“Do what you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
Thanks to my parents, those words have always lived in the back of my head so after four years of work in the public relations field, I knew something was not right. I loved my coworkers and I loved the creative atmosphere, but public relations was never my passion. It took some time for me to figure that out and once I did, I returned to graduate school to become a registered dietitian and pursue my master’s of science in clinical nutrition. Currently, I am half-way through graduate school and loving every minute of the nutrition world.
Let’s back up a little bit. Nutrition was not always a passion or even an interest of mine. I liked to eat but as a busy young professional living in New York City, I ate what was convenient, quick and fun (i.e. late night pizza with friends or multiple mimosas at brunch). I wasn’t necessarily an unhealthy eater, I just did not put much thought into it and at the end of the day, my busy work and social schedule meant I was eating out more often than not and indulging in satisfying comfort foods. At this same time, I was dealing with a lot of emotional stress and anxiety. It took me awhile to put the connection between what I was putting in my body and my emotional state together, but once I did, I discovered that a high-quality diet made up of real, whole foods can greatly impact your overall wellbeing.
I started cooking for myself on a regular basis and almost completely cut out processed, packaged foods. I also began working out regularly. My anxiety and stress level went down dramatically, and I felt like a fog was lifted. Although I eat much healthier and exercise regularly now, I still experience anxiety from time to time, but a nutritious diet has set a strong foundation from which I find I can more easily combat anxious emotions. Realizing the power food can have on the mind and body is why I ultimately decided to return to school to become a registered dietitian.
Many people understand what foods are healthy but can’t commit to change. A dietitian provides a patient with nutrition information and education but also counsels and works with the individual to understand their specific situation and motivators in order to empower them to make changes. The counseling aspect of the job really excites me, and I hope to one day own a private practice that specializes in women’s wellness.
Anne Duffy is a very close family friend. I was so excited when she asked me to contribute to DeW Life Magazine because I love spreading the word about nutrition and all the positive ways healthy food can impact your life. In many ways, the nutrition and dental sciences are very similar. What you put in your mouth can have a direct effect on your teeth (i.e. sugary beverages or candies leading to cavities) or a more indirect effect (i.e. lack of calcium or vitamin D leading to bone loss in the mouth) and the same goes for your food choices and your overall health. Every day, we have a choice as to what we put in our body, and over the long term, the sum of these choices can either prevent disease or fight it.
Back to the beginning of this story, finding what you love to do is not always easy. And even if you have found the profession of your dreams, finding out what makes you happy outside of the office can also be a challenge. From my own personal experience, it’s much easier to find your ‘thing’ if you are taking care of your mind and body through nutrition, exercise, sleep, regular dental check-ups (of course!) and a supportive circle of family and friends.
If you have no idea where to start with nutrition, start tomorrow morning with this simple recipe for overnight oats. This comes together quickly the night before so that a nutritious breakfast is ready for you the moment you wake up! Oats are full of fiber, and I find that most people I speak to outside of the nutrition world are unaware of all of the amazing benefits of fiber. Fiber keeps you full longer, promotes healthy digestion, prevents blood sugar spikes and helps you maintain a healthy weight.
I hope you enjoy this recipe!
Banana Almond Butter Overnight Oats
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled overnight oats
1/2 cup almond milk (or milk of your choice)
1.5 tablespoons almond butter
1 banana, sliced (or fruit of your choice)
1 tsp vanilla extract
A generous dash of cinnamon
Optional: 1 tbsp ground flaxseed or hemp seeds (for extra protein!)
Combine all ingredients in an airtight container like a mason jar. Mix together and store overnight in the fridge. In the morning, add some more almond milk if the texture is too dry for your liking. Enjoy!
*For more healthy recipe ideas follow me on Instagram – @WellnessbyClaire