We spoke with Jaime Slavin, Nutritionist, Registered Dietitian, food educator, and an advocate for health and well being. We found out how she made a huge shift in her own diet, where she likes to shop and eat in Toronto, and the secret ingredient to living with a partner who eats differently than you do.
You are a registered dietician and a nutritionist. What is the difference?
These titles are often used interchangeably even though they are different designations. In Ontario, Registered Dietitian is the only protected title (just like Physician and Nurse). Since the term Nutritionist is not a protected title, it runs the risk of being misused or misunderstood in terms of what formal education and training one has completed. The reason I use both titles is that some people prefer the term Nutritionist, as I have been told that it is more approachable. Professionally and legally, I use the term Registered Dietitian (or Dietitian) to assure my patients/clients that I am Regulated Health Professional.
Who needs to hire you most?
Ooh, interesting question, so hard to choose just one type of person who would need to “hire me most”. I’d say, without getting too specific about different health needs and concerns, anyone who is looking to get their health to a place of optimal wellness and feel confident and capable in their food choices.
Have you ever needed to make a drastic change to your own diet?
Yes, it was around 14 years ago when I decided to make some drastic changes to my diet. While at that time it was a big challenge to stick to a plan that would help me with my health needs and concerns, I knew in my heart (and in my gut!) that this was going to be a huge shift for me. Teaching myself how to choose healthier foods and how to prepare them (or look for them in grocery stores and restaurants) was a life changing shift that makes me wonder how and why I ever ate any other way!
What are your personal food rules?
I try to stay away from “rules” per say, and stick with my personal food preferences. These are the foods that I prefer to eat and feel amazing when I do.
1. Organic whenever possible (and this is almost always possible in my home, not as easy when eating out, but it’s getting better and I choose to support places that offer organic options).
2. Eating WHOLE foods. These are foods that are minimally (if at all) processed and are in their most basic form from the earth, land, and sea. With those whole foods I am able to create nourishing meals.
3. Stick to 80% plant based foods. I am not vegan, however, I feel best when eating mainly plant based. Focusing on vegetables, fruits, legumes, seeds, healthy fats, and grains are the basis of my diet and choosing only the best options for eggs/dairy/fish/poultry.
Do you recommend all of your clients eat the same diet/foods as you?
No, this is not my nutrition philosophy with my clients. Each client’s needs/likes/goals are all uniquely theirs. That’s why I love the personalized approach with nutrition consultations, as it allows me into their world where I can see what foods and nutrition principles would work best for them. I use the word “principle” rather than diet as I do not focus on diets (as a Dietitian, this is a big misconception of our practice). There is a time and place for certain nutrition protocols (for example: Low FODMAP “diet”, iron rich “diet”, hormonal balancing “diet”) but the overarching goal when I meet with my clients is to guide them to a place of nutrition and food practices that help them feel their best.
How do you find new clients? How do new clients find you?
Most of my clients are referred by the doctors I work with. I work at two doctors offices, where there is an interest of both the doctors for their patients and the patients themselves to want to seek out nutrition care. New clients have also found me through social media, which is always an exciting way to connect! Lastly, word of mouth from one client to another new client. This is the nicest feeling!
Eating is a social activity and a big part of celebrations. Is it important to have your partner/family/friends eat the same way you do?
My partner is very supportive of my food and nutrition preferences. This element is important to me. He has never made any negative or rude comments about the way I choose to eat (people can get pretty judgey when it comes to food, thankfully I’ve never had that with my partner). Where this can sometimes present a challenge is when looking for places to eat with friends and family. But I make it work, and am very appreciative of those who are accommodating of my dietary needs.
Does your partner eat the same way you do? Does he cook?
My partner eats mostly the same way I do when we are together. Otherwise, he eats according to his needs and wants, and has a healthy appetite for almost any type or style of food. He doesn’t cook very much, however, he is so helpful and willing in the kitchen. Sounds pretty “cliche” but he makes me the best eggs and now has taken on my role as master salad dressing maker!
Did you make changes to your diet when you became pregnant?
Not very many changes were made, however, I did have to get through the “food aversion” phase which wasn’t so much fun. Many of my favourite foods (think: smoothies, chocolate, salads, anything hot like soups and stews) were off the list. Thankfully that passed, and now I am eating well and fueling baby and me with the foods that I typically enjoy and love.
Are there any foods you look forward to enjoying after you give birth?
The only foods that I’ve avoided that I can’t wait to start eating again are organic cold pressed juices. Many mamas may feel comfortable drinking these, but just to play it safe, I’ve avoided them during pregnancy.
Where are your favourite places to shop for groceries in Toronto?
First would be a seasonal farmers market (my favourite time of year is summer and fall, the BEST local and organic foods). But when that is not doable, I shop at Fiesta Farms once or twice a week, and when I am in the east end, The Big Carrot. (Those are some of our favourites too!)
Do you enjoy dining out? If so, what are your favourite restaurants?
I do, but I must say I enjoy eating at home more. That said, there are few favourites that I love and crave. These would be: Tabule Middle Eastern restaurant (depends on my mood, but I will either go all vegetarian there with a bunch of small dishes or have their grilled salmon dinner), Pizza Libretto for their spelt flour crust pizza, Fresh Restaurants (almost always get their Green Goddess bowl on brown rice, so comforting and nourishing!).