For our second edition of CompletEat’s interview series Profiles, we met with Kristy Rao! Based in NYC, she’s a health coach, holistic nutritionist, wellness writer, and here to share her insights pertaining to creating a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
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CE: For your clients striving to find physical and psychological balance, what is your most commonly given advice?
Kristy: Meditate. It will change your life. Also, embrace that lasting change will always be gradual.
"The most important conversations are the ones you have with yourself. Be kind."
CE: Instead of jumping into a new healthcare routine, what is the best way for people to mentally prepare for the changes they want to make?
Kristy: Think of how your life will be different after you make the necessary changes. My clients sign an agreement to be open to new foods and habits. The change should be gradual and not a jump. Slowly but surely, you will adapt and even enjoy the process. The change will come but with some patience and work at first. In time, it will be a lasting part of you.
CE: From your article written for the New York Observer, “10 Healthy Lessons I Learned From Growing Up in Norway” - which lesson do you find most important?
Kristy: Growing up, I spent my summers in Norway on my grandparents’ farm. It is where my mother was born. The most important lessons were taught to me by my grandmother. She is now 101 years old, and she is as sharp and healthy as anyone could possibly be at that age. Having spent almost her entire life on a farm, she was very in sync with the natural world. She taught me to always opt for fresh and whole foods, to never have food from a can unless necessary, to opt for green cleaning products and avoid chemicals as best I could and to eat a plant-based diet.
There were all types of vegetables and fruit that we grew on the farm, which I would pick, and we would incorporate it all into our daily meals. The difference in taste between the produce there and the grocery store bought kind and even the eggs that I would eat when I got back home was obvious to me. We had animals on the farm like chickens and cows. They were treated with the utmost respect. I am so lucky to have experienced this connection with the land and animals. It is often entirely lost with city living. To me, nothing beats a meal that includes fish that I caught myself and vegetables that were picked fresh also that day. That’s a feeling of true nourishment when you know exactly from where your food is sourced.
CE: What should people consider before searching for a dietician, nutritionist or holistic nutritionist? How will they know which is right for them?
Kristy: It all depends on your personal goals. There are many different certifications and masters degrees that one can obtain within the field of nutrition. Therefore, it is important to exercise caution, as some of these programs are very short and do not make someone an expert. The three main types of nutrition professionals include health coaches, registered dieticians and clinical nutritionists.
If you are looking for someone to help you lose a little weight and teach you about living a healthier lifestyle, a health coach could be all you need. However, if you are suffering or healing from disease or digestive issues, I would recommend a RD or a CNS. It is important to note that RDs often do not take on an integrative approach, unless they have received additional schooling in the holistic or functional medicine domain. To become a registered dietitian (RD) you need an undergraduate degree. To become a Certified Nutrition Specialist, you need an advanced degree. There are plenty of registered dieticians who only have a college degree and majored in nutritional sciences, while others have a masters degree. Similarly, some health coaches have done a short online training, while others have a masters degree.
CE: Everyone is so busy and moving at hyperspeed these days! What’s the best way to start a busy day? How do you start your mornings?
Kristy: First thing in the morning, I check my emails and phone. That is something that I simply can’t help. Then, I have a 20-minute meditation. Next up, I make a matcha latte with almond milk or coffee as I watch and read the news. I then will get ready for the day and make a protein smoothie or egg white veggie scramble. I sometimes have a very early meeting with a client, so I may need to skip my meditation, but I never leave the house without having had some breakfast. If I do not have a client meeting in the am, I love to start my day with a workout.
CE: Do you have a favorite health food trend? What will we see more of in 2019?
Kristy: CBD everything. And, more cauliflower everything and celery juice. I recommend putting that celery in a smoothie instead to keep the fiber and also utilizing the extract for 2019. Sneaking in protein, inulin and collagen powders into your coffee to boost the nutrition and your protein/fiber count for the day is also going to continue on. And, I hope we don’t forget about adaptogens. Also, you’ll be seeing more seed butter and fewer nut butters. Gut-healing foods such as broth and all things fermented will still be big, along with probiotic-spiked foods. A focus on FIBER is a big one. I predict a return to low carb.
CE: Do you have advice for those thinking about going vegan? For example, what foods they should make sure to include in order to get their proper b12 intake?
Kristy: There are vegan foods which are fortified with b12 such as plant-based meat substitutes, breakfast cereals and soy or nut milk beverages. For this reason, it is actually not typical for vegans to be deficient, although they could also take a supplement in order to be sure of adequate intake. 95% of the cases of vitamin b12 deficiency in the U.S. is a result of inadequate absorption generally due to pernicious anemia. Multivitamins or a weekly/daily b12 supplement are good options. B12 is also available in liquid form, even as a spray to lace on food.
CE: What is your favorite cheat meal?
Kristy: My favorite cheat meal is probably Amy’s pizza (I always have some frozen) or a J.G. Melon burger in the winter or a lobster roll with fries in the summertime. Also I do love chocolate, so molten lava cake with vanilla ice cream is my heaven on earth. Balance is key.
"When I indulge, I never look back and regret!"
CE: Lastly, what is your favorite CompletEats cookie flavor?
Kristy: The chocolate chia!