- Charlotte LaGuardia, 29, is a certified nutritionist in the Hamptons who meets with clients through Zoom.
- She says her job means constantly having to say no to requests that go well beyond her job title.
- This is what her job looks like, as he tells freelance writer Jenny Powers.
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This essay is based on a transcribed conversation with Charlotte LaGuardia, a 29-year-old certified nutritionist from the Hamptons, New York, about her career. It has been edited for length and clarity.
Being a nutritionist in the Hamptons means constantly having to say no to requests that go well beyond my job title.
It ranges from ‘can you babysit my child?’ to ‘Can you pick up my child from day camp on the way there?’ to ‘Can’t you just do my grocery shopping instead of telling me what to buy?’ to ‘I know it’s after hours but can you stop by my yacht in Sag Harbor for a meeting?’
In order to survive and stay healthy, I’ve learned to maintain strong boundaries and turn down exaggerated requests.
I’ve spoken to other nutritionists and colleagues from all over the world and I’m the only one who has experienced this kind of thing, so it’s definitely a Hamptons thing.
I started Thrive East in 2018 based on the belief that people should have access to personalized nutrition. Everyone has different needs, so a cookie cutter plan doesn’t always work. My job is to work closely with people by teaching them why we choose real food and then making sustainable lifestyle changes to improve their overall health.
I’m not interested in helping people lose five pounds for a dinner party until next Friday.
LaGuardia says she prefers to work with clients who have holistic health goals.
Nor will I take anyone through a three day clean, which is a prompt I get all the time. When I get such inquiries, I just say that I’m fully booked.
I want to work with people who really want to influence their lifestyle for the sake of their general health, rather than hungry people who fit in a designer outfit for an evening.
Before COVID, I saw the majority of my customers in person in my Water Mill office, but now it’s all overflowing
. I left my office in April 2020 and started working from my home in Southampton. In all honesty, it was wonderful and even my clients seem to prefer it. I can be in people’s homes without actually having to be there, there is no nightmarish Hamptons traffic, everyone is on time, and it’s all around more efficient.
I was born and raised in Southampton so I’m a local in these areas, but the term “local” has seen a dramatic change lately. With more people spending the year out here since the pandemic, everyone now seems to think of themselves as local.
Pre-COVID, my typical peak season was early May to late September.
Business was stable and there was no time to breathe. Then it would be quiet until the decisions came into force in January and then again in March around the spring break. Now with more people living in the Hamptons all year round, it is always full. .
I visit customers five days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m. I limit myself to five sessions a day as the work can be emotionally taxing as we often deal with issues like anxiety and depression and how they overall affect someone’s health. Today people need more support and personal connection than ever before.
An initial 90-minute recording session with new clients is $ 200, and subsequent weekly sessions are $ 180 for an hour and $ 90 for 30 minutes. In the end, customers often shorten themselves to monthly appointments where we only make minor adjustments and refine their regime.
LaGuardia’s customers often ask her for help with choosing healthy meals at local upscale restaurants.
Instead of writing down what they eat, I ask them to share photos of their meals so I can see how many colors they are on their plate and get an accurate picture of their portion sizes. As you can imagine, I get loads of Instagram-worthy photos of meals from some lovely restaurants. Some of my clients don’t cook or cook, and instead eat out every meal, so they often send me menus for review as well.
Photos of meals aren’t the only pictures I get. The results of diet and lifestyle changes can affect bowel movements, so I use the Bristol Stool Chart as a clinical evaluation tool and ask clients to review the seven types and identify theirs. Instead of giving me the number that corresponds to the picture, they sometimes take a picture of their own stool and send it to me via SMS. Let’s just say I’ve gotten a lot of pictures of poop over the years!
When I work with my clients’ personal chefs, I can get a lot of headwind and attitude.
They tend to view my presence as an invasion of their turf. The kitchen is their realm and they try to please the palette of their customers and here I come and suggest that they reduce their salt consumption and recommend replacing cauliflower rice with grains. At the end of the day, we’re all just trying to do our jobs.
I also create shopping lists for customers of various delivery services such as PeaPod, Fresh Direct, Baldor’s and my favorite Our Harvest, which sources local groceries. I like to recommend local farm stalls and often provide a shopping list for gourmet stores like Loaves and Fishes that customers usually give their assistant or nanny to pick up for them.
Even when I am no longer physically in the house and in the pantry of my customers, they still know that I always have an overview of what they are consuming. Because nutrition never sleeps.