There are lots of RDs/RDNs that dream of one day opening their own private practice and working for themselves. Lauren Fowler, RDN, LD, CLT has made that dream a reality with her business Mindful Meals. I’m interviewing Lauren to see how she got started, the top tip she gives her clients, what foods she couldn’t live with out and more.
What is a typical day like for you, Lauren?
My day usually begins with a big breakfast (usually eggs, veggies, avocado, & fruit). Aftewards, I see clients at the integrative therapy center where I work, chat with clients on the phone/Skype, do lunch & learns or spend my time blogging. It’s sometimes a challenge balancing my schedule, but it’s well worth it. I love having the chance to blog and plan events that are fun and interesting rather than doing the same job every single day. I usually break up my day by taking a walk or yoga class and relax in the evening with a good book. And there’s always some dark chocolate in there somewhere too!
What got you interested in the field of nutrition?
I’ve always been interested in the health field, but I started college off as a nursing major. As soon as I took the required nutrition class, I switched and never looked back. I am so glad I made the change because I wake up excited to help people heal their body using food as medicine every single day. My friends and family are lucky I have a blog, otherwise I’d chat their ears off about food all day long.
Is there any food that you feel like you couldn’t live without?
Oh, so many foods! My daily favorites are avocados and dark chocolate, but it changes by the season.
What pushed you to start your own business?
I started my blog just for fun because I’ve always loved writing. After a while, I realized I could expand it and include nutrition coaching services because I would get questions and emails about specific topics. I knew I eventually wanted to have my own private practice, so why not start now? I think many new dietitians hear that they have to work in a hospital for a few years, but I chose to start early on and learn as I go. I’ve actually enjoyed learning about running a business through books and podcasts and I wish we got more knowledge about business in school or during our internships.
Do you follow any certain diet?
No way! I promote a no-diet lifestyle. I choose to eat whole foods most of the time, and I am gluten-free because of IBS, but I never follow a particular diet or count calories.
What is the most memorable meal you’ve ever had?
Hm, good question! One of my favorite restaurants in Boston is a tapas & wine bar – I love their goat cheese & balsamic mushrooms, fig chorizo, and butternut squash with honey. With red wine of course!
What diet fad do you wish would disappear?
Does Dr. Oz count? I get so many people telling me that Dr. Oz talked about a new diet or supplement, and he’s always promoting something new.
Ugh, I agree! If I bought every supplement that Dr. Oz called a miracle, I’d spend be spending 5 hours a day just swallowing pills! What food or nutrition related book or documentary do you think everyone read or watch?
Oh, so many good ones! In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan is one of my all-time favorites. The message is simple but powerful. I also love Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole. So many people have disordered eating habits, eat emotionally, or worry about their weight. Switching the mindset from weight/calories/numbers to health can be a radical shift for people, but it frees up their life from worrying about their weight and what to eat all the time.
What are your thoughts on GMOs? Do you think they should be labeled?
GMOs are a hot topic. I am for labeling them because I like to know what’s in my food. We can see the ingredients and nutrition facts on labels, so why not see where if it’s GMO or not?
What is the top tip you give your clients?
Make half your plate veggies! This is such a simple tip, but it’s not always done. If people were to add a half plate of veggies to their meals, they would get so many benefits from the fiber and all the micronutrients. You can even add veggies to breakfast by having veggies with eggs or making green smoothies with spinach or different herbs like mint or cilantro.
What is your favorite place to go or thing to do in your city?
My perfect day would be walking around the farmer’s market in the summer, then taking a run along the waterfront bike path. I am so blessed to live in a beautiful place with tons of local food and outdoors fun.
What would you like to accomplish in the next 5 years?
I never like to plan too far ahead because life usually takes over and switches things up. I do think I’ll continue to blog and have projects grow from it like online nutrition courses or group classes. It’s really cool to be able to connect with people around the world through my blog and social media! Personally, I would love to go through yoga teacher training in the next few years.
What would you say to someone interested in becoming an RD or getting into the field of nutrition? Any advice or caution?
Talk to people! Find a few RDs you can shadow in real life or email online to ask them about what they do. You really can create your own path these days, and RDs aren’t stuck in hospital jobs. If you’re really interested, it’s great to chat with an RD to find out the path they took and help you decide what your interests are.
Do you have any advice for an RD who seems to be “stuck” in a dead-end or non-fufilling position?
Start now, and build. If you’re an RD stuck in a job you don’t love, find something you do love to do on the side. It could be a blog, part-time private practice, running nutrition classes, working with a sports team, giving talks, writing, whatever. You don’t have to jump headfirst into your own business, but start now before you think you’re ready. Don’t wait. It’s a lot easier to start your own business, and it’s such an amazing opportunity to build and create projects on your own.
Thank you Lauren for being part of the Dietitian Spotlight Series!
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