Featured Member: Wendy Lopez, MS, RD, CDE

April 19, 2018

Featured Member Wendy Lopez

This month we are honored to feature DIFM member, Wendy Lopez, MS, RD, CDE! Wendy is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist and co-author of the 28 Day Plant-Powered Health Reboot. She is passionate about educating communities on plant-based eating, in ways that are accessible and culturally relevant. Working as a clinical dietitian in a community clinic in Port Chester, New York, Wendy focuses on disease prevention and management. She uses an integrative and individualized approach towards nutrition, health, and well-being. Wendy is also the co-founder of Food Heaven Made Easy, a multi-media platform for people who want to learn how to prepare plant-based meals that don’t require hours of laboring in the kitchen. Jess and I first started working together at farmers markets in the Bronx. Wendy was raised in the Bronx, with roots in the Dominican Republic. When not catching up on the latest nutrition science, you can find her cooking, traveling, basking in the sun, and obsessively working on home improvement projects.

What is your area of practice and how do you incorporate integrative and functional nutrition into your work?

In my clinical practice, I work mainly with Latino immigrants, providing culturally relevant care in the management of chronic conditions. I try to be as present as possible when listening to their experiences and stories, and use that to inform our counseling sessions. This acknowledgement goes a long way in developing a strong relationship with clients. I use the integrative approach to assess for signs/symptoms, stress, spirituality, and other factors that may impact their health.

In my business, I aim to bring more visibility to integrative and functional nutrition by interviewing different health professionals who can offer their expertise as it relates to looking at nutrition in an integrative way. It’s a really fun way to learn from other people doing groundbreaking work in their fields!

What are some of the results you have seen since integrating functional nutrition into your practice area?

Patients are so grateful to have healthcare providers who will listen to them without judgement or shame. I am a big proponent of patient-centered care, which integrative and functional medicine advocates for. As providers, it’s so important that we really listen to our patient’s needs, and use that to inform our approach. Patients should play an active role in their treatment, and as providers, it’s our responsibility to facilitate this.

The take home message is that culturally relevant care matters.
- Wendy Lopez, MS, RD, CDE

How does your culture influence your work?

My family is from the Dominican Republic. I have seen the sigh of relief from my parents and other family members, when they get a provider who makes a genuine effort to understand their culture and language. The take home message is that culturally relevant care matters. It improves the relationship between patient and provider, which in turn leads to improved health outcomes. And the great thing is that everyone can practice culturally relevant care. Even if you don’t identify with a patient’s culture, there are things you can do to improve connection and understanding. By asking questions, and approaching nutrition with a open and curious mind vs imposing onto people what you think they should be doing, we can all become better practitioners.

Where have you completed most of your training in integrative and functional nutrition?

I did not complete any formal training, but have attended a number of workshops and seminars on the topic that have been very useful in understanding IFM.

Wendy Lopez

What advice would you give anyone interested in learning more about integrative and functional nutrition?

I would recommend working alongside dietitians who are practicing IFM. There are also so many great online resources for IFM to take advantage of! It’s such an exciting time to be a dietitian, especially because there are a number of opportunities to really cultivate your own kind of career path within the field. Integrative and functional nutrition is such a fascinating area, and there are so many creative ways to incorporate it into our practice!

Thank you for taking the time to share such valuable insights with us, Wendy!