My nutrition orientation began with my mom, who makes magic in the kitchen. And, as the first granddaughter to first-generation Italians, I was lovingly and constantly urged to “manga manga! Oh, you’re so skinny! Here, have some white bread and salty cold cuts!”
In my late 20’s, personal experience with ulcerative colitis shifted my perspective on food from cultural comfort to integral ingredient in the recipe for health. I’d become dangerously skinny and, after major surgery, my doctor gave me advice about how to heal and gain weight: “McDonald’s,” he said.
McDonald’s? Um, okay.
Based on his advice, I felt inspired to add vitamin called Sara Lee Cheesecake Bites. As you may guess, I felt like crap and began to look beyond calories. After parsing through the many nutritional strategies that Google served up, I found it! I learned that not all food is equal, the main difference being “level of processedness.” I learned that foods grown with compassion, raised without chemicals and prepared in traditional ways are medicine.
Years later, a master’s degree in nutrition from Bastyr University in Seattle gave me scientific proof (in such biochemical detail that my brain nearly exploded) that conventional medicine’s view on nutrition is severely askew. Working with clients taught me two bigger, more important lessons. First, food is only a small part of the mind-body-emotion complex, nourishment with food is nothing without nourishment from meaningful social interaction, stress management, physical activity, emotional awareness and being seen as a valid individual. In this world, that is no small order. Second, each gloriously individual human requires different nutrition strategies (no cookie cutter solutions!) and that will change over time.
Before all that, I had a career in computer programming and consulting. It turns out the tech world is surprisingly similar to nutrition consulting! Both rely on critical thinking and problem solving; choices are data driven and inputs result in outputs. But, the big, obvious difference is that a human body and its environment have multitudes more variables than computer code. After debugging, code can just be rewritten. Change is a smidge harder for us humans. Pre-programmed cookie-cutter nutrition rules are inappropriate and ineffective (until we evolve into androids). Health strategies must be 100% individualized and will most assuredly change over time.
This is why I strive to empower my clients through education. It’s ideal that we each take a leading role in our own health. If I “teach a person to fish”, my services will not be needed long-term– that’s not great for job security, but it’s my goal just the same. That said, self-care does not mean going it alone. I enjoy teaming up with my clients and offering what’s in my brain and formulating a plan together. I do not like telling my clients what to do.
Since everyone is different, everything I suggest is an experiment. A strategy that works for one person will not be best for another. I work with clients as if we’re playing a game of chess because when one piece moves, nearly everything changes. This means it’s important for us to check in at least once or twice while the experiment is in play. If the plan we come up with together doesn’t work, it’s not anyone’s fault… it’s the plan’s fault and we can simply change the plan!
I enjoy helping people find their own ways to health amidst today’s tsunami of conflicting and changing health advice. It takes time to clear up nutrition myths and adjust to change. A good first step for everyone is to thoroughly chew whole, unprocessed foods (the kind your great-grandmother ate) and do it with a smile on your face.
Anne Buzzelli’s Experience & Education:
- Private nutrition practice, BuzzNutrition, started in Seattle in 2008
- Registered Dietitian credentials in 2008
- 10-month Dietetic Internship at University of Virginia in 2008
- Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University in Seattle from 2005-2007
- Science Prerequisites at Portland Community College & Portland State University from 2003-2005
- Career as computer programmer and tester in Chicago from 1997-2003
- Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana from 1992-1996