The Registered Dietitian Lens I Look Through -- National Registered Dietitians Day
Posted Mar 10 2009 3:35pm
I have been a Registered Dietitian for 25 years. That's a quarter century. But you can't tell it by looking at me (at least I don't think so), most likely because I practice what I preach, although I prefer the phrase, I walk the talk.
My career as an RD has been quite varied -- possibly more so than for many other dietitians. I am sure that it's because I love wearing hats and have quite a varied collection. I wish that I could juggle (for real) but I only juggle jobs and responsibilities.
Here's a not-so-brief rundown of the breadth of where I've been in the RD world and where I am and what I do today.
I started my career as a dietitian in private practice. My specialty was perinatal and pediatric -- I loved working with pregnant women, new mothers and children. I especially enjoyed working with the pregnant women and helping them shape their eating habits for when they had their babies. My internship training was in that field and I knew that's where my heart was. Starting a private practice was not the usual RD route for an inexperienced RD but with a bachelor's degree in business, I figured that I could handle it. And I did. I maintained an active practice for 10 years.
Throughout my career I have always held more than one position. (If you've heard of Barbara Sher, you will recognize me as a scanner. ) I started my speaking career while I had my practice and have been doing it ever since although my focus and topics have shifted.
I also began consulting for corporations shortly after beginning my career and continue to do that and it encompasses a wide range of places from HMOs to private schools and manufacturing facilities.
My first "real" RD job was at an HMO called Maxicare. It was a great job that allowed me to see clients with a variety of needs, offer corporate wellness services, teach health education classes, ranging from stop smoking and stress management to weight management and cholesterol control and others in between. I also was allowed to develop materials and even wrote a book. (Unfortunately it was before personal computers and I wrote on company time so wasn't able to keep a copy for myself.)
One of my HMO colleagues taught nutrition at Cal State Northridge and when she switched offices, and I took her place, she offered me that job. I loved it and taught one general ed nutrition class each semester. I also started teaching cooking classes as a way to further my nutrition message.
When the HMO company started to tank, I was laid off in the 2nd round and found myself adrift, although I still had my practice and my teaching. I ended up as the Master Food Preserver for Los Angeles county and learned about food preservation -- how to can, dry, pickle, etc. Interesting topic, not a very good job for me. Luckily, I moved to Northern California and found a new job.
I worked for WIC in Sonoma County for 2 1/2 years. I was hired to develop classes for pregnant women, infants and children, and breastfeeding women. I loved the teaching but didn't care much for the paperwork. But the job paid the bills and I only worked part time while I also was teaching at Santa Rosa Junior College and doing freelance writing.
My job at the college changed from teaching nutrition to teaching cooking and I found my niche, translating good nutrition into food. I also continued to write about food, farming and cooking and develop my speaking skills.
A few years ago I wrote my cookbook The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment, which I call a lighthearted look at vegetables with more than 100 seasonal recipes.
I have now been in Sonoma County for 20 years. During this time I have consulted for companies such as Amy's Kitchen frozen foods (I recently produced their very successful 2 week diet plan), worked on a heart health research project at Kaiser Permanente hospital, also worked on a project to revamp the cafeteria at Kaiser, have given farm tours, done many cooking demonstrations for HMOs and corporations, teach cooking for The McDougall program, continued freelance writing and teaching cooking at the college and at other cooking schools. I also speak to a wide variety of audiences (and can do that for you).
My dietitian's lens colors everything that I do. I offer people in many settings a fun and interactive way to learn about nutrition. But I'll never cram it down your throat; I prefer that you take small bites and savor the flavor.
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