Nutritionist: mindful eating, ditch trendy diets
Life is simultaneously beautiful and busy, but it shouldn't hinder the ability to seek the best nutrition and wellness.
Melanie Hallal, 33, is passionate about sharing how to develop better habits that can lead to a healthier lifestyle, free of fad diets and trendy food plans.
As a registered dietician and licensed nutritionist, she works with a team of female entrepreneurs who are independent contractors at Main Street Day Spa in downtown Farmington.
In 2012, Hallal founded the healthy lifestyle blog, Beautifully Nutty, Nutrition & Wellness.
"It encapsulates a healthy lifestyle that is attainable for everyone," Hallal said. "The reason I started it was because I wanted a creative outlet to share recipes with friends and I wanted to share fitness adventures and my journey towards wellness."
Pursuing good health and seeking nutrition is in her genes. Her mother worked as a licensed nutritionist and dietary technician.
"I participated in the 'Take Your Daughter to Work Day,' and so I saw it all there and at home because she always brought that kind of education home and taught it to us," Hallal said.
Making the right lifestyle changes
After facing a series of health concerns in her own life, she decided to pursue an education in nutrition and wellness in college.
In the new year, Hallal is ready to help anyone who wants to make healthy lifestyle changes with nutrition.
"My philosophy is a non-diet approach," Hallal said. "We need to ditch the diet approach and instead adapt a more mindful eating approach so we are regaining control of our food choices and listening to hunger cues."
Helping to coach her clients, Hallal said she will not tell anyone they cannot eat something. In regards to exercise, she recommends finding something that you like.
"If you love it, you can change your body over time," she said. "Lastly, I am all about promoting a positive body image because so much of what comes with diets is a mentality of I want to lose weight, and we need to step back and ask why. Is it because you have health reasons? Or you want to look a certain way? And why do you want to look that way?"
If a person works on making the right food choices and find ways to move their body while staying positive, Hallal said these positive lifestyle changes will lead to greater health and weight loss if that is the goal.
"It is reprogramming our brain and there are so many things that come into play," Hallal said.
Making simple healthy food choices leads to a person feeling better, she said. The positive lifestyle changes can be forever but don't mean a person cannot enjoy eating things like bread, carbs or even chocolate.
Educating on wellness
Hallal offers a free 25-minute consultation on nutrition and wellness.
"We can discuss the right fit and what you want to get out of the meetings and we can choose a package that fits your needs that may be once a month and go up from there," she said. "I am also going to be starting cooking classes if someone is interested in having one at their home." As a mother of three young children, she encourages parents to continually offer fresh fruit and veggies to all ages of children.
"I have learned to not give up on vegetables with your kid because if you keep offering, eventually they are going to like them," she said. "They may have to try a food 10 times before liking it."
Just like adults, children's taste buds change all the time. Veggies may be more appealing to youngsters served with dips like hummus or Greek yogurt that is mixed in with spices or ranch dip.
"You can also hide veggies in food," she said. "I puree beets that come out pink in pancakes — it is fun and a little extra work but it is worth it."
Hallal cautions anyone who wants to lose weight to seriously consider any trendy food plans or diets that limits foods.
Hallal also works in community health as part of the Women, Infants and Children public health program in Bloomington.
"I decided I needed another creative outlet and that is why I joined Main Street Day Spa," she said. "I like to be face-to-face with people.