NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — It’s a casual day of grocery shopping for Monica Zeldin. But these days, she’s not doing it alone.

Ever since she began visiting the ER due to extreme stomach pains, her registered dietitian nutritionist, Dahlia Marin, stepped in to guide her with what she puts in to her body.

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“Having Dahlia with me while I shop for fruits and vegetables is like having a world open up new possibilities. She is showing me so many different ways to basically use a peach and a pear. And it’s giving me so many different ideas for how to cook for my son,” Zeldin said.

She wants to make sure her child doesn’t encounter any gastrointestinal issues as she once did. It’s why she and Marin are intentional with the types of fruits and vegetables being purchased.

“Now that I’ve been eating whole food plant based I’ve never had more energy. My head is clear, my gut is happy. I seriously have a garden now inside my gut and its feeling amazing,” said Zeldin.

But amazing wasn’t always the word she would use to describe her gut. Visiting Marin's clinic frequently, her nutritionist helped her identify why her stomach was constantly in pain.

One major culprit: a lack of fiber, and an unnecessarily high-protein diet.

“More and more people nowadays are being diagnosed with IBS, irritable bowel syndrome, IBD, irritable bowel disease. And so we are hearing more and more about people with Krohns, Colitis, and a large portion of why that is happening is because 97 percent of Americans are not getting the very low recommended amount of fiber,” said Marin.

That’s why Marin’s guidance is so important. While irritable bowel syndrome is now a thing of the past for Zeldin, 15 percent of adult Americans suffer from the disease. It is one the most common disorders seen by health experts, and now these days, Zeldin is enjoying a creative approach to her plant-based diet.

“I actually can go in to the produce section and I see a variety of different recipes that I can make in my mind,” she said.

Marin says, it’s baby steps. One healthy decision at a time.