Today we will be introducing Yentl, a holistic dietitian and stress therapist who will be offering some insights into her healthcare journey.
What was your journey to becoming a dietitian and stress therapist?
Psychology is my first love and I started my undergrad knowing that I will be pursuing a graduate degree to become a counselor. At first, nutrition was a minor because, to be honest, I love food! But I quickly became fascinated by how nutrition plays a huge role in our health and saw the connection between our mind and body. Most think of eating disorders when they think of a dietitian and therapist combo, however, that assumption is what pushed me to pursue an underserved area of nutrition and mental health – cancer and chronic illness. There are plenty of dietitians and therapists that work with people affected by cancer and chronic illness, but there aren’t many that combine both expertise. Once I saw the power of working through both nutrition and stress when it comes to chronic illness I became extremely passionate to serve women in need of this support.
What is an obstacle you faced in your career?
Having to create my own niche. It felt like an obstacle at first because I wasn’t finding any job opportunities to combine both my nutrition and mental health expertise that wasn’t in the eating disorders realm. As a dietitian, I was able to gain experience working with cancer and chronic illness, but the opportunity to do so as a mental health professional was more limited. The jobs were for either a dietitian or a mental health therapist…not both. So, I had to decide to start my own virtual practice and business to serve the population I have a passion for. What was originally an obstacle became a breakthrough.
What can clients expect at your company?
To be heard and learn to love their body through nutrition for nourishment, not punishment. A recent client was battling fatigue from chemotherapy and her glucose levels were high and also reported gaining 2-3 pounds each week since she started with her cancer treatment. After the first 2 weeks of working together, she reported feeling more energized and was also so happy and surprised that her weight and glucose levels remained steady during the rest of her chemotherapy even though she was eating more often and without restriction. The main thing she was grateful for was having me work alongside her to improve her health. In the past, she felt as though healthcare providers “talked down” to her. Working with me she felt “listened to” and appreciated the collaborative treatment she received.
Do you have any words of wisdom for people who want to lose weight?
The number on the scale is not a sole measurement of health and because of that, make non-scale goals. In other words, instead of focusing on a specific number to reach on the scale as a goal, create goals that will help you feel better, body, mind, and soul. For example, a goal could be:
- To walk 5 minutes without shortness of breath
- To have the energy to play more with your kids/grandkids
- To be able to stand for 5 minutes without knee pain
From there, you can create steps to reach your non-scale goal. For example, stretch for 5 minutes in the AM & PM, eat a fruit or vegetable at each meal, drink a cup of water first thing in the AM, etc. The latter are all small steps that will help with your non-scale goals and because they are more motivating and positive you’re inadvertently working on reaching a weight that is healthy for you without overwhelm, self-judgment, or punishment.
What is your favorite meal plan?
The one you don’t know you’re on. Basically, the one that fits your personal needs, lifestyle, and preferences. When I work with clients, the focus is on what may be missing and what can be added instead of what to take away. I follow the philosophy of eating mindfully and intuitively and that all foods fit. We have enough on our plate and stressing about a basic need, like what to eat, should not be an added burden.
What are some normal, day-to-day challenges you face in the running of your business?
Marketing is the biggest challenge I have in my own business. I have worked and continue to work as a clinician for a company and referrals come pretty much automatically, which is why I was hired. But when you’re running your own virtual business and practice, you have to make yourself known in the virtual world and it’s an area that I don’t feel as confident in. That is why I seek advice from virtual business and practice owners that will help me gain marketing skills and I try to stay abreast of the modes of technology that I can use as tools.
What would you say are the most important things that a dietitian needs to be successful?
Confidence: Imposter syndrome is real! Even after all the education and experience we gain, we often forget that we’re true leaders and experts in our field. Most human beings naturally focus ahead on how much more they would like to achieve, that they often forget to see how far they’ve come. Own your worth and stand tall!
Collaboration: I would not be the clinician that I am today without the guidance and support of fellow dietitians and mental health practitioners. Give freely, learn openly, & receive abundantly from others to thrive from collaboration, not competition.
Compassion: I often say, “Don’t forget the Care in Healthcare”. Yes, you’re a professional and know that X,Y, Z can improve someone’s health. But don’t go into a conversation with a client with your agenda already in mind. Take your clinician hat off and listen closely with an open mind and heart. Most clients have the answers to their health issues within. They simply need a safe space where they feel acknowledged and cared for.