Do you find yourself Googling, "are my gut issues...normal?" We got you. We are bringing on future Registered Dietician Molly Pelletier (@zucchini.who) to answer our questions and share more about her expertise, the mind-gut connection with our readers.
*Disclaimer: this article is not a substitute for treatment, medical advice, and/or diagnosis by a registered MD.
Gut discomfort is one of the worst feelings in the world. Many of us struggle with these issues, whether it is an occasional pain from a particular food group or a constant struggle. As the founder of Dear Diary XO, a platform that strives to provide relatable content and advice, it felt important to me to discuss this topic, which is often taboo within society. It is also a topic that is highly personal to me. I was diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) at the beautiful age of sixteen. As a dramatic sixteen-year-old, this diagnosis felt like the end of the world. I was mortified, and as my stomach issues worsened in high school, so did my anxiety disorder. When I went to college, things got much better for me. I learned how to navigate life with my condition, got on the right medications, figured out my trigger foods, and felt a lot more confident about myself, in general. As a twenty-three-year-old, who has been dealing with this diagnosis for nearly seven years, I am a huge advocate for talking about gut health with my friends, family, and strangers alike, so why not talk about it on DD?
Now, more than ever before, there is so much more information about gut health and excellent accounts to follow on social media. I started following @zucchini.who a couple of months ago for her killer recipes and insight. Shortly after, I reached out to Molly to participate in an interview for Dear Diary XO because, as a future RD, Molly has fantastic advice to share with anyone struggling with their gut health. From severe conditions to occasional discomfort, gut health is vital for everyone, and it is nothing to be embarrassed by. Keep reading for more information from the fantastic Molly Pelletier, @zucchini.who.
DD: Introduce yourself to our Dear Diary readers.
Molly: "Hi guys! My name is Molly from @zucchini.who, and I am currently completing my MS in Nutritional Science at Boston University, where I also completed my BS in Nutritional Science. I started my IG page about three years ago because I wanted to share nutrition information and healthy lifestyle tips that have significantly improved my life. I was also tired of seeing so much false nutrition information/diet trends promoted on social media. Nutrition can be extremely confusing and misleading in the media today, so I wanted to make a platform that offered healthy eating and recipes that were accessible, fun, and simple."
"On my page, I pull inspiration from science and evidence-based nutrition. My nutrition philosophy is rooted in food flexibility and digestive health, which I think really go hand in hand. A few years ago, I studied meditation/ yoga in Bali. Since then, I’ve been passionate about sharing meditation tips and tools that have significantly impacted my life in the best way. I also have a youtube channel where I share lots of gut health tips, yoga classes, and free guided meditations."
DD: Have you always wanted to pursue a career in health and wellness? When did you become interested in gut health?
Molly: “Yes, I have always wanted to pursue a career in health/wellness. However, I became interested in gut health after going through a 2-year journey with IBS and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. With my background in nutritional science and my own experiences, I shifted my platform to share more about digestion and gut health in the hopes it may help others who also struggle with IBS/GERD."
DD: In the past year, I have noticed that many popular TikTok videos are normalizing these issues; as a healthcare professional, what are the positives and negatives of this normalization?
Molly: "I love normalizing digestive issues because SO many people struggle! Whenever anyone feels embarrassed by symptoms or bodily functions, I always say, 'There is nothing you can say that would surprise or disgust me. I talk about poop all day long!' Our body is great at sending us messages via our poop, symptoms, monthly cycle, and the list is truly endless. There is nothing to be ashamed about. I truly believe that when you share your authenticity, it allows others to do the same."
DD: What is your advice to people who think they may have gut issues or need to stabilize their gut health?
Molly: “Firstly, see a Gastroenterologist in order to rule out any serious conditions. Second, get a referral to a GI or gut-health specialized Registered Dietitian. There are so many people out there claiming to provide 'healing' and gut-health nutrition advice, but it's important to see someone credible and trustworthy."
“If you do not have IBS and are simply looking to boost gut health, the best way to do this is to eat a wide variety of plant-based foods such as fruits, veggies, legumes, and whole grains."
DD: What are some of your favorite accounts to find gut health recipes and life hacks?
DD: What advice do you wish you would have known as a post-grad? Best advice you have ever received?
Molly: “Recently, the best advice I have ever received is to 'savor the days.' We get so busy and caught up in our daily lives that it's easy to miss the beauty of our days. I have to remind myself to slow down and enjoy my life!"
DD: Where can our audience find more information from you?
DD: Now, for our final question of each interview, what now?
Molly: “After finishing my MS in Nutritional Science, I hope to open my own nutrition practice as a Registered Dietitian and help individuals heal from reflux and IBS."