Integrative and Functional Nutrition
I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Health Communication professor ready to serve as your Bridge to Optimum Health. I innovatively integrate the sciences of nutrition and communication to empower you to choose nourishing foods and healthy habits that lead to lasting well-being. Unifying my expertise in nutrition counseling, teaching and research, I help you identify nutritional, lifestyle and linguistic blocks to the vibrant health you seek. I then guide and uplift you in embracing nutrient-rich foods, a balanced routine and health-promoting communication skills as we resolve your nutrition concerns. I work closely with you to ensure your success in private sessions, classes and support groups. You experience steady progress in our work together within these three contexts, learning how to maintain your diet and lifestyle changes and how to create a pleasurable, connected relationship with food and your body.
It is my mission to help others become richly nourished and optimally healthy so they can live with passionate purpose. My dedicaton comes from my triumph over a life-threatening eating disorder and severe head traumas through the healing powers whole foods, mindful eating and a holistic, balanced lifestyle. Though my recovery, I transformed my pain into purpose. It my utmost desire to help others experience a healing transformation and live the life of their dreams!
My Education and Professional Experience
My formal education includes a Ph.D. and M.A. in Communication from the University of Illinois, Urbana, a B.A. in Scientific and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University, a B.S. in Dietetics and Human Nutrition from Eastern Michigan University and an M.S. in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health. I graduated summa cum laude from all degree programs.
I also hold credentials in Ayurveda, Herbology and Yoga. I became a certified Ayurvedic Lifestyle Counselor and AyurYoga Instructor through The Ayurvedic Institute, founded and led by Dr. Vasant Lad. I completed two advanced study programs in Integrative Herbology with Candis Cantin at the Evergreen School of Herbology. I am an Iyengar Yoga instructor, having completed Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher (CIYT) training under internationally-acclaimed teacher and author Lois Steinberg in Urbana, IL. I have taught hundreds yoga classes and private sessions over the past twenty-five years and maintain a daily advanced asana practice.
As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in Integrative and Functional Medicine, I concentrate my continuing education on three rapidly evolving areas of nutrition science that strongly shape my practice Specialties: integrative and functional nutrition, nutritional genomics and eating disorder/disordered eating. I keep up to date on recent health and nutrition science through continual research, study and professional conferences.
I bring my professional work experience in the nutrition and health fields over the past twenty years to my work with clients and students. I began a health education private practice in the year 2000 in the North San Francisco Bay area, and taught eating disorder prevention curricula to middle, high school and college students. I served on staff at a North Bay outpatient eating disorder program where I led mindful eating therapy sessions and after-care support groups, drawing on my PhD research. I maintained a private practice at two integrative healthcare centers in the North Bay, specializing in holistic/integrative nutrition, Ayurveda and AyurYoga therapy. As a health education and sales consultant in the nutraceutical and specialty laboratory industries, I enabled hundreds of integrative healthcare providers to improve patient care by providing education and protocols for administering highly quality dietary supplements and specialty lab tests (e.g., tests for food sensitivities, gastrointestinal function and genetics). These roles required ongoing, evidence-based training on the use of dietary supplements and functional lab tests to promote optimal wellness and longevity.
My extensive background as a professor and published scholar inspires and informs my Nutrition Classes. I have taught nutrition and integrative health courses at Bastyr University, Everett Community College and the California Institute of Integral Studies. While on the faculty at Sonoma State University, I taught seminars that critically examined representations of women’s health and bodies in the mass media. I am currently a Community Education instructor at Santa Rosa Junior College, teaching Nutrition Solutions for Anxiety, Depression and Memory and Nutritious and Delicious Gluten-free Strategies courses.
I believe a key to making lasting nutrition and lifestyle change is identifying a mission or goal that brings you joy, a sense of purpose and a way to meaningfully connect to your community. Having a nourished, balanced body brings this aim into reach. I help you identify, clarify and express your aim to incite your motivation for and commitment to your optimum health journey.
Regarding my ‘food philosophy,’ I embrace two perspectives that I see as the foundation of the integrative and functional nutrition field – food as medicine and food as information. Food as medicine prioritizes consuming whole foods to awaken the body’s intrinsic wisdom for healing. Food as information acknowledges the impact of food on human DNA expression and the gut microbiome. I join with these perspectives critical factors that influence the digestive process – namely, how, when, why, where and with whom we eat – as well as types of communication that influence the eating process – intrapersonal (what you say to yourself), interpersonal (conversations with others) and mass media (images of or messages about food and body image). This multi-layered, Non-diet approach to nutrition counseling and education is the hallmark of what I do.
Overall, I believe we thrive physically, mentally and emotionally when we love and accept ourselves. I strive to support this core of your whole person wellness by bringing compassion, caring and deep respect to my work with you.
My Highest Goal – Transforming Pain to Purpose
My mission of helping others along their journey to optimum health arose out of my inherent, lifelong love for learning and teaching. My intrinsic enthusiasm for and pursuit of learning and teaching served as my bridge out of dire health and to a purpose-filled life.
Through my PhD research, I overcame an eating disorder by learning to strategically use communication to transform the damaging intrapersonal, interpersonal and mass media messages that defined my identity to messages of empowerment, self-acceptance and nutritional healing. In the following years, recovering from multiple head traumas, I learned to use nutrition science and mindful eating to fully appreciate, prepare and enjoy nutritious food. My continued formal education (Ayurveda, Herbology and Iyengar yoga) as well as ‘homestead’ studies (e.g., organic vegetable gardening and food fermentation) furthered my optimum health journey. Today I come alive teaching ways in which nutrition and communication skills can foster healing and whole person health – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
By tapping into what innately motivates and inspires me – learning and teaching – I transformed my pain into purpose. I would love the privilege of helping you be richly nourished and embodied with ease so you can passionately pursue your purpose. Let’s get started!
For more information see:
- Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND): Every Registered Dietitian Is a Nutritionist, but Not Every Nutritionist Is a Registered Dietitia
- Non-Diet Approach
Call 707-861-0361 or ChiaraKaePhDRDN@gmail.com to begin your journey to Optimum Health now!