Today as part of our “Meet the Expert” series, we’re featuring an RDN who stumbled (very gracefully) from dancer to dietitian! Learn more about her unique practice focusing on nutrition for dancers and her blending of careers below.
Why did you get started in nutrition / become an RDN?
I was dancing professionally throughout college and training over five hours daily when I became increasingly interested in the food that I was eating. I knew that food was directly fueling my performance, and I wanted to optimize my capabilities on stage and in class. After taking an introductory college course on nutrition, I became very interested and started reading more on my own. Immediately, I was confused—there was so much misinformation out there! Additionally, the information was inconsistent and lacked substantial scientific evidence. I couldn’t imagine how others outside of the field were interpreting what they read!
Soon after, I decided to focus my studies on nutrition. I developed a passion for the field, and was drawn to the path toward becoming an RDN.
After I graduated New York University, I worked as clinical dietitian at NYU-Langone Medical Center. However, I soon found myself with an urge to branch out on my own. I then created my own practice, To The Pointe Nutrition, after finally realizing that I had two passions – dance and nutrition. It was time to formulate them into one in order to help other dancers improve their health and boost their performance on stage.
Tell us more about your private practice. What makes your niche special?
To The Pointe Nutrition is a private practice specializing in sports nutrition specifically for performing artists. That said, I counsel a wide range of populations from fitness enthusiasts to anyone looking for a lifestyle change. While my main focus is dancers, once I started accepting insurance, insurance companies listed me as an in-network provider. This increased my client volume and broadened my client population to cardiology, diabetes, GI concerns, and more. Aside from being listed as an in-network provider for many insurance companies, clients find me via doctor referrals, dance schools in the NY area, and social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram.
Who is your ideal client?
Anyone! My clients are not only athletes and dancers, but also anyone looking to follow a healthy lifestyle plan. Lately, I’ve been noticing a trend with my younger clients. They’re confused about nutrition and what it means to “be healthy.” I blame this not only on the mass amounts of misinformation out there, but also on the easy accessibility of this information through online platforms and social media. Some of my youngest dancers are obsessed about eating “healthy” and “clean.” I find myself encouraging them to actually eat dessert. Eating healthy shouldn’t be a chore; it should be enjoyable!
Why did you decide to accept insurance?
Plain and simple – I wanted to increase volume for my practice. I found that most of my target patient population inquired about accepting insurance. I knew that in order to grow my practice, I needed to become an in-network provider.
Accepting insurance is critical. While potential clients may be drawn to weight-loss apps that give you “an RDN in your pocket” for less money than it would cost to see an RDN in person, I believe that face-to-face time ensures accountability and motivation.
What advice would you give another RDN who is thinking about accepting insurance?
It’s a very good idea for an RDN who not only wants to increase patient volume, but who also wants to make a difference in the majority of his or her patient populations. Insurance increased my client volume and put me on many referral lists for doctors and care centers.
What change do you hope to see or are you most excited about in the field of nutrition and dietetics?
I’d like to see more insurance companies open up to RDNs. When we become in-network providers, we increase patient access to their services.
What’s your favorite piece of advice you have received?
I was advised to have a cancellation policy, and thank goodness I have one in place. My time is important and others must be understanding of that! My biggest piece of advice is: don’t be afraid to carve out your own niche – you never know where it might take you!
Parts of this interview have been shortened and edited.