This month, we are thrilled to introduce Nutrition Advisory Board Member, Alison Tierney, MS, RD, CD, CSO. Alison is a registered dietitian that is board-certified in oncology nutrition and owner of private nutrition practice, Wholesome LLC. While specializing in oncology nutrition, her expertise goes beyond cancer and involves helping others with the management of chronic diseases with a focus on a whole food, plant-based diet. Alison frequently shares her nutrition expertise and personal experiences with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) as an expert podcast guest and speaker. Thank you to Alison for sharing her inspiring career and valuable insights!
1. We would love to hear about your journey toward becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Why did you decide to pursue this profession?
If you look back at my high school yearbook, you’ll find me in the feature “Where Will You Be in 10 Years?” saying I would be a dietitian. But my career didn’t start on that path. After high school, I went to business school where I received a B.A. in Business Management with Leadership & Management since it felt like the right path as my family is full of entrepreneurs. During my time pursuing that degree, a nutrition class turned out to be my favorite class and turned me back to my original dream of becoming a dietitian.
After graduation and turning down a job offer in the financial field, along with the encouragement of my now husband, I went back to school to become a dietitian after my passion for nutrition grew after several of my family members were diagnosed with cancer. I couldn’t help but wonder, ‘How could nutrition have altered these paths? Could it help with prevention? During treatment? In survivorship?’ I sought every opportunity that I could to get oncology nutrition experience and I was fortunate enough to find several opportunities. I became increasingly passionate about the power of food and nutrition to prevent, fight, and manage cancer.
Since then, my passion for oncology and chronic disease nutrition has only grown. Although my journey to becoming a RDN wasn’t the traditional path many take, it was the perfect path for me and I’m fortunate enough to be in the perfect career for me – an entrepreneur registered dietitian.
2. What is the most rewarding part of the work you do?
There is no doubt the field of oncology and chronic disease nutrition presents its challenges – especially as an entrepreneur. However, the most rewarding part of my work is watching individuals change their lives by helping to empower them with food and nutrition. I believe my work goes above and beyond what someone eats, but the journey for them to live their best life. Watching these transformations makes all of the challenges that come with it absolutely worth it!
3. What is one of the most frequently asked question that you receive from patients and what are your recommendations?
As registered dietitian focused on a plant-based nutrition approach, the most frequently asked question I receive is if it’s difficult for an individual to meet their nutrition needs through plants alone. And although there is a bit of a learning curve for an individual who didn’t grow up with a plant-based lifestyle, it is easier than most believe it is. I focus on meeting an individual with where they are at and help them work towards their ultimate goal with small, intermediate goals along the way. Whether an individual seeks to have an entirely plant-based diet or simply a plant-forward approach (both are great!), I recommend starting by adding whole, plant-based foods rather than focusing on the elimination of certain foods. Shifting one’s mindset to this approach makes the transition to a completely nourishing plant-based lifestyle not only easier, but also delicious!
4. What area of nutrition research are most interesting to you?
Practicing with evidence-based nutrition is incredibly important to me! Although a lot of nutrition research interests me, I’m very interested in seeing more information related to nutrition approaches during cancer treatment as it relates to side effect management, in addition to the gut microbiome – where research continues to explode!
5. What interested you in becoming a member of the Orgain Nutrition Advisory Board?
I have recommended Orgain products to my oncology patients for many years due to the company’s focus on clean ingredients and nutrition. I value Orgain’s approach to creating products to meet the many needs of individuals with different nutrition preferences, including the plant-based and vegan lifestyle. To be part of the Orgain Nutrition Advisory Board, along with many incredible nutrition experts, I found it as an excellent opportunity to contribute to continued advancement in the nutrition field and nutrition product marketplace with an evidence-based nutrition approach while helping to meet the needs of consumers who place a high value on their overall health.