Nutrition is Key
Melissa Flynn on how she approaches nutrition counseling
With so many changes taking place to daily schedules and more people choosing to work from home, there is an increased need to be mindful of overall health. In addition to working out regularly and taking care of mental health, nutrition is a key factor in leading a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle.
MELISSA FLYNN is the owner of Innovate Nutrition, and her mission is “…to help others find improved health and wellness through nutrition.”
“I actually started out working in the social work/human services field, where I worked within the foster care system for more than ten years,” Flynn says. “After starting my family, and as my personal interest in nutrition grew, I decided to pursue my graduate degree in nutrition and dietetics. I have experience in clinical, residential, and fitness settings, as well as corporate wellness.”
Though she didn’t realize it at the time, her previous career would provide her with tools that would allow her to effectively deliver nutrition counseling and education, she says.
After earning her master’s degree in dietetics at Eastern Michigan University, Flynn completed 1,200 hours of supervised practice in Wilmington with rotations done at New Hanover Regional Medical Center and Wilmington Health Endocrinology.
She then earned her registered dietitian credentials through the Committee of Dietetic Registration.
“Having children and wanting to establish healthy eating patterns for my family really amplified my interest in nutrition,” she says. “I was surprised (and a little frustrated) by how little nutrition guidance I received from my children’s doctors. It led me to start educating myself and the more I learned, the more I wanted to know. And, the more I knew, the more I understood the importance of nutrition.”
After she gained some experience in a variety of settings, she decided that offering outpatient nutrition counseling, through her own practice, was the best way to work more intimately with clients in helping them reach their long-term wellness goals, Flynn says.
Thus, Innovate Nutrition was born. It offers one-on-one nutrition consultation, education, and counseling, as well as group education and nutrition workshops.
“Nutrition plans are individualized based on each person’s needs, wants, and health status. The word ‘innovate’ means to ‘make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas or products,’” she says. “Though clients may seek out nutrition counseling for a variety of issues, the fundamental reason is that they are looking to make some kind of change. I believe in a client-led approach, providing support, encouragement, education, motivation, and accountability so that my clients feel empowered to make those changes.”
Flynn says she likes using an evidence-based approach to medical nutrition therapy and feels strongly about the need to continuously evaluate current practice standards, especially as new research becomes available.
Her work has improved the lives of her clients in a variety of ways, she says. While any healthy change made in daily life is positive, overall wellness is the key to living a long and healthy life and once those changes are implemented and prioritized, it is easier to maintain them for the long haul, she adds.
“New research is constantly validating the long-held belief that nutrition is a fundamental key to wellness and longevity,” says Flynn. “Many facets of our lives can affect our nutrition, which is also known to affect our physical and emotional well-being. No matter what the immediate nutrition concern is, addressing that concern will likely contribute to improved health and wellness. Though short-term goals may vary from person to person, I try to encourage my clients to view overall wellness as the ultimate goal and motivator.”
To view more of photographer Michael Cline Spencer’s work, go to michaelclinephoto.com.
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