Registered Dietitian Maya Feller Shares Her Recipe for a Good Life
The Brooklyn-based nutrition expert shares her approach to eating healthfully—and a few of her favorite things, too.
When she was growing up, the world came to Maya Feller's kitchen. "My mom's table was always full of women from around the globe having awesome, energetic discussions over a meal," she recalls. It wasn't until after college that the Massachusetts native grasped the connection between eating and health. "I was training for the Boston Marathon, and at about mile 12 I would think, Where did breakfast go? I decided to find out."
Feller earned an MS in clinical nutrition at New York University, then worked at community-based nonprofits before starting her own practice in 2013. Rather than shoehorning clients into dietary guidelines, she listens as carefully as she analyzes lab results. "There's no one-size-fits-all way to eat healthfully, so I ask who they are, how their work-life balance is, and what they need and want," she says. Her personal approach makes her a sought-after expert on TV; for appearances, she clicks on Rent the Runway to borrow vivid pieces by designers like Derek Lam, Ulla Johnson, and A.L.C. "If I had my way, I'd roam around the house in gowns all the time," she says with a laugh. In reality, the mom of two tackles the day in comfy pants and cozy sweaters.
Reflecting on her formative family meals, Feller offers this very adaptable recipe for a relaxed, healthy diet: "Make choices that are balanced, delicious, and pleasure-filled," she says. "Then add more plants." Root vegetables and members of the onion family are good-for-you add-ons, too: "I always have a huge basket of garlic, onions, shallots, and ginger. I love them for their antioxidant, antimicrobial, and phytonutrient capabilities."
Feller knows that this time of year, in particular, is one of health shifts—but she has a few opinions about your New Year's resolutions: "Post-holidays is not the time to restrict or cut out food groups. It's a time to set one's intentions for the weeks and months ahead," she explains. "Rather than saying, 'Don't eat the candy bar,' try moving your body in the sunlight. We all need to get out in the fresh air for our mental health." And don't forget to be patient with yourself—now more than ever. "Your nutritional health exists on a spectrum. This is an especially stressful time. Instead of feeling guilt, give yourself grace." After all, she says, healthful eating is just one of many ways to feel good—giving back is another one. "I support the Campaign Against Hunger. It makes a real impact in the New York City community." Ahead, Feller shares a few of her everyday essentials, from sneakers with flair and colorful sweaters to mindful snacks and her go-to dishware.
"It elevates my look instantly."
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"I wear a lot of bright colors. This cute sweater is a favorite."
Shop Now: Cos Fine Turtleneck Wool Top, $69, cosstores.com.
"I get cold easily, and this is light enough to stuff in a bag."
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"They fit well and are great quality."
Shop Now: Nicole Miller Lurex Denim Jeans, $195, nicolemiller.com.
"They're super-simple and a good value."
Shop Now: Crate & Barrel Rings Double Old-Fashioned Glasses, $24.95 for 12, crateandbarrel.com.
"It's sleek and compact, which is important, or I'd carry half of Brooklyn with me."
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"I like a little flair, and these are extra-comfortable with a touch of leopard print."
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"We got a set for our wedding. They're gorgeous for every day."
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Jasmine Essential Oil
"Magic for my heels."
Shop Now: Kneipp Soothing Calendula & Orange Foot Repair Butter, $22, ulta.com.
Multipurpose Cleaning Solution
"I wrap up in it on the couch every night, with either my husband or the kids."
Shop Now: Woolrich Atlas Blanket in Gray, $110, woolrich.com.
"It feels good in my hands and gives a nice sip."
Shop Now: Bodum Bistro Mug, $35.14 for two, amazon.com.