We had the good fortune of connecting with Laurel Guimaraes and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laurel, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Hi! I am Laurel Guimaraes, a registered dietitian, doula, and childbirth educator. My business is called Zen Journey, LLC which focuses on providing medical nutrition therapy and birth & postpartum care to patients and clients. I was inspired to create a one-stop-shop for women’s health and wellness during my time getting my master’s degree in human nutrition at the University of Alabama. The program really focused on the importance of sound nutrition and health pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, and postpartum in not only the parents’ long-term health and fertility, but in determining the presence of chronic illnesses (or lack thereof) of their baby into that baby’s adult years. As of now, there is little emphasis on the importance of nutrition during pregnancy and pre-conception, despite the ever-growing need for such care. My goal is to create an environment where patients and clients can feel empowered to take control of their health and help prevent and care for issues (such as obesity and gestational diabetes) during this critical stage in the life cycle.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a dietitian, I can choose to specialize in providing medical nutrition therapy to a variety of medical areas and populations (such as wound care, diabetes management, eating disorders, etc.); however, my niche (pregnancy, fertility, and postpartum nutrition) are less emphasized in the medical community as of today. In the future, I would like to see more pregnant people and aspiring families reaching out to dietitians for care. As I have endeavored to spread the word about nutrition care during pregnancy, I have repeatedly met the misconception that dietitians focus solely on weight loss. This is very much not the case. Dietitians are much like therapists or counselors, but we focus on meeting the challenges that patients face in their daily lives which may be preventing them from practicing good nutrition. I have learned along the way that patience and consistency in reshaping the way that the public views nutrition and nutrition therapy slowly makes the community more informed and empowered to take the leap into making lifestyle changes.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I had to give a tour of the city, I would be sure to bring my guest to Ponce City Market to see the shops, restaurants, and walk the beltline, I am a lover of tea, so I would surely stop by the chic and homey Tea House Formosa in Doraville. For more outdoor enjoyment, I would head over to the Roswell Mill to hike the trails and see the waterfall, before having dinner on Canton Street. A Land of a Thousand Hills Cafe is another great place to stop for a coffee and live music just a half a mile from the Roswell Mill.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to the Community Nutrition Department at the Graduate School of the University of Alabama for giving me the tools I need to identify populations in need in my community.