“I love everything about Philadelphia, and its food is like the city itself: real-deal, hearty, and without prevention" - Lisa Scottoline

The real-deal and hearty food of Philly is just as important as the multiple historical monuments throughout the city. Unfortunately, no matter how much we would like our diet to be a rotation of the best cheesecakes Philly has to offer, it's not the most nutritional choice.

A healthy diet is a sure way of increasing your overall health. A healthy diet is proven to increase your happiness, life expectancy, and overall well-being.

However, making the switch to a healthy lifestyle can be challenging at first. Certified nutritionists are health professionals that work with clients to find the best diets and exercise regimes that suit each individual.

What Does a Nutritionist Do?

A qualified nutritionist will be able to resolve concerns specific to you and your body by providing step by step instructions, food plans, shopping lists, recipes, nutrient guidance and most importantly, support to help implement it.

healthy meal prep in jars
Nutritionists can help with menu planning and meal preparation options for a busy lifestyle. (Photo by Ella Olsson on Unsplash)

This guidance comes in the form of a program or guide.

The following are a list of topics that a certified nutritionist would cover through their services:

  • Goal setting;
  • Counseling and advice focused on your goals;
  • Simple lifestyle changes;
  • Finding ways to be healthy on the run;
  • Helping to integrate healthier foods into your diet and stop cravings;
  • Cultivate a fresh approach to cooking;
  • Menu planning;
  • Working to boost your immune system;
  • Changing your overall relationship to food.

Nutritionists in the Philly Area

As easy as it is to find a delicious Philly cheesesteak, it can be just as easy to find a qualified nutritionist in the city. Heath care facilities and clinics throughout the city are home to licensed dietitians whose goal is to give you the best nutrition advice.

According to the Philadelphia Magazine, these are the “Best Nutritionists in Philly”:

  • Healthy Bites founder and registered dietitian Katie Cavuto Boyle has been named best nutritionist twice in the last few years for her holistic approach to helping patients achieve meaningful change through nutrition. Her services vary from remaking your pantry, helping plan meals, teaching you new recipes, and offering small but life-altering insights into your eating habits. Depending on the intensity of the program you prefer, Katie offers 2 weeks, 1 month, and 3-month programs, each catered to helping you take the next steps to a healthier lifestyle.
family walking near water
Nutritionists in Philadelphia offer their services to both individuals and families. (Photo by Luis Quintero on Unsplash)
  • The 2013 win for Best Nutritionist in Philly went out to Family Food. Krista Yoder-Latortues founded Family Food and staffs 25 registered dietitians who will meet with you (or the whole fam) at your home to tackle your health objectives.  Family food dietitian focus on weight loss, sustaining energy, blood-pressure regulation, and obesity and cancer prevention. Their Registered dietitians will get you thinking about food in a whole new way. They even offer access to their customized phone app to help you track your goals.
  • Emma Fogt is an Author, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), and Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Fogt offers services for individuals and for families. Through her services, she will aid you in setting a balanced life rather than one of constant dieting and deprivation. She is the perfect pick for a family of picky eaters. Her hilarious nutrition-inspired puppet shows will entertain your kids into trying leafy greens.

These are only three out of hundreds of great quality nutritionists in Philadelphia. Through some googling, you will also come across other qualified nutritionists with wide scopes of practice.

Consultation with a Nutritionist

After deciding on your nutritionist, you might ask… well, what happens next? 

Next comes the initial consultation. Like in most health professions, a nutritionist needs to meet with you and assess your situation. Depending on the services provided by your dietitian, this can either be an face to face appointment at their place of practice or through a phone/web call.

Some nutritionists might ask you to do some work beforehand. That may range from filling in a detailed health questionnaire, or a 3-day food diary. This is done so that your nutritional therapist can get a good overall picture of your current health status, diet and lifestyle.

First consultation
During your first consultation, your dietitian will take notes on your diet and medical history (Photo by Luis Quintero on Unsplash)

A health questionnaire may cover questions about:

  • Your reason for seeing the nutritionist;
  • Your symptoms, if you have any;
  • Medical history;
  • Your family history;
  • Lifestyle;
  • Levels of exercise/physical activity;
  • General state of health.

The goal of a consultation is to get to know you as much as possible in order for the dietitian to be able to provide you with personalized advice. Measurements of your weight, height and body fat levels will be taken during your visit. The whole process may take around 1.5 hours.

By the end of your first visit, your dietitian will have provided you with either a tailored meal plan or personalized eating guidelines - depending on your preference - so you can immediately get started working on your goals.

Community Health in Philly 

Throughout the city of Philadelphia, there are a handful of organizations that have been working together to promote nutritious and healthy eating with the Philadelphia community.

One of these organizations is MANNA. MANNA an organization, who’s mission is to bring together dietitians, chefs, drivers, and thousands of volunteers to cook and deliver nutritious, medically appropriate meals and provide nutrition counseling to neighbors who are battling life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, renal disease, and HIV/AIDS.

The nutritionists at MANNA hone in on the idea of mindfulness in all aspects of your life. They have come up with several tips for mindful eating, as a way of becoming aware of our thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations related to eating and, in turn, improving our overall health.

healthy community
The Philly community and local government has come together to work for a healthier community. (Photo by Brandon Jacoby on Unsplash)

Here are MANNA’s Tips for Practicing Mindful Eating:

  1. Reflect – Before you start eating, take a moment to see how you feel. Sad? Happy? Bored? Hungry? This will help determine if you want to eat, what to eat, and how you want to eat.
  2. Take a seat- Sitting down to enjoy your meal will help you fully appreciate the food you eat.
  3. Turn off the distractions – Turn off the TV and put away the phone. These distractions will cause us to overeat.
  4. See what you eat - Take the food out of the bag and put it in a bowl or on a plate. Seeing food with your eyes can be just as important.
  5. Portion size – Choosing a smaller plate will trick our brains into thinking we are eating more.
  6. Give thanks – Take a moment to be thankful for the work that went into making that meal. Give yourself thanks that you made a delicious meal or thanks to someone who made a meal for you!
  7. Put the silverware down – After each bite put down the fork and spoon and allow yourself time to chew before picking them back up for another bite.
  8. Chew 20 times – It sounds difficult, but challenge yourself sometimes to chew one bite of food 20 times. You will appreciate the entire flavor and texture the food has to offer.
  9. Listen to your hunger signals – If you feel full, do not force yourself to finish the plate of food. Save it for when you feel hungry again.
  10. Silence – This may be a bit impractical for families but try for 3 minutes to eat in silence to really experience eating. Having a few minutes for a quiet moment might be nicer than you think!

The local government in Philly has also weighed in on improving the health of the city’s residents. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health has set up an online database for finding healthy and affordable food.

At Food Fit Philly you can view all of the sources for finding restaurants, stores and markets recommend by the leading dietitians in the city.

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