I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Dr. Mariana Daniela Torchia aka Dr. Dani.
She has a PhD in Public Health and is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, with over 20 years of experience in program planning and development, dietetics and nutrition sciences, coaching, education and presentations, program development and implementation, nutritional intervention, and curriculum development. She specializes in helping people to conquer nutritional challenges
including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Working with clients to find solutions is her passion. Nurturing them through the uncertainties of change, Dr. Dani touches each of them with the spirit of a healer. Her international life and tri-lingual fluency (German,
English, Spanish) enables her to help a variety of demographics. She works in non-profits with low-income populations, in senior and recovery homes, as well as, with healthy private clientele wishing to get to the next level of health. No two clients and no two challenges are ever alike, so she applies knowledge, research, intuition, and heart to usher clients to better living. Communication is her forte as she guides them to healthier choices through education and understanding. The thing that sets her apart is her ability to look into the eyes of her client
and talk to their mind, their body and their unbelief. She cultivates a sense of hope to chronic conditions and challenging diagnosis, lifting the bar just a little higher for healthcare professionals.
Please give us your background and the meaning of your fancy titles.
PhD, Doctorate in Public Health
MPH, Master of Public Health and Science in Clinical Nutrition and Health Promotion/Education
RD, Registered Dietitian (licensed)
I have been working in both private and non-profit clinics and facilities for 22 years as a registered dietitian, program developer, and public health educator in Southern California. I love sciences, but I also love the arts, and as I was born in Madrid, Spain to my Austrian mother, and my American Italian father, both of whom were artists or behind the scenes artists, my DNA couldn’t hide from the allure of performance and musicianship. I was raised in Madrid and was sent to live with my fabulous Italian family in West Virginia for my 9th birthday. I stayed for 1 year: 7 cousins, and my aunt and uncle. By my 10th birthday, I was in Studio City, California, where I stayed and where I still reside…in between, I fly around to see my European family in Austria, Spain, and England. The incredible cuisine in Austria, Italy, and Spain is where I learned more and more about fresh food and recipes, and dynamic flavors. Being Italian, and having been born in Spain set the stage for a food lover’s career in food, health, and nutrition. My favorite thing to do is to have a large table filled with an amazing amount of different foods, colors, tastes, and delights, toasting with vivacious family and friends and laughing as much as we can!
Where does your passion for nutrition come from?
I loved science, and I loved teaching. My health struggles as a young teen and adult led me to a health practitioner from Australia who taught me about healthy eating, exercise, the importance of digestive health and promoting healthy flora (good bacteria in your gut/intestines), and the importance of eating fresh foods, vs. junk foods, and fast foods. I got so much better, my immune system improved, my acne started disappearing, my mood started to improve, and overall, I felt better. I was so excited about feeling well, that I decided to help others who might be struggling with their health through nutrition and healthy lifestyles: This meant I needed to go to school. Because I wanted to have science-based training, I wanted a science degree and a national license in public health and dietetics. I added holistic and herbal medicines to my training through continuing education courses, and long seminars, through and after my master’s studies at Loma Linda University (LLU), Loma Linda California. It was filled with biochemistry and biology, and metabolism sciences, and had a lot less of the complementary medicines than I expected. However, I got the hard sciences, residencies in hospitals, and training from LLU, and added the “groovy” (herbal medicine, acupuncture etc…) stuff used in Canada, Australia, Germany, and Austria, and many European countries, as well as China, Korea, and Japan, in seminars, continuing education trainings. I later dove head first into the PhD program in public health; this has provided wonderful avenues for teaching and writing for more and more people; as it matters a lot to me that my information HELP someone else, and in this way, that person can help the next person … and so on… to have a healthy body and mind.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is a happy client/patient who has renewed self-confidence and hope. When a patient is joyful, and has hope, and improved health and weight after having struggled with lack of motivation, anxiety/depression, or low self-esteem based on health issues or weight, it inspires me to continue to help them and others. I tell them, “Go and spread the good news! Tell everyone what worked for you, and don’t judge, as everyone has their own journey… keep up the good work, and remember what makes you feel well, and keep doing that.” Making a difference is definitely why anyone in my field would endeavor to teach, encourage, instruct, and motivate others in a field that has so much extreme information and in which people struggle. I have learned to encourage others in their belief of themselves, because if someone does not believe that their behavior and thoughts do influence them and that it matters if they feel a behavior change will make a difference, then it is very difficult to make that first step of health behavior change. It is wonderful to help others believe.
If you weren’t a Nutritionist today, what would you be and why?
It is difficult to imagine as I have been doing this for 22 years; but, in an alternate universe, it might have been fun to tour the world as a pop-rock musician, and inspire others through music and motivational lyrics. I like for people to have fun and feel relaxed and happy, not judged and less-than, so I would hope that my parallel universe would include that outcome … and, if I was popular as a musician, that platform and influence on thousands of people, or even millions, would be an excellent platform to inspire joy and random acts of kindness, and what is popular now mindfulness!
If you had one piece of nutrition advice, what would it be?
Listen to your body, no matter what fads or wild diet plans are out there, or what your neighbor or friends tell you. Not everyone can physiologically and biochemically handle the same things as others. Guilt is something you can throw out into the stratosphere! We are not robots, so enjoy life and be guided by feeling healthy, surrounding yourself with positive loving non-critical people so you can thrive …and on a food note, remember that food tastes good, and you can eat it! Find the perfect balance, and if you need guidance you will find the person to provide that for you.
We all have “guilty pleasures” what’s yours?
I can enjoy a Neflix™ binge with loads of goat and sheep cheese and a crunchy delicious sourdough baguette. I could eat a pound or two! I still eat it, but I suppose 3 oz. might make more sense than a pound!
How can people connect with you?
You can reach me through my website www.drdaniphd.com, and fill out the contact and stay tuned information. There will also be an office line for you to call!
You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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