Portland Dietitian Elke Schleiss

A different kind of nutritionist

What makes me different from other dietitians or nutritionists? I am not the food police! I do not believe in “diet plans,” deprivation or restriction. As your dietitian, I want to dig deep and learn more about your relationship with food over your whole lifetime ; What better way than this to determine what informs your current beliefs and attitudes about nutrition? I think it is important for us to explore these attitudes together early on in order to determine which of these beliefs are helpful and which are barriers to your ability to develop a healthy and enjoyable relationship with food
I believe that knowledge is power. Consequently, part of my approach is to give you the keys to the kingdom – I love to educate and give you as many reputable resources as possible for you to develop smart, informed opinions about the nutrition myths, food fads and diet crazes that abound.

Finally, I utilize my advanced training in both clinical nutrition and Intuitive Eating nutrition counseling to explore with you a more mindful and self-aware relationship with food as a way to live the vibrant life you deserve.

No Prepackaged Nutrition Advice

All of my clients are unique, with a different set of life experiences, family histories, genetic profiles and an array of interests, talents and abilities. Consequently, as a dietitian I do not offer pre-packaged diet/meal plans or a “one-size-fits-all” approach for anyone with whom I work. My goal is to be an enthusiastic and empathetic partner with my clients to determine their specific set of needs, circumstances, challenges and opportunities in order to develop a healthy respect for themselves and, along with it, a healthy and enjoyable relationship with the food that nourishes them.

Interest in nutrition is born

I became interested in food in general when I was two years old and discovered how to climb up the chair & onto the dining room table top where the butter dish rested. I pulled the butter down onto the floor and sat delightedly taking bites of the white/yellowy goodness until I was discovered by my slightly irritated mother. Awesome. Somewhat later, I learned that there were all sorts of nutrients in the world and I learned that they affect the human body in myriad ways. The more I learned, the more I was hooked. I enrolled in nutrition classes to learn the science of nutrition, but my true passion was realized when I began to teach what I’d learned to others and see how nutrition counseling can be tailored to meet the needs of so many. I loved the intersect between science, nutrition, physical wellness and the emotional associations that come with food, meals and family. Keeping all of the roles of nutrition in mind while learning the particular life experiences and the impact of nutrition’s roles in the lives of my clients is what interests me about nutrition. The opportunity to work with clients in reaching a healthy, peaceful, enjoyable place with food in their lives is what I love about my job.

Why I became a nutritionist

I went back to school to become a registered dietitian when I realized the role of food as medicine and its impact on preventative diseases. I knew I wanted to pursue this profession specifically because not only do I love the science of nutrition, but because I adore working with people in exploring nutrition’s impact on their wellbeing. I also saw the impact that a disordered relationship with food (be it anorexia, bulimia or binge eating) can have on the hearts and minds of those dealing with the disorder and their families, as well. I wanted to be able to walk next to people working through these illnesses and support their determination to regain the healthy relationship with food they deserve to enjoy.

My nutritional education

I first attended Pacific University where I earned a degree in history. Not something that you would expect when working with a nutrition professional. But, I find that the skills of research, critical thinking and an ability to clearly state my observations and thoughts helped me to become a stronger nutrition counselor.

I later returned to college at Oregon State University (OSU) when my personal interest in nutrition, health and wellness led me to want to pursue these interests professionally. With my strong liberal arts background, I was surprised to find out how much I loved my science courses, which included Anatomy and Physiology, Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biology, Exercise Physiology, Macronutrients and Micronutrients. Learning the biological and chemical processes affected by nutrients shined a light on what was the mystery of food’s impact on so many physical processes.
But that was only half of my education. I took courses in Community Nutrition, Nutrition Through the Lifecycle and Psychology, which opened my eyes to the application of what I’d learned and how to teach what I’d learned to others
Prior to, and during my time, at OSU, I volunteered at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), assisting in a research project exploring the effects of nutrition on the hormones that influence feelings of hunger and fullness. I volunteered at Head Start, working with preschoolers and monitoring the impact of their nutritional status at home (how it impacted their blood chemistry, ability to learn and height and weight development) as well as ensuring the school nutrition program met federal standards. I was also involved in developing nutrition education curriculum, which was so fun!

After Oregon State, I attended OHSU for my internship in Dietetics. There I put my nutrition education into practical use, providing nutrition support in the acute care setting as well as developing relationships with patients I counseled in outpatient clinics. It was at OHSU that I had the opportunity to practice in several areas of nutrition, which allowed me to find my greatest interest is in private practice as a nutrition counselor.