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Meet Zach Cordell – The Latter-Day Saint Nutritionist in Phoenix

Today we’d like to introduce you to Zach Cordell.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Zach. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I got into nutrition in high school when I recognized a lot of medical issues my family faced had to do with poor nutrition. It wasn’t until I started college that I realized there is such a cultural component to health. I started my degree thinking I would go into international nutrition, but the more I studied I realized more and more that cultural is individual and universal. I worked with immigrants and refugee’s in North Carolina during my undergrad, I partnered with the Native American University students for my graduate degree in Massachusetts and worked at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut to continue understanding the clinical side of health. Throughout all of this, what I realized is that you don’t have to travel across the world, or work with developing countries to recognize that our history influences our behaviors. Now, I am a registered dietitian nutritionist, a lecturer at ASU, author, podcaster, and public speaker.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I think smooth can be a relative term, but it has been an adventure. My wife and I have been married for eight years and moved ten times. Each new location has its challenges. We have traveled to school and work. We have fostered children and given birth to our twin daughters. We have embraced change, though we haven’t always liked it. Through my academic studies, I had advisors that changed jobs, leaving me without a faculty mentor. We have lost family members during this time. Working with the community, there are always changes and trials that come, specifically with research. We continue to learn and grow and I think that is what gives us the drive to continue. I have started and stopped business and changed directions. I have tried new things and they haven’t always worked, but we continue to try.

We’d love to hear more about your practice.
Like I’ve stated before I work with cultures. I focus on the environment, community, and culture and the impact that they can have on our health. For the past few years, I have focused on how faith influences our health, specifically within the Latter-day Saint community (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). I aim to help people better understand health through the lens of faith and the role that faith culture can play in health behaviors.

Some of the things I have done that I am most proud of include my podcast, The Latter-day Saint Nutritionist, and the fact that I have published two books, “The Creation Code” and “40 Days”. Each of these discusses faith principles that require readers to reflect on our health behaviors and perception of who we are. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak for a week at Brigham Young University about faith, food, and health.

The reason this is different is that most medical professionals would rather talk about your bowel movements than they would your faith. And whether you believe someone’s faith is right or wrong, it shapes their world view and behaviors. Food and faith are two of the most personal topics an individual may approach in their life, and they intersect! That’s where I come in.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
First, I would say that having a support team is a big plus. My wife encourages me and supports me in my endeavors. I have had the mentality of, “why not try it” for a long time and the times I get scared or overwhelmed, she reminds me of that saying.

One thing I have done for years is to set goals, weekly, monthly, yearly, and five year goals. This has helped me to see the progress that I am making and not get discouraged by the things I would still like to do, but haven’t accomplished yet.

Finally, another extremely helpful belief is the idea that “you don’t fail, you learn”. This has been a big sticking point for me over the years. It’s not always easy, and it’s not always fun. Sometimes you think, “why am I doing this again?” but if you have a vision of where you’d like to be, there is clarity. And as the verse goes, “where there is no vision, the people perish”.

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