Dietitian Callan Wall on intuitive eating, starting her own practice
CALLAN WALL gets excited when asked about her approach to holistic nutrition. As a registered dietitian, she used to go down the traditional path with clients.
“I would provide calorie-counted, prescribed meal plans for clients, which is exactly what they wanted,” she says. However, after seeing her customers continually frustrated with long-term results, she became curious.
Callan became intrigued with the concept of intuitive eating, a self-care framework for making lasting changes to health habits. She started educating herself on the topic by doing research, listening to podcasts, and diving into communities with other like-minded dietitians experiencing the same roadblocks.
“I learned about how dieting and engaging in restrictive behaviors often backfires, and that our weight does not say much about the status of our health,” she says. After shifting her focus away from weight and toward more consistently healthy behaviors, changes happened. “My clients started seeing improvements in their health-related lab values, body image, confidence, and other areas of their lives.” It was an “a-ha” moment for her.
Wall has always had an interest in nutrition and exercise. She has a background in sports as a gymnast, competitive cheerleader, and soccer player, which she believes sparked her passion for health and wellness.
“I honestly had no idea what a dietitian was until I transferred to Eastern Carolina University from the University of Tampa where I played soccer,” she says. Deciding what to put into her body in the way of “fuel” has always been important to Wall and “the way she shows up in the world.”
Once she discovered that nutrition was a career path, she realized that she can not only learn the best way to eat but help others do it too. Now six years into the profession, she has launched her own practice, Foods for Thought, a nutrition counseling practice with the goal of finding peace with food.
In addition, she is currently the head dietitian at New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Center and the dietitian for the Cardio-Oncology Rehabilitation Program and the Lifestyle Reset Community Program. Working in a hospital setting has given Wall valuable clinical knowledge that has been an asset to her private practice.
“NHRMC provides such a great sense of patient care, community, and support, which has been so conducive to my professional growth,” she says.
Fortunately, COVID hasn’t really affected the way Wall does business. Starting her business during the pandemic felt natural because she was already using telehealth and clients had begun changing their mindset from meeting in-person to online sessions.
“Customers already recognized the effectiveness and convenience of telehealth.” And there was an unexpected benefit from working with clients at their homes—access to their kitchens.
“One person grabbed the new cereal they bought so we could practice reading the label together,” Wall says. “I believe it helps clients envision themselves truly making changes when they are in a place that feels familiar to them.”
Getting back to her “a-ha” moment and her holistic approach, Wall does not ever see going back to a traditional method. Now that she utilizes an all-encompassing strategy focused on behaviors around nutrition, enjoyable movement, stress management, and sleep, she is seeing improved results.
“My clients are finally able to easily maintain these behaviors, versus quickly falling off track after starting a new, unsustainable fad diet,” she says.
So, what are some of her nutrition go-to tips for people looking to make a change right away? Plan ahead is number one.
“Take the time on a Sunday to look at your week ahead to plan a few meals. It takes the stress away from figuring out what to eat when the days get busy.” Secondly, drink water—and lots of it.
To view more of photographer Michael Cline Spencer’s work, go to michaelclinephoto.com.
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