Community Highlight: Anna Glennon

Through her own journey, Anna Glennon learned the debilitating effects of chronic inflammation. Now, she is on a mission to help other women going through similar experiences. As an integrated nutrition health coach, she works with clients to help make lifestyle changes and choose health-promoting habits that produce real and lasting results.

How did your nutrition journey start?

My nutrition journey started with a personal struggle and, through some twists and turns, has taken me to a place of fulfillment and nourishment, both personally and professionally.

In my early 20s, I moved to New York City for a dream job, and soon after met my future husband. It was a truly wonderful time - full of excitement, but also stressful due to so much change. One day around this time, I got a stomach ache that was, quite literally, the worst pain I had ever experienced. The pain returned seemingly every time I ate.  I went to the doctor and saw specialists, but no one could tell me what was wrong. Finally, after 2 years of research and seeing more specialists, I was diagnosed with celiac disease.

While it was amazing to finally understand what was wrong, I then had to learn how to manage my disease. This was long before you could walk down the aisle of any grocery store and find gluten-free alternatives to nearly every cracker, bread, and pasta. I was terrified to eat at restaurants with the fear that any meal could send me into a spiral of pain and discomfort. So, I taught myself to grocery shop and prepare my own meals.

I quickly learned that I really enjoyed creating meals that tasted good and - most importantly - helped me heal. Once I got into the habit of cooking healthfully, I noticed that I had so much more energy and that my body was finally feeling “right”. I truly felt that this simple lifestyle change was transforming me - emotionally and physically.

My friends and colleagues took notice and wanted to learn more. I started a blog to share recipes with them, and became the “local expert” in nutrition. I was a teacher at the time, and educating others on nutrition came naturally. Helping some of the younger teachers at my school who had been experiencing similar symptoms of inflammation really fed my desire to make nutrition my full-time job. I enrolled at the Institute of Integrated Nutrition (IIN) to get proper training and certification, and from there have grown a private nutrition and health coaching practice. I’ve also started a meal prep business to help others incorporate healthy food into their daily lives.

What do you find to be the most rewarding and the most challenging about being in charge of your family’s nutrition?

The most rewarding is when I win my husband over with very healthy food. Often times, he will look at something with a questioning eye, like Shepherd’s pie with mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes, but after a few bites he is fighting me off with his fork. I love it when I can get my sister to try a new vegetable or help a friend learn that they actually do like a certain food; they just need to prepare it differently. Tell me what you don’t like, and I will find a way to make it palatable.

As for challenging - organic, nutrient-dense foods, supplements, workout classes, it all comes at a cost that can at times be in conflict with my family’s budget. I’m slowly teaching my husband the value of investing in nutrition now, in order to avoid longer-term healthcare costs in the future.

Of course, there is no magic food that will address all of the nutrition needs of you and your husband, but what are some of your go-tos and why?

I love dark, leafy greens for their nutrient and fiber bang for your buck. I’ve also found that they’re easy to hide in a smoothie or cooked down in a stew.

In my house, we are also big on high quality animal proteins. If we are ever in a pinch on the weekly budget, we will choose splurging on grass-fed beef over exclusively organic vegetables. In those instances, we will just be selective on the non-organic produce we buy. This is an area where we can be flexible to make the best nutrition options work.

What role do supplements play in your approach to nutrition?

Supplements definitely play a role, though what I need nutritionally and in what dosage is always evolving. I take different supplements for different seasons of life.

What are your go-to daily supplements?

The real game changers for me are the ones that support my celiac treatment: collagen powder and glutamine. I also take a probiotic and magnesium supplement every day. And, when I was pregnant, I added a prenatal to my routine.

What dream product do you wish existed, but you can’t seem to find?

I would love a well-absorbed prenatal that doesn’t require me to take 2-3 pills, 3 times a day!

I would also love to see a greens powder that actually has real benefits for the consumer. I think greens powders are an amazing concept, but I haven’t been able to find one with high quality ingredients and the nutrient density that you receive with actual food.

We are interested in exploring nourishment at the intersection of food, family, and community, Can you tell us a story about an especially nourishing meal that you had alone or shared with others?

Every year, my mother and stepfather host a rosé-themed cocktail party on Long Island. A few weeks before the party, they host a rosé wine tasting. I am always in charge of the food, and it is a great opportunity to try new recipes and share old favorites. Plus, I love the abundance of fresh summer produce at that time of year. Beyond the food, it’s just wonderful to enjoy the company and time with my family, along with the taste of sea salt in the air, and the smell of hydrangeas. We start in the early evening dusk and, by the time we finish eating, we are sitting under the stars. It’s just so special.

What books have influenced your personal nutrition education the most?

It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig

Real Food for Pregnancy by Lily Nichols

Jennifer’s Way: My Journey with Celiac Disease by Jennifer Esposito

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