Meet Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD! Mary Ellen is a registered dietitian who owns her own private practice, Milk & Honey Nutrition. Based in Houston, Texas, Mary Ellen helps her clients learn to celebrate food. She creates meal plans the whole family can embrace and teaches cooking classes to support the dietary needs of her clients. Though Mary Ellen sees clients at her practice, for those a little far away from Houston, she has authored a number or ebooks and meal plans to help you get started right away! We at Healthie were so fortunate to get the chance to speak with Mary Ellen to hear about her practice, Milk & Honey Nutrition, and hear what advice she has to share!
What was your path to becoming a dietitian?
Mary Ellen’s road to becoming an RD started early. She was diagnosed with Type I diabetes while she was young. “I would notice how food effects the way I feel. I had to be in tune with that,” Mary Ellen said. She had a strong interest in cooking too. Mary Ellen learned that she could make adjustments to recipes so that she could enjoy them while still managing her Type I diabetes. “I didn’t know I could make a career in nutrition until college,” Mary Ellen confessed. “I was talking to an advisor who said, ‘why don’t you become a dietitian?’ and I majored in Nutrition.” After college, Mary Ellen started her career in private practice, focusing first on diabetes education and then onto employee wellness for MD Anderson Cancer Center.
What was your experience in corporate wellness like?
“With corporate wellness,” Mary Ellen said, “my mantra is “happy, healthy, and here.” Her corporate wellness plan focuses on presenteeism – “they’re there, but not really there,” Mary Ellen explained. “At MD Anderson we focused on the financial and the emotional problems that can distract employees to help them become happy at their job and more efficient while they’re there.” While Mary Ellen left MD Anderson to start her own practice, she continues to offer corporate wellness services even today from her practice Milk & Honey Nutrition.
What’s the story behind the name of your practice? It’s so cute!
“When I started my private practice, I knew I wanted something catchy, but professional. I knew I wanted it to have a presence on social media,” Mary Ellen said. “It actually comes from a passage in the Old Testament. There is a phrase, ‘a land flowing with milk and honey.'” This phrase stuck with Mary Ellen and connected with her practice philosophy. “A land flowing with milk and honey” is implies positivity and hope. It also shows that food is something to be cherished. In this same way, Mary Ellen said, “Food is a gift. It is to be celebrated. There are some foods that we connect to special occasions, and rewards… and that’s ok! Food should be a happy thing that we use to fuel our bodies and enjoy… not a stressor that causes anxiety or fear.”
Mary Ellen launched her own private practice Milk & Honey Nutrition where she continues to promote wellness and healthy eating habits. Beyond her traditional health coaching and counseling, Mary Ellen offers additional services such as family meal planning, grocery store tours, and cooking lessons. With Mary Ellen’s cooking lessons, she takes time to modify or adjust the recipes to best fit the dietary restrictions or needs of her client. Many of her own original recipes are available in her line of e-cookbooks available on her website!
Can you tell us about the Oily Dietitian?
“The Oily Dietitian walks the line between natural medicine and modern medicine,” Mary Ellen said. “What a gift it is that we live in this age of modern medicine. I rely on it every day as a type 1 diabetic, but I also like to balance that by living a more natural life style with essential oils when possible.” Mary Ellen meshes the worlds of holistic health with medical research with the Oily Dietitian. She shares natural options to help support our bodies when needed to achieve a more natural way of living. “It can be very fun,” Mary Ellen said, “I like to share with my clients how we can cook with essential oils too. They can be great for baking or spicing up a meal and it really engages clients who may not otherwise be interested in cooking!” Mary Ellen shares recipes and ways to bring essential oils into your day to day with her Oily Dietitian recipes.
What advice do you have for RDs looking to start their own private practices?
“Put yourself out there,” Mary Ellen said. She shared with us, “I didn’t want to launch Milk & Honey Nutrition when I did, I wasn’t ready, but I did it anyways. I put the word out and people came. If you wait until you’re 100% ready, you’ll never get there.”
How do you think technology is changing the way dietitians are practicing care?
Mary Ellen said, “There’s a lot of competition out there for weight loss treatments.” It is necessary for clients to know what is secure. “With Healthie being HIPAA compliant, once people learn how to use it, it makes learning to live a healthy life easier. It also adds a lot of ease to paperwork. I don’t have to wonder, ‘did they sign this?’ I can just check in the system. And the billing features save so much time and energy.”
Be sure to check out Milk & Honey Nutrition’s website – MilkandHoneyNutrition.com. This website is full of great resources from recipes to meal planning guides created by Mary Ellen and even a shop to get started on your own essential oil collection with the help of the Oily Dietitian!