November 24, 2022
247: The Vegan Dietician | Why You Shouldn't Listen to the 'Big Accounts' About Protein with Rhyan Geiger

Like most people, you probably think of veganism as a restrictive diet. But according to Rhyan Geiger, a vegan dietrician, that doesn’t have to be the case! In today's episode, she shares her top tips for plant-based eating, ...

Like most people, you probably think of veganism as a restrictive diet. But according to Rhyan Geiger, a vegan dietrician, that doesn’t have to be the case!

In today's episode, she shares her top tips for plant-based eating, simplifying nutrition, and overcoming everyday struggles around food guilt and shame.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • The importance of plant-based proteins and how beans and lentils are great plant-based proteins
  • The idea that "junk food" is not necessarily bad for you, and that you can balance out your nutrient-dense options with your less nutrient-dense options
  • The fact that many people struggle with body image and disordered eating, and that there is support available


About Rhyan Geiger

Rhyan Geiger is a registered dietitian and vegan author who specializes in vegan nutrition. She is the owner of Phoenix Vegan Dietitian, where she helps others easily transition to vegan living. She has many years of experience in vegan nutrition and believes in positively impacting the world one bite at a time. Rhyan is an expert in this field and has been featured in Women's Health and Business Insider.

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[00:00:00] Rhyan Geiger: One single food. Eating it a few times will not kill you. Likewise, eating one or a few times of eating food that has a lot of nutrient density, having one serving or a small amount will not heal you. There has to be a healthy balance of both.

[00:00:16] Maya Acosta: You have more power over your health than what you've been told. This is the Healthy Lifestyle Solutions podcast. I'm Maya Acosta, and I'm passionate about finding healthy lifestyle solutions to support optimal human health. If you're willing to go with me, together, we can discover how simple lifestyle choices can help improve our quality of life and increase longevity in a big way.

[00:00:40] Maya Acosta: Let's get started. Like most people, you probably think of veganism as a restrictive diet, but according to Rhyan Geiger, that doesn't have to be the case. Rhyan is a registered dietitian and vegan author who specializes in vegan nutrition. She's the owner of Phoenix Vegan dietitian, where she helps others easily transition to vegan living.

[00:01:03] Maya Acosta: In today's episode, Rhyan outlines how she went from being a Midwest kid in the 4-h program to becoming The Phoenix Vegan Dietitian. Rhyan provides one-on-one nutrition counseling in group nutrition education classes and offers a variety of online resources to help people adopt a plant-based diet.

[00:01:22] Maya Acosta: Rhyan will also share some of the common struggles that she sees with people trying to adopt a healthier diet, including guilt and shame around food. She strongly advocates using food as medicine and believes a plant-based diet is the best way to prevent and treat chronic diseases. Rhyan is an expert in this field and has been featured in the Women's Health and Business Insider.

[00:01:44] Maya Acosta: You can connect with her at Phoenix, and that's with or on Instagram, Phoenix Vegan Dietitian. As always, the full bio and the links for each of my guests can be found on the website healthy lifestyle Let's get started. Welcome, Rhyan.

[00:02:02] Rhyan Geiger: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to talk today about all things vegan food and nutrition.

[00:02:08] Maya Acosta: Yes, I'm too excited. Like I said, I love when a dietician comes on the show because I feel that you never know. Like with my show, when new listeners will come on and perhaps they have all these questions, they don't know how to get started, especially.

[00:02:24] Maya Acosta: You know, those fears that people have about where am I gonna get my protein and what about calcium? And there's just so much that we learn initially when we adopt this way of living. I think most of us have to do the homework if we really wanna understand this lifestyle. Let's start with you learning a little bit about you before we talk about nutrition itself.

[00:02:45] Maya Acosta: So initially, we met when you lived here in Dallas. So I'm curious to know two things. Why did you choose to be a dietician? You know, how does one know they wanna do that early on in their lives? And then also what took you to Arizona because you were living here in Dallas, and that's how we initially met.

[00:03:02] Rhyan Geiger: Yes. So those are both really good questions, and so I'll start with the, how did I become a dietician? Because it's a really interesting story, especially because I'm vegan now because the way I got into nutrition was through 4-h, which is an organization that most vegans don't necessarily love because they have animal showings and like animal auctions.

[00:03:26] Rhyan Geiger: And that's how I got introduced to, uh, nutrition, actually, because I'm from the Midwest. And 4-h is a huge thing for everyone. I did it for 10 years, but luckily I never showed any animals and I, I didn't have any animals. I'd always did projects and learning how to cook, learning about health and posters, and making binders and pretending that I was in a fashion show, different things that kids like to do.

[00:03:52] Rhyan Geiger: So when I was in 4-h, when I got closer to my 10-year mark, you got to do more fun things. So, I got to go to one of the local universities because it was Purdue University, and they're really big in agriculture and, like, I don't really know farm stuff that people do in Indiana. And so I got to go to Purdue, and one of the topics that they had was food science.

[00:04:18] Rhyan Geiger: And so I was like, okay. I like food. Maybe I will do this food science program because at no cost to me, and I got to go away for the weekend. That was like a fun trip in high school. So I ended up going to, I always called it, farm camp and after. I was there for a day. They had us test out these cookies.

[00:04:39] Rhyan Geiger: And in the cookies, they all had different types of sugar. So they were all made with like one was made with sugar alcohol, one was made with something like Stevia. One was made with like pain, sugar, all different kinds. And our job was to figure out which cookie was made with what sugar. And I love that lesson sticks in my brain so much from like that day on, and I was like, I would love to do this.

[00:05:07] Rhyan Geiger: Eat cookies, of course, because I still love cookies every day would be such an amazing job, and I wanted to be. Doing something in the nutrition field. After I left the camp, I knew from there I was like, okay, I, I definitely love eating cookies. I loved learning about the nutrition element. I love learning about the science of food.

[00:05:27] Rhyan Geiger: So I knew that I wanted to do something along the lines of nutrition, and this kind of goes how I got back to Arizona because when I wanted to do food science, I was not ready to compromise on where I wanted to go to college. Arizona State was my number one option and my only option. I did apply to other places, but that was my place I wanted to go so bad, and I.

[00:05:53] Rhyan Geiger: Well, I would not do anything else, so they didn't have a food science program, so I ended up just picking the one that was relatively close, and it was the dietetics program. And so, from there on, I just learned about food, and it wasn't really until my junior year of college, which is quite a while, but.

[00:06:15] Rhyan Geiger: I was like, oh, I went vegan that year. And then I was like, okay, food really does have an impact on our whole life and the health of our whole population, and we should try to do more with food to get people to be healthier and to really make positive change. So from there, I had to go to Georgia to do my internship for a year, and then I made a pit stop in Dallas, and then I realized I really liked to be in Phoenix, so I just made my way back. So, and that's how I ended up back in Arizona.

[00:06:48] Maya Acosta: Fascinating to know, uh, your background. I had no idea about your exposure to 4-h and then, of course, at the agricultural world In many ways, and I've shared with you that I grew up in Arizona, and that's how I know about 4-h.

[00:07:03] Maya Acosta: I didn't like know all the details, but I lived in a community where we were surrounded by dairy. And so I was pretty much in school with some of the people who owned dairy, you know, just big names, in other words, you know, the dairy farms and other industries like that. And so that's why I knew about it, and I love that.

[00:07:22] Maya Acosta: Then you kind of wait, made your way back to Arizona, and you did your internship in Georgia, is what you said. We met you during your pit stop in Dallas. And I remember my husband being very interested in you initially because it was very early on in our world as well, in terms of understanding the power of plant-based foods.

[00:07:41] Maya Acosta: So we had not really made those connections. And then we met you, it seemed like as soon as we wanted to work with you like you left, you went back to Arizona. And what I loved most about, uh, following you on social media is seeing all the great things that you're now doing as a result. It's like you're just flourishing like this beautiful.

[00:07:59] Maya Acosta: Like a sunflower in the valley of the sun because I love the energy in Arizona. Let's talk about all that you've been doing since you left Dallas. I feel like that's when you really started to blossom. What's been going on? What came first? Because you relocated and you branded yourself as pretty much The Phoenix Vegan Dietician.

[00:08:20] Rhyan Geiger: Yeah, big, bold move. I. Committed to being in Arizona, and once I came back, I did not want to leave again. So I tried my best to make it almost impossible for myself to leave. Like I told my mom, I was like, okay, I have to buy a house as soon as I get there because then I'm stuck and I can never leave, which of course, isn't true, but I really was.

[00:08:42] Rhyan Geiger: I love Arizona, and I just love everything about the desert. And when I left Dallas, I had another pit stop, actually briefly, just for the summer. I was a food allergy coach for a summer camp in Maine. That was just two months of just hanging out with kids and teaching them about food and kind of just learning and rediscovering what I really liked and what I wanted to do.

[00:09:08] Rhyan Geiger: And because when I was in Dallas, I started in my private practice just a little bit. I was dabbling in seeing clients and just kind of just getting started essentially, and kind of had it figured out a little bit. But then I was also just doing other dietetic jobs, and nothing really spoke to me like plant-based nutrition and like having my own company of teaching people how to be plant-based and how to eat more vegan foods.

[00:09:36] Rhyan Geiger: So every job I've ever had, I became a dietician. All I could ever think about was, okay, how could I incorporate plant-based eating into this? Or what could I do to make this more like plant-based friendly? And a lot of the organizations weren't really, they would be like, okay, we can add a few plant-based things here and there, but it wasn't fully plant-based.

[00:09:59] Rhyan Geiger: So I just felt like it wasn't a really good alignment because I only wanted to do plant-based nutrition. I didn't wanna recommend any other foods because I. I, that's not something that aligns with my nutrition philosophy. So when I moved to Phoenix, I was still working nine-to-five jobs, working on my private practice in, in my free time.

[00:10:20] Rhyan Geiger: And then I decided, I don't know what happened, but I was like, you know what? I'm gonna do this, and I'm gonna do this, and I'm just gonna go full out and make it work. And so starting in 2020, I really started to focus a lot on. Working with people one on one, focusing on brand partnerships, focusing on all the different elements within my business to really create it to be something that I wanted it to be, to help people and to also fill my own cup, so I wasn't feeling drained from living some type of lifestyle that wasn't authentic to myself.

[00:10:56] Rhyan Geiger: And a nine-to-five job with all of the nutrition recommendations we had to make. So, In this year, 2022, I work fully for myself finally, and it's been such an awesome ride from going from just doing one-on-one coaching to, I was doing meal plan creation, which isn't my favorite thing to do, but it was.

[00:11:17] Rhyan Geiger: Something I was doing in 2020, and now I have more, uh, flexibility, and I have more long-term partnerships, and I'm able to reach more people, even people who aren't vegan necessarily, and just expose them to vegan eating and show them how easy it really can be.

[00:11:37] Maya Acosta: Yes, and that's the key. Once heard someone say that their goal is to make the healthy choice the easy choice. Mm-hmm. . So when you're teaching people that it is easy. It just, it's a matter of planning and knowing what you're supposed to eat and then what works for you and simplifying it. I know that for us on our end, we don't have to have a new meal every single night. I mean, goodness, we complicate things that way.

[00:12:05] Maya Acosta: Or just, you know, shopping, grocery shopping randomly doesn't work either. You kind of have to have a plan. So I'm curious, with this experience that you've now gained of working one on one with clients, what are some of the common struggles that you see in terms of people wanting to just adopt a healthier diet?

[00:12:23] Rhyan Geiger: Yeah. One of the main things that people always ask, of course, is about protein, just because our society as a whole is very obsessed with getting enough protein and where protein comes from, and I've actually seen a few influencers talking about how beans and lentils aren't proteins, that they're not plant-based proteins, and I get so frustrated.

[00:12:48] Rhyan Geiger: At posts online, and I'm like, oh my gosh, no beans and lentils; they are proteins. They have protein in them, and they're great for plant-based eaters. So that's something that people see online, especially with big accounts. And then they have questions. They're like, oh, well, I've been eating like beans and lentils, but those aren't proteins.

[00:13:07] Rhyan Geiger: So like, where do I get my protein? And then, just having to explain, like no beans and lentils, tofu, Tempe, those are all really great plant-based proteins, and you can incorporate them in a lot of different ways into your life, and you can season them as you would season foods that you were eating when you weren't vegan.

[00:13:26] Rhyan Geiger: And that's also another question people have is, How do I make food taste good or like, oh, I don't think to food tastes good. And it just sometimes comes down to preparation methods and then seasoning because although it is a plant-based food, You still wanna season it, so it tastes good. Just like you would season anything you were eating before you were plant-based or vegan.

[00:13:47] Rhyan Geiger: So I think that's one of the main questions I get. Another one that comes up kind of often is a feeling of guilt and shame around food. Just because our society is really conditioned, women, especially, to feel like they have to only eat a certain amount of calories every day or you have to have. You can't have certain foods, or you only can have this food, and that falls into healthy.

[00:14:13] Rhyan Geiger: So I have a lot of people who come in who feel like they can't have certain foods or like, oh, it's junk. Which I say nothing is really junk foods. I mean, there are foods that are not as healthy as some other ones, and you just wanna make sure that you balance out your new nutrient-dense options with your less nutrient-dense options. So, making it balanced.

[00:14:32] Maya Acosta: Absolutely. How do you work with clients who then have those kind of, I don't wanna call it necessarily a limiting belief, but people that have shame and guilt around food, how do you work with them? Cause at that point, it's not really just about the food, is it?

[00:14:47] Rhyan Geiger: No. Most times, it's so much more than food, and with anything that people come to, a lot of times it is rooted back into like childhood or early teen years when we're starting to develop habits or maybe our family influence us into different eating habits, or we're picking up other people's eating habits. Maybe it's the speed that we're eating. Maybe it's the type of foods that we're eating. Maybe it's seeing our siblings or our mom complain about the way that they look or seeing magazines that portray people at in a way that's not realistic.

[00:15:23] Rhyan Geiger: So, Just depends each person's going to be a little bit differently. But kind of going back to where that initial idea comes from and just thinking, is that, is that beneficial to my mental health right now, or is that not beneficial? Or just more mindfulness and awareness around why we pick the foods we pick and why we think what we think.

[00:15:45] Rhyan Geiger: Around foods. And then, of course, if it's something that is more like disordered eating or something along those lines, always referring out, because I, that's out of my scope of practice and I'm not an expert there. 

[00:15:56] Maya Acosta: Well, that's very honest of you. I appreciate you saying that because I know that many coaches do work in that capacity, and at the same time, it's a big one.

[00:16:06] Maya Acosta: I feel very comfortable today talking about my story whenever I have a coach or a dietician speaking about food, but I feel that I have healed my relationship with food. When I was younger, I restricted, I had disordered eating. Food was my enemy, and I thought I was, you know, on top of the world because I.

[00:16:27] Maya Acosta: Know how to cook. And I was proud of it. And the fear that was associated with that is that because a lot of my family that migrated from Mexico to the states suddenly started to deal with weight issues. And I became obsessed with this fear of it's gonna happen to me too. So if I restrict, I won't go down the path.

[00:16:46] Maya Acosta: Therefore, I won't learn how to cook either. And so there I was in college with a soft drink and a candy bar, and that's how I fueled myself all through college so that I wouldn't have, I don't know, this weight gain that I feared so much. And now when I talk about that, I wanna be a little more gentle about it because I also don't wanna shame people that are in that situation where they wanna, you know, shed some pounds.

[00:17:13] Maya Acosta: It's not about that. It was about my own issues that I had in my own fears of what that meant if I gained weight. So I'm glad that you say that you refer that out.

[00:17:25] Rhyan Geiger: I think that's so good to share. And just to show people too, that a lot of people struggle with body image and a lot of people have those same challenges so that it's never, you're in it by yourself.

[00:17:35] Rhyan Geiger: There's always people who are willing to help. There's always people who have similar stories. No one's going to be the exact same, but just being able to find that community of people who really helps and supports you to make positive change for the best you is always really important.

[00:17:50] Maya Acosta: Yes, of course, a support group if possible, and having someone like yourself that even though you not even though, but you are a dietician and at the same time, having that person work with you one on one is tremendous.

[00:18:05] Maya Acosta: Have you been able to sort of move towards the, I don't necessarily know if you would fall under the space of telehealth, but have you been able to see clients via Zoom?

[00:18:16] Rhyan Geiger: Mm-hmm. Yeah. My practice actually is all virtual, so it's all telehealth coaching, which is really fun. It didn't start like that, but as we know, 2020 kind of pushes all into a virtual world, and it really works, and it's just a really.

[00:18:30] Rhyan Geiger: A accessible feature as well. Cause people can do it from like their home. They don't have to drive, they don't have to spend money on gas, they don't have to worry about transportation. They don't have to really worry much about anything besides having either data or a strong wifi connection, and then they can be connected to me on sessions. It's been a really, really awesome.

[00:18:51] Maya Acosta: I agree with you that we gained a lot of advantages from the technology that became even more available during the pandemic. I feel like also on my own podcast, the reach grew even more so because now I'm interviewing people from other countries as well, and I have listeners throughout the world as well.

[00:19:09] Maya Acosta: So it's been a great way to support others. So you talked about the struggles of people having the concerns about where do I get my protein. Because we've been so programmed to associate protein intake with animal-based products, now, another thing, I don't know if you feel comfortable talking about this, but as we know, there are fad diets that are kind of taken over because big industry can support them, right?

[00:19:33] Maya Acosta: With products and talk shows or whatever it may be. Things like, for example, the keto diet, and I'm hearing more and more people talk about how they lose weight going keto or now they're reversing their type two diabetes. We talk about type two diabetes on the show, I bring on health experts. This is not the best way to reverse a disease or to lose weight.

[00:19:52] Maya Acosta: What has been your experience with, say, clients who might say, Hey, well, I've been doing this, and it has worked for me.

[00:19:59] Rhyan Geiger: Luckily, most of the time when people come to me, they're ready to transition to plant-based, or they're interested in it, so, They're not into, maybe they've already tried a lot of crash diets, but they're currently not in that phase, which is, I mean, everyone probably will go through at least one diet in their lifetime just because the diet industry is making billions of dollars on all of their products.

[00:20:21] Rhyan Geiger: Every single year. So I mean, it's inevitable, but if they do have concerns of fad diets or they're doing a bunch of different diets in a row, I always draw back to just awareness, to think, okay, what was your first diet? And just like kind of talking about what their first diet was and usually. That's the diet that everyone thinks about in their mind when they try new diets.

[00:20:45] Rhyan Geiger: So they're like, oh, the first time I tried a diet, I lost 30 pounds, and it was so fast, and I did it for like six months, and it was so awesome, and I loved it. But then the diet after that. Shortens in duration and the diet after that shortens again. And before you know it, people are just doing all kinds of crash diets week after week, really cycling fast through all types of diets.

[00:21:10] Rhyan Geiger: And in the end, it has to be something that's sustainable, and it's going to give you health benefits. So if you're doing something like a keto diet because you wanna reverse your type two diabetes every, a lot of people do want to reverse type two diabetes. It's a, a major health concern in the United States and itself, but there you have to think of the implications that are coming from the diet you're choosing to do.

[00:21:34] Rhyan Geiger: So if you're doing a keto diet, You're putting yourself at higher risk for heart disease. You're putting yourself at higher risk. You know, all probably very well about all types of heart conditions that you're putting yourself at risk for, for having a lot of saturated fats from those animal sources. So also just explaining it in a really gentle sense of your end goal is this.

[00:21:55] Rhyan Geiger: And I know that this is what you wanna try, but have you considered the possible side effects of this diet you're thinking of trying? Or what do you think about that? After I've explained kind of what it is if they have questions.

[00:22:08] Maya Acosta: Mm-hmm. , well, I actually really like that you just said that the fact that you will start off by asking, well, what diets have you actually tried?

[00:22:16] Maya Acosta: I think that takes 'em through this path. Maybe an awakening to the journey that they've been on because I always believe that people are trying to do the best that they can with the information that they have. And so many times they're just doing what they really believe is gonna work, uh, for them.

[00:22:33] Maya Acosta: And now I have not for. I have not tried diets. If I gain weight, I just accept it, but I don't diet because of my history. I don't wanna become obsessed and fixated on weight because we know that being thin does not equate being healthy.

[00:22:49] Rhyan Geiger: Yeah, that's a hundred percent correct. And sometimes people will want to like weigh themselves on a scale, and sometimes it's just really not healthy for clients to even have a scale because they'll get into fixation of it, of like, okay, I'm gonna weigh myself after every single meal or they're really attached to the number on the scale because it's providing them their own value or what they perceive as their value in those situations. I mostly tell people, It's not worth your health to even have a scale because it's not doing any good for your mental health. And when your mental health isn't at its peak, then that goes into your nutrition too.

[00:23:25] Rhyan Geiger: So it's a whole encompassing picture, not just like, oh, I'll step on the scale here and there because it becomes something that your mind, it's just your mind is full of, oh, what's the skill gonna read? Or if I do this, what's the skill going to do? And it just takes over.

[00:23:40] Maya Acosta: Yes, I know about that obsession. That's what we have a scale, but I don't get on it at all. Okay, so now I'm interested in whether you have programs, uh, for your clients or how you work with your clients. So if I'm new to this way of living and I have ultimate goals, maybe it's to reduce my high blood pressure or improve my cholesterol, whatever that may be, how long would I work with you, and how do you know when it's time to kind of let that person fly and take control of their own way of eating? 

[00:24:13] Rhyan Geiger: All of my programs, I have them all designed for three months minimum. Just because from the clients that I've worked with, once they hit that three-month mark, usually they feel a lot more confident in their changes that they've made, that they need a little bit less support.

[00:24:31] Rhyan Geiger: Not saying that they're 100% ready to fly on their own at three months, but sometimes people are, which is totally fine. Everyone's gonna be in a different stage of change. Everyone likes to have different accountability styles, so sometimes people just really. Talking about, oh, this is what I'm doing.

[00:24:47] Rhyan Geiger: This is my challenges, and that helps keep them accountable. Whereas some people are more like, just tell me what to do, or Here's what I'm doing. Can you help me adjust this, so it fits into my lifestyle? All right, good to go. And that's okay because everyone is very different. So a minimum of three months and.

[00:25:06] Rhyan Geiger: After three months, people can book sessions here and there, or they can do another three session or three months' worth of sessions and kind of just personalize it after that to best fit their needs.

[00:25:20] Maya Acosta: Three months is actually barely enough cuz when I think of how long it took me to learn, I think it took me a year to learn how to eat healthy like I went vegan without knowing about ethical vegan. I went vegan, but I was traveling a lot, so I did eat a lot of processed foods, and then I began to understand that I needed to eat more fruits and vegetables and leafy greens and all of that. Within those three months, I'm assuming you teach things like meal planning, meal prepping, grocery shopping. Well, you do offer this through telehealth, but have you taken clients to the grocery store? 

[00:25:56] Rhyan Geiger: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Everything now is telehealth, but um, within those three months, they, I meet with them two times, and they also have tech support, like texting, not like tech. I realize that sounds like tech, like, hey, what's your IT problem?

[00:26:09] Rhyan Geiger: But no, like texting. Um, so they can text me anytime they have questions too. So that gives a lot of time for education, and prior to, uh, 2020, I did do in-person grocery store tours, and I was thinking of bringing that back sometime soon, maybe next year, maybe Q1 or q2, just depending on what the feelers are for that because they are so fun.

[00:26:33] Rhyan Geiger: And that's where we're making a lot of our nutrition choices is in the grocery store. So if you know what you're looking for and you know how to decipher labels, know what marketing tactics are meant for you to purchase items because if there's good marketing, I am prone to like falling for it. Like, yes, I need that product.

[00:26:51] Rhyan Geiger: I don't need it at all, and it's not. I don't know why I bought it because it just, it reeled me in. So knowing those tactics that they use can be really helpful to make those health choices. 

[00:27:01] Maya Acosta: Yes. And you're right. Actually, I think it'd be great if you resumed your classes. Again, I know that there's a city nearby, well, you know, Midland, Texas, and their Food is Medicine Annual Conference that they offer. But that same organization offers monthly grocery tours for a small fee. And I thought, you know, I'd like to do something like that here too. I'm a very visual person, and a lot of times when I go to the grocery store now, it's just automatic. I know where I'm gonna go.

[00:27:31] Maya Acosta: Sometimes I have to go to two or three different grocery stores cuz I'm looking for something that the other store may not offer. But I think it'd be fun to take a small group. And just walk through every aisle, and we know the majority of the aisles we skip anyway cuz that's where all the processed foods are held.

[00:27:48] Rhyan Geiger: Right? That is a good point. Most of the time, we have a pattern that we go in through the grocery store and sometimes skipping those middle sections depending on what it is. Cuz there's sometimes the whole grains are down there, or depending on your grocery store, depends on how they have their layout set up. So definitely making a list and sticking to it. And only getting what you need.

[00:28:06] Maya Acosta: Yeah. The other thing so I love that it's still working one-on-one. Now I'm not doing this, but I'm saying in person because my mom recently said I was on the phone with her, and she said I made lentils, but I couldn't use the pressure cooker because I didn't know how long.

[00:28:22] Maya Acosta: I always overdo the lentils as opposed to the other legumes. And it's like, yeah, when you have someone working with you so closely, like, in person, they can guide you through these things. And one thing that I now understand Rhyan about food in general and adopting this way of living, and I think I learned it through PCRM, is that we are creatures of habit, and we only rotate through maybe eight to nine different types of meals on a regular basis. So it's not like we need to go and learn 50 new dishes. It's just find the foods that you really like and improve them and make 'em a little healthier. 

[00:28:57] Rhyan Geiger: Yes. I love that you said that because sometimes I'll have people come in looking for more variety, but they, they'll want a whole meal plan of, um, like seven days' worth of meals. And with three meals, two snacks, and those can be really helpful to give you ideas of like, okay, this is what a meal looks like, or this is how I would put a, a day together. But realistically, seven days is too many because we are such creatures of habit. And I preach that all the time. I'm like, If you look at the foods you're eating, it's probably pretty similar.

[00:29:30] Rhyan Geiger: There might be a few variations to each type of recipe that you're making, but if you look back at all of your weeks, it's very cyclical. You probably are just going through the same handful of recipes. No one accepts it very well. They're like, no, I need more variety, which you definitely still need variety, and you can make variety, but I think also having a realistic expectation on yourself. You know, I do eat the same couple recipes, but I would be okay to add like one or two or maybe three into my rotation because that's realistic.

[00:30:04] Maya Acosta: Yes, absolutely. So now let's talk about some of the concerns and struggles that your clients have if you were to provide my listeners a couple of tips that they can start, you know, implementing right now in their lives so that they could take a healthier approach to how they eat. What would they be if you have like two or three tips? 

[00:30:26] Rhyan Geiger: My favorite tip is about water because, probably because I live in the desert, honestly, and no one drinks enough water. Yeah, but drinking water. Vinyl very important, and we just don't have enough. So my tip on water is if you have a jar or if you have some type of bottle, I have one here, which is a great example if you're watching this on the video version. Mm-hmm. . But if you have a straw like this is a reusable straw, this makes it so much easier for you to drink water versus like having to take the top off or having to like open it up.

[00:30:58] Rhyan Geiger: You literally just can put this in your mouth and drink it, and you will drink more throughout the day that way versus if it's closed, especially if it's a clear jar like this one is clear, so I can visually look over at my desk and see if I have been drinking enough water or if it's still full, which is not ideal.

[00:31:20] Rhyan Geiger: But if it's full, I know that I have some drinking to do. So having a clear type of jar with a reusable straw to increase your water intake is one of my favorite water tips. So, implement that today.

[00:31:33] Maya Acosta: Yes. And you know, speaking of that, I remember years ago hearing about whether we sort of have to kind of look inside, pay attention to what our body is telling us, and question whether. At the moment that we are reaching for something to snack, something to snack on whether we're actually hungry or if we're thirsty. And so I thought, oh, well, and so, of course, I too now gravitate more towards the water when usually I can kind of already know what my body is saying. But if I get a headache and I drink water, I feel better.

[00:32:06] Maya Acosta: Usually. I'm wondering if I'm dehydrated. I agree. We can't drink enough water. And so tell us about your book. So you have a cookbook, which is perfect for two people or a smaller group of people that are cooking for the first time, and maybe they're learning how to prepare these meals. How did you come up with your cookbook? What was the inspiration behind that? 

[00:32:28] Rhyan Geiger: It's a slow cooking for two cookbook, which is, like you said, great for small groups of people, and the inspiration is, Every slow cooker recipe book that I've ever seen in my entire existence is like for mass amounts of people or families. And I like leftovers like you, but I don't want to eat them every single day, or they'll go bad.

[00:32:50] Rhyan Geiger: And as vegan who tries to better the environment. I don't really want too much food waste, and I haven't figured out composting quite yet, but I'm working on it, so I don't really have a place to put it. So for my cookbook, I tried to find recipes that people love and things that are really easy. So you can just throw everything together and let it cook for the day, let it cook when you get home from work, maybe ready.

[00:33:14] Rhyan Geiger: And some of the recipes are quick, even an hour or two, it's not even eight hours. So there's a variety of quick eats, things that you can do overnight. There's an oatmeal recipe in there that's really. Because it, you throw everything in before you go to bed, get a beautiful eight hours of sleep. You wake up, and then your oatmeal's hot and ready for you, and it's delicious.

[00:33:37] Rhyan Geiger: So just a lot of different recipes that are easy, and most of them can be recreated on a stove top too. So if you didn't have a slow cooker or you didn't wanna buy one, whatever it is, a lot of them can be recreated on just a so of top of the pan.

[00:33:52] Maya Acosta: So I had the opportunity to go through your cookbook, and first of all, congratulations, it's a beautifully put-together book. And I'm often, you know, I have a lot of cookbooks, and it's mainly because I just love the photos and I love the inspiration. But yours is unique in the sense that you offer many different. Throughout the book, you also just touched on one of 'em, which was that you're big into the environment. So you take many of those things when it comes to food preparation into consideration when it comes to your book; for example, I had mentioned, well, this one is more of a tip when it comes to avocados, but the tip was to place the avocados in a plastic bag, I think you said. Why is that? How does that, what does that do for the avocado? 

[00:34:37] Rhyan Geiger: So, this is kind of funny, but I had an avocado, and I dunno if you're the same way, but I hate when they go bad because they go bad so fast. I don't want to eat a whole avocado in a setting. So I'm like, I need to find a way to get this avocado to stop browning.

[00:34:52] Rhyan Geiger: So, And one of, uh, the tips was to put it into a reusable; I used a stasher bag because the oxygen is what makes it turn brown. So if you can reduce the amount of oxygen touching it, then that can help it not oxidize, and it won't be as brown. But something else I recently found is if you have aluminum foil, you can also wrap it in that and then put it into the reusable stache bag, and that helps it even longer.

[00:35:19] Rhyan Geiger: Or if you cut. So it's kind of oblong, you know, usually, we cut the long way around. If you cut it the short way around, like hamburger style, it'll have less surface areas. So if it does go brown, you lose less.

[00:35:33] Maya Acosta: Oh my goodness. I'll be right back. , I gotta handle my avocados. I have several sitting on the counter right now cause I'm gonna make a guacamole and I kind of feel the same way.

[00:35:43] Maya Acosta: I don't eat a. Avocado in one sitting, but I like enough to flavor my foods and use it sort of like a spread. And so it's one of the things that bothers me too about this way of living is wasting food. And I think a lot of these tips are things we didn't learn growing up necessarily unless you were involved in the cooking process and your parents involved you in cooking.

[00:36:06] Maya Acosta: Many of us are learning for the first time how to do things in the kitchen. One of the key things that I, I kind of point that I really wanna drive is that we have to be patient. I mean, it's like going to school to learn something new for the first time. You can't expect yourself to be 100% perfect in that field.

[00:36:26] Maya Acosta: You're gonna, it's like taking cooking classes. You're gonna learn food preparation, food preservation in many ways and techniques that help you in the cooking process. Also, I'm wondering, from your perspective as a dietitian, what is something. We talked about the protein meth, but what is something you wish people knew more when it comes to food? 

[00:36:46] Rhyan Geiger: That one single food, eating it a few times, will not kill you. And likewise, one eating one or a few times of eating a food that has a health halo or has a lot of nutrient density. Just having one serving or a small amount will not heal you. There has to be a healthy balance of both.

[00:37:06] Maya Acosta: That is important. So you're talking about, like, when I think of reducing inflammation, it's not gonna happen by having grapes one day. It's a process of incorporating the foods that nourish. Nourish us as doing away with the foods that are harming us. In a way, I've kind of simplified it. I don't know if you have another way of putting it.

[00:37:28] Rhyan Geiger: No, that's a good simplification. Yeah, so that there's not one specific food that will kill us or make a sputter. It's we have to find what works for us, and we have to make that balance in those shifts to add more nutrient-dense foods and then also evaluate the foods that might not be as nutrient-dense that might not be leading us to our ideal health. 

[00:37:49] Maya Acosta: Yeah. So recently, I was on vacation. In this particular setting, there was a buffet, and the night was, it was in Mexico, but Mayan Knight. And so all the foods were like traditional foods, traditional Mexican foods. And I went over to Salad bar, and Rhyan, nobody was there. was the only one. And so I served myself first, and then I came over and told my husband, look, I have, like.

[00:38:14] Maya Acosta: A pile of wonderful, beautifully cut vegetables. It was a beautiful preparation. And I said, go help yourself. No ones there. And then I thought to myself, why is it that people who have not adopted a fully whole food, plant-based lifestyle, why is it that they shy away from just having a carrot here and there? A little bit of broccoli on your potato or something like that.

[00:38:37] Rhyan Geiger:  I would love to know, I work so hard to get people, even who aren't vegan, just to eat more vegetables and more nutrient-dense foods every day, and it's just something like from, I'm from the Midwest, and it's not something that we had on our plate.

[00:38:54] Rhyan Geiger: It would be meat, potatoes, corn. And that's all. So I just think people don't have that experience when they're younger. And then when we start to realize like, oh, we should add more vegetables, sometimes that's because we're trying to reverse diseases we could have prevented instead of preventing them from the get-go, just because we might not have the exposure or maybe we don't have the resources or the education around.

[00:39:18] Rhyan Geiger: Why vegetables are important and how to make them taste good too. Some people just don't like the taste of vegetables, and if that is the case, I always recommend trying to eat it a different way. So if it was steamed, try roasted. That was roasted. Try raw, you know, you could try all different things. 

[00:39:36] Maya Acosta: Yes. And one thing that I learned, I took the Rouxbe Culinary course; you might be familiar with that. And as I'm taking the class, I've learned, well, I took that a while back, but I learned that, in general, most vegetables are either overcooked or undercooked. At many places, maybe not the finer restaurants, I think they do a good job.

[00:39:58] Maya Acosta: They know how to blanch and things like that. But if you grew up in a public school system, or if you eat cafeteria food or just foods that are on the go that are fastly made, most of the vegetables are undercooked or overcooked, and then they're not satisfying. Or, like I grew up with, I understood spinach to be out of a.

[00:40:17] Maya Acosta: Like papa pie, like that's what spinach was like. And it wasn't until I started tasting fresher sauteed spinach with garlic inside, like, oh my goodness, is this spinach for real? So it's just a matter of how foods are prepared that can make the different, like all the difference in the world. Okay. I wanted to see if, I don't know how much time you have, but I wanted to see if we can cover; I'd love to learn; like I said, I follow you on social media.

[00:40:43] Maya Acosta: It's very exciting to see all the things that you're involved with, and I saw that you were part of Dr. Judy Brangman's summit, and so last year, she put together this summit, and I'm a big fan of her work, and so I was fascinated because I said yes, this. Needed and how brilliant that she put this together, and then this year, she offered it again, and there you are as part of the summit.

[00:41:07] Maya Acosta: Now, by the time this episode airs, most likely, a summit will be over, but I'm wondering if you can talk about your involvement in it and why you feel is so important, the work that she's doing with the African American community. Yeah,

[00:41:20] Rhyan Geiger: Yeah, it's such an awesome summit. Like if you didn't check it out this time, definitely give it a go. There's tons of great speakers. I think this time there are 11, and all really awesome topics. All are BIPOC populations, so it's so cool just to, to be able to help out. My community specifically, just because there's so little resources or there's so, uh, little representation of people who look similar.

[00:41:47] Rhyan Geiger: And typically when you're looking for something that's a comfort. So when you have something, you're looking for someone to help you with something. If they're looking like you, that shows you, like, okay. Maybe I could reach my goals too because they're doing really cool things, or, oh, okay. Like they'll understand my culture, or they'll understand kind of where I'm coming from because they have a similar culture.

[00:42:10] Rhyan Geiger: Not to say that your providers have to always look like you, but it also is something that just makes you feel really good to know that you have options. And I think that with the BIPOC communities, there's so much health disparity because there's just no access. So, This summit was, it was free. So for next year, she'll probably do it again because it goes over really well, so you can log on and just learn so much. It's really accessible, it's really affordable, and it can really help prevent and, um, reverse disease. There's so many great practitioners on there that you can connect with or learn.

[00:42:48] Maya Acosta: You know, having and making available culturally appropriate foods, it's a great way to help people transition because I'll tell you what, when I made the change, I was trying to eat shepherd's pie. That is not what I grew up with. There's just some foods that don't make sense to me that, you know, and I wasn't into hamburgers. So I'm not gonna have a hamburger now, you know? So if I can veganize and make my foods whole food, plant-based foods that I grew up with, that I love, then I'm more likely to eat those.

[00:43:19] Maya Acosta: And I'm always gonna gravitate towards the Mexican dishes that I grew up with. That's just what works for me now, and I've been able to teach my mom that and not expect to eat foods that like, she'll never have, like noodles. Like FA, she'll never have that. She just doesn't care for that. But I really like the movement and making all of these glasses and information available to communities so that they can identify.

[00:43:42] Maya Acosta: I also think that within a culture, certain cultures, it's not just about the food either. It's about understanding what we are afflicted with. You know, in my community, for years we've had with my family and other family members, extended family members, there's been type two diabetes, all across the board.

[00:44:00] Maya Acosta: Gallbladder problems in the women is a big one in my family too, so, and it's all about our traditions and how our traditions are killing us in, in many ways. Mm-hmm. , is there anything else you'd like to share with my listeners? I know you have a lot going on; maybe I didn't ask about certain things, but what else would you like to share and what's going on with you, and is there anything new that is in the horizon?

[00:44:25] Rhyan Geiger: Oh no, I think we're getting to the end of the year, so there's nothing. Super exciting happening for the rest of this year, but I am having; for the holidays, I'll be doing a vegan gift idea. So if you have a vegan in your life and need some gift ideas, you can check out. That'll be on my Instagram page so you can.

[00:44:45] Rhyan Geiger: Um, head over there and just see. I feel like when I try to plan gifts for people throughout the year, I'm like, oh, that would be a great idea. And then it comes to like gift giving, and I'm like, oh my gosh, what do I get them? Or I forget completely of everything I thought about. So this will be a good way to jog some ideas or to even maybe find new products.

[00:45:05] Maya Acosta: Actually. I love that. That is like the best thing ever, what you just said. Maybe in my own family, I'm gonna suggest some exchange idea, you know, like giving each other kind of like kitchen gadgets. So whatever it is that you have in your mind in terms of what you wanna make available. But I know that I've been posting on my Instagram gadgets mm-hmm.

[00:45:22] Maya Acosta: and I didn't. Yes, I am kind of showing off what I'm using cuz I love kitchen gadgets, but people are interested in knowing where I bought these things. Mm-hmm. , I wanna share with you real quick about a guacamole per server thing that I bought before I hit it on vacation. I had all these avocados and.

[00:45:39] Maya Acosta: Other ingredients I were gonna go bat, so I made guacamole. I made like a big batch according to the size of this thing. I have this per server. And all it does is after you've prepared the guacamole, you just compress the whole thing down, and all the air bubbles like you were talking about mm-hmm. there are gone.

[00:45:55] Maya Acosta: And so I made it two days before I left, and I was eating out of it, but I had planned on taking the whole thing with me on my trip. So I go on my trip. And I forgot the guacamole. I was like, but either way, when you get to Mexico, you have to dump all the food. You can't bring it on. So anyway, I come back, and like seven, eight days later, everything's still preserved and in this thing.

[00:46:20] Maya Acosta: And so I took it out, and I was like, well, I'm not going to eat it because even though it's preserved, The tomatoes have been sitting in there quite a while. I don't know. So I took it out and left it out on in the sink for about a day, and then it browned a little bit on the top, but this thing worked, and I thought, my, everyone in my family needs one of these because that's the biggest thing is when the food goes bad again.

[00:46:41] Maya Acosta: I don't like to waste food. I'm gonna continue to follow you. I'm very excited about all the work that you're doing. I love that you can connect with people like Robert Cheek, who's also in the Phoenix area, and is there anything else you'd like to share about other things that people can find in Phoenix in terms of other support groups or anything else that you may think of?

[00:47:02] Rhyan Geiger: There's, if you're on Facebook, we have some great Facebook groups. There is one called Happy Phoenix Vegans, where things are only happy there, so you can hang out in that group. And then there's also one if you're a girl or if you identify as a woman. You can check out one called Phoenix Vegan Gals. That one is really fun cuz we have get-togethers and go different places just to kind of hang out.

[00:47:30] Rhyan Geiger: We went and did a wine and paint pool, parties, things of that nature. So that is also really great for connecting with people and especially if you're new on your vegan journey. People to encourage you and just kind of root you along. Yeah.

[00:47:44] Maya Acosta: Oh, wonderful. Well, I'm gonna include this in the show notes, and I'll make sure to share with people that I know in the Phoenix area. Well, Rhyan, it's been such a pleasure catching up with you and learning about the work that you're doing and the lives that you're changing in Phoenix and everywhere. Oh, also, if people then are interested in, you know, hiring you as a dietitian coach, someone that can help them to adopt a healthier. What's the best way that they can connect with you?

[00:48:11] Rhyan Geiger: Email is usually going to be the best. It's Rhyan, my first, and or you could go to my website, and there's also a button that says, uh, work with me. So you could click that, and you could schedule it if you didn't if you had a more, If you were ready to talk in a discovery session, I offer discovery sessions at zero cost. So you can just see, like, is it a good fit, and can she answer my questions? You know, that type of thing. Right. You can check it out there, but if you have more specific questions, you can send me an email.

[00:48:42] Maya Acosta: All right. We will have all that information available. Well, I wanna thank you so much for your time. This has been great. Like I said, I love catching up with you. I'll stay in touch. Say hello. I'm sure that I'm going to Phoenix this year to see my family. It's been a while.

[00:48:56] Rhyan Geiger: Yes. Well, it was great to talk with you too. Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.

[00:48:59] Maya Acosta: This was a fun conversation. Thank you, Rhyan, for joining us today. Let's recap my conversation with Rhyan. According to her clients, one of their main questions about adopting a plant-based diet is where they will get their protein. Other issues include guilt and shame around food, especially for women, because society has conditioned us to.

[00:49:20] Maya Acosta: Like, we have to eat a certain amount of calories every day. Also, we feel that there are certain foods that we can't have. We discuss the long-term consequences of fad diets and managing weight issues without becoming obsessed and fixated on weight. Rhyan recommends that people pay attention to what our bodies are saying so that we can see if we are hungry or thirsty.

[00:49:41] Maya Acosta: Rhyan has written a cookbook called Vegan Slow Cooking for two. How Genius. The inspiration came from other slow cooker recipes designed to serve six to eight people. This can be too much food for some of us. Rhyan wanted to make a cookbook for those of us who are in smaller families or who are single.

[00:49:59] Maya Acosta: Make sure to follow Rhyan on social media because, for the holidays, she will be making vegan gift idea recommendations. And again, her Instagram is at Phoenix Vegan Dietician. I'd love to hear. What you think about today's episode, what are some of the food struggles that you've had or some of the successes that you've had?

[00:50:18] Maya Acosta: You can now leave me a slash h ls, and as always, thank you for being a listener. You've been listening to the Healthy Lifestyle Solutions Podcast with your host Maya Acosta. If you've enjoyed this podcast, do us a favor and share with one friend who can benefit from this episode. Feel free to leave us an honest review on Apple Podcast that helps us to spread our message. Thanks for listening.