Food has always played a special role in Navil Lorenzana’s life. “My family is huge, and we see each other all the time,” shares the Long Beach native, who is first-generation Mexican American. “Food is what brings us together.”
A certified yoga instructor, health and wellness has long interested her deeply. “When I had my daughter, I was introduced to a dietitian who focused on educating lower-income populations. Immediately I became interested in the field of nutrition with a more academic approach and wanted to learn the science behind it.”
Navil left her career of teaching yoga and went back to school at California State University, Long Beach to pursue a science degree, earning a Bachelor of Science in nutrition and dietetics with a minor in food science before starting a dietetic internship and earning a master’s degree through Utah State University.
Following her studies at CSULB, she became a dietary technician at an eating disorder center. She volunteered at a housing development and taught a cooking class focused on using donated produce from local farmers markets around the Long Beach area. Navil also help in a food pantry that gives food to patients living with HIV/AIDS.
Today, as Terranea’s resident nutritionist, Navil is instrumental in menu development and planning. With the chefs she creates balanced items that are not only delicious but also nourishing for resort guests. She offers nutrition education through a biweekly column that discusses various topics of general nutrition and wellness to better inform the Terranea staff.
But her role as nutritionist was not her first job at the resort. She initially came to Terranea as a bartender at catalina kitchen while completing her degree.
“I established a professional relationship with executive chef Bernard Ibarra,” she says. “I shared with him the power of food and the things that I have encountered within my job as a dietary technician and volunteering within the community.” Chef Ibarra later approached Navil about working within the culinary department as a nutritionist.
Navil’s approach to nutrition at Terranea is “all foods fit,” believing this to be the key to overall health and wellness. Not a fan of “restrictive eating and yo-yo dieting,” she hopes to educate people to eat wholesome food and build awareness of what food means and what it does to our body on a cellular level.
“People think exterior appearances represent health and wellness,” she explains. “We are so often driven to how we look on the outside rather than how we feel on the inside. Health is achievable at any size.”
For people looking to make a change to their nutrition, she suggests keep a three-day food diary and writing down everything you eat. Once complete, she recommends taking it to a dietitian and setting up a nutrition counseling session. She also advises cooking as often as possible and enjoying the food without regret or guilt.
Since beginning her new role at Terranea, Navil has been instrumental in the resort’s Chefs to End Hunger program, which donates excess, never-served food to the Midnight Mission in DTLA. She’s also a member of the Green Team, a group that discuses and suggests innovative approaches to be more sustainable at work and in life. She’s known to give presentations on wellness topics during lunch breaks at Lunch and Learn, and she supported a fundraising event to raise money for a community garden called The Growing Experience in a lower-income area of Long Beach.
One of her proudest moments is helping open solviva, a healthy dining eatery adjacent to the Spa Pool at Terranea. “It’s my favorite outlet, as it is where I work most of the time,” she says. “The food is just perfect for me. It makes me happy to see chef de cuisine RJ Dela Merced’s creations come alive and nourish the body and soul.”
Navil relishes working in a place where innovation, drive and creativity run through the veins of her colleagues. “We are expected to do things with passion and inspiration, and I get to do that every day within my department,” she says. “I believe that feeding people is a very noble and selfless act. Being in food service in combination with nutrition is very fulfilling for me.”
Written by Darren Elms
About the Farm-to-Table series: Sometimes the freshest and most delicious way to serve our guests is to harvest our cuisine’s ingredients right from the land and sea around our beautiful resort.
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