It doesn’t matter how many hours you pour into your gym workouts — a diet laden in excess sugar, fats, carbohydrates and sodium will derail your attempts to look svelte and healthy.
Diet and exercise are a package deal: To achieve the body of your dreams, you can’t have one without the other.
If you’re already quite proud of your workout regimen but could use some help fixing up your diet, these 23 nutritionists in Chicago (surrounding communities) can work with you to do just that.
Kate Merkle of Kate Merkle Nutrition earned her bachelor’s in human nutrition and food science from Colorado State University and her master’s in public health from Benedictine University in Lisle. She works with individuals and groups, offering nutritional assistance, fitness help, eating disorder support and advice on how to eat mindfully.
Once you learn what you should be eating for a better you, take one of Merkle’s cooking classes so you can prepare these dishes at home anytime.
Allison B. Shudnow
Allison B. Shudnow specializes in changing the lives of those with eating disorders such as night eating syndrome, bulimia nervosa, binge eating, anorexia and related conditions. She offers a 60-minute initial consultation where her patients can discuss what their diet is like now and how they want to change it.
Over time, Shudnow teaches her patients what a healthy, nutritious diet should be and then has follow-up sessions to track their progress. She also offers a Restaurant Dining Group to reduce nervousness about eating in public.
The owner of RDKate Sports Nutrition in Naperville, Kate Davis earned her master’s degree in human nutrition from Michigan State University and has worked at Colorado Springs’ USA Olympic Training Facility, Florida’s IMG Academy and the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Systems.
In a group or on your own, learn all about using dietary supplements, smartly dining at restaurants, what to eat for more energy, how to prevent sports injuries and heal from these quicker, how to exercise more efficiently, and how to tone your body. You can choose from a number of packages, some for quick results and others intended for the long haul.
Lara Field created Forming Early Eating Decisions (FEED) in 2008. Having studied at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Rush University, Lurie’s Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University, she has appeared on Chicago news shows to get people interested in FEED.
“My mission is to help clients cut through the ‘food noise’ with nutrition counseling that’s personalized, based on science and rooted in reality,” Field says. She offers school consultations, gluten-free and celiac disease food planning, in-home meal preps, personal shopping at the grocery store, food allergy management, and family meal planning.
Deerfield’s JEM Nutrition Services, which has served the area for more than 15 years, is led by Judy Manisco. She earned Citysearch Chicago’s award for Best Nutrition and Weight Loss Plans – Programs in Illinois, which is unsurprising because she has more than 30 years of experience in nutrition.
Manisco studied at Benedictine University, earning her bachelor’s in nutrition and medical dietetics. Besides her weight loss coaching and nutritional help for those with medical or dietary conditions, she remakes restaurant menus, preps food with personal chefs, helps mothers eat smartly before and after delivering their baby, and even offers quick weight loss programs for future brides.
Jennifer Vimbor keeps busy between working at Chicago’s Biggest Loser Resort as its senior dietician and running Nutrition Counseling Services, which was founded in 2003. She ventured to New York to obtain her master’s in nutrition education and has since become a licensed and registered dietician nutritionist.
Whether you need a plan to achieve weight loss or you are dealing with medical conditions that affect weight, Vimbor’s nutrition counseling and medical nutrition therapy can guide you to becoming healthier.
Having been featured in Simply Gluten-Free Magazine, the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, the Gluten & Allergy-Free Expo, Gluten Intolerance Group, GF Magazine and Chat With Women, Elyse Wagner.
She pushes for women to achieve their most fabulous selves with her FAB Camp, an online course spanning eight weeks that “teaches you how to create health and happiness using an inside-out approach.” Wagner has also written a book called Smoothie Secrets Revealed, which includes all sorts of natural recipes and is available as an ebook.
A Chicago nutritionist, Christine Sinak of Peacemeal Nutrition Therapy studied at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (where she got her Bachelors of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition) and Tufts University (where she had a dietetic internship and got her Masters of Science in Clinical Nutrition).
She focuses on sports nutrition, cardiovascular wellness, weight management, intuitive eating and eating disorders. Go for group coaching or work with Sinak personally, learning all about intuitive eating. Ask about the city dining support group for those recovering from an eating disorder and rejoining friends and family for meals at restaurants.
Vicki Shanta Retelny
A New York transplant from the Long Island area, Vicki Shanta Retelny is now entrenched in Chicagoland’s dietetic scene, having joined the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Nutrition Entrepreneurs (as a chairperson) and the Food & Culinary Professionals (as an executive committee member). Retelny has a catchy philosophy that she tries to impart on all her clients, which she calls the EVOLVE mantra:
- E — Enjoy real food first
- V — Venture into cooking
- O — Only eat when eating
- L — Liven up meals with spices
- V — Vary your palate
- E —Excite your senses
Learn healthy eating habits and prepare fresh meals for your family each night with Patrick Eley and his site, FEED Yourself. This Chicago-based doctor created the site as a resource for learning how to better care for yourself. Besides recipes, you can also find videos, a podcast, a journal with lots of great information and recommended products for all areas of your life.
“My gift is the ability to synthesize this information for you, to weed out the garbage and let you know where you should really be focusing your efforts,” Eley writes. He also coaches people who need even more help than what you can find on his site.
Having personally recovered from an eating disorder, Allie LeFevere was inspired to help other women healthfully meet their weight loss goals. You can sign up for short-term courses such as Wild Worth, Lit Up or 100 Days of Self Love.
Camp Lively and Beauty Escapade are classified as adventures while she also has playshops called Fearlessly Naked (for feeling good about yourself without your clothes on) and Beauty Experiment (for self-love).
Need more? LeFevere also does coaching like the One + Done Jam Sesh for a preview of her teachings or the Alive + Unleashed Together course for real weight loss results.
Dawn Jackson Blatner
A nutrition expert for Fitness Magazine’s advisory board, a Huffington Post nutrition and food blogger and Chicago Cubs’ nutrition consultant, Dawn Jackson Blatner is a results-oriented nutritionist and dietician.
She teaches nutrition courses, offers group workshops and individual appointments, and even acts as a product spokesperson. Before you book your first consultation, browse through Blatner’s website, which is full of recipes, workout products and links to books that can help you meet your weight loss goals while you’re between sessions.
An Alaska native, Kelly Simms grew up in a family of physician’s assistants, urologists and nurses. This inspired her to go to North Carolina State University, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering. Now located in Chicago, Simms offers several services that have changed her clients’ lives for the better.
Manage your metabolic health and hormones, and learn how food sensitivity negatively affects your skin, digestive system, muscles and joints. Simms only works with one person at a time to give everyone the attention and care she believes they deserve.
As a member of the American Overseas Dietetic Association and the American Dietetic Association, Renee Clerkin is always learning more about her field. She got her bachelor’s in applied health science from Indiana University and then went to Ball State University for a dietetic internship before settling in Chicago.
Her website is chock full of recipes, suggestions for food basics that you should always have stocked in your pantry, a virtual meal planner, and a blog with plenty of useful information. She can meet in person or over Skype to discuss how to deal with food sensitivities, and she can help you whittle down your weight. Clerkin also specializes with working with those with polycystic ovary syndrome.
As a personal trainer, fitness chef and holistic nutritionist, Ashley Pettit often shares her knowledge of whole-body health on radio shows and podcasts. Her website is a treasure trove for health, green living, nutrition and fitness information with blog posts and recipes. She’ll hop on Skype for consultations and will even exercise with you through the video chatting service. Pettit offers individualized training at her studio, the workplace or your home.
If you and your family or friends want to get in shape together, try her boot camp classes for at least four people. Her nutrition services include a kitchen cleanup, a metabolic exam (where you can learn about the 10 homeostatic control systems) and instructions on how to shop better at the grocery store.
An eating psychology teacher, a certified health coach, and an integrative health and lifestyle practitioner, Karen Malkin has appeared on Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks, the Sun-Times’ Splash and Sports Medicine Weekly on ESPN Radio.
She’s best-known for her 14-day transformation packages, where you can delve into how to avoid environmental toxins for better health, understand your own metabolism to make good eating choices, and establish the foundations of healthy dieting.
Michelle Gillespie used to have a terrible diet, so she personally understands what it takes to make lifestyle changes to transform and tone your body. She offers a variety of individualized programs:
- 90 Days to Health & Happiness will teach you to manage stress, how to avoid sabotaging yourself, how to make goals and stick with them, how to reduce your diet-wrecking cravings and how to prepare your meals ahead of time.
- Her Jumpstart program will teach you how to shop for nutritious food, clean out your kitchen cabinets and better understand food labels.
Evanston-based Allegra Burton a studied extensively to become a registered dietician nutritionist, including at UCLA, where she earned a Master of Public Health. She specializes in kids’ nutrition to prevent obesity during early development.
If you’re taking your children, you might as well stick around for Burton’s consultation for adults, where she’ll talk to you about your current diet and what kind of body you want. She can go grocery shopping with you and can also make over your refrigerator.
With clients of almost all ages, Stephanie Torba has more than 20 years of experience as a licensed personal trainer and a certified holistic nutritionist. Not only can you learn a new thing or two about working out from Torba, but you can also get your diet on track. Her individual packages include eight elements to improve your diet and nutrition from every possible angle:
- Food coaching on Skype or on the phone so you always make the right choice when eating;
- Coping coaching that teaches you how to sleep better, how to handle stress, how to mindfully breathe and how to meditate;
- Metabolic detoxification for 10 days;
- Dietary education if you are thinking about becoming a vegetarian or a vegan so you can make an informed decision;
- Reviews of the latest supplements so you can decide whether these are right for you;
- Hourly fitness regimens;
- Home pantry cleanouts; and
- Grocery shopping trips so you know just what to shop for.
As a former president of the North Suburban Dietetic Association of Illinois and a current member of the Illinois Dietetic Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Sue Rose at My Diet Matters has nearly 40 years of nutritional experience.
She offers one-on-one and group consultations with workplaces or families. Follow-up appointments assess your nutritional goals and how close you are to meeting them.
Katie Goldberg studied neuroscience at the College of William and Mary and earned her master’s degree in clinical nutrition from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. She’s since started calling Chicago her home, where she set up her own private practice in 2013.
Her Holiday Challenge will help you keep the pounds off this year into the next. For the rest of the year year, Goldberg offers sports nutrition, medical nutrition therapy and nutritional counseling.
Jessica Coral Allender
A professional chef (who studied at the California Culinary Academy) with a bachelor’s from Drexel University in food and nutrition science and a master’s from Rush University in clinical nutrition, Jessica Coral Allender at Coral Nutrition Coach understands dieting inside and out.
Make sure to browse through the healthy recipes on her website and explore her coaching programs for individuals or for families. If you have a medical condition such as irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, Crohn’s disease or celiac disease, Allender can help you choose dishes that don’t exacerbate these conditions.
Karen Raden has helped a wide variety of clients, including those with thyroid problems, autoimmune disorders, hypertension, seizures, eating disorders and ADD and ADHD. She understands that everyone’s nutrition goals are different and that there are multiple ways to reach those goals.
You can buy packages for four or eight sessions and you can always request follow-up consultations. The Come Clean with Karen detox is an intensive two-week program where you take supplements, eat light meals and drink cleansing smoothies with protein for your best body yet.