A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Hayley is a vital member of our Research and Development team. She earned her dietetics degree from Florida State University and completed her supervised internship at Sodexo while earning her master’s at the University of Rhode Island. With all the misinformation out there about nutrition, Hayley believes it’s vital to call out what’s false—and share the science—to help people lead healthier lives.
I sat down with Hayley and got to know her a little better.
How did you get into nutrition?
It was actually my mom who suggested that I become a dietitian as I was getting ready to apply to colleges and was trying to decide on a major. When my mom suggested dietetics, I didn’t even know what it meant, so I had to google it! Since I was into health and fitness at the time, it seemed like the right fit. To be honest, I’m grateful I didn’t know more about the program, because if I’d known what was involved (looking at you Chemistry!) there’s no way I would have done it. Now I can’t imagine myself doing anything else!
What’s your biggest nutrition pet peeve?
My biggest pet peeve is the perception that some foods are “unhealthy”. The truth is there’s no such thing. Whether you eat an organic coconut sugar donut from Whole Foods or a cane sugar donut from Dunkin Donuts, your body metabolizes it the same way, and experiences the same effects.
What matters is the composition of your diet overall. When you’re eating a balanced combination of fruit, veggies, protein, whole grains, nuts, seeds—and so-called “unhealthy foods” in moderation—your body will thrive. It’s only when you eat an excessive amount of one food type that you run into trouble. Eat the donut—and eat your veggies too—life’s too short to deprive yourself!
What advice would you give someone who’s struggling to make healthy changes?
Start slow! Any amount of change helps. If you’re trying to increase your steps, try taking the stairs instead of the elevator, park farther away when you go to a store, or walk your dog an extra 10 minutes. If you’re changing your diet, try ordering fruit or salad as a side dish instead of fries. Small changes add up to big improvements in the long term!
What’s your favorite supplement?
Ashwagandha! It’s seriously the best. It’s an adaptogen, meaning it adapts to your body’s needs. If you’re stressed, ashwagandha helps regulate cortisol, so your body doesn’t get as worked up. If you work out a lot and your body is physically stressed, ashwagandha can help with recovery and improves performance.*
What’s your favorite snack and why?
Oh gosh. I don’t know if I can pick just one! I can say I love popcorn. Popcorn is a whole grain, so it’s an excellent source of fiber, which helps keep you full longer and your digestion regular. My favorite brand is Lesser Evil. They have a variety of flavors, but their classic flavor is the best IMO.
My runner-up is watermelon. Too bad it’s only really ripe in the summer. I can literally finish a whole one by myself. And it’s not just delicious; it has lycopene, an antioxidant that gives it its red color and helps fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals can cause oxidative stress which may damage cells.
What does your average weekend look like?
It really varies; some weekends will be jam-packed with activities while others I’ll spend glued to the couch! 😊 But I’ll usually spend time with friends at Happy Hour. I love a good margarita and Aperol spritz! Or we’ll have dinner parties and game nights: Cahoot and Anomia are some of my favorites.
I also love getting outside. Whether that means walking around the park, hiking in the woods or just lounging on the patio—there’s nothing better than the feeling of the sun soaking into your skin.
Tell us something surprising about yourself
My first job was at a tanning salon. John Cena would come in… and I had the “pleasure” of cleaning his sweat off the tanning bed!
Check out Hayley’s blogs and follow her on IG @dietitian.hayley
Hayley is just one of the many experts at Persona, here to accelerate your wellness journey. If you have questions about nutrition or your personalized program, reach out now or book a free appointment with Hayley or another of our amazing nutritionists.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.