We got the chance to sit down with the lovely Lauren Hirschhorn, MS, RD. She is a dietitian in long-term care and for Courage to Nourish. She did not begin her career as a dietitian, but she is not a stranger to diet culture. Lauren used her own struggle as a motivation to help others find food freedom through an individualized, HAES approach.
Read on to learn more about where Lauren is from and how she got here!
1. What’s your favorite food today? What was your favorite as a kid?
I love pizza and burgers. Burgers weren’t always my thing but the restaurant Allen Burger Venture in Buffalo, NY got me hooked on them and now my fiance and I try to find fun burger joints everywhere we travel to.
I was born in Brooklyn and lived there for about 4 years before moving to New Jersey. Growing up there, I developed a love for pizza- East Coast Style for sure.
When I try to think back to what I ate as a kid I didn’t really have a favorite food.
But I know I remember when my bubby (my grandma) would make kasha. It’s a grain that she used to prepare for us and I really enjoyed it and have fond memories of family events with her.
2. Where are you from? What is your favorite thing about that place?
I’m originally from Brooklyn, NY and I have some memories of going back into Brooklyn but most of my memories are from Jersey because I moved to Jersey when I was young.
My favorite thing about Jersey is going to the shore. Most of New Jersey is shoreline. So, there are many shore towns to pick from; some are more family-oriented than others. If I had to pick one that I like, I would say I like Long Branch or Wildwood.
It’s calming to me to be on the beach, the smell of sunscreen, sunshine, and sound of the waves relax me.
3. How did you become interested in nutrition?
I wasn’t always interested in nutrition. In fact I originally went to school for fashion merchandising and spent four years at school in Poughkeepsie, New York doing that. After finishing my undergraduate degree, I landed my dream job in NYC and worked there for 9 months and realized it wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be.
A few years prior to graduating school I was diagnosed with PCOS. I met with many healthcare providers looking for answers to help me manage my condition. I was also met with a lot of disinformation. Many of them told me to workout more and eat less, which led me to suffer from disordered eating for 10+ years. I realized that there was so much more to learn about PCOS. In my experience going from doctor to doctor, I found that many providers didn’t know much about it either.
At that point, I wanted to do something more meaningful than fashion and debated between going into nursing or nutrition.
I ended up deciding on nutrition so I could help to combat the misinformation I received and I also wanted to help others who struggled to find answers like me.
4. What brings you joy in your daily life?
Lately, I’ve found joy in getting more in touch with my hobbies! I’ve been trying new ones like crafting. I have a Cricut and it helps me to do so many creative things on my own, like creating my own wedding invites. Recently, knitting and macrame have also been on my hobby list. They keep my hands busy while I’m doing something else like catching up on a little TV.
5. Are you a dog person or a cat person?
I am definitely a dog person, I don’t have one right now but hopefully soon! My favorite breed is probably a whippet or a greyhound and I keep bothering my fiance about getting a dog. If I do end up getting one it’s important to me that they are from a rescue.
6. Tea or Coffee?
Tea, but I do enjoy the smell of coffee.
As for a specific kind, I don’t have a favorite. But, I did just purchase a new globe tea kettle and that’s been a new fun thing to use.
7. Do you have other aspirations outside of being a dietitian?
So Emilee had reposted a post on Instagram about an individual who was wedding dress shopping in a larger body and what the experience felt and looked like. This made me really reflect on how a joyful time can be made very uncomfortable due to the lack of inclusivity in the wedding dress industry. It shouldn’t feel like that.
Wedding dress shopping should be uplifting and magical, so I would say I have an aspiration to start a wedding dress shop for larger bodies and so no one has to worry about sizing. It could be a combination of my past fashion experience and my current passion for nutrition and inclusivity.
While there are companies in the fashion industry getting more inclusive in sizing, there can be oversight at times about clothing designs for larger bodies. Like how can you design something for a larger body when you don’t know what it’s like to be in that body? I think in terms of making garments that are realistic and not just ‘size inclusive’ is something that needs attention too.
8. What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned.. In life? And as a RD?
As an RD I work in clinical part-time and also for Courage to Nourish. Through my experience, I have learned that you have to be confident with what you’re doing. I used to worry too much about the opinions of others like the doctors I was working with and patient families. While their input is very important, having confidence in your own recommendations and credentials, and not letting others change that or discredit it is equally important.
In life, the most valuable thing I’ve learned is that there’s no one way of helping people. There are different ways to provide support and it’s not always what society says. Help can show up in different ways and I really try to live my life by helping others.
*Bonus question time!
What made you turn away from your career in fashion? Why didn’t you like it?
So, halfway through my bachelors degree I knew it wasn’t for me. The program was great but I was consistently told this industry was not for me. They really try to mold you to be ready for the industry and they would also say, “you don’t have tough enough skin.”
I did work for the company I set my heart on in NYC, but I didn’t do it for myself, I did it to show up all nonbelievers that said I couldn’t.
Lastly, I got to volunteer in New York Fashion Week a number of times and we know the ‘model standard’ and I could see visually that standard but overhearing some of the conversations, it really stuck with me how unhealthy the industry was. During shows, I would just reflect on how there were no ‘different’ bodies on the runway, like what’s the point if all people can’t fit into those clothes?
I knew if I felt like this about it then others probably did too and I just couldn’t stand behind it anymore.
I am currently a student at the University of Maryland in the Dietetics program. It is my last year in the program and I look forward to graduating. The new experiences and opportunities awaiting me are what motivate me to complete my coursework so I am ready to serve as a knowledgeable dietitian in the future. I have had the pleasure of working with Alex and Bobbi for almost two years. During this time I have developed a deep appreciation for the models of thinking they base their practice around. I am able to create content and share about all things Health At Every Size ©, body positive, and even meditation to allow our clients and potential clients on their path to a wonderful, meaningful life without food fears.