Talking Nutrition With LaGuardia

Independent/ Eric Striffler

Charlotte LaGuardia is a Southampton native, certified nutrition specialist, and a member of the American College of Nutrition. In addition, she is an avid yoga practitioner. Her healthy lifestyle influenced the creation of her Water Mill-based company Thrive East, where she provides several services to help others live their most organic lives.

How’d you become a nutritionist?

I’ve always loved food. I am the type of person who lives to eat. However, growing up, I had digestive issues that followed me into college. Eventually, I was fed up and needed to learn for myself how the body works and how I could adjust my diet and lifestyle to find relief.

Through my program, I was able to learn the intricacies of the human body and how food influences our systems. It is now my goal to share all of this information with others, so they, too, can be informed and make healthful decisions for their own bodies.

How does your yoga practice tie in with your certification as a nutrition specialist?

My philosophy on health is holistically based because everything is truly connected. If you are stressed, your digestive system will not function to full capacity, which if left unattended to, can lead to things like nutrient deficiencies and irritable bowl syndrome symptoms. Yoga provides the tools to not only help clients reduce and manage stress, but also increase accessible physical activity for overall wellness.

You’re surrounded by so many fresh farms. Do you have a favorite?

It is so hard to choose just one. The Green Thumb in Water Mill is a regular stop for me. They make organic and local produce easy to source. Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett is also on the top of my list. I am a CSA member this season and have had the opportunity to get into the fields and pick some of the produce, which has really given me a new appreciation of farm to table.

I take advantage of my own backyard and source a lot of my produce from my own garden. Kale has been my favorite thing to grow this year and I am experimenting with peppers and broccoli.

What are you currently adding to your dietary routine?

In the summer, I normally eat more raw produce like salads, and recently I have been using collard greens as wraps for anything I can get my hands on. Today I had leftover chicken, avocado, sprouts, and hummus.

Your pantry clean-out and grocery store tours, how did you come up with that idea as a service?

I’ll never forget the day I walked into a grocery store in Boston and was frozen in fear. I was confused and afraid to buy anything — the produce had pesticides, the packaged foods had sugar. I was at a complete loss of what to do. Luckily, I have come a long way and have actually developed a lot of resources to teach people how to navigate the grocery store and how to fill their baskets with the best food for their needs.

Additionally, pantries can be the number-one saboteur of health goals. There are almost always cookies and packaged foods lingering in the back of the shelf. What can sit in a pantry for an extended period of time most likely is full of preservatives that are not supportive of our health.

What are some other services you offer or plan to offer in the near future?

I just launched virtual appointments, which allows me to keep in touch with clients all over the country. Additionally, I offer a corporate wellness program in which I educate employees on healthy eating, so they can take care of themselves not only with food but through stress management practices. This has helped reduce sick days, burn out, and increases overall employee satisfaction.

What are some common pitfalls you see in people’s everyday diets and shopping habits?

We are so accustomed to our own way of shopping and eating because we are on auto pilot. Increasing mindfulness and awareness is the best way to mitigate these habitual actions. Additionally, peer pressure is another huge influencer when it comes to diet. If you are surrounded by people who don’t take care of their bodies, you become more susceptible to those activities.

What was your personal weak spot with food that you had to overcome?

Sugar. I had a huge sweet tooth as a child and young adult. Once I learned more about the dangers of too much sugar, I became more conscious of my intake and replaced processed candy bars with high quality, super dark chocolate. Since then my taste buds have changed and I don’t think I could ever go back.

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