Nutritionists estimate that only one out of every five Americans eats a healthy diet. Most have not been educated about eating healthy and nutritious foods to sustain good health.
Monica Nedeff is hoping to change that. Born in Dayton, she graduated from Alter High School and went on to Ohio State University for college.
“I had planned to be an occupational therapist but while I was in school, I rediscovered my love for nutrition,” Nedeff said.
In fact, Nedeff said she loved cooking and reading nutrition labels from a very young age. Family and friends thought it was only natural that she one day study to become a registered dietician.
At OSU, Nedeff ended up being accepted to a program called Med Diet and graduated in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in medical dietetics.
“I was grandfathered into a program that required a four-year degree and an internship,” Nedeff said. “I interned with local clinics like the Wexner Center.”
After graduation, Nedeff hoped to travel with an organization called Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, her plans were waylaid.
“I ended up moving back home to West Carrollton with my parents for 18 months,” Nedeff said.
During that time, Nedeff said she tried different things, including working with SHIPT grocery delivery. Then when her best friend of many years, Emma Schuermann said she was planning to move to North Carolina, Nedeff decided to go with her.
“Emma applied for jobs all over the country and she narrowed it down to two places,” Nedeff said. “She had connections in Winston, North Carolina and she got a job there.”
Though Nedeff had never visited that area, she decided to take a leap of faith and move to a new state without a job.
“It was an adjustment,” Nedeff said. “But it didn’t take long to get a job.”
Within a few months, Nedeff landed an outpatient counseling job as a dietician in a program focused on helping patients lose weight and improve their health, especially those struggling with diabetes and heart disease.
“I definitely feel like I picked the right field for me,” Nedeff said. “We have so many options these days and it’s hard to know what to do when you are just 18 years old.”
Nedeff believes in holistic approaches to health and wellness and is helping people understand that food is more than just fuel for the body. She enjoys building personal relationships with her clients and helping them throughout their journeys.
“Food provides a sense of comfort and community,” Nedeff said. “It unites us in good and bad times and creates traditions that get passed down from generation to generation.”
While still in college in 2018, Nedeff launched a blog and planned to write about not only eating healthy, but also her experiences as a solo female backpacking twice across Europe. Today that blog has evolved into a website of mostly her own original recipes, which she creates, photographs and shares with her readers. She plans to continue to grow her website and blog and eventually hopes to have her own private practice, helping people from all over the world learn how to eat healthy.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed many things, including eating habits. Stress and mental health issues increased, especially during the lock-down period, and people often turned to food for comfort.
“It’s a human thing to look for comfort in food,” Nedeff said. “It’s what we’ve done since our earliest moments breastfeeding and having that emotional connection with our mothers.”
Nedeff teaches people to look inward and listen to their bodies rather than reaching for food impulsively. She follows the principals of “Intuitive Eating,” a program created by dieticians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. The program is designed around 10 principles, including rejecting the “diet” mentality and all the fad diets that don’t help people lose weight and keep it off, making peace with food, learning to honor fullness and coping with emotions.
“I urge people to look at where they are eating and if they have the TV on or their phones with them,” Nedeff said. “Sitting at a table without electronics can really help you slow down and eat mindfully.”
Nedeff is building her private practice and plans to keep her license in Ohio as well as in North Carolina. Her website focuses on good quality and fun recipes that help people enjoy their diets without feeling restricted or guilty.
“Taking steps to change your relationship with food to one of abundance will help you redefine not only your relationship to food but your body as well,” Nedeff said. “My goal is to help people find the joy and love for food that we inherently have but often lose living in a society obsessed with perfection and diet trends.”
For more information, log on to monicanedeff.com