Annelise Digiacomo argues there are two factors to eating a healthy diet: nutrition and habit.
Nutrition is understanding the science behind food. For example, knowing what fats, carbohydrates and proteins are, and how they function in the body. Or having a knowledge base of which foods provide what vitamins and minerals. Essentially, it’s knowing what makes up our food and how it interacts, negatively or positively, inside the body.
Food habits—how, where and why we consume what we do—are a bit more complicated. However, Digiacomo says sometimes it is more important to be mindful of when setting a nutrition goal, or making a modification to an existing way of consuming food.
“Nutrition coaching is about making changes with routine and consistency, and how to do that,” Digiacomo says. “Sometimes the issue is not in the meal and nutrition itself. Sometimes it’s about another area of your life. I look at all the systems a client has in relationship to nutrition and then help set them up for success.”
Digiacomo is a nutrition coach, personal trainer and endurance athlete who has been in the health and fitness industry for more than 15 years. She says, personally, she found that dialing in her own habits was a huge missing link when it came to reaching her own goals with weight and fitness. Now she is dedicated to helping others think about this often-overlooked component.
In getting clients to honestly assess their current habits and create new ones, she often asks questions about when and where clients eat, how a meal makes them feel, and why they eat what they do. She stresses there’s no judgment about the answers; clients simply provide her with an idea of what they value.
“A big part of coaching is defining a value base. So I ask: Why is that valuable to you; how do you want to live; and what stories do you tell yourself? I often have people finish the sentence: I eat this way because . . . And then I help people align themselves with how they want to be.”
Digiacomo says all these questions don’t have to be answered or addressed right away. In fact, she says change should start very small. “We can take a look at just one meal. Maybe it’s lunch,” she says. “We can talk about ways to make just one meal better for you, and go from there.”
Nutrition coaching helps with weight loss, sports performance and optimizing wellness. For more information about nutrition coaching, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.