How I live: holistic nutritionist Bianca Valle

Bianca Valle explains how she became a holistic nutritionist, painter, photographer, zine-maker and artist running a phone-based nutrition hotline.

‘I grew up in San Diego and was always the creative kid, the one who was wearing something different and doing something different. When I graduated from high school I got into NYU and I thought New York seemed like a place for me, where everyone could express themselves. So I moved to New York, studied film and TV and interned everywhere. I was obsessed with interning. And when I graduated I got a job at Milk Studios and ran their social media. About six months in I got an email from the beauty director at Nylon magazine, where I had interned. She said “Bianca, I have an opening for a beauty editor and I’d love for you to join.”

I was beauty editor for two issues, but then the print magazine folded. ‘I discovered I wanted to work in food, I just didn’t know what – catering, farming, working with a local grocery store, doing stuff like that. One of my friends said I should go back to school and get a certification in nutrition. And I said, “Oh my goodness, that’s exactly what I want to do.” So I went to a school in New York that was very niche, mostly focused on Chinese medicine. It was a year-long programme. Towards the end, near graduation, we had assignments to turn in. I basically turned my assignment into the real deal. Before I graduated I essentially had my nutrition consultancy set up.’

‘When I moved to NYC I was sharing on my Instagram (@vbiancav) where I was eating, doing this, doing that. When I got my jobs at Milk and Nylon, my IG was like the Devil Wears Prada channel — I was in and out of these brands and companies and people were interested in that. When my community saw I was studying nutrition, my inbox was suddenly filled with curious people saying: “Tomatoes make me really bloated – what do you recommend?” Or: “I’ve heard of intermittent fasting, what do you think?” I started getting so many questions. And I said, “Okay, there’s all this energy coming at me and I have to do something with it. It’s against my moral compass to ignore it.”

I thought the best way to help people find their answers would be to speak with them on the phone and addressing their individual nutrition concerns. ‘I thought, why not get a crappy old iPhone, open up a new number and have people call me – and do it on a donation basis, because I really believe in accessibility. It would have been unfair if I was charging people crazy amounts of money for information that is their birthright. I want to help people be happier.

Ultimately, if you put good in, you get good out. ‘That took off. I would open the hotline one day a week and speak to 15 people. I would say on my IG Stories: “The next nutrition hotline day is next Tuesday, DM for a slot.” They’d DM me and I’d give them the phone number. I’ve been doing this for a year. My practice is 15 minute calls and then I also offer more in-depth client work. And since it’s all done on the phone, I can work from anywhere.’

On making

‘I’ve always been a creative person and I’ve been painting my whole life. When I was a kid, pre-internet, I would entertain myself by painting on the walls. These days I post about my paintings on Instagram without explicitly saying “for sale.” A few people have commissioned some pieces. There’s no form or method really, it just happens when it happens. Every now and then someone will be like, “I’m moving into an apartment and need a painting, what have you got?”.

On the zine

‘For a project at school we were asked to make some tangible piece of information – brochures or pamphlets, for instance. I thought, let’s make something fun and beautiful – a zine with very basic nutrition information. If people are too nervous to speak on the phone, I urge them to buy my zine. I handwrote it, it’s on recycled paper, it’s 20 pages, I write “LOL” like six times. I’ve sold 1,200 copies of it in a year.

Read more stories of people living on their own terms.

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