More women die of heart disease than all cancers combined yet they pay more attention to the health of their parents, partners and children. A woman’s focus is often weight-driven yet she’s an ideal caretaker for others. Heart disease, in so many cases, is preventable by making subtle changes to how you eat, how you move your body, how you sleep and how you handle stress.
In an era dominated by pharmaceutical solutions, there is a rising consciousness about the incredible healing and preventive powers of food. As the age-old saying goes, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” But how does this translate in today’s world? Can we really use nutrition as a potent tool against sickness and disease? How does one curate a diet that supports health, longevity, and wellness? In this series, we are talking to nutritionists, dietitians, medical professionals, holistic health experts, and anyone with authoritative knowledge on the subject. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Bonnie Taub-Dix.
Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA,RDN,CDN, Owner of BTD Nutrition Consultants, LLC, is the award-winning author of, Read It Before You Eat It — Taking You from Label to Table, and creator of BetterThanDieting.com. Bonnie is a media personality, media trainer for wellness professionals, spokesperson, motivational speaker, journalist, and corporate and brand consultant whose messages are laced with her credible guidance as a lifestyle, health and wellness advisor, and her wit and wisdom as a mom.
Bonnie is a sought-after nutrition expert and her stories and interviews have appeared on thousands of top tier media platforms including TODAY, US News & World Report, INSIDER, Well+Good and PopSugar. She is a past spokesperson for The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the recipient of their prestigious Media Excellence Award.
In addition to being a reliable resource to media, Bonnie takes pride in sharing her love of cooking and her knowledge in the kitchen with her family by setting an example when setting her table to show that nutritious and delicious can exist on the same plate.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Igrew up overweight and undereducated about how to help myself enjoy the foods I ate while also enjoying the way I looked and felt. I had terrible eating habits: I would say I “didn’t like” (but didn’t taste) vegetables and snacks and sweets made regular appearances in my diet.
When I was 17 years old I decided to change my diet to change my negative self-image, I changed my weight by losing 30 pounds and, most importantly, I changed my life.
At that same time, I went to college orientation with the intention of majoring in psychology and minoring in art, but the person in front of the room asked, “Is anyone here interested in dietetics?” I didn’t know what that meant, but since I was so elated about how my new diet made me feel, I raised my hand, filled out a form and then got called for an interview at Downstate Medical Center for their Nutrition & Dietetics program. I changed schools, changed my major and that’s how my diet changed the trajectory of my life.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
This is a wonderful story that not only unknowingly changed my career path…but it also lead me to becoming a media trainer and a valued resource for TV, radio, print and web platforms.
After graduating from college, the last thing I ever wanted to do was work in a hospital, yet I spent 11 years working as a clinical dietitian in hospitals while I simultaneously built my private practice, wrote stories and partnered with brands.
The incredible journey to working with media started like this:
The hospital’s PR Department asked me to do a one-minute commercial for them, which lead to other commercials on a cable network. Doing interviews in front of the camera felt like electric going through me (in a good way) and I knew I wanted to do more with media.
One day a national TV station came to that PR Department and asked if someone could represent them on a show for a food-related story and they chose me — I was assistant chief Dietitian at that time. Ironically, that interview was about how to not to be fooled by tricky food labels and we shot the segment in a supermarket. Who knew that all these years later, that I’d write a book on that exact subject, “Read It Before You Eat It — Taking You from Label to Table.” My book has been featured in hundreds of interviews since! You never know where interviews lead you, and that was the start of my career in media.
It has been said that our mistakes can sometimes be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
One of my first big interviews was to be a guest on The Morning Show with Regis Philbin. As a media newbie, in retrospect, I dressed like the before of a before and after picture! I wore my hair long, big earrings, a white sweater and a black and white skirt with a zig zag pattern!
And now, 30-plus years later, I’m still doing interviews regularly — but now I’m also a media trainer where I describe that early experience as what not to do! I learned that jewel-toned, solid colors and inconspicuous jewelry helps to make your messages stand out more clearly than your attire.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Sincerity. As a dietitian nutritionist, I partner with food companies and brands in a very public way. I would never collaborate with a company to promote a food or product that I wouldn’t use in my own home or feed to myself or my family. People take my recommendations seriously, so I need to be honest and sincere about the suggestions I make and back those suggestions up by setting an example of how I set my own table.
Reliability. Journalists and producers know that they can depend on me to respond to their queries in a timely fashion and with relatable soundbites that they can use in their stories. I know how to speak the language of the audience I’m addressing so my style may vary depending on their particular needs. Not everyone in media can adapt their messages to be able to resonate with those they hope to connect and engage with.
Likability. I rely on humor, honesty and empathy to form relationships with people by providing guidance without gimmicks. Whether it’s a TV audience or a client sitting across from my desk, I enjoy storytelling and sharing my knowledge and my beliefs with others. People can relate to me because I wouldn’t suggest that they do anything that I wouldn’t do myself.
I was so humbled to collect testimonials from my clients, brands I work with and journalists when I created my website: https://bonnietaubdix.com/testimonials/
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I’m working on several projects right now and here are two that I’m particularly excited about:
- I’m in the process of updating the 3rd Edition of my book, “Read It Before You Eat It — Taking You from Label to Table.” I’ve always believed that you shouldn’t have to be a dietitian or mathematician to put healthy food in your cart. My book describes everything that appears on food labels, how to decide which foods to choose if you have certain health issues, how to walk down each aisle and compare products and so much more. In fact, I’m giving away a free chapter of my book to help people to not be fooled by tricky terms on food packages. (It’s my favorite chapter!) They just have to click here: https://bonnietaubdix.com/book/
- After being interviewed by top tier publications, TV stations and radio shows, I’ve decided to share my top tips to help people get their own names in the news. I developed a digital course on media training, “How to Work with Media and Make the Media Work for You,” that comes with a workbook and a host of bonuses to help teach anyone how to get their messages out in a big way. I also have a one-to-one coaching business for someone who chooses a more private approach to build their media business while also boosting their reputation. My goal has always been to help people benefit from their businesses professionally, personally and financially. If anyone is interested in more details about my course, you’ll find details here: btdmedia.teachable.com/p/media-masterclass
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview about cultivating wellness through proper nutrition and diet. To begin, can you tell our readers a bit about why you are an authority on the topic of nutrition?
I have been practicing in my profession for more than 30 years and I have received awards for my outstanding influence. People know my name because of the presentations I’ve given, the people I have mentored, the words I have written and the thousands of times my quotes have appeared (and continues to appear) in the news. My colleagues express admiration for my work and my clients know that they can rely on my to bring them genuine, sincere and solid information regarding nutrition and dietetics.
We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
I think people are overwhelmed with the nutrition messages they are continually bombarded with — especially those conveyed by unqualified “influencers.” Bogus advertisements, fad diets and faux products that provide empty promises are filling our inboxes and social media platforms making it hard to know who to believe.
“Diet culture” is shunned this days, yet a shift too far in that direction makes people feel like they shouldn’t even be talking about weight loss or expressing desiring to lose weight.
I noticed that during the pandemic, I was asked to comment about comforting decadent meals, snacks and desserts. Talking about weight loss was taboo. But towards the end of last year, my interview questions started changing, going back to chatter about fad diets, diet pills and quick fixes.
We also expect food to take care of everything — but that’s like asking one instrument to play to music of an orchestra! It’s the powerful combination of foods together that helps to make us strong and keep us feeling satisfied throughout our hectic days.
And it’s not just the food we eat that might need to change…it’s also our habits (skipping meals, not sleeping enough, not exercising) that needs to be coordinated with the way we eat.
From your professional perspective, do you believe that nutrition plays a pivotal role in supporting the body’s natural healing processes and overall well-being, particularly in cases of chronic diseases? We’re interested in hearing your insights on the connection between a holistic approach to diet and its benefits for individuals facing health challenges.
The word “diet” actually means “way of life,” not “weigh” of life — so our diet is clearly essential for keeping us strong, fit and healthy — and not just about keeping us svelte.
For your diet to work for you, you need to learn how to fit a balanced, realistic eating style into your life, not change your life for your diet.
I believe with all my heart that choosing the proper foods can not only extend your life…it can also help you live a better and happier life. What’s so important to remember is that “proper foods” can be different for each of us. It’s so important to learn about your own family history and understand what it might take to bring yourself to a healthier place.
Based on your research or experience could you share with us five examples of foods or dietary patterns that have demonstrated remarkable potential in preventing, reducing, or managing specific health conditions? If you can, it would be insightful if you could provide real-life examples of their curative properties.
I’d be happy to go over greater detail for any of the topics below — this is at the heart of the ‘food is medicine’ theme and I have written about several of these topics. Many of these diseases and health issues are preventable:
1 . Heart disease. More women die of heart disease than all cancers combined yet they pay more attention to the health of their parents, partners and children. A woman’s focus is often weight-driven yet she’s an ideal caretaker for others. Heart disease, in so many cases, is preventable by making subtle changes to how you eat, how you move your body, how you sleep and how you handle stress.
2 . Diabetes. Diet plays a critical role in managing diabetes. Whether it’s focusing on portion control, balancing nutrients, counting carbohydrates or finding fiber, simple swaps in your diet can help control blood sugar levels and curtail the damaging effects of diabetes when it is out of control. According to the CDC as of 2020, in the US approximately 88 million adults aged 18 years and older had pre-diabetes. Moreover, those with pre-diabetes may not even know that they have this condition which could be controlled with attention paid to diet and exercise habits.
3 . Osteoporosis. Foods rich in calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and other nutrients can help prevent osteopenia and osteoporosis. Falls that cause breaks and fractures, especially later on in life, could be so serious as to lead to mortality.
4 . Gastrointestinal Distress. Whether it’s reflux (GERD), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), constipation, diarrhea, bloat or pain, gastrointestinal upsets can be curtailed or corrected with help from your diet. We’ve also been hearing about how science is showing us to the powers of the microbiome and how taking care of your gut can simultaneously point to the prevention of other areas of the body including your brain, heart and blood glucose levels.
5 . Inflammation: Chronic inflammation has been shown to be connected to arthritis, heart disease, some autoimmune diseases and other health issues. Anti-inflammatory foods that are rich in antioxidants, such as fruits, vegetables, seafood, nuts, oils, beans and so much more have been shown to bring lasting health benefits.
I’d also include on my list aging, obesity, immune function and cancer prevention.
Do experts generally agree that merely choosing healthy foods isn’t sufficient, but that understanding how to consume them is key to unlocking their full health benefits? (For example, skins on/off, or cooked/raw, or whole grain/refined grain) Could you provide advice on how to approach this and sidestep common errors or misconceptions?”
As a media dietitian who gives interviews for top tier publications each week, I try to clear up the confusion we often see displayed in headlines. This is especially prevalent on social media platforms. Here’s some of the nutrition myth-information I try to combat:
“Shop the perimeter of the store.” Of course a wealth of wonderful food can be found in the perimeter of the store, but it’s also important to make the most of the middle. Powerful foods like beans, nuts and grains are found in the center of the store.
“Don’t eat foods with more than 5 ingredients.” The length of the list of ingredients is not what counts…it’s what’s on those lists that matters. My favorite bread has more than 20 ingredients but as far as I’m concerned…the more the merrier if those ingredients provide valuable nutrients my body needs
“Don’t combine different types of foods.” By combining certain foods together, you can elicit more energy, better digestion and smoother blood sugar levels. For example, if you combine carbohydrate with protein and healthy fat, the carbs will still give you energy, but they will be absorbed more slowly and provide sustained energy for a longer period of time.
With the recent prominence of nutrition’s integration into healthcare, what’s your perspective on the collaborative approach between medical professionals, health coaches, and nutrition experts when it comes to delivering holistic patient care? Can you please explain?
Collaboration is key. No one discipline can do it all and the team approach, where team members shine in their respective specialities, can bring the most dramatic results. I have always worked with doctors and therapists when counseling private patients and I’ve worked with agencies and companies when creating campaigns for the brands I’ve partnered with.
It’s been suggested that using ‘food as medicine’ has the potential to reduce healthcare costs by preventing disease severity. However, there’s concern about the affordability of healthier food options. What solutions do you believe could make nutritious choices accessible to everyone, ensuring that food truly becomes a form of medicine for all?
Healthy food does not need to be more costly than other foods. Some meals and snacks laden with calories, sugar, sodium and saturated fat are just as expensive, if not more expensive, and less satisfying than healthier options.
As a member of the media, I’m often trying to clear up the confusion that people have about food, including confusing terms. “Processed food” often gets a bad rap, but that term is misunderstood: a carrot that’s been washed, peeled and cut has been “processed” but that doesn’t make it unhealthy. Processing has saved us from illness by protecting our food system. We need to learn about what these food terms mean and not just blindly listen to scare tactics often used by unqualified “influencers”.
Everyone’s body is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. How does one navigate the vast array of nutritional advice available today to curate a diet tailored to individual needs, ensuring health and longevity?
I have been counseling clients and writing about and speaking about nutrition for more than 30 years. I always relied on the expression, “You have two ears and one mouth for a reason — and that’s because you should be listening more than speaking.” I never had a “program’, but instead, I treated each person as an individual, having their own particular needs.
Especially with bogus “influencers” running rampant on social media platforms, it’s essential that people look at a person’s credentials before believing what they say…no matter how attractive their messages might sound. These non-credentialed individuals’ messages are popular because they have sensationalized messages without the credibility or science to back them up. Louder messages are not necessarily the credible ones.
As our understanding of the intricate link between food and health continues to evolve, we’re curious to know which emerging trends or breakthroughs in nutritional science excite you the most. How do you envision these advancements shaping the future of healthcare?
There is so much we don’t know about the powerful impact the microbiome (your gut) has on overall health. Science has emerged about how important certain foods, like fiber, is in our diet yet the majority of us don’t get enough fiber.
I’m also excited to see a more global approach when it comes to our diets with an embrace of the practices and tastes of other cultures to help us expand our palates and explore alternative methods of promoting health.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You’ll find Bonnie on:
Instagram @bonnietaubdix and @btdmedia,
on Facebook @Bonnietaubdix.rdn,
on X (Twitter) @eatsmartbd
and on LinkedIn @bonnietaubdix.
Her digital course, How to Work with the Media and Make the Media Work for You, shows you the easiest and proven way to get your name in the news: Btdmedia.teachable.com/p/media-masterclass
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!
Thank YOU for this fabulous opportunity.
About the Interviewer: Wanda Malhotra, a Certified Health Coach and wellness entrepreneur with 28 years of experience, is the visionary founder behind Crunchy Mama Box, a Mission-driven Marketplace promoting healthier, sustainable living. Committed to social engagement, Wanda supports causes like environmental preservation, animal welfare, mental health, human rights, and social responsibility. Through her work, Wanda writes passionately about clean beauty, wellness, nutrition, social impact, and eco-friendly living. She shares valuable insights, advocating holistic health and sustainability, and aims to simplify wellness with curated resources. Join Wanda and the Crunchy Mama Box community in embracing a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle at CrunchyMamaBox.com