Michelle Pillepich, RD

Michelle Pillepich, RD

Michelle Pillepich
Michelle Pillepich Nutrition
Registered Dietitian
New Jersey

Brief Introduction/Tell Us About yourself (where you are from, etc)

I'm Michelle! I am a registered dietitian specializing in intuitive eating and eating disorders.  I was born and raised in northern NJ, and after jumping around to NC, Washington DC, Boston, and LA I am back in the northeast!  I have worked in eating disorder treatment centers and am currently in private practice.  I love to guide others on their journey to health and wellness without imposing any unrealistic rules or expectations.  Eating and living well should be fun and sustainable!  Outside of work I love to bake, run, and play with my Shih Tzu pup Cody.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in nutrition?

I graduated with a Bachelors degree In Government and Hispanic Studies thinking I would work in the White House or for a non-profit.  It's crazy to think how far from politics I am now!  After a brief internship on a senatorial campaign, I realized the career I thought I wanted was not at all for me.  I moved home from DC and gave a lot of thought to what I actually enjoy...cooking and food blogs were one answer.  I landed an internship at a food magazine based in NYC and thought I would combine food and media with a career in the magazine world.  After that internship, I felt personal connection was lacking.  I knew that maybe somewhere people were finding immense joy and help from this publication, but I wanted direct interaction with those people.  I wanted to know the people whom I was serving.  I knew of the RD path from an undergrad class so I did my research, worked hard at prerequisite classes, and applied to grad school for nutrition! 

How did you become passionate about healthy eating? 

During college and graduate school I struggled with my own digestive issues.  I thought I had every food intolerance you could think of, but had no luck as I cut out more and more foods.  I was always reading and researching about nutrition, and I suppose somewhat selfishly was led to it as a career.  Through personal and professional experience, I learned a lot about the mind gut connection and intuitive eating which was a game changer for how I view health and healthy eating.

What kind of training did you undergo/certification you received? 

I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and went through their MPH/RD program.  To become a registered dietitian, students must go through a specific educational program, undergo 1200 hours of supervised practice (our dietetic internship) and take a national licensing exam.

What do people look for in a nutritionist or dietitian?

Nutritionist is not a regulated title, and there are many ways to simply go online and get a 'nutritionist' certificate without actually having the correct knowledge.  If you choose to see a nutritionist, it is important to do your research and ask them questions to make sure they are qualified.  If you choose to see a dietitian, you know they have undergone rigorous academic training, an internship, and taken an exam to be licensed so you can often trust that title!

If you could persuade people to change three things about their diet, what would they be?

One would be to throw out any diet food!  If you still have low fat, low cal, or low sugar versions of your favorite foods lingering in the pantry, get rid of those and work on incorporating the real thing!  Having less than stellar substitutes will only leave you craving more and wanting the real thing for the satisfaction.

Second, I would encourage people to drink more water!  Even as a dietitian, I often don't get enough and most people know that once you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.  Coffee and other drinks are tasty, but especially coffee is actually dehydrating so having plenty of water throughout the day is a great way to be kind for your body.  Aim for half your body weight in ounces of water!

Lastly, I would encourage people to not skip meals.  Skipping breakfast is so common, but overeating at night is often linked to undernourishing yourself during the day.  If you are having a well balanced breakfast and lunch (and snacks if you want them!) you are more likely to feel good and satisfied in the evening rather than desiring something more.

What would you make as a quick and healthy dinner option, if you have 30 minutes of preparation time? 

I love breakfast for dinner! My go to quick option is an egg scramble.  I sauté some veggies until soft and then add in whisked eggs and scramble it in the pan.  Sometimes I top that with cheddar and I will have toast on the side for a carb component topped with avocado - a great source of healthy fats for satiety!

What is your favorite snack?

I love to bake so I often have make muffins of different flavors for mid day snacking.  I also love clementines during the winter months!

Plant based living is becoming more and more popular. When eating a mostly plant based / vegetarian diet, are there certain foods to focus on to make sure we’re getting enough nutrients and protein?

Vitamin B12 is most abundant in animal proteins, so that is something that might need to be supplemented.  You can find B12 in nutritional yeast, but most people are not eating enough of that to satisfy the body's needs.  Eating enough fat is also key.  Many plant based foods (like fruits, vegetables, and grains) are naturally low in fat, so it is important to include sources of fat such as nuts, oils, and avocado in order to help the body absorb fat soluble vitamins.

Speaking of plant based, what are some of the benefits of drinking chlorophyll water / benefits of liquid chlorophyll? 

Derivatives of chlorophyll have shown antioxidant effect which means they can act against free radicals in the body that can cause inflammation.  A study from 2001 showed a reduction in aflatoxin (a carcinogen) biomarkers.  The study was short and more research is needed, but if you enjoy chlorophyll water there is potential for benefit.

What’s one of your favorite organic/natural supplements or vitamins you recommended? 

Living in the northeast, I am often deficient in Vitamin D, so that's the supplement I always take!  I highly recommend getting levels checked by your doctor before taking any supplement and then supplementing your diet as needed.

Any favorite health / nutrition podcasts or books you recommend to our readers?

I love the Food Psych podcast and Nutrition Matters podcast!

Where can our readers find you? (Instagram, Facebook, etc)

Instagram @michellepillepichnutrition, Facebook under Michelle Pillepich Nutrition and on the web at www.michellepillepichnutrition.com