For fourteen years I taught high school English. Teaching teens wasn’t easy, but I cherished my relationships with my students. I especially loved moments after school, working with students one-on-one. We would go beyond their essays and academics, and I was able to help guide them as they navigated the complications of adolescence.
One summer, however, a relatively minor concussion majorly disrupted my world, leaving me with a long recovery from post-concussion syndrome. Intense headaches and dizziness meant I couldn’t bear lights and noises. For a while, I couldn’t even read. I was unable to return to teaching for three years as I very slowly improved through various types of specialty therapies.
I remember my surprise when one of my specialists suggested I try dietary changes to improve the healing of my brain. How could it be, I wondered, that ordinary foods could make changes in my brain? I learned that certain could help my brain repair itself, ease my depressed mood, and create other positive physical, mental and emotional changes.
As I continued to improve, I realized that my experience with simple diet and lifestyle changes was not unique. These kinds of shifts could help heal a multitude of chronic conditions and lead anyone to more vitality and zest for work and life. I was excited to share this discovery. I passionately wanted to help others find the right dietary and lifestyle changes to heal body and mind.
I began the next step in my journey by studying and practicing health coaching. I threw myself into working with individuals on their unique challenges. I realized that the human body is not like a car to be fixed, but a wonderfully complex system which is always trying to return itself to a state of health. My clients were able to increase their health and well-being with nourishing food, exercise, and other simple habit changes. Reading about nutrition as well as my background in psychology allowed me to help people choose and maintain simple changes that made lasting differences in their lives. My clients got healthier and happier.
My clients and I found that small changes like choosing the right foods for their individual bodies and personal situations was key to gaining energy and a greater sense of well-being.
Still, the more I learned about nutrition, psychology and health, the more I realized that I could be of more help with additional knowledge in these areas. Every day my clients grappled with news about “super foods” while other foods were suddenly labeled as unhealthy. It became clear to me that to sort out the important research news from the misleading fads, one would need a to be fluent in the science of nutrition. And that is exactly what I decided to pursue through a Master’s in Applied Clinical Nutrition and I earned my degree with honors.
I noticed that in the world of nutrition, many practitioners and researchers equated health with BMI and they associated health improvement with weight loss. The more I read, however, the more I realized that size did not indicate health status. Eating healthful foods and participating in regular movement and stress reduction often lead to lasting improvements in health, while weight loss by itself does not equate to long term positive health outcomes. In fact, most weight loss is temporary, and the stress of dieting and focus on body weight can cause lasting harm, including eating disorders. Furthermore, discrimination based on body size creates poorer health outcomes. This why I came to appreciate and adopt the Health at Every Size (HAES) approach to nutrition and health in general.
My nutrition practice is informed by HAES and I strive to help my clients develop a healthy relationship with their bodies and food. I provide nutrition counseling for physical and emotional health, rather than weight loss. I don’t believe that weight, size, or BMI are indicators of health nor do they determine how I treat my clients. It is my intention to make all my clients, especially those in larger or otherwise marginalized bodies, feel heard, seen, and understood, as we work towards common goals of feeling healthy, strong, and free in their bodies. I provide guidance towards gentle, compassionate nutrition that is unrestrictive and healthy for body and mind.
I am currently practicing nutrition under supervision of The Clinician’s Incubator as a CNS candidate and working towards my state licensure in both NY and MA. I find that with my experience in my graduate degree in nutrition and background in health coaching, I use the best of two worlds. In my training in nutrition, I have learned the specifics of how foods can change health, why nutrition is so individual, as well as how to understand the complex research being published daily on diet and health. As a health coach I have learned to truly listen to clients and provide continuing support and find their own paths to help my clients reach their personal goals.
I am a member of ASDAH (Association of Size Diversity and Health) and I follow the HAES guidelines and principles within the my practice. For more information, please visit their website here: https://www.sizediversityandhealth.org/index.asp