March is National Nutrition Month, a month when dietitians all over the world remind the public of the importance of good health and nutrition for overall wellness.

This year’s theme for National Nutrition Month 2024 is “Beyond the Table.”

I could not have come up with a better theme myself for the type of work we do at Erica Leon Nutrition & Associates. Our goal is to help our clients learn about nutrition, but we also recognize that much of the work we do to help people truly make peace with food and their body is Beyond the Table!

In the spirit of this special month, I am excited to share three nutrition tips from half of my amazing team of dietitians and clinicians at Erica Leon Nutrition & Associates.

From Taylor Lucas, MS Nutrition and Dietetics

Taylor works with a wide range of clients, particularly POCs and those with marginalized identities. Here is her hot take.

Before I offer any tips or suggestions, I want to understand my client’s financial situation to make recommendations that are within the realm of possibilities.

For example, if I recommend blueberries of any variety as a food to try, I need to know WHAT I’m recommending: organic, canned, frozen, fresh.

If I’m recommending a cool new yogurt, do they have access to a “swanky” Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods? Or is it a local Stop and Shop, Key Food, or ShopRite? I need to know because I want to make sure I’m aware of my client’s access to food — not just financial accessibility but also proximity. Does someone need to take a bus or train to the grocery store? Do they have the means for an Instacart order? Do they drive? These are all factors that need to be considered when providing individualized care.

These factors impact whether or not a person CAN make a change. As an example, so many of my clients come to me after they have a medical professional (or a family member, spouse, or somebody) recommends weight loss. We have no idea what a person’s circumstances are unless we ask and then listen.

Learning about and understanding a client should be at the forefront of any of our recommendations:

  • How many hours of the day do you really have available?
  • How tired are you?
  • How demanding is your job?
  • Do you have time to cook, or the energy to engage in some physical activity at the end of the day?

We can tell people to do XYZ, but if they’re just ready to drop on the couch after a long day, our suggestions are meaningless!

Does a person have any pre-existing conditions that make movement difficult?

Do they have any anxieties, phobias, or past traumas that make grocery shopping difficult because they are high-traffic places?

Considering all of this, my best tip is to really think about what you are willing to try and then see if you can start with baby steps. I am here to support you.

Adopt healthy behaviors

From Diana Ushay, MS, RDN, CDN

Diana specializes in working with clients with eating disorders, is certified as an Intuitive Eating Counselor, and is also certified as a Nutrition Support Clinician with the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN). Here is a very quick nutrition tip from her.

When planning a snack, aim for 2-3 different components. Not only do you get contrast of flavor and texture, but you will stay full and satisfied until your next meal!

From Rebecca Stetzer, RD, CD

Rebecca, who works with kids, teens and their families, as well as adults with any type of nutritional concern offers the first “tip” (more of a thinking challenge).

One of my favorite books is More Than A Body: Your Body Is an Instrument, Not an Ornamentby Lindsay and Lexi Kite, PHD, who are sisters, as well as psychologists. They have a chapter called Reclaiming Health and Fitness for yourself. I’ve been going over many of these with my own clients and doing some exploration and processing around this, so I’m going to ask you these questions and I want you to reflect on them (if you will!).

  • How do you determine whether a person is healthy or fit?
  • Do you consider yourself healthy or fit?

This activity explores how many characteristics, or parts of the definition of health and fitness, come from diet culture or anti-fatness.

Can we challenge those definitions? Can we use our own values and goals, and what’s important to us to determine what health and fitness means for ourselves? Here is a great article, Health at Every Size and Why is it Important, that explores these topics in more depth.

I hope one of them resonates with you and, if you would like additional help and guidance with your nutrition and learning how to make peace with food and body beyond the table, reach out and book a call with me. We’ll determine where you are in your food journey and what support you need and connect you with the dietitian on the team who will help you reach your food and nutrition goals. Click here to book that call!

We work virtually with our clients from our offices in Westchester County in New York as well as the tri-state areas of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, along with Florida, California, Wisconsin, Iowa, Texas, and Vermont.

We are in-network with the following insurance companies: Aetna, Cigna, and United Healthcare; including Oxford, UMR, and The Empire Plan (NYSHIP). This means our services can potentially be covered if you are with these insurance providers. You can learn more here and be sure to download our script to use with your insurance company.

If you or someone in your family struggles with an eating disorder or are tired of fad diets, our team of dietitians and eating disorders specialists will “meet you where you are” and guide you to a better relationship with food and your body.