Ilene Cohen, MS, RDN, CDN, CDE, C-IAYT, is an NYC-based, nationally recognized Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher, and IAYT-certified yoga therapist. Ilene has been an RD since 2000 and a yoga teacher since 2007 and is credentialed as a Certified Yoga Therapist by the International Association of Yoga Therapists. An NYSAND media spokesperson, Ilene is a sought-after presenter of CPE webinars, speaking engagements at local and national conferences, and has been featured on radio, local television and in publications including Self Magazine and Yoga Journal.Her private practice and company, PranaSpirit Nutrition & Wellness, specializes in mind-body integrative and functional medical nutrition therapy and therapeutic yoga. Ilene has used various aspects of yoga, including asana (poses), pranayama (breathing techniques), meditation, restoratives and Yoga Nidra, with both adult and pediatric nutrition clients for the past decade. 

Q: Please briefly tell me about yourself? 

A: I started my career working in finance! I worked up to 80 hours each week. I was making great money but I was not satisfied. Life is stressful, we cannot argue that. I switched career paths to spare my health and truly find  happiness in my work.This transition began with a 200 hour yoga teacher training with Yoga Works in NYC in 2007. I use  the knowledge I gained during this process to integrate nutrition education and yoga therapy for my clients. I did not become a registered  yoga teacher just to teach yoga. My journey was fueled by my personal desire to find a better connection to myself through yoga. 

My dietary change 

I was the typical college student. I majored in Spanish and Business at Clark University and truly did not know much about nutrition. I lived a busy life and did not pay much attention to the food I consumed. I lived in the moment and I ate fast food. This changed when I met my vegan college roommate. At the time I had never even heard of tofu! I started to work with her and cook and uncovered the nutritional benefits of plant based cuisine. This sparked my interest, I had to learn more. While learning the amazing benefits of this lifestyle, I learned the challenges as well. While there are many benefits to a plant based approach it’s hard to find balance without the proper tools. I became anemic, further increasing my desire to learn more about nutrition and how to fuel my body to feel my best. As part of my career and lifestyle change I received a Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. This process allowed me to receive my credentials to become a registered dietitian nutritionist and start this wonderful 

Q. Why is it important to educate children on nutrition? 

A: Children are like sponges! The knowledge we teach them when they are young shapes them for life. Educating children is extremely important because it can change how they live their lives. Giving a child a set of healthy tools regarding balance, nutrition and exercise can set them up for success. I believe in taking a holistic approach. When educating children on nutrition it is important to involve family members and caregivers. Get your children involved, cook with them & take them shopping. Expose your children to the joy and reward of purchasing, cooking and eating healthy foods. I believe in mindful education, I use my knowledge as a yoga teacher daily when working with clients. Teaching children simple breathing techniques and mindfulness activities while educating them on nutrition is a powerful and effective method. 

Why SeasonalSammy 

We live in the age of technology. Children are growing up with an iPhone in their hand. Technology is a powerful resource and can be used to educate children. As technology develops children are exposed to a lot of “negative” content regarding health and wellness. Seasonal Sammy provides information on Seasonal fruits and vegetables in an interactive and fun manner! As a registered dietician nutritionist, I love this idea.  

Q. Why is it beneficial to eat seasonal fruit and vegetables? 

A. Seasonal fruits and vegetables taste better! When our produce travels far from its source it loses its taste and nutritional value. Produce in season is also more affordable. Finding delicious produce at a better price doesn’t just benefit the consumer it also supports local business and the farmer directly. Farmers markets are a great place to bring your family. Expose your children to beautiful and bright produce. Discuss where the produce comes from and suggest they choose a certain fruit or vegetable to try. For my fellow New Yorkers, I suggest you check out the Union Square Farmers Market! 

A note from the team at Seasonal Sammy: We sure will be checking out the NYC farmers market scene to explore fall produce finds as the season changes. Stay tuned! 

Q. In your opinion what contributes to a balanced lifestyle? 

A. As a yoga teacher/ therapist I believe finding balance is extremely important. Simply, make time for fun. We all live extremely busy lives. Giving ourselves time to enjoy life makes finding balance much easier. Children will notice this sense of balance allowing them to incorporate it into their lives. Finding time and building mindful eating practices is important when it comes to feeling our best. Part of being healthy embodies exercise and body composition but those are not the only components of wellness. Stress plays a large role in how we feel daily. Using yoga and breath to handle daily stress is an important tool to achieving overall wellness. The connection between the mind, body and soul is where true balance can be achieved. When it comes to children the same techniques can be applied. Teaching children mindful breathing techniques and yoga can help build this connection at a young age. Children learn differently than adults combing nutrition education and yoga allows them to move their body and work their minds at the same time

Q.  Anything exciting happening for PranaSpirit Nutrition & Wellness? 

A. PranaSpirit Nutrition & Wellness is expanding to LA! Los Angeles is not new to the health and wellness scene. There are many resources regarding nutrition education, wellness and yoga established in LA. PranaSpirit Nutrition’s mission “is to use tools of nutrition therapy, mindfulness, and yoga to help people reach their goals and achieve optimal health and life balance. We work with clients using an integrative, customized approach that takes into account their lifestyle, goals, tastes, preferences, and health conditions.” Expanding to the West coast is an exciting opportunity to spread our message and help more people! In LA, I will be focusing on the relationship between food sensitivities and migraines, as well as other conditions. I am excited to expand my platform working with neurologists and other health professionals. At our NYC location, we will also be starting a series of cooking classes focusing on gastrointestinal health and of course, cooking classes for children and families.

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