What inspired you to become a dietitian?
When I explored the dietetic profession more than 15 years ago, I was truly interested in how food affects the body. What we eat has a tremendous impact on our lives and how we feel, and I was excited when I discovered I could make it my career. I am inspired to influence others’ health through prevention. Eating a healthy diet is the first line of defense for our bodies. One of the best ways to prevent disease and live a healthy lifestyle is through the food we eat. I wanted to learn nutrition’s healthy impact on the body. I was also intrigued to explore how nutrition influences and improves the health of people with certain diseases such as cancer, IBS, Crohn’s, heart disease, diabetes, and celiac disease. For that reason, I spent the first part of my career in a hospital setting, and a few years ago I transitioned to weight management.
What have you learned most from your experience in this field?
It is not nutrition unless the person eats the food. This is a powerful concept that I try to keep in mind as I grow in my career. As a health care professional, I truly want to help and educate people on proper nutrition. This doesn’t mean that the person is ready to change or even likes the foods I am promoting. The key really is to meet people where they are in their personal journey. It doesn’t do them any good to lecture them about healthy foods and have them go away feeling judged. It’s imperative to keep an open mind, encourage, listen, guide and hold people accountable. These actions go a long way when trying to evoke change for the better.
What do you find to be the most interesting nutritional fact?
Did you know that over 70% of your immune function is found in the gut, and what we eat directly impacts our immune system? Pre- and probiotics have tremendous influence on the immune system by promoting a healthy environment. Bacterial overgrowth may lead to vitamin deficiencies, fat malabsorption, and even malnutrition. The best way to maintain gut health is by eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and foods that contain live cultures, like yogurt. You can also take an over-the-counter probiotic to help keep that immune system functioning at full capacity.
What’s your favorite Medifast tip?
Take the Essential1: Digestive Health for at least the first 30 days of starting the Medifast program. Any time you make a change to your diet, there is a period of adjustment. The digestive aide and probiotic capsule found in this pack can help this transition and promote proper absorption of nutrients for weight management.
If you could have one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Well, I love chicken parmesan. My husband, who is also health conscious, makes the best chicken parmesan for our family. He uses egg whites and whole wheat bread crumbs and bakes the chicken instead of frying it. It is delicious. You have protein, carbohydrates, and vegetable with tomato sauce—a delicious, complete meal that I could eat for the rest of my life. Yummy!