Shira Hirshberg, MS, RDN, LDN
Why did you choose to specialize in gastroenterology?
When I started my first job in a primary care office, I found myself drawn to both the complexity of treating digestive issues and the rapid improvements in quality of life my patients could experience. I still enjoy the challenge of combining information about a person’s experience, food intake and behavior to design evidence-based, personalized treatment. It is very empowering for my patients when they are able to understand the impact of food on their digestive system and can make choices based on that knowledge. I really enjoy being a part of that process.
What are your areas of special interest and expertise within gastroenterology?
I help patients with digestive symptoms like bloating, diarrhea or constipation who are having trouble deciding what to eat. I often work with people who have difficulty eating enough or have anxiety around eating related to their symptoms. I have expertise in managing dietary patterns to reduce digestive symptoms and help patients feel satisfied throughout the day. I also have experience helping patients with irritable bowel syndrome identify the foods that work best for them and those that don’t serve them. Together we use that information to create delicious and satisfying meals. I use scientific evidence to guide my recommendations in combination with individual experiments since every person and every gastrointestinal tract is unique.
Do you have any special honors, recognition, or achievements in your medical career that you would like to share?
I have organized and conducted trainings on weight stigma for a variety of healthcare providers and lectured on a variety of topics from intuitive eating, mood & energy management and behavior change facilitation to nonprofits, tech start-ups and conferences. I’ve also appeared in live nutrition segments with a local news organization and received two leadership awards by the Rhode Island Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
What do you and your family enjoy doing during your spare time?
We like to spend weekends getting outside as much as possible. Our kids are young, so we like to go to playgrounds and on short hikes and lately we’ve been doing a lot of home and garden projects. Last year we built a fence and moved our garden beds to a sunnier spot and this year we hope to build a tree house in our backyard.
I am very involved in my local professional organization and in the parent groups in our kids’ schools. I’m personally on a decluttering kick right now, so I spend a lot of time rehoming and recycling items we don’t need anymore.