“As a nutritionist, I meet clients where they are and counsel them towards implementing changes which are realistic and achievable for them.”
What was your path to becoming a nutritionist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
Although I didn’t know it at the time, my path to becoming a nutritionist started in the 6th grade, when I chose to do a science experiment on whether people could tell the difference between reduced fat vs. regular cookies. My curiosity about food and nutrition and its impact on people and health has been a constant in my life. What’s inspiring about my profession is that it involves so much more than simply dispensing nutrition knowledge. It’s a therapeutic approach to behavior change. As a nutritionist, I meet clients where they are and counsel them towards implementing changes which are realistic and achievable for them. Throughout my career, I’ve worked in both the inpatient and outpatient settings and I’ve seen clients with a vast array of health issues. What has struck me the most is the realization that nutrition counseling has the potential to prevent, or at the very least slow down the progression of many diseases. This insight was an exciting epiphany for me and is the reason why I’ve chosen to focus my practice on on helping people prevent or manage chronic health conditions through the use of nutritional interventions.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
In an initial session with a client, I try to get a sense of what their goals are and what they hope to achieve from nutrition therapy. Prior to meeting with a new client, I like to have some background of their medical and nutrition history, including relevant lab values and any medications or supplements they are taking. In addition to assessing a client’s typical dietary habits, I also ask my clients to rate their stress levels and sleep quality.. I provide nutrition education where needed and I end each session by asking the client to set a few short-term goals for themselves. Following each visit, I send clients a nutrition plan, which includes their goals as well as the action plan we discussed for meeting those goals. I update the original nutrition plan after each follow-up appointment, so that my clients are able to see their progress outlined over time.
How does collaboration with other providers play into your work?
Part of taking a whole-person approach to care is understanding that you can’t possibly address all your client’s health needs. That’s where interdisciplinary collaboration comes in. I regularly collaborate with doctors, therapists, and other providers and I feel that a team approach is crucial for delivering exceptional care.
If there was one thing you wish people knew about nutrition counseling who might be hesitant to try it, what would that be?
You won’t have to cut out all of your favorite foods. I think people are sometimes fearful of nutrition counseling because they worry they will have to sign up to maintaining a ‘perfect diet’ in order to succeed. Being healthy does not demand or require perfection. If anything, striving for perfection can be a barrier to good health. Food can be a source of pleasure as well as a source of nourishment. Part of my work with clients is helping them discover that the two can, and must coexist in order to achieve a healthy and balanced life.
If you could pick one or two books that influenced your approach to therapy what would they be and why?
I love the book ‘Diabetes Code: Prevent and Reverse Type 2 Diabetes Naturally’ by Dr. Jason Fung. I see the book as essential reading for anyone dealing with or treating patients with Type 2 Diabetes. The book uses simple and engaging analogies to describe the metabolic changes that lead to the development of Type 2 Diabetes. By focusing on treating the root dietary cause of Type 2 Diabetes, the author explains simple dietary strategies that can improve and even reverse the disease process of someone living with Type 2 Diabetes.
“Food can be a source of pleasure as well as a source of nourishment. Part of my work with clients is helping them discover that the two can, and must coexist in order to achieve a healthy and balanced life.”
Aisling practices at Alma