Advanced Nutrition Consultants
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Dietitians launch practice in East Norriton
By Gary Puleo, The Times Herald
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
EAST NORRITON>>Helping you become a healthier you.
With that credo lighting the way, two prominent dietitians with 25 years of experience between them have ventured into the world of private practice with Advanced Nutrition Consultants, LLC.
Many may remember registered dietitians Trish Casey and Wendy Dickerman from their days guiding clients toward healthy eating habits through Sodexo services at then-Mercy Suburban Hospital.
When new owner Prime Healthcare Services discontinued the dietary benefit offered by the once Catholic hospital earlier this year, the women suddenly found themselves heeding the call of entrepreneurship.
“We lost our jobs when Prime laid off all the vendors,” recalled Casey, who earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Penn State University and launched her career in the nutrition field helping to improve the diets of seniors in long-term care.
“In our last 90 days of work we were getting all these calls from patients looking to book appointments, and we couldn’t find where to book them appointments, and that’s when we realized there was really a need out there. We talked about starting the business and decided, ‘Let’s just do it.’ ”
Dickerman, who has a Bachelor of Science degree from Immaculata University and had mentored Casey early on — “Wendy taught me what a dietitian does and led me to the career I have now,” Casey said — allowed that there was no doubt that the area was home to potential clients who welcomed the nutritional therapy the partners were well equipped to offer in a private setting.
As registered dietitians, Dickerman and Casey belong to a far more credentialed field than that of nutritionist, with the education and clinical expertise to back up their titles.
With their market targeted, Dickerman and Casey quickly settled into a ready-made space at the offices of Wendy’s husband, Dr. William Dickerman, at 190 W. Germantown Pike, East Norriton, and opened their doors to all manner of clients seeking their expertise in medical nutrition therapy, an approach to managing medical needs via mindful eating rather than the restrictive limits of rigid dieting.
“Dietitians have different expertise. Some might specialize in eating disorders. Another might be a renal dietitian at a dialysis unit. It’s really individualized,” Casey said. “For kidney disease you really want to see a registered dietitian, someone who can really evaluate you and tailor a diet to your needs. We get referrals from primary physicians, cardiologists, endocrinologists.”
In addition to guiding those with medical issues, the women also see clients with weight loss goals, as well as healthy individuals who simply want to nudge the health-sustaining odds in their favor.
“Our primary focus is wellness and helping you to be the healthiest you,” Dickerman said.
Occasionally turning to fitness apps like My Fitness Pal is a good way to keep calories in check without becoming a slave to daily calculations, Casey noted.
“We might give them ideas of where their calorie range should be but we don’t tell them they need to count every single day,” she said. “We’re all about lifestyle changes, but it’s not really a lifestyle to count every single calorie you’re burning or eating. It’s more about enjoying your food, so a fitness app is more of a tool to use every once in a while.”
Taking clients on label-reading tours through supermarkets is often an eye-opener for them, Dickerman noted.
“Healthy eating starts right here, where you’re buying your food, and making the right decisions,” she pointed out.
A properly stocked shopping cart is simply the first step to staying on a healthful course, the women agreed.
“Meal planning is the other thing. If you don’t plan ahead you tend not to make the healthiest choices,” said Casey, who likes to use a hunger scale to help clients get in tune with their level of appetite.
“It’s a scale where 10 is so stuffed you can feel sick and 0 is where you’re so hungry you’ll eat a piece of paper,” she said. “We try to start eating around a 3 or 4 and stop at a satiety level of 6 or 7.”
Weight loss and other health-oriented targets are established during that all-important initial visit, with follow-up appointments centered on tweaking those goals.
“The first visit is about getting to know them, their lifestyle, medications, what they do for a living, medical history, if they have pets,”
Dickerman said. “The first visit sets a baseline and future visits compare the numbers to what they are that day. I’ve seen a couple of patients who were horrified at that first number and I tell them not to worry about it because they will see progress. It’s a good motivator. If they don’t see pounds lost on the scale, they’ll see loss of body fat, so it’s about body composition overall.
“On the follow-up appointments,” she added, “we tweak those goals and congratulate them on what they’ve achieved and see what issues they need help on.”
As the women grew the business with visits to wellness-minded corporations and a pop- up pumpkin-showcasing appearance at Jim and Ralph’s Produce in Collegeville — “they gave us produce and said ‘make something,’ Casey said, laughing — they achieved a unique milestone on Nov. 1 when they began accepting health insurances such as Independence Blue Cross, Aetna and Highmark.
“I think the message that most insurances cover 100 percent of the cost of a dietitian will surprise people,” Dickerman said. “It’s really a win-win that you can see a dietitian for free. So why not learn a little bit about eating healthy, even if you don’t have any health or weight concerns?”
For more information, call 610-229-9060 or visit www.advancednutritionconsultants.com.