Meet Vanessa! Originally from Minnesota (just outside of Minneapolis) but she has been in Boston for 12 years now, and still has the cute accent! Vanessa has two kids, Fiona (4.5) and James (2 next month). She currently lives in the South End of Boston but her husband grew up in Scituate so they spend most of their weekends on The South Shore at her in laws home or visiting friends and family in Hingham, Cohasset and Norwell. Check out our interview with Vanessa and read more about why she loves the Northeast and her life as a mom and a pediatric dietitian.
◇ What is your favorite thing about living in the Northeast?
The beach and the mountains! I have always loved living somewhere that has 4 distinct seasons so Minnesota was great, but add in mountains to ski in the winter and an ocean to explore in the summer? Game changer.
◇ What is your favorite local Spring activity?
Exploring Wompatuck with my kids. My daughter just learned to ride a scooter so the paved trails are perfect! Also the Duckling Day Parade on Mother’s Day in the Boston Common is probably the cutest thing ever. It’s a sea of toddlers dressed up in ducky costumes. Who wouldn’t love that?!
◇ What do you find to be the toughest part about being a working mom and balancing it all?
Working from home. In some ways it’s great to be able to do laundry, prep meals, clean up, etc. during the work day but it’s exhausting! There’s never a moment of downtime. And then the kids come home…
◇ Tell us about your career in Nutrition and how it came to be.
I started out working for health care non-profits but quickly realized I wanted a more hands-on role. I struggled with a pretty unhealthy relationship with food and my body during my teenage years, so I was passionate about nutrition. I moved to Boston to get my Master of Science in Nutrition at Boston University and followed with a Dietetic Internship at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. I was very lucky to get the opportunity to work in the Pediatrics department, which I would eventually lead for 8+ years. There, I worked with babies in the Special Care Nursery, the pediatric floor and the maternity floor. I also covered outpatient clinics for GI conditions, eating disorders, allergies, growth concerns and weight management. Most dietitians get pigeon-holed in a specialty early on but I’ve been very fortunate to get a variety of experience and be a “jack of all trades”.
◇ What is the best advice you have received as a mom?
All that kids will remember is how you made them feel.
Not what you said or what you did. Definitely not how you looked or how cool you were. Just lead with love.
◇ Love that. What is the best advice you would give to other moms / small business owners?
If you feel like you’re taking on too much, hit pause. If you’re passionate about your business and good at what you do, the opportunities will come. Don’t hustle too hard. Trust the process and yourself.
◇ What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
My kids can’t eat protein. They both have a rare genetic disorder called Phenylketonuria (PKU) and their bodies can’t process most protein. I’m a pediatric dietitian who spends a lot of time coaching moms and families on balanced diet but my own kids can’t eat that way! It’s been an eye-opening, humbling experience. This is why I love to focus on family-based nutrition. There are so many layers to each family member’s relationship with food- no two families are the same! Also mad respect to parents who have kids on special diets. I’m looking at you, food allergy moms…
◇ Wow! So true. What are some of the most common Nutrition questions or concerns other mothers face?
I love questions about how to juggle the nutrition needs of all different family members. For example, a pregnant mom who wants to make sure she is getting enough but can’t stomach anything other than crackers, a very picky 2 year old, a 5 year old with a BMI creeping up in percentiles and a husband who is determined to lose weight with Intermittent Fasting. It feels so overwhelming, but it’s actually so fun to put all of these pieces together and help families come up with a cohesive plan that makes everyone feel good, physically and mentally.
I also get a lot of questions about introducing solids and how to prevent picky eating. I created a signature 8-week program called Pave the Way that helps parents introduce solids with intention. I teach you the basics of how to introduce solids safely and effectively but also help you reflect on and heal your own relationship with food and your body so you can be a good model for your kids down the road. We also spend time setting your Family Feeding Philosophy to prevent picky eating and help you feel prepared for tricky meal-time situations as your kids grow older.
◇ Quote or Mantra you live by?
Don’t worry, be happy. Sometimes easier said than done, but I love the simplicity of it. You can always find a way to choose a little happiness, even when things are going all sorts of wrong. Nothing brings me more joy than helping clients find that little moment of happiness. Even when they are stressed and panicked, if I can get them to crack a little smile during a visit it can change everything. Suddenly the world is a little lighter and the problem we are solving feels a little less impossible. It’s magic.
◇ That’s amazing. So tell us, where can our readers connect with you?
You can follow me on Instagram @southendfamilynutrition or book a free 15-minute discovery to learn more at southendfamilynutrition.com. I offer one-time consultations, packages, monthly subscriptions and signature programs like Pave the Way. TSSM readers can get a 10% discount on any purchase with the code TSSM10.
Thank you, Vanessa! So glad to share a bit about you with TSSM, and thank you for sharing a special discount for our readers.