I Tried It: Personal Nutrition Counseling

Our writer needed help cleaning up her eating habits. So she called in a pro—our very own Be Well contributor and dietician Katie Cavuto Boyle.

I have always wanted to book a consultation with a personal nutritionist because no matter how many health magazines I read, no matter how dutifully I watch what I eat (okay, sometimes dutifully, sometimes, um, not), I have always had the feeling that I could be doing just a little … better. And by better, I don’t mean some sort of over-the-top crazy spartan vegan eating plan or anything. In fact, I’ve done Weight Watchers for a couple of years, and I very much like its methods of portion control and moderation and non-craziness. But I just always thought that a nutritionist would help me maybe drop a few not-great habits and learn a few new and different healthy cooking tricks. This all became especially appealing since I’d found myself at a sort of plateau on the W.W. plan.

Still, there were two things that always stopped me booking that appointment: First, not to sound cocky, but I was afraid that a nutritionist would simply reiterate everything I already knew (i.e., eat more veggies than anything, eat whole grains, skip the fake sweeteners, yada yada). And second, I was afraid it would veer the other way, and I would find myself on some raw, macro, gluten-free, eating-farro-and-beets-for-breakfast kind of diet, and it would be miserable, unsustainable and … un-me. I don’t want to have to shop in the sprouts-and-tofu aisle at Whole Foods every time I want to put together a meal, you know?

But a few frustrating months spent stranded on a plateau, I just gave in. I got ahold of chef and registered dietician Katie Cavuto Boyle, whom many of us know as:
a) the author of the Cheat Sheets you see on this blog
b) the team dietician for the Phillies
c) the queen of egg sandwiches, which helped skyrocket her to local fame at her erstwhile shop Healthy Bites. (The restaurant is no more, but she still does food delivery.)

For a fee of $350 to $400 (which is, I must point out, not a whole lot more than some folks are paying for those fancy juice cleanses that are all the rage right now. I’m looking at you, Gwyneth Paltrow …), Katie does a personalized nutrition consultation that includes: a thorough review of your pantry; a lesson on food labels; a personalized seven-day meal plan (that’s ideas for 21 meals and 14 snacks); several weeks of email correspondence and review of daily food consumption; a lesson/list for grocery shopping; and several new recipes.

The whole thing was sort of life-altering for me. Not because the changes to my life were huge—they weren’t. They were small changes, little tweaks on habits here and there. But I can honestly say that I did learn quite a bit in the process. I won’t bore you with all the details, but in a nutshell, I had not been balancing my carb/protein consumption as well as I thought I was, and my Greek yogurt breakfasts weren’t as awesome for me as I thought they were. Also, I’ve added a few crowd-pleasing recipes to my repertoire that have already become staples at our house.

And to address my other fear—the one about having to live off kale and pumpkin seeds? Katie quickly put that to rest. She’s a good-humored, normal human being who understands the occasional need for bacon and ice cream sandwiches. She’s big into moderation, and veggies, and eggs, and she isn’t dairy-averse or gluten-averse or carb-averse, or any sort of averse that felt like deprivation.

So here’s what’s changed in the month-and-a-half or so since I first met with her: I eat bigger, better breakfasts that I actually look forward to. I eat more substantial snacks. I eat more carbs in the morning than I used to, and fewer at suppertime. I’ve lost a few pounds (though Katie tells me to get off the scale, which is sort of freeing). My muscle tone has improved. I have more energy throughout the day, even at 4 p.m. I rarely get to the point where I am ravenous.

I do still eat ice cream sandwiches.