"For some reason, this little bell went off inside of me and I thought, that is it. That's what I'm gonna do. So I went to the Academy of Healing Nutrition."
We connected with artist and certified holistic nutritionist, Bianca Valle, to chat about sustainability, how she built a career around healing through food, and how her daily mantra, a little bit, often really goes a long way.
Where are you originally from?
I grew up in Southern California, where I was born and raised and then moved to New York seven years ago to attend NYU. I studied film and TV with a minor in art history and like anyone else, I fell in love with the city so I stayed and now live in beautiful Chinatown.
How did you get into holistic nutrition and what drove you to get there?
Well I was working at Nylon Magazine at the time and was the one of the youngest beauty editors there. I had my name on the masthead and was ready to be there for the rest of my life but then one good day, they just decided to cut the entire print issue along with the whole print team. At the time, I think I was 21 and I'm kind of super grateful for it because I didn't hit rock bottom, but as someone fresh out of college working really hard through high school and university, when I got laid off, I was like, what did I just spend eight years of my life doing? But if anything, I think it was exactly what I needed. You know, the universe works in incredibly divine ways.
So from there I really made an effort to dig deep and have conversations, plant seeds, make lists and just truly figure out what healing work I wanted to do. Whether it was working in the food industry and becoming a farmer or in the art world, at a museum, I was just going through different ideas of what really lit me up. One day I was speaking with a friend and she was like, you should go to this academy I went to and get your certification in holistic nutrition and give that a try. For some reason, this little bell went off inside of me and I thought, that is it. That's what I'm gonna do. So I went to the Academy of Healing Nutrition.
Was enrolling to the Academy something you were doing for yourself or did you think it could turn into potential career?
I knew I was super interested in food but I didn't know if it was catering or farming and I came from a very tumultuous relationship with food so I wanted to try to change the food system, and the media around it. I thought I was pretty healed before I got into school, and went into it thinking, yeah I'm going to come out a holistic nutritionist, but it's really beautiful, because during school, I also healed myself even more so than I thought. It's similar to mental health. You think you're healed, and then something triggers you, and you realize you actually need to do more work, that's just life. You need to constantly be doing work on yourself. Going to this school, ultimately gave me a shot catapult of perspective and knowledge. I came out kicking and created my zine, A Note on Wellness, and started my nutrition hotline when I graduated.
Tell us a about your nutrition hotline and what that entails.
Totally, so I've been practicing for almost a year and a half now and once or twice a week I'll take on 15 or so clients in one day. I don't take phone calls every day but I do correspond via text message every day, whether its responding to questions, setting up appointments, etcetera. I'm constantly getting messages from my clients who send me photos of their food or just tell me about their little wins and it's just really exciting.
I would say that I'm almost not even a holistic nutritionist. I'm just a food therapist because at the end of the day, through a holistic lens, you're unpacking everything, you know their lifestyle, their behavior, things of that nature. So I do get the gamut, and I feel like at the end of the day, it just really falls back on self love. A little bit, often.
What does a typical session look like?
We always start on the topic of food because ultimately that's the western evolved idea of what a nutritionist is. You visit your nutritionist, you talk about food, you get a meal plan, then you leave. But that's not a productive cycle anymore because it doesn't get to the root. Ultimately, there is a problem there. If I just gave you a meal plan, that's incredibly topical, you know? What if you go on vacation for example or a pandemic hits? All of a sudden you have limited groceries, so you need to have tools to be malleable. So we begin with food and once I start hearing about their food habits, I guess just through intuition and experience, I can kind of pinpoint what's going on in their life.
What are some things you do in your everyday life that is sustainably focused?
Well, I'm a big hoarder of things that I can reuse, for example I currently started this ceramic chapter of my life. I've always loved ceramics in high school so I decided that I wanted to add it to my repertoire, if you will, so when people purchase my ceramics I'll wrap them in old totes and old makeup bags that have been lying around my house or when I receive products from brands I'll reuse the container or bag they come in and pack my ceramics in that. I have millions of totes so a plastic bag just hasn't been in my orbit in so long.
That's just one thing. I try and buy things in bulk. I buy oats in bulk, my quinoa, all my dry goods in bulk. I don't believe in food going bad and rarely throw things away. I always try and either cut out the bad parts or if I feel like something is about to go bad, I just make what I call 'the fridge soup.' Boil up all of the vegetables that are about to got bad, hit it with a immersion blender and bam, you got a soup.
I'm also always donating and trying to repair things. I really do spend money on repairing my clothing. All my tailors know me very well because I always go and get things fixed. I have a shoe guy, a jeans guy, the coat guy, we need those guys!
Another thing is that I have a limited skincare routine. I really only believe in using natural skincare and using the minimum amount because getting into the beauty trap is also very wasteful. Everything comes in a plastic tube or container and plastic packaging. I only use this one rosehip oil and that's it for skincare. At the end of the day no bottle of anything is going to fix your skin. It's really what's inside of you.
What do you think fashion brands should do to become more ethical and sustainable?
I think a huge thing for me is upcycling. So much already exists on the planet, and I feel like producing new sustainable fabrics is fun and cool, but why waste time, energy and resources on producing something new. That defeats the purpose, let's use what's already in existence. For example, in LA there are warehouses filled with dead stock fabrics. Lets be creative and use something that already exists. I think that going to these warehouses that stow rolls and rolls of dead stock is really where its at.
Apart from your healing nutrition services, are there any other current projects you're working on or creative outlets you've gravitated to during quarantine?
Totally, so I launched all of my ceramics during quarantine. I've started with candleholders and will be making plates and mugs really soon, but for now, it's candleholders and little clay fruit. I also started crocheting again and attempting a top but it's so intense, and it takes so much effort that it will probably take me four years but a top is the goal.
As we all know NYC can be nuts at times. Is there a place in the city where you go to unwind? Somewhere that centers you and brings you peace?
So believe it or not, there's a park here in Chinatown that is my little secret. It's incredibly undiscovered and is just the most wholesome, beautiful place ever. I am also a big podcast listener and really like relationship podcasts and listen to this guy named Mark Groves and this gal named Lacey Philips. Their podcasts are about human connection in general, not focused on dating specifically but rather the bigger concept. It's like, okay, how can you give someone space or hold space for someone and how can you apply that to anyone or anything in your life.
Thanks to Bianca for chatting with us! Hope this journal inspires you to live a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, and remember a little bit, often goes a long way.