Anu Kaur, MS, RD, RYT-500, is the private practice dietitian behind A Nu Healthy You. Based in Virginia, Anu can be found either counseling a cancer survivor, planning a yoga workshop for clients, writing a chapter for her book on oncology nutrition, or meeting with her legislators to push for coverage of oncology nutrition counseling. She is an inspiration - meet Anu!
Why did you become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist?
I got my start in nutrition working with patients who had HIV in the 1990’s. I was working at the Whitman-Walker AIDS clinic in Washington, D.C. and the epidemic was still fairly new at that time; my patients were oftentimes passing away. It drew me in – these individuals were relying on heavy supplementation and I helped patients think more about early intervention through nutrition.
I then transitioned into oncology nutrition and cancer prevention. I worked in ICU and outpatient settings, and as an out-patient cancer dietitian - at one point I was the sole RDN for more than 600 patients! This gap in nutrition care is an on-going process and I am grateful for the work my colleagues at ON DPG are doing to have more RDNs available in out-patient cancer setting.
I currently assist with the John Milner Cancer Prevention Research Practicum, where I team with Nutritional Science Research Group to promote nutrition research. Oncology nutrition is my private practice niche – I mostly counsel women with breast cancer, cancer survivors and women with PCOS and individuals looking to make changes through nutrition and self-care.
Tell us more about your private practice. What makes your niche special?
What truly makes my practice special is…yoga. I am a Registered Yoga Teacher, and I feel strongly about bringing yoga into all aspects of healthcare – including cancer prevention and treatment. For RDNs, specifically, I encourage educating patients to enact behavior changes by adding the mind body component. The evidence behind practicing yoga for improved health, lower blood pressure, improvement in diabetes markers, etc. is vast! We need to practice more of an integrative approach to our nutrition counseling, taking a holistic approach to health and wellness.
I talk about incorporating yoga for improved health outcomes whenever I have the chance! I am the Mind Body Chair for the DIFM DPG, and I have spoken about the mind body connection several times at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE), plus at the Illinois Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spring Conference in 2019. I attend the annual International Association of Yoga Therapists conference, where I am typically the only RDN present. Please join me next year, fellow RDNs! Let’s combine our nutrition expertise with the ancient knowledge of yoga.
Who is your ideal client?
It is a privilege for me to work with my oncology clients. My ideal client is someone who is open to exploring gradual and sustainable lifestyle transformation. One of my patients recently came to me and said, “I hate yoga!” I have a willingness to meet my patients where they are and was so appreciative of knowing what this client was comfortable with. We simply practiced deep breathing together during that session; deep breathing is an element of yoga. And this patient is doing really well with her stress and nutrition goals. She’s putting small behavior changes into place.
Why did you decide to accept insurance?
Accepting health insurance on behalf of my patients wasn’t on my radar until I met the Healthy Bytes team a few years ago at FNCE. I have many creative desires and doing administrative work is not one of my favorite things! Since working with Healthy Bytes, I am taking on more patients who have health insurance. Paying Healthy Bytes is my best business expenditure, because I don’t want to spend a lot of time with billing. I’d rather host retreats for my patients, or prepare small group sessions, prep programming or write my book! I want to grow my business, and Healthy Bytes is helping me to do so. They are freeing me to do the type of work that I prefer to do.
I also work a lot with the Indian population (I am Indian myself), and most of them say to me, “Why would I pay out of pocket when I have health insurance?” I have become more accessible to my own Indian community and others because I accept health insurance.
What advice would you give another RDN who is thinking about accepting insurance?
First, when you become an entrepreneur, delegate unwanted administrative tasks to others who can manage it on your behalf, like billing!
Second, accepting insurance opened the door for me to see many new clients. It can do the same for you.
And third, accepting insurance also taught me financial responsibility; you may experience the same. There is a cost to doing business, and the business side of things is not something that we are not always taught as RDNs. I initially had this idea that as an entrepreneur, I had to manage everything on my own. But bite the bullet and step away from managing everything yourself! When you pay others to help support your practice, you grow – and feel empowered!
What’s your favorite piece of advice that you have received?
The author of The Now Habit said to first plan your rest and play in your week so that you can get more quality work hours. Put five hours of “flow” into something in order to be the most productive. Pour yourself into those five hours per day, and then take time to relax. Allocate your energy. I try to aim for five hours a day of concentrated time which often leads to “flow” because I have already done my self-care!
A friend of mine working high up in management in a pharmaceutical company also suggests setting aside two hours per month to tap into your creative thinking. Take those hours and research something new, or something that you love. Many of my favorite ideas come from those couple hours of brainstorming with a cup of something warm, like my favorite Ginger Chai Tea. Enjoy my recipe!
We enjoyed chatting with you, Anu! We look forward to watching you continue to grow your private practice – and grow the RDN yogi community as well!