Meet the Jewish Woman with Crohn's Disease Who's Changing the Way We Eat – Kveller
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Meet the Jewish Woman with Crohn’s Disease Who’s Changing the Way We Eat

We love Rachel Greenspan. Rachel is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who experiments with keeping kosher in the kitchen, and runs Whole Green Nutrition. Growing up with Crohn’s Disease inspired her to become a nutritionist as a way to keep her disease under control. Since food is a central part of everyone’s lives (and who doesn’t love good food?), what is more important than figuring out what types of food work best for your body?

I was thrilled to be able to speak with Rachel about why she keeps kosher, her favorite comfort food, and the last thing she does at night:

Did you grow up keeping kosher? If not, what made you decide to keep kosher?

I remember feeling very aware that I kept kosher at the local summer camp I attended while spending summers with my grandparents in Orlando, Florida. Although I was happy to bring lunch from home (sandwiches made with Baba’s homemade bread!), I understood that unlike my school cafeteria, the camp cafeteria food was different and off limits. Continuing the tradition of keeping a kosher home strengthens my connection to Judaism and to my family.


What prompted you to become a dietitian and nutritionist? 

Food and health have always been closely intertwined. Growing up with Crohn’s Disease severely limited my tolerance to food during flare-ups, which led to a constant awareness of the way foods affected me. Based on how I felt, I was able to navigate through foods that would hurt, and foods that would be painless. Since my surgery seven years ago, my disease has remained under control and I have found a new balance in my eating. I decided to become a dietitian to help others find their own connection between food and health, and lead a their own version of a balanced life.


What’s an average day for you look like?

As a clinical dietitian in a large NYC hospital, some daily tasks included calculating individual nutrition needs, providing medical nutrition therapy, counseling patients on which foods to choose and limit based on specific health conditions, and communicating appropriate diet orders, or tube feeding orders, to the treatment team.

Are you working on any projects related to Whole Greens Nutrition?

Since my husband and I left New York, we have been exploring food culture across Asia. Tasting food straight from a local’s kitchen is a completely different experience than learning about cultural food habits from a textbook. The cooking techniques, spices, and new foods, will surely influence future Whole Greens Nutrition recipes.


Favorite comfort food:

Homemade mac and cheese, or pretty much anything cooked by the women in my family!

What TV show have you binge watched?

I recently discovered “Madame Secretary” and couldn’t stop streaming! I’m patiently waiting to binge watch “Downton Abbey”–we don’t have cable, and it’s going to take some time until it’s on Amazon Prime.

Biggest pet peeve:

Negative self-talk.

If you were a Jewish holiday, which one would you be?

Shavuot–I love dairy-based meals (and cheesecake).

What’s your weirdest family tradition?

Family dance parties before major life events, or just because.

Favorite Jewish phrase:

Parve (neutral). I’ll rave about parve cookware and Tupperware to anyone who will listen. It makes perfect sense to cook grains and veggies in parve cookware, with the same batch of cooked penne, I can throw together a dairy pesto pasta for lunch, and then veggie loaded turkey bolognese over penne for dinner! (Get the recipe here.)

What’s the first thing you do in the morning?

Drink a large glass of water, and then open the bedroom door to let in our dog, Wilson.

What’s the last thing you do at night?

Say goodnight to my guys (Wilson and my husband), make sure there’s water at the bedside, and apply Burt’s Bees chapstick.

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