An Interview With Dahlia

How long have you been doing what you do and how did you get to be a Nutrition Coach?

I’ve been in practice since 2010 but have been steeped in nutrition and culinary wisdom all my life.

I come from a family of brilliant, creative women – a long line of Egyptian matriarchs who do not take too kindly to being told what they can and cannot do. They were artists, educators, healers. Food was their love language.  They crafted dishes with care and inspiration.

I think back to my Mom.  How miraculous it was that she as a single mother managed to work a full time job with an hour long commute (each way), teach engineering to grad students at night, and make sure that we had healthy homemade meals consistently every night. For her it was a priority for us to be healthy, to have a chance at an optimal quality of life.  How she offered love even when she wasn’t home to eat with us.

Fast forward into my late twenties I got into a major slump with my health.  I was carrying about 20, maybe 30 extra pounds of weight and my digestion was a mess.  I suffered from extremely painful chronic bloating and irregularity that was incapacitating.  The kind of pain that interfered with my quality of life and relationships.

I can remember going to GI doctors and other healthcare professionals who shrugged at my symptoms and advised me to get on a laxative regimen for the rest of my life. I felt let down. Even I could see the poor sense in that.

Over the counter meds and supplements offered short term relief if any. The digestive dysfunction – the inability for my system to effectively detox – led to more inflammation throughout my body- frequent sinus and bronchial infections, unexplained rashes that traveled all over my body, mood instability…

But it wasn’t just my physical health. My gut health was very much the barometer, a subconscious voice rising, for everything else in my life that was just not working.

An idealist, I came to DC to work do Middle East peacebuilding work.  I was working at a conflict resolution think tank at the height of the Iraq war.   Between the horror stories I regularly received from our partners in the field and the frustrations of working in an obtuse bureaucracy, I felt powerless.  I lost faith and purpose.

And I settled into long term relationship with an alcoholic that was becoming increasingly volatile.

I was buried in this place of suffering and didn’t even have the language to articulate or ability to envision what getting out and moving forward would look like.

But my gut, that subconscious voice rising, told me: You can’t live like this for the rest of your life.

I thought back to how my mom, no matter how challenging our world was, always used her culinary wisdom to create a strong foundation for us.  If she was able to do it for three kids certainly I could do it for myself.

So I did. I made space in my life to take control of my health and it began with my gut. I radically transformed the way I ate and crafted a mindful nutrition practice.  But I did more than that.  I created ritual in the way I took care of myself.

And then something happened.  I finally got to a place where I wasn’t efforting, a vortex of sorts.

My chronic digestive pain gave way to ease and rhythm. I got my err, groove back.

Then natural stores of energy unlocked in my body and I experienced renewed vitality.

Then the excess weight started coming off- organically, almost effortlessly.

For so much of my life I felt like I was fighting against myself to be thinner – or more worthy, or whatever – and was never moving forward.  Finally I was in a place where I found joy in taking care of myself and my body sighed in gratitude.  Results organically, incrementally built on one another.

Once I healed my gut and took control of my health I was able to take on the other parts that weren’t working and forge a path forward.

I was able to leave behind that job and the daily existential crisis in my cubicle. I made the leap to pursue the work I love, the work that gives me purpose.

And eventually I was able to make my way out of that relationship too.

I received my certification as a Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2010. I have since continued advanced training in nutrition & lifestyle through the Center for Mind Body Medicine’s Food as Medicine program, Kripalu Institute’s Nutrition Intensive Program for Health Professionals, and certification in FirstLine Therapy, a Metagenics Nutrition and Lifestyle System.

Informed by my own experience and training, I have developed Live Deliciously, an exclusive Nutrition & Lifestyle system with steps designed to create dramatic, lasting results in healing gut health, and radically transforming the health of my clients for the rest of their lives.  Organically. No efforting.

Who are your clients exactly?

I have been blessed to work with some truly amazing women … and a few brave men.  They are all brilliant and articulate.  Career driven and accomplished.  Generous in spirit and deliberate in action. Their sense of identity is anchored in service. Often they work in non-profit, international development, and public health sectors.  Many are women who give at their own expense – perhaps it is a pattern they have settled into all their lives – and they neglect their physical and emotional well being for the sake of others.

By the time they come to me, they know something is terribly wrong with their health and wellbeing.  They are exasperated and don’t know where else to go.

They struggle with painful or embarrassing digestive issues. Their diets are a mess, relying on poor quality convenience foods, perhaps binging on sugar and caffeine to get them through the day. Their lifestyles are out of balance with crazy work and travel schedules and they don’t  budget in self care. Maybe they carry around extra weight or struggle with body image.  Many experience symptoms of metabolic dysfunction with increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, or abnormal cholesterol levels.  Many are haunted by family histories of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity that they are struggling to avoid.

Traditional healthcare and fad diet culture has failed them and they know they need help.  They crave guidance from a health professional who is invested in them.  Someone who will take the time to learn about them- their story, their strengths and struggles – and lead them through the process of reclaiming their health.

And that is what I do.  I inquire into who they are, and work with them to create a diet and lifestyle that is in alignment with their values and aspirations.  I offer an integrative, organic process designed to awaken all they are in their physical, emotional, and spiritual power. And I guide them very practically to get results and radically improve the quality of their lives.  No willpower, no guilt tripping, no efforting.

In working together, my clients typically experience improved digestive health, lose excess weight, tap into natural reserves of energy.  They create a healthier relationship with food: weaning off their sugar and caffeine addictions and getting their emotional and binge eating in check.  They have a greater appreciation for their bodies as a vehicle for a nourished, inspired life.

At the end of my programs, my clients have not only radically transformed their diet and lifestyles, but are on a path to meet other professional and personal goals in their lives with grace and fortitude.  Many clients will manifest a loving, supportive relationships.  I’ve had two clients meet their partner and get married shortly after my programs (just sayin’) or finally take the leap into a position or career that excites them, or muster the courage to follow their heart into a move across the country or the world to pursue their dreams.

They thank me for inspiring and empowering them with practical steps to transform their lives and achieve optimal health and vitality.

But I can’t help but feel honored that they allowed me to be a part of their journeys.

What happens if you haven’t yet worked with people with my health concerns?

I’ve worked with folks with a range of health concerns including autoimmune disorders and chronic diseases -including the metabolic precursors to diabetes and heart disease – sugar addiction, transitional stress, obesity, unhealthy relationships with food and emotional eating.

As a nutrition and lifestyle coach I provide my clients with tools, resources, and support to cultivate a thoughtful nutritional practice that is individualized to address their unique health concerns, founded in an appreciation for the greater story of how your food got to you & lifestyle you are creating to enjoy and digest food.

I do not diagnose medical conditions.

If a client is experiencing a medical emergency or has very acute health concerns that my programs cannot address then I will refer them out to medical professionals who can work with them to stabilize their conditions.  Over my years in doing this work I have created a referral network of traditional and integrative health practitioners – including mental healthcare providers, that will be able to treat you.

How are you different from other “nutrition and lifestyle coaches?”

I truly celebrate- food and the stories behind it. From sourcing, to ancestral origin, to preparation, to the environment in which we enjoy it.  Did you know that the nutrients of the meals we eat in the company of loved ones is more bioavailable to us in the digestive tract versus meals that we eat alone or on the go?

I founded my business in 2010 with a relaxed, intuitive approach. My work is not rooted in any labels or fads.  I have no interest in pressuring clients to be vegetarian, vegan, raw, paleo, or gluten-free.  I offer no judgement, only valuable content and an educational process designed to meet clients where they are and help them design nutritional practices and lifestyles that are aligned with their values and aspirations.

I very much believe that Culinary Consciousness - an appreciation for high quality, responsibly sourced food – can transform our lives.

When folks truly enter into lifestyle rhythm founded in their greater value system, they can’t help but be propelled forward towards meeting their health goals.

I want to put people at ease in their relationship with food. To not have it be a source of anxiety but a vehicle to tell our stories and foster authentic communities.

I offer a path of inviting in healthy comfort food- savoring food as an energetic experience to heal and nourish.

I don’t shy away from the emotional connection with food.  I believe indeed that creating a healthy emotional connection with food has been my saving grace in avoiding a family history of obesity and sugar addiction… and ultimately preventing cancer and heart disease.

Will I lose weight?
Well, do you wanna lose weight?  Let’s chat about it.

What does losing weight mean for you? How will it improve the quality of your life?

My priority is to get you to a place where you finally feel like you’re not efforting to take care of yourself.  A place where you body is at ease and not clenching.  Where if your body is carrying around extra weight, it comes off organically- and for good.

Weight loss for the sake of weight loss is the red herring in creating a healthy lifestyle and ultimately will not serve you.  I have no interest in playing into sensationalized expectations of overnight weight loss, body image issues, binge/purge behavior and other myths  propelled  by the media. I will never guarantee that you will drop say 40 pounds over the course of our working together .

I will however promise you that we will create a path forward to lose weight healthfully, sustainably, and for good if it serves you.

What type of personality do you work best with and what is expected of me?

When I work with clients I ask for their dedication.  I ask them to make the space in their lives for this program – a solid six month commitment – and take action to make it work.

I work best with clients who know they are ready to invest in themselves and radically transform their diet and lifestyle to cultivate optimal health for the rest of their lives. When we work together, I want them to know that I will provide them with the tools, and resources and know-how to create that transformation, but they have to be willing to put in the work.

They understand that healing takes time and consistent, incremental steps work best when creating lasting, sustainable change.  They do not get discouraged easily by setbacks.  They also trust that I am there to provide them consistent structure and support to make sure they stay focused in meeting their health goals.  They know that I will be there to carry them through the moments of disappointment and struggle.
I have an expectation that my clients will be dedicated in their commitment to themselves, their health, and the support and accountability that my programs provide.

For what type of person are your programs NOT going to work?

Well, for those who are not quite ready yet. They are interested in improving their health but may not yet be willing to invest in their health in a big way.

Perhaps they cannot commit to commit five months to in working together because other ‘stuff’ is getting in the way.  Perhaps they are not quite ready to walk away from self sabotaging behaviors.  And that’s just fine.  Life is a long time and no one’s path is identical.  All the experiences we have along the way can be teaching moments if we allow them to be.  And I’ll be ready when they are.

I also cannot work with clients with life-threatening medical conditions who need to be under the close supervision of a medical doctor.  I can work with folks once their conditions have stabilized.

What exactly is Live Deliciously and what do your programs include?

My Live Deliciously System is founded in the vision for cultivating vitality, health and beauty -empowering all that you are in your physical, emotional, and spiritual power in three basic steps:

  • Master Nutrition & Healthy Eating
  • Establish Nourishing Rhythm
  • Cultivate Culinary Consciousness

All of my programs are six months in duration because that is the period of time in which folks experience results.  My programs are broken down in three major steps or pillars incrementally build on one another to create lasting results for my clients- to get them to Live Deliciously & mindfully with ease and swagger

I provide three levels of packages designed to accommodate a range of budget levels-  each with live coaching, teleseminars and coaching calls, and online support.  Each program offers practical culinary inspiration with shopping lists, tailored meal plans and recipes.

But there’s more.  Each package includes special group and individual events like Healthy Eating Tours, Cooking with Whole Foods lessons, Kitchen Rescues and more.

In each program I provide personalized support designed to meet my clients where they are and provide them with the structure and accountability to make sure that they accomplish what they set out to do: create dramatic results to transform their lives.

Does this really work?

Absolutely. The body is amazing and when given half a chance to can and will heal itself.

It does require time and dedication.

The results you experience are proportional to the amount that you put in. Do your assignments  and implement the tools and resources that I provide you and I guarantee that you will feel better in your body, enjoy a healthier relationship with food, and be able to meet the other challenges in your life with strength, grace and fortitude.

What results can I expect?

My programs have proven life changing for my clients and I have been truly blessed and honored to be a part of their transformations.

But before the big picture life transformation, my clients will find their results first start in their bodies and a reclaimed sense if digestive health.  It first usually begins with improved digestive health and regularity, leaving behind painful and embarrassing symptoms.

Then they begin to lose excess weight- sustainably, healthfully, and for good.

Then the unlock their body’s natural reserves of energy as they wean off sugar and caffeine addictions and manage emotional and binge eating.

Then my clients start finding an improved relationship with their bodies, honoring them as vehicles to lead rich, inspired lives and healthier body image.

Can I contact some of your former clients to see what it’s like to work with you?

Sure thing. Please read through all of my client testimonials and see what success stories resonate with you and reach out to them via the email  or phone info provided.

How quickly can I expect results?

Depends on how much you invest.  Your results are proportional to the amount you put in.  There is s direct relationship between energy invested and received.  Do the work.
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Know however that change take a long time. My programs are five months in duration because that is the period of time that my clients experience dramatic results.

How can I guarantee myself that I will get more results in working with you than I would on my own?

Goal setting and intention setting is great.  I will work with your self identified health goals to create the roadmap for the journey. Then I provide the necessary accountability framework and support to  make them actionable and achievable.

You already know how easy is can be to get discouraged with setbacks, unravel into shame cycles, and never truly move forward.  It’s my job to make sure that does not happen.

When folks are working towards big goals, there are inevitable plateaus and pitfalls along the way.  I see to it to carry you beyond the disappointments and keep you connected with the big picture.  To keep the momentum and faith going over the course of our program.

Will I recover the investment I put into this coaching program?

Depends how you think of your health and investing in it.  Traditional allopathic care is not enough.

The reason lifestyle medicine is trending right now in healthcare community is because doctors and other traditional healthcare providers know they simply cannot offer enough time and support to facilitate change.  They are under tremendous pressure from insurance companies to limit time with patients that they do not get the opportunity to truly learn about who they are – their strengths and struggles- and offer personalized guidance and support for their recommendations.

My work as a nutrition and lifestyle educator is to practically facilitate lasting, sustainable lifestyle transformation.  A large component is working with people to create systems around healthy lifestyle and food and giving them support to continue forward.

It’s a very serious investment indeed but an investment I believe will ultimately to save you funds down the road and proactively reverse the symptoms  and precursors of chronic illness.  Think of it as preempting the the pills and procedures.

OK, If I’m not sure I’m ready to get started, how can I sample your work at low cost to see if I’m ready to do this for myself?

For one, sign up for my newsletter to receive culinary inspiration, nutritional wisdom, and secrets of radical self care.

But also, come hang out with me at my monthly Healthy Happy Hours at Pekoe Acupuncture & Wellness in downtown DC and other workshops I conduct around the DC metro area.  I present on a range of topics from healthy meal planning, food intolerance, sugar addiction, emotional eating, and nutritional wisdom of traditional and trending diets.

Dahlia, based on everything I’ve read and heard about you, I know you’re the one I want to learn from. What are my options for getting started with you?

Congratulations on making a decision for radically transforming your diet and lifestyle! I’m so thrilled to work with you to achieve your goals.

To start, let’s get you scheduled for a Nutrition & Lifestyle consult in person or over the phone.  From there we’ll figure out what goals we will set out to achieve together and the options that work best for you.

But I have a couple of additional questions. Can I call you?

l’ll be happy to walk you through the different options to see which one will be the very best for you. I can’t wait to see you succeed and am honored to be the one to help you. Let’s get going!