Interview with Andy Bellatti

Inspired, Wellness

INSPIRED | ANDY BELLATTI

I’m happy to introduce to you all today, one of the many pioneers in the dietetics community, Andy Bellatti. Andy is most known for his start on his blog called Small Bites, which grew a mass following, so much so that he took the next step in his journey/career big time- he now is consulted on major TV networks, Huffington Post, Civil Eats, Grist, and more for his opinion on food, nutrition, and the politics behind it. He also is the director of the group called Dietitians for Professional Integrity. He has a fun time calling out food industry deception and does it with an awesome attitude. Learn about his thoughts on the word “diet”, how dietitians can grow together, what healthy means to him, and his favorite foods. Everyone, meet Andy!

ANDY BELLATTI

for Nutrition Stripped

Name

Andy Bellatti

If you had to define all that you do in a title, what would you say?

Dietitian, Advocate, and Food Industry BS Detector

What is your professional background?

I currently work as a health coach in corporate wellness.

How would you describe your philosophy about living healthy?

Simplicity, in all aspects of life – everything from using simple ingredients in recipes to living “simply”: free of petty drama, making room for leisure, and having a sense of humor. Laughter is healthy.

How did you get started creating your passion into a business—when was your “ah-ha” moment?

I always had a peripheral interest in nutrition, but mainly saw myself as – and went to school to become – a journalist. In 2004, two days after graduating with a degree in journalism from NYU and knowing I didn’t want to go the traditional journalism route, I watched Morgan Spurlock’s Supersize Me. That documentary awakened something in me; I pretty much walked out of the theater and thought about going back to school for a degree in nutrition and finding a way to blend that with journalism.

You not only work as a dietitian but are also on the front line leading controversial, yet purposeful, talks about nutrition and health; what are you most passionate about in this field?

The way the food industry has spun science and confused the general public to its benefit. The clients I see each day are constant reminders of how successful industry is at that game. On a weekly basis, I’m either letting someone know that Special K cereal is not as healthy as they have been made to believe, that drinking fruit juice is not the same as eating fruit, or explaining why the term “natural” is meaningless. Initially people are frustrated by this new information, but they are ultimately thankful.

You work with large media brands, on TV, and magazines; what is your favorite outlet to share your information?

Every medium has its pros and cons. A three minute TV appearance is great exposure, but you can’t provide the same rich context you can in a 1,000 word op-ed where you are able to link back to eight other articles that people should take the time to read. Similarly, Twitter can be a fantastic way to share breaking news, absurd photos, and share articles that are worth a read, but it’s atrocious as far as engaging in substantive dialogue with anyone else. 

You’re often consulted to share what’s happening in the world of dietetics with the mainstream media, what is the most highly requested topic you speak of?

Most of my requests are not about dietetics itself but more about my analysis of food industry developments – more often than not a healthwashing claim, a vague pledge, or something self-congratulatory that, when you examine it closely, doesn’t mean much.

I was a huge fan of your blog which has no since stopped so you can focus on bigger projects (kudos!); as a dietitian what did you feel were the pros and cons about having a research focused blog versus, for example, a blog like mine more opinion/lifestyle based?

It ultimately comes down to what your strengths are and what you can offer. If it feels right for you, then that style is a pro for you. When I first started Small Bites, in 2007, I was starting my masters program in nutrition. Being in that academic setting naturally exposed me to a lot of research, so writing straight-forward nutrition science posts came naturally.

As time went on and I became more aware of – and informed about – issues of food politics, social justice, and food industry deception, I started incorporating more of that into my work. Once I had the science down, I felt comfortable sharing my opinions. I now mainly write opinion pieces, but in order to make them strong, I rely on nutrition science and research to back up my points. The only “con” is forcing yourself into a mold that isn’t a good fit for you. When it comes to a blog, overthinking is your worst enemy. If your content doesn’t align with your personality and interests, that awkwardness and lack of authenticity comes through.

I wholeheartedly wish I could say our dietetic profession is supportive of one another- but it’s not always the case. Many have old school thoughts on nutrition, healthy living, and diets. Have you received any criticism from other RD’s from the creation of DFPI [Dietitians For Professional Integrity, a group you co-founded and are the Strategic Director of, which advocates for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to sever its ties with sponsors like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, General Mills, and Kellogg’s]?

Yes, but as you learn in journalism from day one: consider the source. Most of the criticism stemmed from from dietitians who work for the food industry. And, of course, some of the leadership at AND wasn’t happy, to put it mildly. I’m sure my face is on many dartboards at AND headquarters in Chicago.

If so, how do you deal with said criticism?

For one, I separate criticism into two categories: constructive criticism from people who want to see me grow and succeed (the one worth heeding), and attacks from people who think tearing others down is a way to build themselves up (the one that goes in one ear and out the other). When I encounter extreme hostility, I remember that that level of aggression has nothing to do with me. I always like to say that self-loathing + misdirected anger + a keyboard + social media = a bad combination.

That said, I entered this territory willingly. When you are progressive, provocative, and point a flashlight at what many people like to keep in the dark, you are not always going to be popular. I knew some people were not going to like what I said about AND and the food industry, so those reactions were predictable. Ultimately, life goes on. You can’t rely on external validation for meaning and purpose.

How do you think our profession can support each other more?

If you enjoy another dietitian’s work, tell them. Share the work of other dietitians with your networks. And, please, remember you don’t have to agree on everything with your colleagues. Just because you and a colleague don’t see eye to eye on the healthfulness of eggs does not mean you can’t collaborate on a project or point to a well-researched blog post they wrote about the environmental footprint of beef.

Remember who was with you along the way. Not just who was with you when things weren’t going well, but also who was with you when things were going really well for you, too. Those are people who aren’t threatened by your success. They are good people.

What’s your favorite quote or mantra you can’t live without?

“He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.” – Harold Wilson

Progress is a given, it’s the timeline in which it happens that’s unpredictable. Whether you are talking slavery, suffrage, civil rights, or marriage equality, there were always people who tried to buckle down on the status quo, stigmatize activists, and claim the established way was the only right way. And, well, here we are now. There will undoubtedly come a time when health organizations accepting money from soda companies will be a relic. It could happen in five years, twenty years, or fifty years. I want to contribute my grain of sand to that development.

Who or what gives you the most inspiration?

Books I read and talks I listen to can really move me. Marion Nestle’s “Food Politics” and Michele Simon’s “Appetite for Profit” are two books that awakened something in me. After I read them, I felt inspired and purposeful. They both shaped my career. In Marion Nestle’s case (I’ve read her books and heard her speak on several occasions), I am always in awe of the way she masterfully connects dots, the way she can summarize a complex issue in a four sentences, and her knack for providing important historical context.

Michele Simon is a sharp critical thinker. She has taught me many things, but one of the most important ones is to dig deep into an issue and examine it from a critical lens. Their work is inspiring because it delivers something fresh and new.

Picture this; you’re living your most perfect day- what does this look like?

I would wake up and have a just-made iced almond and coconut milk latte on my nightstand.

Now what’s your actual typical day look like?

Alas, like any other commoner, I must start my day by actually driving to a coffeeshop to get my daily iced latte.

Fueling your body to keep mentally sharp and on your toes takes good food, what’s your typical meal for…

  • First thing upon waking: I am never hungry until about a half hour to an hour after I wake up.
  • Morning: I go through ruts. Right now I am in a muesli and coconut yogurt rut. Prior to that, it was Ezekiel toast with sunflower seed butter, maca, and cinnamon. And, before that, it was quinoa and oat porridge with shredded coconut and bananas,
  • Lunch: This time of year is the busiest for me at work, so it’s most convenient to I have “snack lunches”. For example, a handful of almonds, jicama or red bell pepper with hummus or guacamole, some lentil salad (I like to make a big batch of that a few times a month), and an apple. 
  • Supper: I eat bean-based dishes three or four times a week, usually with some sort of grain (brown jasmine rice cooked with a little coconut milk and lime juice is my favorite). When I’m feeling lazy, I’ll heat up two Qrunch quinoa patties (the spicy Italian is my favorite) and wrap it in an Ezekiel wrap with hummus, arugula, and nutritional yeast.
  • Snacks or sweets: Hail Merry tarts and macaroons are my favorite sweet treat.
  • Favorite beverage: GT Trilogy Kombucha, hands down!

Let’s talk about the whole foods movement, what are your thoughts on this?

I think it’s rather fractured at the moment. There are too many echo chambers. It’s why, three years ago, I wrote a piece for Grist on what I coined as “dietary tribalism,” which is utterly unhelpful and entirely ego-driven. I’m so over the Paleos snickering at the vegans and vice versa. It’s intellectually masturbatory. Last year I did a radio interview with a cattle rancher. When he first reached out to me with the idea, I was hesitant because we don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things, and I wasn’t interested in a heated debate on the radio. But, I had a feeling he was interested in true conversation, so I took him up on his offer.

We disagreed on some things, and agreed on others. For his listeners, it was unlike anything they had heard before. At the end of the interview he actually said that I was the first vegan that he invited to come on the show who took him up on his offer. The food movement needs more of that. We need to be okay with disagreement and take out the identity politics and the ego from it. Ultimately, if the food movement wants to make any strides, the vegans and the cattle ranchers are going to have to talk and find what issues they can collaborate on. Movements and revolutions are messy. They are supposed to take you out of your comfort zone.

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about dietitians?

That we put people on “diets”.

What are your personal favorite research resources? What things do you do to keep up to date with your profession?

Examine.com is fantastic for research on supplements and also to get in-depth analyses of the latest nutrition studies. Whenever a study makes headlines, I seek it out and read it, because too often, what the media reports is not an accurate reflection of what the study concluded.

What are your thoughts on the current fall out of ‘wellness gurus’ on social media, exaggerating their disease-to-health stories yet gaining popularity and profiting of these facades?

I always take a skeptical approach when “personalities” in the health field claim they have beat dozens of ailments and conveniently don’t have any records of said ailments. It’s all very slimy, and it’s why people need to investigate anyone who makes grandiose claims. Personally, I find the guru worship that sometimes happens in the nutrition and health field very disturbing. There are a number of snake oil salespeople in nutrition because it is one area where many people are desperate for hope and looking for silver bullets.

Besides, why should experts and authorities always come with heroic and hyperbolic stories of beating health struggles? That doesn’t make someone more knowledgeable. Look for solid knowledge and critical thinking above all else. Coincidentally, it’s the folks with some product, cleanse, protein powder, or meal plan to sell that try to hook others with grandiose stories of beating disease (by eating and drinking whatever they sell, of course!).

Are you working on any new research or projects?

My writing is usually in response to any nutrition matters making headlines, so every few weeks I am usually working on some new article or op-ed!

Lastly, why do you enjoy reading Nutrition Stripped!?

I enjoy your take on nutrition, and your recipes are fantastic.

So where can everyone keep up with you to learn more?

WebsiteTwitterFacebook

I hope you all enjoyed this interview and all of Andy’s amazing advice!

xx McKel

Share your thoughts

  • loved reading more about Andy.

  • I had never really heard of Andy until now, and I really appreciate his perspective. He really spells out the problem with the competitive attitude of people on different diets- it really has become so partisan and political! I agree that people need to learn to be able to discuss differences and learn from each other without judgement. Thank you so much for sharing this interview!

  • McKell, thanks for introducing me to Andy! I really like his perspective on things and his work on exposing the food industry and educating people on what real food is. At the University I went to (University of Guelph) – there were two streams of Nutrition – dietetics and Nutritional Science. I was in the later, but during my graduate program was invited to attend a Dietetics conference and was shocked to see all the diet pepsi and various other food companies that were there to sponsor and “educate”. Not to lump everyone in, but it really gave me a bleak outlook on the profession and pushed me to do more learning in the holistic nutrition space. Reading this site and connecting more with other dieticians who are trying to change that is truly inspiring. Amazing job to you both. xo

  • Love love love! Great interview with two wonderful people! xx Corinne

  • Totally agree with Andy’s comment about the ability to collaborate with people who you may not fully agree with. There is SO much (too much!) “us vs. them” happening in the world of health now, and egos seem to be getting in the way of an actual respectful dialogue and the possibility to learn from someone who has a different perspective as you.

  • McKel – this was my favourite of your interviews yet! I had never heard of Andy so absolutely loved this. So inspiring to read about people who take a stand for their views, despite big money influence and pressure. So many pertinent points too manh to comment on, but thank you for sharing this. And Andy – lovely to e-meet you.

    Kindest,
    Buffy

    • Hi Buffy! I’m happy you enjoyed this interview with Andy- he’s an amazing professional who stands up for a lot of us Dietitians and others in the industry- follow along with him on twitter for sure 🙂

    • Thank you for the kind words! Glad you enjoyed the interview. I appreciated McKel’s thoughtful questions.

    • Hi Buffy,

      Thank you for the kind words; glad you enjoyed the interview. I really appreciated McKel’s thoughtful questions.

  • tess

    Favorite interview you’ve ever done McKel!
    He’s someone I’ll be keeping an eye out for, thanks for the introduction 🙂

  • Teresa

    Your font/color is so difficult to read.

  • Shelley

    What a wonderful and inspiring interview! I’m a fellow RD and I love that you and Andy are such wonderful advocates of our profession! I also loved reading “Food Politics” in my masters program. It was such an eye opening book. I look forward to following his blog now and continuing to read yours as well! Cheers!

    • You’re so kind, thank you for the sweet words! I love Food Politics by Marion, she’s definitely a strong voice!

  • Kate

    Great interview, McKel! This is a great series. Interview/profile series usually bore me to tears but you are killing it with this one.

    • Thank you Kate! I like to think I’m only posting questions that I genuinely would like to hear and KNOW it could inspire others 🙂

cookbook-footer

See what wellness looks like #IRL

follow @nutritionstripped

Looking for something? Let's find it!

Terms & Conditions

Photography, recipe, and content Policy

Content
All content is copyright of Nutrition Stripped and shall not be copied, replicated, or duplicated. Please be courteous, respectful, and refrain from using it as your own. You may share a recipe or image only by contacting, referring, or directly linking back to Nutrition Stripped.

Photography and Recipe Policy 
We’re extremely flattered when asked to publish NS photography on a website or blog. We ask that if you’d like to share a recipe, photography, or content, you must get permission from the team first. Please keep in mind that all written content, photography, recipes, and general writing are copyrighted materials which have been a labor of love in the production of and have worked very hard to produce it.

Nutrition Stripped policy is as follows if you want to do the following:
To promote a recipe or photograph from my site You may post one photo as long as you give a direct link back to the post where you found the photograph/material including in the content a mention of McKel Hill, MS, RD from Nutrition Stripped. You may not republish the recipe itself. To use my photography for promotion other than sharing my original works you must request permission beforehand, a simple email will do. You may not republish my recipe or multiple recipes without direct permission. We occasionally allow other websites to post my recipes; which is decided at my discretion on a case-by-case basis and mostly with those we have an agreement with for example with my blog writing contributions. Please uphold the standards of the U.S. copyright laws for recipes and mycopyright policy.

 

Nutrition Stripped © 2016

Privacy Policy

Personal identification information
We may collect personal identification information from Users in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to, when Users visit our site, subscribe to the newsletter, and in connection with other activities, services, features or resources we make available on our Site. Users may be asked for, as appropriate, name, email address. Users may, however, visit our Site anonymously. We will collect personal identification information from Users only if they voluntarily submit such information to us. Users can always refuse to supply personally identification information, except that it may prevent them from engaging in certain Site related activities.

Non-personal identification information
We may collect non-personal identification information about Users whenever they interact with our Site. Non-personal identification information may include the browser name, the type of computer and technical information about Users means of connection to our Site, such as the operating system and the Internet service providers utilized and other similar information.

Web browser cookies
Our Site may use “cookies” to enhance User experience. User’s web browser places cookies on their hard drive for record-keeping purposes and sometimes to track information about them. User may choose to set their web browser to refuse cookies, or to alert you when cookies are being sent. If they do so, note that some parts of the Site may not function properly.

How we use collected information
Nutrition Stripped may collect and use Users personal information for the following purposes: To improve customer service, information you provide helps us respond to your customer service requests and support needs more efficiently. To personalize user experience, we may use information in the aggregate to understand how our Users as a group use the services and resources provided on our Site. To improve our Site, we may use feedback you provide to improve our products and services. To run a promotion, contest, survey or other Site feature. To send Users information they agreed to receive about topics we think will be of interest to them. To send periodic emails, we may use the email address to respond to their inquiries, questions, and/or other requests. If User decides to opt-in to our mailing list, they will receive emails that may include company news, updates, related product or service information, etc. If at any time the User would like to unsubscribe from receiving future emails, we include detailed unsubscribe instructions at the bottom of each email.

How we protect your information
We adopt appropriate data collection, storage and processing practices and security measures to protect against unauthorized access, alteration, disclosure or destruction of your personal information, username, password, transaction information and data stored on our Site. Sensitive and private data exchange between the Site and its Users happens over a SSL secured communication channel and is encrypted and protected with digital signatures.

Sharing your personal information
We do not sell, trade, or rent Users personal identification information to others. We may share generic aggregated demographic information not linked to any personal identification information regarding visitors and users with our business partners, trusted affiliates and advertisers for the purposes outlined above. We may use third party service providers to help us operate our business and the Site or administer activities on our behalf, such as sending out newsletters or surveys. We may share your information with these third parties for those limited purposes provided that you have given us your permission.

Changes to this privacy policy
Nutrition Stripped has the discretion to update this privacy policy at any time. When we do, we will revise the updated date at the bottom of this page and send you an email. We encourage Users to frequently check this page for any changes to stay informed about how we are helping to protect the personal information we collect. You acknowledge and agree that it is your responsibility to review this privacy policy periodically and become aware of modifications.

Third party links
Occasionally, at our discretion, we may include or offer third party products or services on our website. These companies may use non-personally identifiable information (e.g. click stream information, browser type, time and date, subject of advertisements clicked or scrolled over) during your visits to this and other Web sites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services likely to be of greater interest to you.  These companies typically use a cookie or third party web beacon to collect this information.  To learn more about this behavioral advertising practice visit the NAI at http://www.networkadvertising.org. To opt-out of this type of advertising, you can visit http://www.aboutads.info/choices.

By using this Site, you signify your acceptance of this policy and terms of service. If you do not agree to this policy, please do not use our Site. Your continued use of the Site following the posting of changes to this policy will be deemed your acceptance of those changes. Privacy policy created by http://www.generateprivacypolicy.com last modified on 7/31/13

We allow third party companies to serve ads and/or collect certain anonymous information when you visit our Web site.  These companies may use non-personally identifiable information (e.g. click stream information, browser type, time and date, subject of advertisements clicked or scrolled over) during your visits to this and other Web sites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services likely to be of greater interest to you.  These companies typically use a cookie or third party web beacon to collect this information.  To learn more about this behavioral advertising practice visit the NAI at http://www.networkadvertising.org. To opt-out of this type of advertising, you can visit http://www.aboutads.info/choices.

Disclosure Policy

Nutrition Stripped works with brands all over the globe that we can stand behind and that we know you’ll love too! Companies and brands will send me products to try or develop recipes with. Whenever I review or refer to a product that was provided to me, I will make it clear in the post, otherwise it is a product that I have purchased and will not necessarily mention in that post. 

Disclosure Policy
This policy is valid starting from 16 June 2013. This blog is a personal blog written and edited by Nutrition Stripped. For questions about this blog, please contact Support [at] nutritirionstripped [dot] com.

This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. This blog abides by word of mouth marketing standards. We believe in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post will be clearly identified as paid or sponsored content.

While this blog may be compensated for a review of a product or service, such compensation will never have an effect on the honest opinion that I present on this blog. If we claim or appear to be experts on a certain topic or product or service area, we will only endorse products or services that we believe, based on our expertise, are worthy of such endorsement. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. This blog does contain content which might present a conflict of interest. This content will always be identified.

Questions? Please e-mail Support [at] nutritionstripped [dot] com or refer to the FTC’s ruling on blogger disclosure: FTC Rules on Sponsored Conversations

Release of Liability
Any item promoted/advertised/sponsored on this site that you choose to partake in is your decision and I am not liable for any problems that arise including, but not limited to: not receiving products, receiving broken or damaged goods, seeing an item you bought go on sale after you buy it, technical difficulties with sites that I link to. Furthermore, any information you submit to any external site is at your own risk.

Affiliate Discretion Notice

Nutrition Stripped is a participant of several affiliate programs which is designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking directly to sources that Nutrition Stripped genuinely likes. If you click on any of those links, which are known as “affiliate links”, and make a purchase within a certain time frame, I’ll get a small commission. The commission is paid by the third parties, not by you! Affiliate links and resources earned help support my efforts here at Nutrition Stripped, thank you!

Need help? Support

T-shirt Size Chart

Size US Sizes UK Sizes AUS Sizes
Small (S) 2-4 32-34 6-8
Medium (M) 6-10 36-40 9-13
Large (L) 10-14 40-44 13-17

DON’T SEE YOUR SIZE LISTED?

No worries, just shoot us a quick email at [email protected] with SHOP in the subject and let us know what size you’re looking for and we’ll set you up!

Avocado Love t-shirt is made with super soft blend of 65% poly 35% viscose; it’s lightweight, flowy, hangs off the body and runs true to size. The boxy crop tee doesn’t show the tummy, just slightly when you raise your hands.

Matcha Matcha Matcha t-shirt is made with a durable 100% cotton blend. It runs a bit on the larger side, but shrinks an entire size due to the cotton.

Kale Made Me Do It t-shirt is made with super soft blend of 65% poly 35% viscose; it’s lightweight, flowy, hangs off the body and runs true to size. The sleeves are purposefully a little loose, hanging off the shoulders giving room to move.

Good Food Good Vibes t-shirt is made with super soft blend of 65% poly 35% viscose; it’s lightweight, flowy, hangs off the body and runs true to size. The sleeves have a deep scoop showing your side body more than a normal tank, great to show off a touch of your sports bra, lacy bra, or any tank underneath.

Each t-shirt is individually hand screen printed here in Nashville, TN by our friends Grand Palace Printing. Each design is printed multiple times to ensure quality color. A lot of love goes into making every single t-shirt, here’s how to take care of it when it gets to you:

+ Wash cold
+ Line dry or lay flat to dry to retain best color and size

Shop Support

Have questions about your order? Exchanges/returns, or just to share a testimonial of your experience with Nutrition Stripped? We’re happy to help answer any and all questions you might have. Please email us at [email protected].

Follow me on Snapchat

Send this to friend