Today is National Registered Dietitian Day and I am feeling all of the nostalgia towards my relatively short career as a dietitian. I can still remember the timeframe I became interested in pursuing a career in nutrition. I was a junior in high school. Prior, I had been interested in interior design or possibly business. However, in my Biology II class, I was struggling to maintain my A. (If you knew me back then, then you know that losing my 4.33 GPA was the end of my world.) Our last chapter for the semester was on nutrition. I made that chapter my life to get my desired grade. In the prospect of achieving a desirable grade, I realized that I genuinely enjoyed learning about nutrition. From there, I started researching the career more. I could write an entire post on my journey to becoming a registered dietitian and how my obsession with food and exercise influenced that, but today I want to focus on the reasons why I love my career.
After 4 years of undergraduate study, 2 years of graduate school, and my dietetic internship, I’ve immersed myself in countless hours of nutrition education. While I love using this knowledge in my own day-to-day life, it is incredibly rewarding to help others learn more about food. We are always bombarded with the newest trends in dieting. However, dietitians have the background knowledge to be able to look at the science and tell clients whether this makes sense. An excellent example of this is Robyn Nohling’s post about the ketogenic diet on her blog recently. Dietitians dig deeper than news headlines. We are typically trained to understand research design and peer-reviewed publications. We also understand the limitations of research. I personally love translating research into advice for my clients to guide them in the right direction. Dietitians get to play detective—move aside Sherlock Holmes!
This may sound cliché, but working with students and future dietitians has been a passion of mine since my time at South Dakota State University. Back then I was a member of the Dietetics and Health Sciences Club (DHS Club) and later was elected as president my senior year. By nature, I am a competitive person, but I’ve always loved building up my friends and classmates in nutrition. I mean, why not?! Our DHS Club also started a series about getting matched to an internship. We showed videos, provided resources and handouts, and invited guest speakers to our meetings. Naturally my interest in working with students led me to speak for the Club after becoming a dietitian myself. Now I even offer additional services specifically for students through my website. I love working with students as a preceptor or inviting students to volunteer at some of my Hy-Vee events. It’s a win-win for all! I know how much of a role my preceptors played in my life and I hope that I can be even a fraction of a positive influence for future dietitians.
While I love the science of nutrition, gaining lifelong friendships has been the best part of my career—hands down! I may be bit of a softie, but I teared up while rounding up pictures of a few of my dietitian friends. I don’t see these ladies and gentlemen nearly as much as I’d like to. After losing my good friend, Angie (the cute blonde in the middle of the upper right picture) this past summer to cancer, I have begun to understand how important it is to nourish the relationships in my life.
While I have friends outside of my profession, there is something I cherish about having dietitian friends. My friends outside the field probably don’t want to hear me rant about the specific struggles of my job. But my dietitian friends can always relate and then vent about their struggles as well. We also celebrate the little victories within our field. In the era of social media, my group of dietitian besties has only expanded. The day I was matched to my dietetic internship in 2014, I connected with my now friend, Kailey. The catch? We’ve never actually met in real life. Such millennials. Luckily, we will FINALLY be meeting next month. I’m blessed to have dietitian friends all across the globe. 🙂
I’m not sure about other professions, but the learning doesn’t stop once you pass your RDN exam. While maintaining continuing education hours may sound like a pain to some, I love it! I’m always tuning in for webinars. Recently I enrolled in a special private practice class online. This has been incredibly useful in building my business and also learning more about the profession. The beauty of learning outside of an academic setting is that I no longer feel the same pressure to obtain perfect grades. Now I learn because I genuinely want to. I highly recommend Today’s Dietitian and Wellseek. Many of the webinars I watch are free, but I have no problem paying a little bit to learn about topics I am passionate about. Plus, I can write them off as business expenses for my taxes. 🙂
Hallelujah for the Non-Diet movement in the dietetics world! You might be surprised to know that my original interest in dietetics was weight loss. Oh how things change! Here are a few of my favorite posts that spread the non-diet message:
- Why I Dislike Before & After Pictures
- Principle 2: Honor Your Hunger
- The Morality of Food Language
- Why You Shouldn’t Worry About Your Weight
Happy RDN Day! Not a dietitian? Be sure to reach out and thank one for all they do today! 🙂