By Martha Michael
To Nina Gasow, RD, “diet” is a four-letter word. Well, kind of.
“Some might be surprised to know that, as a dietitian, I actually hate the word diet! It implies restriction, and I believe in nourishing our bodies, notrestricting them,” says Gasow, a registered dietitian. “I believe all food can fit into our lives and nourishing ourselves is a lifestyle, not a diet.”
In just four months, Gasow has brought her message to many in the Santa Clarita Valley. “I opened my practice immediately after completing my dietetic internship, a required yearlong internship to become a registered dietitian,” says Gasow. “Many people were surprised that I started my own practice at the beginning of my career, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way and it has already been an amazing experience. When I finished my internship I knew that I wanted to own my own business and work with clients struggling with eating disorders, so I decided ‘why not start now and do what I love?’”
What Gasow does is part counselor, part scientist. “As a dietitian, I am trained in nutrition counseling,” she says. “This means I get to use my scientific knowledge of food and the body combined with my ability to counsel clients. I come from a very scientific, research-based background, but I love working with people. It is always my goal to offer my clients this information in a way that is useful for them. I do believe that the counseling aspect of what I do is a vitally important part of being a dietitian working in the field of eating disorder treatment. It’s not all about just giving people the facts. It is also about meeting clients where they are at, understanding behaviors, and doing a lot of experiential work.”
Gasow works with approximately 15-20 clients at a time, with a wide range of ages, from 12 to 50+ years old. The majority of her clients are in the 14-30 age range. In addition to her Santa Clarita practice, she has been on contract with La Ventana Eating Disorder Treatment Program in Thousand Oaks, serving as a dietitian for the outpatient and residential treatment programs.
“I have the wonderful opportunity to eat and even cook with my clients,” says Gasow. “I do a lot of meal and snack challenges with my clients to help them diminish fear foods.”
Gasow and her husband, Tanner, an aerospace engineer, moved to Santa Clarita about a year and a half ago. She spent her childhood and attended college in the Midwest. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in biological sciences at Marquette University, she completed the Didactic Program in dietetics at Iowa State University. It was a dietetic internship at the Los Angeles VA (Veterans Administration) Hospital that brought the Gasows to Santa Clarita.
“All RDs have to go through at least four years of college with a degree in nutrition, dietetics, or other related science field,” explains Nina Gasow. “We then have to complete a highly competitive internship (usually one year in length) that requires practice in all areas of dietetics. Finally, we are able to take our registration exam to become a registered dietitian. We are then required to complete continuing education to keep our RD.”
Nina and Tanner Gasow have enjoyed the move west, especially the winters. They both take advantage of the outdoors as much as possible. The support of her husband, as well as her family back in the Midwest, has been a key to Nina’s success – that, and joy in her field of study.
“I love what I do because I get to make my passion in life my profession. I am passionate about nutrition and I am fortunate enough to get to talk about that every day. I love working in the eating disorder treatment field, because I want to help people take back the joy in eating and develop a positive body image. It is an incredibly rewarding feeling to be able to help someone learn how to nourish their body appropriately again. Food is a part of everyone’s life but it can be a battle for some. I love being able to help change and improve that relationship.”
Visit Nina Gasow’s website at: www.ninagasow.com or call: (661) 388-8708. You may email firstname.lastname@example.org or find her Facebook page: Nina Gasow, RD.