From her inpatient work at Mount Sinai, registered dietitian and nutritionist Marissa Meshulam knows how a lack of proper nutrition can lead to chronic disease. At HealthQuarters, she leverages her passion for food and nutrition to help guests with their preventive care, manage existing conditions, and improve their relationship to food and their bodies.
Marissa received her BS in Nutrition and Public Health from the University of Wisconsin and her MS from NYU. Read on to learn what inspired her to go into the field, how the past year has altered her approach to nutrition, and why she’s excited about practicing within HealthQuarters.
From a young age, I had a strong interest in understanding why things happen. My mom would attest to the fact that I was constantly asking the question: “Why?” In school, this proclivity drew me to science, which I loved because it offered answers—like explaining why we fall down when we jump with Newton’s theory of gravitation.
In college, I began exploring the option of medical school, but it just didn't feel right. I knew I appreciated the world of science and helping people feel better, but something about medicine just wasn't the right fit for me.
At this time, I was also cultivating a passion for nutrition. I loved trying new, healthy things and reading every magazine article I could find about the world of food and nutrition.
When I ruled out medical school as a possible career path, my next thought was pursuing psychology. I wanted to learn more about what motivates people and thought it would offer a great opportunity to leverage my passion and aptitude for science as well as my interest in human behavior.
Then, a few months into my freshman year, I heard an older girl mention that she was a dietetics major. I had never heard the term before, and asked her to explain it to me. Immediately afterward, I called my mom and told her that I had found what I wanted to do. It was the perfect balance of the subjects I loved: science, nutrition, and human behavior.
I changed my major the next day and have never looked back since.
I think the past year has taught us how important it is to do things that make you feel good, whatever that might be. When it comes to food, I ask my clients to investigate how they can leverage food to enhance or improve how they’re feeling. Most of the time, that involves focusing on vegetables and whole foods and appreciating the act of cooking your own meals. But other times, it might include trying out a new restaurant and enjoying it as a new or social experience.
In choosing what makes people feel good, I help my clients to distinguish between instant gratification and what will make them feel good in the long-run. For example, a bowl of mac and cheese might feel really good in the moment, but if you feel tired and unable to get through the rest of the work day when the meal is finished—it’s not really working for you.
Instead, finding food that feels good is really about finding meals that are sustainable. It’s about food that will give you energy for the rest of the day and help you focus less on what's happening in the immediate moment, and more about how you want to feel tomorrow morning and the day after that.
Over the past year, I've adapted to an increased level of flexibility in my work. I know how important it is to allow our bodies the space to change as we navigate this pandemic, and help clients understand that it’s not the be-all and end-all.
The first session is all about getting to know you. I'll ask a ton of questions, not just about your day-to-day, but also about your history with food. I’ll learn more about your life, from how you structure your days to what matters to you most and who you spend your time with. I like to think about myself as a nutrition detective: I ask comprehensive questions about your life so that I have as much information as possible to know how best to help you.
At the end of the day, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to food and nutrition. My job is to learn the most about who you are so that I can provide effective and individualized care, rather than cookie-cutter blanket advice.
Then, your job is to go home and apply my advice to see what works best. After that, we come back and adjust based on how well the changes worked for you.
I look at every client as the whole person. Which is to say, I'm not just looking at what you're eating, but how you’re sleeping, how you’re moving, what's going on with your lab values, and what your emotional support networks look like—which are all interconnected to form the complete picture of your health.
The thing about holistic care is that each element, including nutrition, is just one piece of the puzzle. To complete the puzzle, you also need a great primary care doctor, a therapist, a yoga teacher, and so on.
The ability to have an incredible referral network for my clients. I’m thrilled to be able to go downstairs and speak to the doctor about who I’m seeing next and collaborate on their care. In more traditional healthcare models, it can be really difficult to establish communication channels between providers—which can lead to significant issues for the patient.
Practicing within HealthQuarters awards me the opportunity to leverage this successful and collaborative network for my clients.
My absolute favorite thing to do in my free time is to listen to music or podcasts—like Modern Love—and walk all over New York. I rarely take the subway or use rideshares because my favorite part about this city is how walkable it is. Even if I have ten minutes in between a session, I will get outside and move, because to me, that feels great.
I also love to bake—both healthy and less healthy things. I recently made some almond butter cookies that were nutritious and very tasty.
Lastly, but importantly, I like to take time on the weekends to unplug and spend time with friends and loved ones and remind myself that life isn’t only about work.
From her inpatient work at Mount Sinai, registered dietitian and nutritionist Marissa Meshulam knows how a lack of proper nutrition can lead to chronic disease. At HealthQuarters, she leverages her passion for food and nutrition to help guests with their preventive care, manage existing conditions, and improve their relationship to food and their bodies. You can make an appointment with Marissa at HealthQuarters here.