Meet Christina Kamilaris, MS, RDN, CDN, CSSD — a Montclair resident with Bergen County roots that is a registered dietician and sports nutritionist with eight years of experience. Through her own local private practice called Veggies n Spice, Christina is able to help New Jersey and New York residents individualize their nutrition plans and take control of their health. She is also a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, and provides sports nutrition counseling and athletic team presentation and workshops at New York University (NYU). We had the chance to chat with Christina about her life as a dietician and the benefits her practice provides to the local community. Read on for more about Christina and what she does through Veggies n Spice.
The Montclair Girl: How long have you lived and/or worked in the Montclair area?
Christina Kamilaris: Outside of working with students and athletes at NYU, I have a local private practice, and am available for individual sessions through veggiesnspice.com. I have lived in Montclair since 2019. The practice accepts insurance and is 100% virtual through a HIPAA-compliant platform. I see clients in both NJ and NY.
MG: Tell us about your business.
CK: Covering weight concerns, medical conditions, hormone balance, sports nutrition, and more, I help customize clients’ nutrition, regain confidence, and take control of their health. Nutrition is very individualized, so it’s important to understand what’s right for you and not what the internet is telling you.
MG: What inspired you to start your health + wellness journey?
CK: Understanding how nutrition influences disease and how you feel, inspired me to become a registered dietitian. It’s not just about weight loss, it’s about feeling good each and every day and having a healthy relationship with food.
MG: What are the most frequently asked questions about dieting + how do you answer them?
CK: “Should I follow keto?” The short answer is no. Although keto can work, it’s not sustainable for everyone and can result in an unhealthy relationship with food, resulting in on and off-dieting. It’s also important to get blood work and ensure you are not affecting your lipid panel as there is research that if it’s not done correctly it can result in elevated LDL cholesterol.
MG: What tips would you offer someone who has never dieted before?
CK: Don’t! If there is something you aren’t able to follow for life, the weight will creep up over time, which means the diet didn’t work. Instead, we work on an intuitive eating approach to help clients still eat their favorites but the focus shifts to nourishing foods while meeting their goals.
MG: What supplements do you recommend women aged 20-50 to take?
CK: I recommend a food-first approach. During counseling sessions, I evaluate the clients’ typical eating habits and make recommendations based on what they are lacking. In general, many can benefit from a maintenance dose of Vitamin D (1000 IU), Omega 3’s, and magnesium. Eating 1-2 Brazil nuts daily is also recommended as a supplement for optimal selenium intake. It’s important to look at one’s medical history, dietary habits, and medications before supplements can be recommended.
MG: How would you recommend sticking to a meal plan when you’re out with friends?
CK: Don’t save up calories for a night out. Aim to eat every 3-4 hours so you don’t get too hungry, which can lead to overeating at meals. Following the plate method and always having at least 50% veggies helps to incorporate filling components in the meal, lowering the overall calories. Veggies are pretty difficult to get with a meal at a restaurant so I encourage people to split an appetizer salad or side of veggies to go along with their entree.
MG: What are your goals for this year?
CK: Continue making nutrition education accessible to many by providing virtual sessions and accepting insurance. A personal goal is to get my 1.5-year-old to continue to eat her veggies, and to make sure her daycare always offers them. Advice for any moms out there, continue to offer them in different ways without pressure. When they see you eat them, they will catch on.
MG: What does a typical day look like for you?
CK: Aside from being a mom and providing one-on-one counseling sessions. I am a sports dietitian and work as a university counseling student. I also make a habit of moving my body in healthy ways like strength training, HIIT workouts, walks, or runs.
MG: What has been the highlight in your career/life so far?
CK: Helping people make lasting changes in their lives, especially with disease management like reversing diabetes, the risk for stroke and heart attacks, with proper education. One recent client reversed their prediabetes and is no longer considered prediabetic. Another was able to use diet to reverse their high blood pressure and get off their medication. Those are some of the highlights I look back on.
MG: Anything else you want to share about Montclair, yourself, or your business?
CK: The practice accepts insurance and many insurance plans cover preventative nutrition visits at 100%. For a detailed explanation of what to ask your insurance visit: https://www.veggiesnspice.com/insurance. In addition to scheduled counseling sessions, clients also are able to text me through a HIPAA-compliant platform for in-between support.
MG: What is your favorite restaurant in Montclair?
CK: My family’s from Cyprus so Middle Eastern spots are my go-to, MishMish by far has the best chicken shawarma, zaatar potatoes, and shakshuka.
MG: What do you love most about Montclair?
CK: The restaurants and downtown. There’s always something to explore on the weekends.
MG: What is your favorite thing to do in Essex County?
CK: Summer concerts at Brookdale Park.
MG: Tell us about another business in the area you admire.
CK: Pineapple Express is the only place in town where we can get drinks with friends that also has fun stuff for kids, so I’m grateful for that.
MG: What is your favorite outdoor place to spend time in Essex County?
CK: Farmers market on Saturdays, the produce is local, fresh, and not always found in the grocery store.
MG: What is your favorite place to work out in Essex County?
CK: I have a home gym, but Brookdale Park is by far the best spot for a run.
MG: Where do you go out with friends in the area?
CK: Faubourg is the spot when you want a NYC feel with mom friends.
MG: What is something you think needs to come to Montclair?
CK: I always love when cities have those big markets, either indoor or outdoor, that have food trucks and drink stands run by local vendors.