Celebrating National Nutrition Month with 4 Fantastic Philadelphian Nutrition Entrepreneurs

For this final stretch of National Nutrition Month, we are taking a moment to share a little on some of our favorite Philadelphia nutrition entrepreneurs. Here we are featuring Colleen Gerg, MA, RDN, (There’s No Place Like Health), Emily Benton, HC (Simplex Health), Erin Caroulis, MPH, RD, LDN, CDE (Eat with Erin), and Dalina Soto, MA, RD, LDN (Nutritiously Yours LLC).

Colleen Gerg, MA, RDN

Colleen Gerg has a passion for travel and good health. She encourages others to find balance and wellness in their lives by keeping good health habits such as drinking plenty of fluids and resting well at night! She is has her own nutrition counseling practice, There’s No Place Like Health. 

Q: Tell us about your journey to becoming a nutrition entrepreneur.

Colleen: Five years after I graduated from college with a B.A. in International Relations, I was happily poring over my subscription to Cooking Light magazine and found myself really curious about the letters “R.D.” behind all the articles’ author’s names. After researching what a “Registered Dietitian” was (I didn’t even know!), I decided “that’s what I want to do.” In what capacity, I wasn’t sure, and assumed I would figure that out eventually.

After completing all the undergraduate prerequisites, my dietetic internship and Masters degree in Nutrition Education from Immaculata University, I relocated to the Washington, DC area where I had the good fortune of meeting three very accomplished, seasoned RDs who were extremely generous with their time and experience, took me under their wings and showed me the “ropes” of private practice. I am forever indebted to Ann Litt, Faye Berger Mitchell and Rebecca Bitzer and their dedication to helping new dietitians. I think it’s so important for dietitians to support one another and perhaps especially those who are new to the field.

While I was starting out, I added personal training to my repertoire and quickly had many clients and a full schedule as a dietitian, trainer and serving as the Washington, DC dietetic association’s media representative.

Eventually, I included my love of travel to my love of nutrition and fitness and bi-annually take groups on health and wellness destination vacations to places like Canyon Ranch, Miraval and Red Mountain Resort.

Q: Tell us about your job today – what’s your favorite thing about your career?

Colleen: What I have loved most about my career is the variety. Since moving from Washington, DC, I’ve lived in Los Angeles, CA Whitefish, Montana, San Pedro, Belize and now in the Philadelphia area. I have worked as a consultant in private practice, as a personal fitness trainer, and speaker and consultant for corporations. I’ve taught cooking and Spinning classes, am a certified yoga instructor and love nothing more than helping people reach not only specific health goals but also achieving mindfulness and the sense of peace and contentment that comes with becoming healthier.

Q: What advice do you have for Pennsylvanians who are struggling to lose weight or having difficulty reaching their health goals?

Colleen: To that end, my recommendation for those trying to achieve health goals is to really consider all aspects of self care. While vitally important, eating well and exercising are not the whole picture. It’s also critical to attend to your mind, your thoughts and how you breathe. Good hydration and sufficient sleep are two of the most important aspects of health and can make a huge difference in achieving your goals. Making small changes to improve each area of your well-being leads to new habits and big results. Pick one or two healthy changes to begin making today. Some examples include:

  • add one-two more servings of vegetables each day
    set your phone to remind you to stand up and take a stretch break
  • while working at your desk
  • keep a water bottle with you at all times to promote optimal hydration
  • use your calorie intake to your advantage: fuel your body during the day (at breakfast and lunch), and eat smaller amounts for dinner/in the evening.
  • take one minute out of your day to practice deep breathing – inhale for 5 seconds/exhale for 5 seconds for a total of 60 seconds
  • use the smartphone app called “Bedtime” to remind you to go to bed 30 minutes earlier
  • each evening before sleep, list 5 things for which you’re grateful

 

 

Emily Benton, HC of Simplex Health

Emily’s passion for nutritional care lead her to start Simplex Health. Simplex Health is a nutrition and corporate wellness start up located in Philadelphia, PA. Simplex has developed programs to provide structure around the RD visits that focus on new research in preventative health and weight loss. 

Q: Tell us about your journey to becoming a nutrition entrepreneur.

Emily: I started my ‘professional career’ in finance, actually. and after 6 years, i hated it.  I was working long hours and not doing anything fulfilling.  I went back to school for my MBA but something was still missing.  It was around 2011 when I stumbled on the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and have never looked back!  I was looking to build out my own Health Coaching company when I met David Rambo who had come up with the idea of building out a nutrition company with a modern approach.  Our philosophies on nutrition lined up 100% and in 2015 we started Simplex Health! We work with Registered Dietitians in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs to help people through the power of nutrition.

Q: Tell us about your job today – what’s your favorite thing about your career? 

Emily: I love LOVE LOVE helping people with their health and nutrition.  Although I don’t do a lot of counseling myself anymore, I have a strong influence on the approach we take and how the Dietitians communicate our message!  My day to day includes everything from insurance billing to marketing, to accounting to client outreach and so much more!  I am definitely working more hours than I was in finance but I love every single minute of it!

Q: What advice do you have for Pennsylvanians who are struggling to lose weight or having difficulty reaching their health goals?

Emily: Work with us!  Kidding.  I would say if you are trying to do something on your own, make small changes at a time.  Don’t overwhelm yourself with every single nutrition change you read about in a book.  First, try switching from cow’s milk to almond milk… Then the next week, try taking out grains and processed foods… Then eliminate sugars… It’s all about the building blocks. The other thing is to question old nutrition dogma.  ALWAYS read and question!

 

Erin Caroulis, MPH, RD, LDN, CDE of Eat with Erin

Erin founded her own private practice, Eat with Erin. She is a certified diabetes educator and has a passion for nutrition and health education. At her Philadelphia-based practice, Erin specializes in diabetes and weight management.

Q: Tell us about your journey to becoming a nutrition entrepreneur.
Erin: In high school, I decided I wanted to become a dietitian. My mom was a nurse and she introduced the concept of dietetics to me after I commented on how interesting it would be to understand food and nutrition more. She knew dietitians at work and said, “Erin – there is a whole field out there that studies nutrition!” And from that day on, I knew I would be a dietitian. Senior year of high school came and I only applied to colleges that had dietetics as a major. I was on the one way track to becoming an RD. I did not have a back up plan so I am glad it all worked out!!

Q: Tell us about your job today – what’s your favorite thing about your career?

Erin: Over the past four years, I have built Eat with Erin, a nutrition counseling practice that specializes in weight management and diabetes while also working part time as a Certified Diabetes Educator at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Having the opportunity to work for a large, academic hospital system following policies and procedures complements the work I do through Eat with Erin. I have been able to build my own policies and create my own procedures while putting a personal touch on each. I get to be creative and use entrepreneurial skills that keeps the practice alive and fresh. But then I also get to go to work and learn from colleagues who are experts in the field of pediatric diabetes.

Q: What advice do you have for Pennsylvanians who are struggling to lose weight or having difficulty reaching their health goals?

Erin:  The advice I have for Pennsylvanians who struggle with weight loss or meeting health goals would be to keep things simple. Managing your weight and health should not be complicated or tricky. You do not need to read a manual or spend hours on Google. Meet with a Registered Dietitian to weed out the false health claims and myths and get a structured plan. Set small goals and work on each one- one by one.

 

Dalina Soto, MA, RD, LDN of Nutritiously Yours

Dalina owns her own practice, Nutritiously Yours, where she strives to take the stress out of food, focusing on the health and nutrition, to help it nourish you and your family. This Philadelphia based practice is also staffed with Spanish-speaking registered dietitians as an additional benefit for providing nutritional care. 

Q: Tell us about your journey to becoming a nutrition entrepreneur.

Dalina: I started my college career thinking I wanted to be a pediatrician. But as a requirement you must take a nutrition 101 class. I happened to sign up for it Freshman year, my first semester and it CHANGED my life. I knew right there and then I wanted to be on the preventative side of things. I did not want to treat disease I wanted to try and prevent it as much as I could. Right after the class was over for the semester, I walked over to my adviser and switched majors. I never looked back!!

Q: Tell us about your job today – what’s your favorite thing about your career? 

Dalina: Today I am the owner of Nutritiously Yours. I absolutely love being able to meet with people and help them on their path to becoming healthier. Because I am able to accept about 90% of insurances in the area, my services are primarily 100% covered with the exception of some small co-payments. This opens up the doors for people that are not sure if they want to see and RD or have no idea what an RD does. They do not have to be afraid to schedule an appointment because they are covered.

My favorite part is being able to help my community. I am fluent in Spanish and I am able to educate the community in their language. I love to be able to teach them how to still be able to keep their cultural foods and still manage chronic disease. It is literally my number one goal. My family is from the Dominican Republic and rice is a staple food. If I was told I could not eat rice anymore, I would be devastated! And so I never want a client to feel that way! I want to help them become healthier and enjoy food 🙂

Q: What advice do you have for Pennsylvanians who are struggling to lose weight or having difficulty reaching their health goals?

Dalina:  My advice would actually be to stop focusing on the number on the scale!!! You can be healthier and actually meet your goals without being so hyper-focused on weight. To me it is more important to be healthy on the inside than how you look on the outside. Baby steps come a long way. Whether you just wake up 10 mins earlier and add a 15 mins walk to your day OR just add a vegetable to every meal. Every small change counts and you can see the difference in your energy and clothing a lot more than on the scale.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top