Raising the Bar!

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For years I have written on the theme of National Nutrition Month in March. This year I wanted to include words from some the most amazing in our field on RDN day and share these with you.

The questions I asked all of my colleagues were:

  • Why are you in this field?
  • What do you love about nutrition and dietetics?
  • What do you see as the future?

. . .

I met Susan Nicholson, RDN, LD, syndicated columnist and author of the 7-day Menu Planneron a Wheat Safari a few years back. Susan’s column is outstanding and includes grocery lists for each meal! Susan says, “I love my profession because I have used my degree in food and nutrition in no fewer than 6 distinct areas of food, nutrition, and dietetics, including:
  • Small and large hospital dietitian, one in a dietetic internship setting
  • Pharmaceutical and nutritional products sales
  • Contract food service
  • Small business owner with cooking school
  • Author of two cookbooks
  • Syndicated columnist

. . .

On the same Wheat Safari trip, I also met Alice Henneman, MS, RDN, who is the Extension Educator in Food, Nutrition, and Food Safety for the University of Nebraska Lincoln. Alice has created so many educational tools to be shared – it’s more than impressive.

Alice replied: “Everyone eats! I love being in a profession where my work with food can help people have a healthier life with every bite they take!”

. . .

Neva Cochran, MS, RDN, LD, FAND, and I corresponded after an Academy Gala dinner and she mentored me for my first life TV shoot. Neva has her own nutrition communications company and is the ultimate in connecting colleagues in our field.

I chose a career as a dietitian because it combined my love of science with something very practical and applicable to everyday life – food and its importance in good health.

I love helping people understand that food can be nourishing AND enjoyable. With all the scary, sensational headlines out there making people question if any food or beverage is safe to eat or good for them, I enjoy setting the record straight and giving them permission to eat foods they thought were forbidden thus taking the fear out of food.

A second aspect of my career that I love is all the amazing colleagues I have across the country who are doing incredible work to further the role of science-based nutrition in promoting health and wellness.

In the future, I believe we will see more technology and innovation in food product development to help people more easily meet nutritional needs and consume foods they enjoy. I also believe the advancements in genetics will allow us to be more specific in the recommendations we make to our patients/clients not only in treatment of disease through nutritional care but also in preventing these diseases in the first place. I think the next emerging practice area will be RDNs working in the agricultural arena, partnering with farmers and agricultural organizations to promote food and nutrition from the field to the plate.

. . .

Sandra Klemmer, MS, RD, LDN, CNSC, RYT and I met while she was putting

together a media symposium day during her volunteer role with the Massachusetts Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as Public Relations chair. She needed a volunteer! = me! Sandy is also one of the most amazing yogis ever and teaches in the Boston area in addition to recently opening her own full time private nutrition practice.

I have always been fascinated by how the body works, and nutrition is a direct dialogue with our body: that hooked me right in. Nutrition is a way to interact and communicate with our inner world, to make contact with our being. That’s magical!

The field of nutrition encompasses so many different dimensions. I’ve really appreciated the space to grow and flex with my interests; the work is never static. We can learn so much about ourselves through nourishment and movement, and at the same time those are areas where we bump up against a great deal of noise, static, friction, and judgment – it’s complex, it’s interesting. Joining clients as they lend curiosity to nutrition and the full context of associated thoughts, feelings, and influences, is truly inspiring. I get to share my view of wellness as a process, a very dynamic one, and of health promoting-behaviors being an incredible resource for daily living.

I think (hope) that nutrition will become increasingly about process, less about numbers: less thinking, more feeling. There is already clear momentum in the research towards a more complex and individualized understanding of metabolism and nutrition. I’m optimistic that the zeitgeist is shifting to an appreciation for complete foods, vs isolated nutrients and supplements. I have confidence that our food supply will change to better support environmental health, not just human health. And, if this were my wish list, I’d love to see ego drop out of the food/nutrition landscape.

. . .

One of the presenters at Sandy’s organized symposium on nutrition in media was Dr. Joan Salge Blake, EdD, RDN, LDN, FAND, author of

Nutrition & You and professor at Boston University. She was a media spokesperson for the Academy in Massachusetts for years so you have either seen her on TV or read her book. She wrote:

I love being a RDN because I get such pleasure in empowering people with the nutrition tips and strategies that can help them improve their diet and lifestyle one bite at time. Throughout my years of counseling individuals, I have always tried to customized my nutrition expertise to help folks fit good nutrition into their lives. It’s all about the individual. Their accomplishments are my greatest successes.

. . .

Rosanne Rust, MS, RDN, LDN, and I met sitting at Neva’s table for the Academy’s Gala dinner another year. In addition to being a nutrition communications speaker, nutrition coach, and author of DASH Diet For Dummies® (ranked #1 by US News & World Report), she is also the 2017-2018 Chair for the Nutrition Entrepreneurs Dietetic Practice Group.

I got into food and nutrition because I had food sensitivities and GI issues as an adolescent; which at the time, nobody knew much about. I love this field because it’s ever-changing. Once I realized that my passion lies in writing and fact-finding, I’ve been able to create progressive opportunities in the area of nutrition communication, and feel that will continue to expand into the future as biotechnology and food intersect.

. . .

Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN, and I met working a booth at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Boston meeting in 2010. She has authored a book Eat Right When Time Is Tight that I have recommended more times than I can count over the years. You have definitely read her quoted, read her authored articles or have seen her on TV. She wrote:

Being overweight at a young age led to a journey of food restriction and weight fluctuations – all of which proved to be unhealthy and unsustainable. By the time I reached my twenties, I vowed to find a healthy way to lose weight and keep it off. That’s why I decided to study nutrition in college and later become a registered dietitian. I wanted to absorb everything I could learn about the science and psychology of eating right. Now I’m passionate about helping people eat better and reap the rewards, including weight loss, better mood, more energy, improved health, and higher self-esteem.

. . .

I had heard of Krista Ulatowski, MPH, RDN and her specialty in nutrition communications years ago at an Academy Meeting. She does PR for the most amazing billing company I use, Healthy Bytes, and has been helping me with my own PR since December.

I can’t imagine working in any other field! I was drawn to dietetics a bit later in my career, but better late than never. I love the diversity in career choices that this field offers – I have colleagues doing vastly different work than I do but at the core, I think we all have a love of good food and guiding others to make smart choices. As a marketing consultant, when I look ahead to the future, I am excited about the ever-changing world of social media and digital marketing, as well as how brands are adapting to consumers’ interests in…good food!  

. . .

Jenna Gorham, RDN was an intern of mine and still helps me edit my e-Newsletters. We also review some of her private practice cases together regularly. She is (still!) an upcoming star in our field. Her responses:

I originally became interested in dietetics because of the science behind nutrition. I had no idea there was so much to it! As I learned more, I started noticing women in my life (myself included!) struggling with food rules, dieting, restriction, body image, and not knowing how to eat or fuel their bodies. I became passionate about helping women take the stress out of food, make eating easier, and just eat! I love the dietetics field because of the supportive community, the rewarding work, and the variety of opportunities. Our field is becoming much more tech savvy and I see our field continuing to move in the direction of the online world. Dietitians are passionate about providing accurate, evidence-based information and I see it becoming more widely available online through writing, media, and communications.

. . .

Kevin Klatt, PhD Candidate, Molecular Nutrition at Cornell University is incredibly savvy and knowledgeable. He’s an RD to be with a superb Twitter handle. He also is the social media chair for the Research Dietetic Practice Group. Kevin wrote to me:

While my primary career trajectory is in nutrition research, I felt that obtaining the Registered Dietitian credential was an important step. My goal has long been to  become a nutrition clinician-scientist, and the RD was the route I chose for the clinician component. RDs receive essential training in all aspects of food and nutrition and always remind me of the human component of research (which often feels like its 90% labeling tubes for samples ). My hope in obtaining both the PhD & RD credentials are to ensure a reciprocity between research and clinical practice, where both of these activities inform each other.

I love the field, because of its non-prescriptive nature. Few other healthcare professionals get to take into account the patient/client’s cultural preferences and psychological state, in addition to physiological variables, to the degree that RDs do to craft such individualized recommendations.

The future of dietetics is advanced, evidence-based practice across the broad interdisciplinary field of nutrition. I’m excited to see dietetics leverage its expertise and broaden that expertise to address the critical food and nutrition problems that the globe faces; everything from nutrition and chronic diseases to sustainable agriculture. As the profession emphasizes higher education and advanced degrees, it’s my hope that RDs can become respected, evidence-based leaders across diverse fields and contribute to the primary literature.

. . .

Lauren Timmerman is a master’s level UCONN student who came to me in the fall of 2017 asking for an interview for a paper. We had lunch together during that time and she will also be an intern of mine this spring. Lauren is sitting for her dietetics exam this summer. You can follow her on Instagram at @Naturally_LT.

When I started running as a form of exercise, I began to experience how food was fueling my body. I found this fascinating and wanted to learn more. This set me on my path in dietetics and I’m excited to pass the knowledge on to others. As a culture, we’re starting to understand and accept the important role nutrition plays in the quality of our life. This has opened the door to many new opportunities for dietitians. I believe the future of dietetics will become more customized to each individual. The rise of genetic testing, combined with the increase of a health-conscious population is only the beginning of truly personalized diets.

. . .

Thank you, superb colleagues, for sharing your responses with me! Happy RDN Day and National Nutrition Month 2018! You all raise the bar within our field and for consumers everywhere looking for registered dietitian nutritionists.