What is your name and occupation?
Jody Perrecone, Certified Nutrition Consultant
Where are you from originally and what led you to Bauman College?
I am from Rockford, Illinois, which is 75 miles northwest of Chicago. I had the privilege of working for Dr. Hans Diehl, the founder of CHIP (Complete Health Improvement Program) for 12 years. Dr. Diehl is one of the top health and wellness experts in the country.
While working for CHIP, I saw first hand that people who participated in the program experienced significant improvements in their health by making simple lifestyle changes. I wanted to have credentials to be able to help people slow down, stop, and reverse chronic diseases and enjoy optimal health.
I researched several colleges, and Bauman College was just what I was looking for. The education I received at Bauman College was comprehensive in that it addressed the wellness of the whole person—body, mind, and spirit.
The curriculum was exceptional and I liked the fact that my assignments became the foundation of my portfolio. Upon completion of the program, I was fortunate to do an internship at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, which was well received.
Tell us about your journey from graduation to your current occupation.
Upon graduation, I felt confident starting my own business, Perrecone Wellness LLC. I focused on getting clients from various sources including networking groups, social media, speaking engagements, and increased volunteering in the community.
What are your favorite and least favorite parts of your job?
Honestly, I don’t have a least favorite part of my job! I enjoy working one-on-one with clients to help them reach their health goals. Seeing clients “get it” when they understand that their lifestyle has a significant impact on their health is exciting. They become motivated because they now have hope rather than a feeling of despair regarding the state of their health.
Knowing they have someone who cares and has their best interests in mind during their journey gives them hope and confidence and lessens their fear of failure.
What state do you work in? Are there challenges to working as a Nutrition Consultant in your state? If so, how do you handle those challenges? Have you found success in spite of these laws?
I work in Illinois and focus on what I am allowed to do by law rather than focusing on what I cannot do.
In Illinois, I cannot compile meal plans or recommend specific supplements unless I am affiliated with a supplement company (the law was modified when legislators realized the way the law was originally written would have prohibited people who worked in vitamin stores from recommending vitamins!).
If a client would benefit from a specific vitamin, mineral, etc., I give them a written report of what the vitamin or mineral is, explain how it works to improve their condition, and list foods that have a high concentration of that particular vitamin or mineral. I also will provide recipes for the client to prepare with those specific nutrient-rich foods in them. I have found this works very well.
I have two physicians I will refer clients to. One is very holistic and the other is a functional doctor. I have never referred a client who has not invited me to accompany them. This is very beneficial, as I can best explain to the doctor what approach we have done to address the client’s health concerns, and the doctor can make recommendations. I can then follow through with the recommendations the doctor makes to the client, which most often is something I could not legally recommend according to Illinois law.
It is ironic that I can go ten miles north of Rockford, Illinois, into Wisconsin—which does not have the restrictions—and recommend supplements if needed and do meal planning. I do have clients that reside in Wisconsin.
How do you stay abreast of the changing nutrition laws in your state?
I have met with my state senator various times. I have provided him with a copy of the law and have explained the role of certified nutrition consultants and how they complement the healthcare field.
Illinois politics are unique in that nothing goes to the House floor for a vote without the blessing of the Speaker of the House. There is a bill on the Speaker’s desk, but he has not yet moved forward on it. I have also had contact with the Center for Nutrition Advocacy.
Are there any special projects you’re working on now? What do you hope to accomplish professionally?
I am a part of the “healthy lifestyles” team of Transform Rockford, a group that is working to improve our community to make it a top 20 city by 2020. Our team is working to bring the Blue Zone to Rockford.
The team from Blue Zone has come to Rockford twice to meet with us and our team is now working to secure funds to bring the program to Rockford.
Professionally, I want to help people have the best life good health can offer them.
Do you have any advice for students/graduates who would like to work as Nutrition Consultants in your state?
I encourage people not to be discouraged by the laws. The laws in Illinois are not so limiting that it makes it impossible to be a nutrition consultant. There is plenty we can do within the scope of practice and still have a positive impact on our clients.