For this week’s Dietitian Spotlight Series, I interviewed a successful entrepreneur/RD with two specialties, diabetes and intuitive eating, who has been able to fuse them together in her business, BRG Dietetics & Nutrition, P.C. Read on to learn more about intuitive eating and how this break-through strategy can help you and your clients break the diet-cycle, how to get certified, and what traits Bonnie thinks are essential for owning your own successful nutrition business.
Hi Bonnie, if you could first please tell us about your credentials, educational background, and a little bit about what you do. My name is Bonnie R. Giller. I am a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and certified intuitive eating counselor. I have my bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition and a master’s degree in clinical nutrition. I am the owner of BRG Dietetics & Nutrition, P.C., a private nutrition therapy practice and have been in business for over 26 years. I help chronic dieters struggling to lose weight and people with medical conditions like diabetes and IBS break free of the pain of dieting, take back control and get the healthy body and life they want. I do this by creating a tailored solution that combines three essential ingredients: a healthy non-diet mindset, nutrition education and caring support. The result is that my clients lose weight and keep it off without dieting and live a healthy life symptom-free.
In the early years of my career, in addition to my private practice, I was a clinical nutrition manager at a large teaching facility in the New York. I was also the director of a dietetic internship program for the largest contract management company in North America. I continue to mentor nutrition students by offering them opportunities to work in my office and volunteer on many projects that are ongoing.
It’s great that you give back to your profession by giving prospective RDs a chance to work with you and gain experience in the field. We all know how tough that is to come by. Can you take us through a typical “day in the life?” A typical day in my life is going into my office after my daughter leaves for school. I review my patient schedule for the day, check my email and respond to any pressing matters. I post onto social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn) for a little while, and then I begin to see patients.
I meet with individuals and provide nutrition education, coaching and medical nutrition therapy for diabetes management, weight management, gastrointestinal disorders and other conditions. I also meet with couples and families.
In addition to counseling and coaching, I work on various other projects such as writing my third cookbook and preparing for presentations and lectures that I am booked to do within the next weeks or months.
What first got you interested in nutrition? I was always interested in healthy eating, but never considered it for my major in college until my second semester when I had to fill an open time slot in my schedule. The only class that fit the schedule was Intro to Nutrition. I loved it! I went on to explore the possibilities of a career in nutrition and here I am, 26 plus years later enjoying every minute of it.
What pushed you to start your own business? I am an entrepreneur at heart. I knew from early on that I wanted to be “my own boss” and have my own business. Throughout the years, I’ve held other positions in hospitals and corporations while running my business on the side. One day I realized that I can’t do it all anymore and I had to give up some of my positions. Although I loved everything I was doing, I knew that I would never give up my private practice. It was my “baby”. I reared it from the start and am so proud of what I have accomplished. I can say without a doubt that I will always continue to be an entrepreneur.
How did you get into the field of intuitive eating and how did you go about getting certified? I had heard about intuitive eating for a long time and always had an interest in it but had not pursued it. That was until I went on a journey of self-discovery and found a true passion for helping chronic dieters and those struggling to lose weight finally lose the weight and learn to keep it off without struggling through yet another diet plan.
I was quite frustrated for my weight loss clients because the typical healthy meal plan that I created for them, while it did yield the weight loss they desired, really wasn’t the answer they needed. The healthy meal plan became yet another diet, another set of rules for them to follow. And when they would inevitably would go off that meal plan due to some emotional trigger, the weight returned. So, as a frustrated registered dietitian, I researched, studied, and learned a new way, called Intuitive Eating, which is how I now help my clients. Intuitive eating is eating based on your physiological need to eat (hunger and fullness signals), not based on situational and emotional signals. When I work with my clients, I see the light bulbs that go on in their heads and they are truly inspiring to me.
I created a program around the 10 principles of intuitive eating called iEat Mindfully™ Intuitive Eating Coaching Program. This program teaches people how to become an intuitive eater. My program helps people make peace with food, enjoy guilt-free eating, a life free of dieting and a body they love! The transformation in my clients is amazing.
Thank you for that information. I think a lot of RDs have “heard of” intuitive eating but aren’t sure how exactly to get involved. What would you say is the biggest challenge of being an RD/business owner? The biggest challenge for me was dealing with insurance companies. I was a provider for 10 insurance companies for twenty-five years. The frustration with misquoted claim benefits, claim denials, appeals, and patients without copays and no motivation had gotten to me. I was burnt out. I finally made the decision almost 2 years ago to slowly discontinue being a provider for the insurance companies. It took about one year to be insurance free and it’s now coming up on a full year that I only accept self-pay. This was a risk I was taking because many people want their insurance to cover for their nutrition visits. However, I have learned to attract the people that are ready and committed to their health and are willing to invest in themselves. These are the patients and clients that are seeing the results. My work satisfaction is much higher.
That’s a great point about learning to attract the people who are willing to invest in themselves! Now the question everyone wants to ask a dietitian– do you follow any certain diet? I used to “follow” a healthy meal plan that I created for myself, which really became normal and natural for me. However, since learning and teaching intuitive eating, I now practice intuitive eating in my life and no longer “follow” any plan. It just so happens that my meals and snacks are well balanced like they were before, but now I am more aware of my inner signals and if I want that piece of cake, I go for it without any guilt.
Is there any food that you won’t eat? Just foods that I don’t like, such as meats. I prefer a more vegetarian eating style.
What diet fad do you wish would disappear? All of them! Diets don’t work. That’s the message I am trying to get out to those who struggle on diet after diet.
What food or nutrition related book or documentary do you think everyone read or watch? I recommend Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elise Resch. It will change how “dieters” view eating forever.
If you weren’t a dietitian, what would you be? This is a fun question. I think I’d be an interior designer, although I don’t know how good I’d be at it!
What is your favorite place to go or thing to do in your city? I love to go to the theatre in New York City, although it’s been some time since we went to a Broadway show. Now that you bring it up, I think I’ll suggest it to my husband!
What would you like to accomplish (can be career or non-career related) in the next 5 years? I would like to get my message out to as many chronic dieters who struggle on diet after diet as I could. I want to shout from the roof tops that they need to give up dieting and re-learn how to be an intuitive eater. It will open up a life of guilt-free eating where they can have pleasure in their meals and the foods they eat. And, they will lose the weight they want/need once they stop focusing on the scale and focus more on their inner signals. I hope to also bring my iEat Mindfully™ Intuitive Eating Program online so I can help more people.
What would you say to someone interested in starting their own business? Any advice or caution? Owning your own business is wonderful, but it’s not for everyone. You have to be a go-getter, be dedicated and passionate, organized, and have the ability to hang in there and overcome obstacles. Additionally, you need to be self-motivated, confident, a risk taker, determined, have excellent counseling skills, listening skills, and have an intuition about people. You have to be fair, nonjudgmental and patient. These are all necessary, in my opinion, to succeed in having your own business.
Thank you for that great insight, for introducing us to intuitive eating and for participating in the Dietitian Spotlight Series!
Connect with Bonnie:
Bonnie R. Giller, MS, RD, CDN, CDE
Download her free e-book 5 Steps to a Body You Love Without Dieting at www.DietFreeZone.com