Maria Dello began her love for health while working in a health food store, intrigued by the ability to help others live a healthy lifestyle.
She later became a nutritionist and started her own practice in Plandome called Dello Nutritionals, where she works to achieve healthy lifestyles for all of her patients by improving what they eat instead of taking food away, hoping to combat the current obesity epidemic.
“You try to do the fundamentals like exercising, drinking water, all the things we’re brought up with,” said Dello. “Somehow, some way we lost those fundamentals, so I think we all need a little refresher course in healthy lifestyle with the fundamentals of what we were brought up with.”
Today, people seem to be busier than ever and Dello said she finds that many of her patients are eating at their desks or on the go and some dine out most days of the week. Dello stresses that customized meal plans and schedules are important to achieving a healthy lifestyle.
“I take real-time nutrition and put it in the everyday,” said Dello. “Someone might say they work and go to school so they want to know how to fit health into their schedule. I figure out exactly what they have to do and weave in a plan that will be conducive to their lifestyle. I make it easy for them. I sort of walk the talk too. Whatever I recommend I already know it’s good because it’s the one I eat. I’ve done the homework for them too.”
When patients begin with Dello, she will give them a full evaluation including a body fat scan that tells the amount of body fat and water present in the body, complete measurements, do a family history assessment, examine their food log and administer an individualized plan. Dello attributes the success she has with patients to her constant support and availability.
“I treat my patients like I would family,” said Dello. “They get full support through email and phone and they get results with the support. With the kids that go to college, the freshman 15 now turned into the freshman 20. During the week, I Facetime and Skype with college patients. They tell me the restaurants around them and the school lunches each week and we decipher the best choices. They can send pictures of the food and log the food using different programs and apps.”
Dello believes that a healthy lifestyle and combating obesity begins at an early age. It is important for a family to shop together and for parents to get to know what their children like and don’t like, said Dello. The refrigerator should be stocked with healthy options like fruits and vegetables from when children are young. There are also so many healthy alternatives out there today that if a child wants to eat a cookie, he or she can have the healthier option. Beginning early creates awareness of what one is eating and drinking, said Dello.
Getting professional help can also combat the obesity epidemic as there can be friction between parents and children regarding eating habits. Parents may become the food police, causing kids or teens to rebel. Getting a nutritionist allows kids and teens to take ownership of what they eat Dello added.
“I make kids feel comfortable that there’s someone who they can go to about their weight,” said Dello. “I administer the tools for a healthy lifestyle.”
Another contributor to the obesity epidemic appears to be sports drinks, she explained. “Tons of kids run to supermarkets and buy sugary sport drinks or protein powder and they don’t know what they’re buying. It’s important for kids to start reading labels because some sports drinks could be doing more harm than good. I don’t take away things. I give them a healthier version, like alternative sports drinks.”
Some tips Dello gives to lose weight include the five-minute rule, the three-bite rule and integration. If one is craving sweets late at night, they can eat one cookie, but must wait five minutes after. After five minutes one’s willpower should kick in and the need for the sweets should pass. The three-bite rule is used when out with friends. If a friend makes a dessert, you can take three bites of it, being polite, getting a little taste, but not eating too much. Integrating certain healthy habits becomes part of the lifestyle. If one does not drink water each day, they can leave water in their fridge, at their desk or on their nightstand, so it is the first drink option available.
“Kids need guidance, customization and be taught how to work healthy nutrition into their life,” said Dello. “They need to concentrate not on quick fixes, but on gaining muscle, feeling optimal and not deprivation of nutrients or starving oneself.”
For more information about Dello Nutritionals, visit www.dellonutritionals.com or call 516-365-1222.