I have taken way too much time off from my South Florida Women in Business blog post, so I am very excited to be back, and posting about an amazing woman, nutritionist, and mother. Meryl from Meryl Brandwein Nutrition took some time recently to answer a few questions about her business, her life, and her balance between family and work. I got a chance to photograph Meryl at her home and in her organic garden. I was in heaven when I saw her garden, as my garden was definitely not thriving in the same way. I was even more thrilled when Meryl piled fresh kale and herbs in my arms as I left the shoot. She gave me one of my current favorite recipes that I have managed to introduce to my husband and kids, and every time they eat it, I feel as if I can actually see the nutrients pouring into their bodies – kale chips. For those who don’t know, I grew up as a vegetarian, even macrobiotic for many years as a teenager. I attended one of Meryl’s cooking demonstrations a few months ago, and still can’t get over how much I learned, and how amazing her recipes, the food and her knowledge was.
Tell us about you and your business.
I am a Nutritionist who uses functional and holistic nutritional therapies and works hands-on with individuals and groups to establish a healthier way of eating as a nutritional educator and food counselor.
What is Functional Nutrition?
Functional nutrition addresses the root cause of many health and weight issues. I look at how a body is balanced so taking a look at all aspects of a client’s life is taken into consideration. For example, many people suffer from gastrointestinal issues, food allergies/sensitivities, weight management issues, hormone imbalances and neuro-developmental issues in the pediatric population (autism, ADHD, etc.). I interpret a person’s nutritional profile and then work to create a nutritional program designed specifically for them. For example, sometimes people struggling with weight or gastrointestinal issues have no idea that they have sensitivities that trigger reactions to specific foods. While nutrition is the key focus with my patients, additionally addressing lifestyle issues such as exercise and stress management is key to treating the whole person as well. It is all about the balance.
How does functional and holistic nutrition play into health and wellness of individuals and how do you work with clients on a proactive approach to health and wellness?
As the author, Michael Pollan states “Eating in our time has gotten complicated, needlessly so.” The part that I love the most is educating my clients on nutrition and the effects of the food we eat and how foods can serve our bodies as a tool for preventative health and wellness. I am a science person, so I rely on the latest research and science and share that with my clients. I work with each client’s needs and diagnostic test results, and then set up a proactive individualized nutritional plan that works to promote wellness and prevent disease.
What advice could you give busy women who are trying to put a healthy dinner together for their family every night?
It is all about good planning. Having an organized list of what to put together and what staple items are crucial ingredients for successful and healthy weeknight dinners is a start. Keeping it simple but tasty does not have to be overwhelming. Food and meals should be as fresh and real as possible. A good source of protein, vegetables and a healthy grain should be the mainstay of a well-rounded dinner. I give my clients a guideline to start with and branch out from there. Offering pasta and chicken fingers night after night is not healthy for anyone. Trying new grains and adding in some vegetables can be a great way to start. Kids may not like it in the beginning but repetition is key. If you keep putting it in front of them, kids will eventually try it.
What is the most rewarding aspect of owning your own business?
It is about creating programs that I know will work for people. I have the pleasure of having a variety of clients with diverse challenges so I get to reach out to so many people on different levels. Working with them and achieving success is such an incredible reward. I love working with individuals one on one and achieving great results. I also love my work with schools (faculty and parents) and developing nutritional programs for them.
What is the most challenging thing about owning your own business?
I wear many different hats in my own business. The ability to stay focused on the task at hand sometimes presents challenges.
How do you balance work, family and fun?
This is the one area that I feel I have become quite good at. While sometimes I do find myself spending too much time focusing on my work, I strive to always maintain balance. Planning my schedule carefully is key. I am very consistent in how I divide out my time between appointments with clients, meetings and time in my office. Setting time aside for myself each day is also crucial. Preparing and eating meals with my family is a priority in my life. I put everything in blocks of time and tend to go from there.
When you are not at work, where can we find you?
I work out early every morning. Whether it is swimming, pilates or running, I always carve out time for myself. Later in the day you can find me in the garden or at the supermarket getting ready for the evening meal.
What are three things you can’t live without (other than your family!)?
I can’t live without good, clean healthy food, from gathering to preparing to eat and I can’t live without working out and a good night’s sleep.
What advice would you give other women who are starting their own business?
First, have a plan. If you are not good at developing a business plan and execute strategies, find someone to help you congeal your ideas and goals. I spent a good bit of time chasing my own tail until I was able to get someone to help me organize and prioritize my focus. Second, understand the time involved and make sure that you can create a balance between work and family and yourself. This is a crucial piece that I think most women miss. It is not about being super woman; it is about striving to create a healthy balance. Lastly, find people to fill those gaps and make sure you pace yourself accordingly.
What is your favorite meal to cook for your family?
That is a really tough one since they like so many different foods. I love preparing chicken francaise or my veggie mac and cheese. Another dish is broiled salmon, mushrooms and caramelized shallots and farrow.
What would you recommend for good snack foods on the go?
A good quick snack could be anything from an apple or pear with almond butter or some veggie slices with hummus. I am not a big fan or protein bars, but in a pinch, I do have some that I like. I do like to make a homemade trail mix of nuts and dried fruit.
Thank you so much Meryl! You can find out more information about Meryl and her business, including great recipes and resources, on her website www.merylbrandwein.com, and you can even sign up for her newsletter, Food for Thought, through the site.
Eat healthy everyone! xoxo