I am thrilled to share this week’s interview with you; when I first sat down to chat with Jess, I knew she was ‘my people’. As a dietitian at Choices Markets, where I first worked as a new dietitian, Jess  excels at understanding that there is no nutrition without food. Passionate about educating others around how our food gets to our plates and the role of coaching in making healthy changes, Jess is a valuable member of the team. In fact, she is taking on all new clients in my practice until April 1st…so if you are looking to create a positive shift in your eating life, consider a consult with Jess!

What is your earliest food memory?

My mom openly admits she eats to live and not lives to eat so as a kid growing up she would make these healthy but unappetizing dishes, which would stink up the entire house. Of course I was never subjected to having to eat these dishes, but it left me with the impression that healthy was tasteless. My dad was from this Ukrainian household where once a year Baba would make perogies and halupki for the family and we were all expected to help prepare and eat. I remember having to make perogie balls as a kid because my perogies would never close. From the start I always lived to eat!

Given that your first degree is in psychology, how did it inform how you interacted with what you learned in dietetics?

While making my way through a psychology degree I narrowed down my focus to counseling and childhood development. Counseling was always something I was passionate about but I wanted to counsel and coach people on something scientific and concrete, which is how I stumbled upon dietetics – the perfect marriage between my two values: food, nutrition, health & counseling. Dietetics gave me this incredible skill set to educate people on a very confusing topic while psychology gave me the skills to listen. You can have the best advice in the world to give, but if you don’t have a relationship with the person you are trying to bestow that advice onto you might as well be talking to yourself.

What was the biggest transformation you have made around your own eating habits?

Being pescatarian because of animal husbandry standards. After reading one too many articles and watching one too many documentaries about how we treat our farmed animals there was no looking back. The eggs I still consume come from a SPCA certified farm while the fish comes from a community-supported fishery. Knowing where my food comes from and the all people involved is very important to me and makes my grocery bill very expensive! Being plant-based has given me more energy and a conscience.

What do you think trips people up in their efforts to make change?

The why! Are you making this change because it’s March and bikini season is around the corner? Or because your doctor/partner/friend told you to? {What about the deep impact it will have on your life? How will it make you feel?}

Before making any sort of change take the time to reflect on the “why” then write it down…multiple times and post it around your house. By keeping your motivation in the forefront of your mind this will help you overcome any obstacles along the way.

If you could tell your teenage self something about food, eating and body image, what would you tell her?

Listen to your hunger cues! Stop eating when you are full and eat when you are hungry. By watching TV while eating or scarfing down dinner while running out the door I lost the sense of fullness and appreciation of food. I’m slowly getting it back but it’s been hard.