We’re delighted to feature Stacy Leung, RDN, CDN, RYT, as part of our “Meet the Expert” series. Stacy is a dietitian and private practice owner, with a focus on nutrition coaching, plant-based health, mindful eating and yoga instruction. Learn how accepting health insurance on behalf of her clients makes it possible for budget-conscious clients to see her. “I can reach a bigger population when there is less financial pressure,” Stacy shares.
Why did you get started in nutrition and become an RDN?
I was interested in food and nutrition starting at a young age. When I met a clinical dietitian one day and learned about what she did, I was sold! One way she taught her patients to eat well was by showing "a balanced plate," now called MyPlate. This method was mind-opening to me because the food pyramid was still around at the time. Her ability to take something complicated and simplify it was inspiring. She also was passionate about her work - something I knew was necessary for a career. My sights to become a dietitian never deviated, and I'm glad this profession has worked out for me.
Tell us more about your private practice. What makes your niche special?
In my practice, I offer nutrition coaching and yoga instruction and I specialize in plant-based health and mindful eating. I found in both myself and in working with my clients that becoming more aware of our thoughts, feelings, and habits can help us make better decisions about what we want and need. Becoming an “expert at ourselves” can lead to a happier and nourished wellbeing.
I also think it's possible to be completely plant-based (vegetarian or vegan) and have a healthy relationship with food. My clients choose to be vegetarian or vegan for many reasons, and giving them space to honor their values and preferences is important.
Who is your ideal client?
My ideal client is a young professional who is a plant-based or plant-friendly eater looking to improve their relationship with food. They are interested in breaking up with the mental food police. On the weekends they like to eat out, trying new restaurants and cuisines, but sometimes the food police prevents them from living their dining experience to the fullest. They're otherwise generally healthy and enjoy being physically active because it brings them joy to exercise.
Why did you decide to accept insurance?
Before going into private practice, I worked in a clinic for the underserved community. I liked that I was able to provide nutritional counseling to those who otherwise couldn't afford these services. Also, being based in New York, where the cost of living is high, everyone is cautious about how they spend their money. Taking insurance makes it possible for budget-conscious clients to see me and increases the likelihood of follow-up. I can also reach a bigger population when there is less financial pressure.
What advice would you give another RDN who is thinking about accepting insurance?
Accepting insurance opens up your client pool, so I highly recommend going through with it! I think hiring a professional who is experienced in insurance and credentialing, like Healthy Bytes, helps a lot. Before I hired Healthy Bytes to help me get credentialed, I tried doing it alone, and let's just say it was not great. Once I decided to use their services, I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I knew they would do a much better job getting me credentialed correctly than I would. Also, this process takes time, so it's helpful to be patient!
What change do you hope to see or are excited about in the field of nutrition and dietetics?
I'm excited to see the shift that's happening from dieting to anti-dieting. I love that the health at every size perspective and intuitive eating are on the rise, connecting body acceptance and self-care. We all deserve to respect ourselves.
What’s your favorite piece of advice you have received?
"There's a client for every health practitioner." Once I heard this, I felt better about not "clicking" with every client that comes through the door. As dietitians, we all offer something different, and if I can't help, another dietitian will be able to assist the client better.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you for sharing your expertise with us, Stacy!