Since Small Bites was launched in April of 2007, I have gotten several e-mails from readers wanting to know a little more about me (besides the fact that I am on the Registered-Dietitian track and a Clinical Nutrition Master’s student New York University.)
Alright, today is the day.
We’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming shortly, but allow me to share a few anecdotes with you.
Nutrition is not a subject that jumped out at me from a course booklet I flipped through one boring Sunday afternoon.
Nor is it something I decided to study because “it sounded interesting.”
I decided to pursue nutrition as a career because of the powerful effect it had on me.
I do not have some incredible “I used to be 150 pounds heavier than I am now” makeover story, but my food journey surely has been interesting.
Family dinners at the Bellatti household were always healthy (my ancestry is Mediterranean, so olive oil and fish were staples,) but my meals away from home were an entirely different story.
Consider my middle school years.
I would arrive to school every day with a packed lunch from home.
At around 10:30 AM, when we had “snack time,” I would munch on whatever treat my mother had packed for me that day (a small Ziploc bag of chips, or a single serving pack of cookies).
When lunch time came around, I would dispose of my remaining lunchbox contents (a sandwich, baby carrots, a piece of fruit) in the nearest garbage pail and instead purchase two chocolate ice cream bars.
Oh, and a soda. And maybe even a slice of pizza, if I had enough money leftover.
Then, I would get home and have another can of soda.
Dinner was healthy, but late at night — while my parents were in slumber land — I would usually tiptoe into the kitchen, grab another can of soda and bag of chips, retreat to my room, and enjoy a midnight snack.
Fiber? Sodium? Vitamins? Minerals? I didn’t have the faintest clue.
Given that dietary recall, you may think I had to be rolled to school.
Quite the opposite — I was skinny as a rail. And I absolutely hated it.
I also never quite felt in tip top shape. Physical fitness was the last thing on my mind.
Although I went pescatarian at 16 (a status I maintain to this day,) I still wasn’t eating healthy.
Mozarella sticks, French fries, pizza, ice cream, and potato chips perfectly fit into my plan!
Finally, at 17 years of age, I approached my parents and told them I was interested in seeing a nutritionist.
Wow! Between her suggestions and a gym membership, within 4 months I felt like I had never felt before.
I had energy! And some muscle tone! And previously semi-permanent pesky colds and sore throats were a thing of the past!
That was my initiation to nutrition, and my passion for it only grew stronger with time.
It was during my undergraduate years — as a journalism and gender & sexuality studies major at New York University — that I began discovering the joys of tofu, whole grains, vegetables, plain yogurt, tempeh, seitan, edamame, fresh fruit, and cuisines from all over the world.
Finally, in 2005, I realized nutrition was no longer just “a hobby”; it was my future.
I was committed to not only learning as much about it as I could, but also serving as a mouthpiece, vouching for its relevance and importance.
I wanted to be thoroughly trained to serve as a trustworthy guide in the treacherous jungle that is nutrition.
And, so, here we are. I thank you so much for being part of this ongoing journey.
My main reason for sharing this is to illustrate that no matter how horrible your eating habits may be now, change and growth are by no means out of the question.
My nutritional shifts certainly did not happen overnight. They were gradual, and I made some mistakes along the way (like shunning as many carbs as possible in the Summer of 2004!).
The most amazing thing is that the foods that once made me drool don’t even register on my radar anymore.
My adolescence was defined by Doritos and PopTarts. Back then, I certainly never thought my idea of a delicious breakfast would be Greek yogurt with sliced bananas, chopped walnuts, ground flaxseed, oat bran, and wheat germ!
PS: An extra tidbit about me — I’m a big fan of The Soup on E! (that’s me with host Joel McHale in the accompanying photo. Click on it to see a MUCH larger version.)