself well. In my decades of counseling people on lifestyle, I find it’s best to start by adding good things – like physical activity, and servings of fruits and vegetables. That way, the foods and activities that don’t serve you (like French fries, donuts and Law & Order marathons) tend to fall by the wayside with less sacrificial pain. There is a way to enjoy what you eat and follow a healthy diet.
Here’s an exercise: on a piece of paper, make a list of things that fuel your life force. List things large (vacation on the beach!) and small (get myself flowers!), expensive and free (call an old friend!) – everything from getting outside, taking a great bath, being active, reading – whatever fuels your passion, or is fun, or feels good. Here’s a tip: people who take excellent care of themselves give themselves things that fuel their life force. And taking excellent care of yourself makes a healthy lifestyle easier and more fun to stick with.
Know where your journey begins. There is a slew of good (and free) web-based assessment tools to help you figure out what and how much you’re eating right now. That’s really the first step in finding out where you want to go. Step on the scale, find your BMI and see where you are on the sliding scale from underweight to obese. For most of these assessment numbers, see them then set them aside, and focus on the habits. It’s easy to get fixated on “I knew I struggled with weight but now I see I’m obese – I’m no good and it’s hopeless.” When those kinds of thoughts pop up, see if you can turn it around to a positive, like “I knew things were getting out of hand, and now I know the situation and can do something about it – I can do this.” So long as you are focused on positive change and positive habits your life is likely to get better. Everyone has difficulty with something in their life. It’s how you work it in your mind that makes the difference between success and spinning your wheels.
Remember that with diet, “relapse” always happens. One of my wise teaching friends at Kripalu says “progress not perfection,” and with diet, there will always be a wedding or dinner with friends or just a day when you haven’t eaten well. Often, people feel like they’ve failed when they’re not perfect, and slide into the land of “it’s too hard” and “I can’t do this” and “it doesn’t really matter,” and they give up. It can be months before they try it again. If only they knew that it’s natural not to be perfect! If you ‘fall off the wagon’, dust yourself off, have a glass of water, forgive yourself and get back to practice as soon as you can – the same day, the next morning, but soon. Think about what made healthy eating too difficult – that can be an experiment for next time. That’s how real change happens.
Want to stay connected and join others on this path to wholeness?
The best way to do that is to sign up for my monthly newsletter to get tips and resources to support you.
You can also check out opportunities to study with me.
Pesto is a base recipe for food as medicine. The herbs you use for pesto are concentrated sources of health-enhancing nutrients. Through the seasons, you can make several batches for use on cooked vegetables, grains, really anything and everything.
Pesto is also a great recipe to begin exploring a little wild plant medicine.
When I speak of wild plants, I’m talking about plants you collect from your (unsprayed with chemicals!) lawn or the edge of a forest. I’m talking about dandelion greens, garlic mustard, mugwort and the like. Many of these wild plants are strongly flavored – I think of them as the wild game of the plant world – and just a little wild food does a human good. So, in pesto, I will mix familiar herbs like basil with a bit of the stronger wild stuff like dandelion or garlic mustard, depending upon what’s tender and not overwhelming (dandelions, for example, get more and more bitter as the season progresses).
Here is a base recipe for pesto I use and modify based on what’s available. Sometimes I use cheese, often not (I love to eat a lot of it, and cheese is not the most health-enhancing food for me, so I use just a smidgen). I can use creamy pine nuts, toasted walnuts, or sweet almonds depending on the herbs I have, the flavors I’d like to play with, and what I’m hankering for.
Here it is:
2 1/2cupsfresh leafy green herbsbasil, cilantro, thyme, parsley or your favorite
1/2cupwild savory herbsgarlic basil, dandelion
2garlic clovespeeled and center woody section removed
1/2cupnuts or seedspepitas, walnuts, almonds
Pour oil into a blender, add garlic, nuts, and herbs in thirds and blend to that lovely pesto loose paste-like consistency.
Classic pesto contains basil and pine nuts and a half-cup of Parmesan in the above recipe. Use your imagination and what you have on hand. Variations are endless!Remember, when it comes to wild food and botanical medicines – safety first!
I love this recipe for pumpkin custard! Quick, easy, tasty, healthy. Boom.
My recipe was developed for the Natural Health Expo in the fall with the intention of having a healthier holiday. I wanted to make a no-bake vegan pumpkin pie recipe, and this fits the bill. It uses the amazing product, cashew cream (a DIY product, that is). I’m excited to continue to play with it through the spring & summer.
You could sub cooked sweet potato or any yellow squash for the pumpkin if you’d rather roll that way. Too, changing the spice profile to include other sweet spices like cloves and cardamom is certainly in my future.
My recipe for a vegan maple pumpkin custard was developed for the Natural Health Expo in the fall with the intention of having a healthier holiday. I wanted to make a no-bake vegan pumpkin pie recipe, and this fits the bill.
Course Dessert, Snack
Keyword custard, pUMPKIN, Vegan
1 Mixing Bowl
1cuppumpkinorganic from can
Blend everything together and serve up daintily. Keep refrigerated.
Much gratitude to those of you who answered my reader survey over the past month. It is deeply inspiring to learn about who we are, to hear what you value, the aspects of lifestyle that can be challenging for you, and how I do and can support you. I’ve contacted the lucky winner of books – yeah. Our path forward is clear, thanks to the results of the survey.
I’ll share the results of the reader survey in two charts. The first focuses on who we are as a group. 45 of you responded to the survey (great for first-time-out), and 97.78% (or 44) who responded were women. We scale a wide age range, and 2/3 of us are over 50. This feels right to me; I have been focused on integrative health through our lifespan and while that’s interesting to women in their 20’s, as life progresses interest in just how we live well, feel well, and be well throughout the journey tends to intensify. My life’s work is offering insight and mentoring to those interested in lifestyle as a spiritual path to wholeness. Seems we have found each other.
Next we asked what areas of lifestyle you find most challenging. Now, survey design aside (the 4 areas I chose do overlap, particularly when you get into resiliency, stress management, rest and relaxation), but I found the results interesting and informative. Here’s a summary chart:
When I look at how you listed your first, and your first two areas of greatest challenge, physical activity ends up on top. I hear you on that – maintaining an active lifestyle in today’s screen-centric sedentary culture can be a challenge for sure. It is for me, and I love to move! It’s a practice! I will be focusing on what science says about the role of physical activity in health and happiness over the next months, and giving you lots of ideas to weave it in. As we go through life, the type of physical activity that works for us changes, and our needs evolve. We’ll be talking about that, too.
The dance of stress and eating, which shared a second-overall-but important place on your priorities list, again give a nod to the way these two areas of lifestyle interact. I have been fascinated lately with the neurobiological science of the reward system and epigenetics (how our choices and thoughts influence gene expression, which ultimately determines how well we function for the rest of our lives), and just what stress does to our ability to eat well and feel well (so, our ability to be well).
Again, thanks for your input, and I hope you find knowing a little more about other readers of this blog and newsletter interesting and perhaps even, like me, the whole community feels more like a community.