“A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.”- Buddaha
I was so excited to meet Nan Allison and once we started chatting I just wanted to sit and listen to all her life adventures. This woman is a true gem! We met at Edgehill Café in Nashville which was a cozy spot to sip on some coffee. She exudes strength, wisdom, and grace. She spent a part of her childhood as a blonde-hair, blue-eyed girl in India. Nan and her parents lived in the mountains of India. She remembers the scents of the marketplace to this day. Nan’s father worked in agriculture and was a protestant missionary there. She has gone back to India six times since she left as a child bringing back items such as fabrics from her special visits. Nan loves to travel and she has a deep appreciation for India in particular. She plans to go back there next year and looks forward to exploring it more.
College is a time that shapes some of us as we live on our own, pick our majors to help determine our future and our first internships. At first, Nan decided she would major in political science but quickly switched to nutrition. Her decision to change majors was partly due to a paper she read on public health and local hunger issues. She was pleasantly surprised about loving the bio-chem classes which were required courses for Nutrition majors. During that time most dieticians trained so they could work in hospitals but Nan knew this was not a route for her so she took more community classes. Another experience in college that shaped her was a “magical summer in Nantucket”. She inquired about a posting in college where a lady was needing help over the summer. This inquiry led her to Mrs. Anne W. Sanford who owned 300 acres in Nantucket and was looking for summer help from May till September. Nan said it was “another world for me and exposure to another style of society”. She would go to the local dairy and farm stands every morning to get groceries and she would make poached eggs, Welch Warwick and all of Sanford’s meal requests. Years later these 300 acres were sold to Nantucket Conservation, a foundation Sanford was a “founding member” of, to protect the land from being developed. Now this special land that Nan spent that amazing summer on are known as The Sanford Farm.
After graduating from the University of Tennessee, she took an internship in Memphis with the UT Child Development Center serving families and their children with developmental disorders and worked with a team that had an integrated approach. She said this internship gave her great experience and training. After that opportunity she worked with another grant program in a juvenile detention center. She said this “was out of my element”. She worked with a retired Army sergeant and through the program it gave the boys in juvenile detention experience in food service. In Nan’s early 20s, she was hired by the Regional Director of Public Health as a noncertified nutritionist. It was during this time she was advised to get her Master’s degree so she went to Tufts University in Massachusetts. She had received a full scholarship to this Master’s program at Tufts University. This two year program allowed Nan to gain education as well as internship experience. Her thesis paper was on Asian refugees nutrition and their food habits there verse their food habits here in the United States. Nan said “I had no idea the value I was getting”.
Going through all these life experiences Nan felt like she was absorbing it all. Yet, she went on to explain she didn’t know who she was till she was 40. She said one of her biggest accomplishments is staying with the business and evolving with it as it has changed a lot over the years. Nan has owned Allison Nutrition Consulting since 1987. She has helped others through body image classes and nutrition counseling for her clients with food disorders, diabetes, and allergies. She has helped others develop a relationship with food and help them see nutrition information in a useful light while keeping it simple. In the past she has liked being connected to about fifteen to twenty clients at a time and seeing around ten per week. She is trying to scale back and starting to handoff clients to other dieticians. Nan said she would like it if she could help about five clients a week and slowly turn her business over to someone else, focus more on program development, and stay in an advisory role.
Her successful experience as a nutritionist led her to Jason Denenberg the founder of NourishWise. Just speaking of her involvement with NourishWise got Nan excited. From Nan’s first meeting with Denenberg she believed in his mission of making nutrition information available to people in our community. NourishWise‘s website says “We simplify healthy eating at restaurants.” This app can help people take their nutrition to another level. Nan was part of a team of dieticians with NourishWise that analyzed meals at local restaurants breaking it down to protein, carbs, fat and calories. The company website states that “the typical meal while eating out is over 1205 calories. All of our approved dishes are under 800 calories, allowing you to eat guilt free.” Nan has loved watching Denenberg take nutrition to another level with watching him develop NourishWise. She said projects like this keep her inspired, create a new aspect of learning, and keep her excited for the possibilities of new ideas. NourishWise has 20,000 subscribers currently with 150 local restaurant options such as Ground Restaurant, Frothy Monkey, Taziki’s Mediterranean Café, Puckett’s Grocery, City Fire Nashville and so many more. Let NourishWise help you decide what to pick next when you are looking at options on a menu!
Nan is one fascinating woman helping serve others through serving clients at Allison Nutrition Consulting, co-author of Full and Fullfilled: the Science of Eating to Your Soul’s Satisfaction and reaching out into her community through opportunities such as NourishWise. She loves to learn and constantly challenging herself with new opportunities. This lover of food, nutrition, and travel also loves textiles and even attended O’More College of Design for two years. Nothing holds this woman back from a challenge in life! Go and live a full life like Nan does. Do the things you love, learn from everything around you and constantly keep challenging yourself. You will surprise yourself with the places you will go, people you will meet, and the opportunities that present themselves.