Abby Cannon loved dancing and yoga growing up, but once she reached college, she left the ballet barre and looked toward the law bar instead. While studying, she switched from a super active lifestyle to one that was anything but.
In her second year of law school, this Long Island native went to see a dietitian to prepare for her sister’s wedding. She began to prioritize her health again, choosing salads instead of easy mac, and noticed how much better she started feeling—and how much she enjoyed learning more about nutrition and wellness.
Eventually this interest became an overwhelming fascination, and Cannon knew she needed to redirect her life toward the health world. Now, she works as a registered dietician for the plant-based food delivery and coaching company, Euphebe—and got to her new professional home in record time. Read on to learn why she decided to change course—and how she made it happen.
SBS: How was health and wellness part of your time as an attorney?
Abby Cannon: When I started working as an attorney, I had a very stressful job. A few months in, I was blue, struggling and exhausted. I told myself I had to stay at the job. But to do so, I needed to prioritize myself. So I started to do a deep dive into nutritional science and when I should work out.
I quickly discovered I needed to be eating more veggies; I wasn’t eating as many as I thought I was. I also learned I had to meal prep on the weekends. Next, I noticed I worked out in the morning, but usually wouldn’t eat until 11am. So I started eating right after I worked out to be sated. I got into a routine of eating small meals every few hours so I wouldn’t feel sluggish. That helped me power through the day. I worked out every morning and also made sure to hit 17, 500 steps a day. Every 30 minutes I got up and did a lap. I always took the long route to the bathroom to get my blood flowing.
In doing all this, a bunch of colleagues started to come to me for wellness advice. They would ask about meal prep and workouts I was trying. I remember meeting this attorney who didn’t exercise or move ever. But I talked to her, and by the time I ended up leaving, she had a Fitbit and was tracking her steps. I realized I had a lot to give in that area…more than I did in any other area.
SBS: How did you finally make the switch from being an attorney to being a dietician?
AC: In 2015, I realized my job wasn’t working for me, so I decided to leave my job and regroup. I realized I really wanted to do nutrition, and corporate wellness in particular. I had noticed the benefit of cultivating a healthy culture in the office myself, and I thought if I had the training, I could help others do the same. That way I could merge my background with my new work.
So, I decided to become a dietitican. I completed my training at Queens College in two and a half years, which is fast, and I did my internship through Wellness Workdays, including my clinical rotation, community outpatient rotation and elderly rotation.
They also had a focus on corporate wellness, which was exactly what I wanted to do. I learned what went into a corporate wellness program and how to make them successful. Part of my internship was at Euphebe. I loved the team and work so much, I started working there in October.
SBS: How do you make a corporate wellness program successful?
AC: You need to assess the employees right at the start, so you can figure out what’s most important. You don’t do a smoking cessation program if nobody smokes! Then take a deep dive into the culture of the office. What prevents everyone from meeting health goals? How can we help foster the healthy culture in that environment? That’s where the customization comes in.
SBS: What is Euphebe?
AC: It’s a plant-based food and coaching company, and we have a 28-day program designed to reboot your health. Natural Gourmet Institute chefs prepare meals in our Brooklyn kitchen; all menus are approved by dietitians. You get six lunches and six dinners per week, all plant-based. We make them fresh in the kitchen, and then they arrive frozen for convenience.
For breakfast, side plates and snacks, we provide our personalized nutritional coaching to answer all questions. We have found that healthy meals plus support is the winning combo for our clients.
We also work with physicians. They often use the program as a way to prevent clients from going on meds, or to help them weaning off meds. That’s the most exciting part: We’re improving health. We include items like tracking blood work, so the improvements are tangible, not just aesthetic.
SBS: What are the most common misconceptions when people consider starting a food delivery program?
AC: Sometimes people don’t think healthy food will be delicious. Or they worry they won’t be satisfied. But within the first week, they see that’s not true. I think because restaurants or take-out spots offer such huge portion sizes, people can be disillusioned at appropriate portion sizes. So when they see the food, they think the size of it will never fill them up. But soon they find, they’re totally satisfied. A lot of times those huge portions don’t have the nutrients your body needs. So even though you’re eating a lot, your cells are still starving for those nutrients. So when you eat those nutrients you need, your body isn’t in starvation mode. You feel satisfied.
SBS: What are your tips for fitness?
AC: Exercise is a huge component in a healthy life. At Euphebe, we work with a lot of personal trainers and gyms, and we help clients connect with them. Also, switch it up, and find what’s fun for you.
SBS: What are the most common obstacles in an office?
AC: Snacks! Everyone has M&Ms in the office. And every time you pass the kitchen and see them, you’re triggered to eat them. Getting healthy snacks into an office is key to staying on track. You can cut up vegetables like carrots or celery, plus try popcorn, hummus, fruits and nut butters.
SBS: What are your tips for maintaining health while working in an office?
AC: First, start small. Pick something you can focus on and get a small win going. When I’m working with clients, I suggest they make half of their plate veggies during lunch and dinner. I tell them I don’t care what else they’re eating, as long as they’re eating those veggies. Then they see how they feel. Ask if you feel satisfied. Start there. That small win will motivate you forward.
Next, if you can, meal prep on the weekend. Make a big batch of chili or a big salad you can portion out to five meals. That’s a game changer for me. Grabbing at straws throughout the week is hard to overcome.
Also, stay active throughout the day. If you don’t work out in the morning or can’t fit in time for the gym, take the long route to the bathroom, take the stairs and squeeze in activity throughout the day in any way you can.
SBS: Since working with Euphebe, what changes have you made personally?
AC: This month, I’m doing our reboot program. I have a sweet tooth, and we recommend no added sugar! I have a great diet overall, but I realized I really don’t need the added sugar, which includes white sugar and maple syrup. This isn’t to say they’re terrible for you, but they spike your blood sugar. It’s a nice exercise to ask, ‘Do I really need that?’ Instead, I make things like banana bread with overripe bananas so you don’t need added sweetener. I also love prunes! They’re naturally sweet. I have three a day, sometimes with peanut butter on them.
SBS: What’s a trend in wellness you’d rather see go away?
AC: I hate when people say it’s easy. It’s only easy when it’s your routine. It’s not easy. If it were we wouldn’t be in this health epidemic. That makes being unhealthy easier. You beat up on yourself when you say: ‘It’s easy. So why am I not doing it?’
SBS: What are wellness trends you love?
AC: I love the trend to be more mindful and more intuitive, especially while eating. I think that’s refreshing. It’s helpful to talk about food and wellness from this different perspective. I also love the topic of eco nutrition and zero waste living, as I myself I live a low-waste lifestyle. I rarely use plastic, and I shop in the bulk section!
Abby’s NYC Favorites:
Healthy Restaurant: Ancolie and Ellary’s Greens
Splurge Restaurant: abcV
Online Workouts: Rise By We and Kait Hurley
Yoga Options: Mind Body Bowl, Steffy White’s and Madeleine Shaw’s YouTube channels
Athleticwear: Beyond Yoga
Athletic Shoes: Nike Free Run Flyknit
Fun Activity: Cooking class at the Natural Gourmet Institute
Calming Activity: Lying on the floor or going on a walk
Nightlife spot: My bed! I’m a morning person!
Online resource: nutritiouslife.com
Books: The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz and The Blue Zones Solution by Dan Buettner
The best, zaniest part of being Abby:
I have dances to the theme songs of all the TV shows I watch. When my husband and I start a new show, I choreograph my dance, and then I never let him fast forward through the theme song.
Abby’s SBS Mantra: Be Kind. Every night growing up my mom told my sister and I, ‘Be kind to people. It’s the most important thing.’ And she’s right, of course. Imagine what would happen if everyone was just a little bit kinder and more considerate to each other, to ourselves and to our Earth.