This Self-Care Sunday we are featuring Laura Farrell, a registered dietician based in New York City. Laura spoke with us about her philosophy on dieting, how to build a healthier relationship with food, and shared some of her favorite core exercises. Read below for more, and make sure to follow her on Instagram @nutritionwithlaura and tune into her new podcast, The Real Dieticians of New York City, @the.real.dieticians.of.nyc

What is your philosophy on dieting, and how do you define what it means to have a healthy diet?

I believe the best diet is the one that you can stick to! There is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition. Working with my clients, I utilize mindful and intuitive eating practices to help people create a positive relationship with food. It’s importance to approach nutrition using a holistic view which focuses not only on physical health but also lifestyle habits, mental health, and personal goals.

We’ve all heard the term, “Abs Are Made in the Kitchen.” What would you say contributes more to forming a strong core, diet or exercise?

If you’re looking to solidify your core, I would focus on what you’re eating first. To help manage bloating, eat smaller more frequent meals, limit carbonated beverages, and consider adding in more probiotic foods. However, don’t neglect the power of exercise! My favorite core exercises are planks and leg lifts.

“I feel powerful and confident when I am in my office working with my 1:1 clients assisting them to make positive lifestyle changes.”

What are some of your go-to, easy to prepare, and healthy on-the-go snacks?

When it comes to snacking, I like to keep it simple! I always pair together high fiber carbs and protein to help sustain energy and control hunger levels.

Examples:

  • Whole fruit (orange, apple, banana) + handful of nuts (my favorite are pistachios)
  • Brown rice cakes + almond butter
  • Shelled edamame
  • Carrots/peppers/cucumbers + hummus or guacamole packets
  • Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
  • Whole grain crackers + laughing cow cheese slice
  • Biena roasted chickpeas
  • Bada bean bada boom roasted fava beans
  • Protein bars (GoMacro, Rx, Clif Builders)
  • Fruit based bars (Lara, Luna, That’s it!)

Can you discuss the difference between a nutritionist and a registered dietician? 

A registered dietitian is someone who went through extensive schooling and passed a board certification exam to gain a credential where a nutritionist doesn’t technically need any education at all.

To break it down here is what my schooling looked like:

  • BS in nutrition & dietetics from Cornell University
  • 1200+ supervised practice hours at various sites throughout NYC (during this time I also took some masters courses in nutrition at Queens College)
  • Passed a national certification exam

Additionally, registered dietitians have to complete continuing education credits every 5 years and abide by a code of ethics to keep their title. Depending on the state law, people can be penalized for provided nutrition information/education without the proper title.

If someone is struggling with their general health and nutrition, what are some micro-steps they could take to build a healthier relationship with food? 

Start a food/mood journal – instead of just writing down what you’re eating, also add a section about how the food is making you feel. I always prompt my clients to rate their energy, stress, mood, digestion, cravings etc. and how all of that impacts their food intake. This creates more awareness of their habits and then we can pinpoint what to focus on to get them feeling better

Start small! Only focus on adding in 1 healthy habit / week. If you try to change too much at one time, it’s likely that you’ll get overwhelmed and give up.

Focus on what you can add in to your diet to make it healthier rather than stressing about taking things out. This creates a more positive mindset around food and health.

Use the acronym SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) when developing goals. For example: over the next 7 days I will fill ½ of my dinner plate with veggies first before adding other foods.

What makes you feel powerful and confident?

I feel powerful and confident when I am in my office working with my 1:1 clients assisting them to make positive lifestyle changes.