Meet Daniela O’Brien
BC Eating Disorder Dietitian Daniela is a new member of the HealthStand Team
Daniela O’Brien is an eating disorder dietitian located in Vancouver, British Columbia specializing in emotional eating, weight concerns, pre/post-natal nutrition, and infant, kids, and family nutrition. She offers services in both English and Spanish.
We asked Daniela to answer a few questions so you could get to know her better.
What is your background as Registered Dietitian?
After completing the required internship at the end of my studies, I searched determinedly for a job that would challenge me to use all my skills and to develop more. I wanted to get involved with all aspects of dietetics and get a real sense of my gifts. I was delighted to join Woodstone Residence in Galiano Island, BC, a center for eating disorders. The location was remote and the learning curve was steep, but it was an excellent fit for me!
I found a real sense of purpose in helping others, especially those who struggled with mental health, and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to help change the lives of the residents through the menu we crafted, the cooking we delivered and the nutrition education program we pioneered. Being able to work in such conditions really shaped me as a professional and individual. The biggest lesson I learned: offering empathy and compassion to clients is a catalyst for behavioral change.
Memories of Woodstone Residence (now Looking Glass) remain in me as a thrilling and exciting experience. Helping move it’s well established program to Vancouver to allow for more medically acute patients was remarkably interesting as well. Working with a multi-disciplinary team has always been very inspiring for me. This good foundation proved helpful to work in other programs and areas of dietetics, such as the BC Women’s Prenatal Nutrition Clinic and Shapedown BC (a family-based program to help change eating behaviors for kids age 6-17). I also established a small but very rewarding private practice in 2011 that I continue to operate.
What is your favourite part about being a dietitian?
As I have always enjoyed working in one-to-one or group counselling settings. I am very comfortable building quick and trusting relationships with my clients, listening attentively to their needs and carving the terrain for a self-motivated path to change. I sit right next to you through the crazy road of nutritional behaviour change, but you hold the steering wheel! Nothing beats this, as this is the best way I know to support you and to ensure long term change at a pace you can manage.
One myth that you want to clear about Dietitians is?
That we eat perfectly! What is “perfect” when it comes to food, nourishment and nutrition? This is why I joined forces with Health Stand Nutrition because as a team we believe the very act of eating goes beyond the food. It’s about how we eat not just what. It’s about who we enjoy it with and how we make memorable moments. It’s about adding foods wholesome in health, but also having the good stuff that keeps the soul alive!
Healthy eating is a journey not a destination. Dietitians, just like you, walk this journey of balance and resilience. We constantly need to re-adjust our eating habits to changes in our health status, family routines, busy schedules, slimmer budgets, cooking skill, unforeseen setbacks, pandemics and more, in all the seasons of life.
Favourite nerdy nutritious food chosen for health?
My favourite nerdy nutritious food changes often because there is so much to choose from, explore and love. At the moment, I would have to say medjool dates. I love them because they are nerdy enough, but satisfy the sweetness I also need. Add them to a nut based smoothie, tuck a square of 90% dark chocolate in them, sprinkle chunks of them into yogurt with chia seeds or have them with really stinky hard cheese. Mmmmm delish!
Favourite soulful food chosen for taste, enjoyment and social fun?
There is so much I love, but something that’s very dear to my heart is homemade baking. If someone drops a loaf of banana bread with chocolate chips or their special one-of-a-kind baking that their grandma would make for them I will smile for ages!
Going out with my hubby for a nice meal with wine and dessert is also such a treat! Or taking the kids out for gelato in the summer, or having a hot chocolate with whip cream and cookie after a rainy walk…these are things I adore.
Something that people may not know about you is:
As an international student at UBC I wanted to use my nutrition knowledge to help developing countries. I signed up to volunteer in India near the Himalayas, where I participated, alongside 4 other UBC students with different professions, in research for infant and maternal nutrition. Walking through very remote villages amidst the mountains and living in a small community with a school and a massive temple awoke in me a deep sense of spirituality.
I am forever thankful for the simplicity of life that I witnessed in those villages and the astounding joy of the people, even when they had so little. It moved me to deepen my own faith in an unprecedented way and to align my priorities well. Today, being a caring wife to a very hardworking husband and the lucky mother of four is my most humbling and joyful vocation.
To read Daniela O’Brien’s full bio visit: Meet Our Registered Dietitian Team
Looking for a Virtual BC Eating Disorder Dietitian? Need support with infant/kids/family nutrition or pre-natal nutrition support?
We can help! We offer supportive virtual nutrition counseling support from the comfort and privacy of your own home. Find out more about our services here: Nutrition Counseling Services
Looking for more simple meal planning tips and healthy recipes for a healthier lifestyle? Sign up for our weekly newsletter for a healthy recipe of the week (and nutrition articles and videos with a balanced living philosophy to help encourage healthy habits but still save room for your favorites). Our nutrition newsletter is written by the Online / Calgary Nutritionists on our team who each hold a professional Registered Dietitian license to ensure you are getting credible advice.