Hi there! Welcome to Avocado A Day Nutrition. Thanks for taking time out of your day to learn more about me and my blog.
I’m Rachael, the dietitian and food lover behind the blog and private practice, Avocado A Day Nutrition. I live in Columbia, SC with my husband and two big fluffy dogs, Charleston and Savannah. When I’m not seeing clients or whipping up something delicious, you’ll likely find me traveling. My husband and I have made it a mission to see and experience as much of the world as possible. Although I am very much a beginner, yoga makes me insanely happy and I dream of one day doing a handstand without my husband holding my legs up in the air. For now, I’m just excited I can touch my toes without falling over.
A born food lover, the kitchen has always been my happy place. My parents loved to experiment with dishes, exposing me to new flavors and cuisines as a child. In our house, food was savored and celebrated – it was much more than fuel. Through them, I learned how food can nourish the body and soul.
Despite this, I fell victim to the diet mentality in my teenage years, thanks to a combination of perceived peer pressure from my dieting friends and low body confidence. I joined my friends in fad diets and calorie counting. I spent hours each week, meticulously logging my calorie and macronutrient intake in online journals. I forced myself onto the dreaded elliptical, hating every moment of it.
On the surface, it seemed to be “working.” I lost a few pounds and managed to keep it off through college. But in reality, I was anything but healthy. I deprived myself then binged on low calorie “health” foods, like 100-calorie packs and low fat macaroni and cheese. Countless frozen pizzas and oreo McFlurries succumbed to my cravings. I was constantly exhausted and experienced awful abdominal pain almost every week. Worst of all, I suffered from anxiety that interfered with my life on a daily basis. Feeling “blah” became the norm.
But I was thin, and a nutrition major, so I was healthy, right?? Not so much.
Soon after becoming a registered dietitian, I was hired as the outpatient dietitian at a large medical center. Initially, I educated patients using the conventional nutrition advice I practiced myself. I taught calorie counting, macronutrients and portion sizes…even the food pyramid. Ugh! Without addressing the behavior and psychology that drives eating habits, many struggled to make changes. Of those who did, some were getting results on the scale or with their labs, but didn’t feel any healthier. What upset me the most was that eating had become a dreaded chore rather than a joyful event.
It was abundantly clear to me that there was more to nutrition than numbers and portion sizes.
With my double major with Psychology, I was drawn to the concepts of mindful and intuitive eating. After delving into the research behind Health At Every Size, I saw the danger in dieting and focusing on weight rather than behaviors and habits. I learned everything I could about the practice, reading books and listening to webinars. I completed two multi-day health coach training programs, where I learned to integrate counseling techniques into my practice. I engrossed myself in Michael Pollan’s readings, which inspired me to think about where my food came from rather than the Nutrition Facts. I learned about how food can affect mental health, both positively and negatively. I discovered beautifully curated food blogs that showed showed me how beautiful and delicious healthy food can, and should be. Seemingly overnight, my cookbook collection grew from a few old Cooking Light’s to….well, much much more than that.
When I started to coach my patients on how to nourish their body with delicious, whole foods, they started to get excited about changing their eating habits, and experienced a huge change in energy levels and overall wellness when they did. They stopped obsessing about food all the time, making room for living life to it’s fullest. It was truly amazing to witness the transformations.
Me? Well, I finally got back to my whole food roots and rediscovered the joyful approach to food that I had as a child. For someone who was always considered to have a healthy diet, it was amazing how these small changes had such a drastic impact on my mood and energy!
In 2013, I started my blog, mostly as a creative outlet and to share my recipes with friends and family. Since then, it has grown into somewhat of a passion project, an tool for communicating my joyful approach to eating with the whole world. After much thought and deliberation, I pursued my dreams and in spring of 2014, opened a private practice and consulting business, Avocado A Day Nutrition. I help clients optimize their health and wellbeing with a whole foods based approach to nutrition. I also collaborate with ethical, health-minded companies and brands for recipe development and communication. For more information, read my coaching philosophy and check out my services andcollaboration pages.
Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE is a Columbia, SC based food and nutrition expert. She offers nutrition coaching, group classes, corporate wellness and partners with food companies and brands for recipe development and marketing.
Rachael holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Clemson University. She completed her dietetics internship at Emory University Hospital. Before opening her business, Rachael was an outpatient dietitian at a large medical center, providing individual nutrition counseling and running multidisciplinary nutrition and disease management programs. She has extensive training in mindful eating, health coaching, mental health nutrition, disordered eating and is a certified diabetes educator. She is currently the education chair of her local Columbia SC dietetics association and is active in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Integrative Nutrition and Nutrition Entrepreneurs practice groups.