Oola: So to start off, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
Heather: With 20 years of experience as a Registered Dietitian, I have a passion for nutrition. I received my undergraduate degree in Nutritional Sciences from Cornell University and later completed a Masters of Science in Health Education at SUNY Brockport. I received specialized training in adolescent nutrition through the interdisciplinary Leadership Education in Adolescent Health program at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. I am also a Certified Diabetes Educator and licensed in the state of Kansas to practice dietetics.
Before opening my private practice in 2017, I worked in many different settings with a variety of populations including children and teens, pregnant teens, pregnant adults, college students, and older adults. I also spent some time working as a study coordinator in women’s health research, which gave me a unique set of skills and increased my awareness of public health concerns such as endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
I spent most of my adult life in Rochester, NY and moved to Lawrence, KS in 2016 with my husband and two children. In addition to being a Registered Dietitian, I am certified to teach Group Fight, a group fitness class based in martial arts and kickboxing. And I am a consultant for Beautycounter, a company whose mission is to get safer products into the hands of everyone.
Oola: What inspired you to focus on the field of diet and nutrition?
Heather: My grandmother initially sparked my interest in nutrition. Despite her limited education, she had a sense of balance and moderation.
Throughout high school and into college I struggled with disordered eating. Once I started studying dietetics, I was able to relearn how to eat in a healthier way while improving my relationship with food and my body image. Going through that experience made me want to help others who may be struggling with the same issues.
Oola: Do you specialize in a particular area? Can you elaborate on what it entails?
Heather: I have a couple of areas of specialty. I spent many years in a Pediatric Diabetes Center and really enjoyed working with kids and families not just on how to manage diabetes, but how to develop healthy eating habits. I help families figure out what the parent’s role is and what the child’s role is when it comes to eating and feeding. Many parents struggle with picky eating behavior and want to know what they can do about it. Another issue that comes up a lot is overweight – either the parents or the Pediatrician may be worried about a child’s weight increasing rapidly and affecting their health. An important piece of this work is helping the child/teen develop or maintain a positive body image.
Another area of specialty is working with women (and men) who are tired of the diet mentality. These are people who have tried all the diets, done all the tracking of calories/macros/you-name-it, and need a different plan. I help them through a process called Intuitive Eating where they relearn how to respond to their body’s hunger and fullness cues and stop the cycle of restriction-bingeing-guilt and shame. It’s very rewarding for me and freeing for the clients.
Oola: One of the services you provide is one-on-one nutrition counseling. How does that typically work?
Heather: On average, I work with clients over a 3-month period to help them meet their goal. During the first visit or two, I complete a full assessment of their lifestyle (eating, activity, screen time, sleep, etc) and develop a plan for addressing their struggles systematically during our time together. Sometimes we use an app that allows the client and me to keep in touch in between visits. Sometimes, particularly with kids and families, I’ll assign “homework” to keep them engaged in the process between visits. My work with each client is individualized to help them in whatever way makes sense for them and their lifestyle.
Dietitians are people too, and many of us have been through our own struggles with food. We can relate more than people realize!
Oola: What’s a common misconception people have about working with a Dietitian?
Heather: Many people expect to be given a meal plan and calorie or macros goals. There are some dietitians who do that, but I’m not one of them. I think people are also afraid of being judged based on what they eat or how they live, but nothing could be further from the truth. Dietitians are people too, and many of us have been through our own struggles with food. We can relate more than people realize!
Oola: One day we read in the news that something is bad for us, the next day we read it’s good. Is there a rule of thumb or method to use to figure out which to believe?
Heather: Sorting out the news about food can be a challenge. Sometimes a study will be done and the media will pick up on it because they got interesting results. The trouble is until a study has been replicated, we shouldn’t be relying on it to change recommendations. The evidence-based recommendations on a healthy diet haven’t changed that much over the years. We’ve seen some new developments like whole fat dairy does not raise cholesterol and emerging research on fermented foods and gut health. It’s exciting, but it’s important not to take every new study as definitive.
Oola: If you could only keep one of the following items in your diet for the rest of time, which would it be: Coffee, Ice Cream, or Bacon?
Heather: Ice cream, no contest! I’m a vegetarian, so bacon is already out. I love coffee, but I’ve done without in my life and been just fine. A life without ice cream, though, sounds very sad.
If you free yourself from strict rules about food, and, instead of fighting your body, listen to your body’s cues about what, when, and how much to eat, you will be a lot happier.
Oola: What advice do you have to give to our readers for living life to their tastes while maintaining a healthy diet?
Heather: I encourage everyone to embrace the principles of Intuitive Eating, either through self-study (using the Intuitive Eating Workbook) or with the help of a Registered Dietitian. If you free yourself from strict rules about food, and, instead of fighting your body, listen to your body’s cues about what, when, and how much to eat, you will be a lot happier. When you pay attention to how food makes you feel and trust your body to tell you what it needs, you’ll find your body wants to eat well, most of the time.
Oola: Anything else you’d like to comment on while we have you?
Heather: I think I’ve mostly said it all, but lastly, I want to encourage people to enjoy their food. No one should be forcing themselves to eat things because they “should” eat it. Same for exercise – find something you enjoy or you won’t stick with it.
No one should be forcing themselves to eat things because they “should” eat it.
To Learn More About Heather Fiore And Her Work, Follow Her At:
Name: Heather Fiore
Expertise: Registered Dietitian
Company: Free State Nutrition
Specialties: Pediatric and Adolescent Nutrition, Diabetes, Intuitive Eating, Eating Disorders
Degrees: Masters of Science in Health Education
Designations: MS Ed, RD, LD, CDE