Every year, did you know that March is Nutrition Month? It’s the 3rd week of nutrition month. This year’s nutrition month’s theme is “Unlock the Potential of Food.
As a Registered Dietitian (RD) and Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), I am happy to wish all fellow RDs a Happy Dietitian’s Day! 🙂
It’s the 10th year of dedicating a day to the profession but it’s also my 10th year of being in the dietetic profession.
Why Did I Become a Registered Dietitian?
From meeting and getting to know other Registered Dietitians, I believe my answer for why I became an RD is very similar.
When I was younger, I believed that I wanted to be a pediatrician or a veterinarian. I quickly realized babies and/or toddlers aren’t exactly the easiest to communicate with; therefore, I decided to pursue other dreams. When I realized that veterinarians had to take care of all kinds of animals (i.e. snakes included), I decided to pursue other dreams as well.
I have always known that I wanted to be in a profession where I can make a positive impact on a person’s life. My parents believed my personality was well suited to be a pharmacist and encouraged me to pursue pharmacy. My younger sister had different thoughts.
Seeing as my mom has always been very health conscious, nutrition has always been a big part of dinner time discussions in my household. Not only is my mom interested in nutrition but my whole extended family on my mother’s side is always messaging each other and asking each other’s opinion on a certain product. My mom was shopping at Ambrosia when it really was a tiny little health food store in Thornhill. It’s been truly amazing to see the growth in Ambrosia. My mom still remembers the days when she would be able to walk in and know everyone in Ambrosia; Ambrosia’s staff also would know the store inside and out and would be very helpful. As Ambrosia has gained success, Ambrosia has tried to preserve it’s small store culture; however, my mom still thinks back to the good old days when truly, it was a tiny neighbourhood store.
Having grown up in a health conscious household, I have always thought healthy food is delicious. My sister is 2 years younger than me; when she was looking at university programs, she stumbled across the Food and Nutrition program at Western. My sister encouraged me to pursue this program as she thought the program and the profession is very suitable for my personality. “What better way to spend the day than to chat with individuals about food?” – Regina (my sister)
Here I stand today as a Registered Dietitian and a Certified Diabetes Educator. It’s true. I do spend everyday talking to individuals about their food choices and how he/she can make modifications to their eating habits and/or lifestyle habits to better set themselves up for goal success. I really do enjoy how practical my profession is. I know the scientific words and what not but I do not need to converse with individuals with big words on a daily basis.
Some individuals have commented how I am more opened minded than the typical Registered Dietitian. What life experiences has helped shape who I am? Read on and you’ll find out.
You can imagine how shocked we were as a family (both immediate and extended) to find out that my mother had been diagnosed with colon cancer when I was in grade 9 (in 1999). Not only is my mom very health conscious but she is active (she likes to go to aerobic class and loves to dance). She conquered colon cancer without the help of chemotherapy. Through this battle with colon cancer, my mom sought alternative therapies be it nutrition supplements (evidence based supplements), traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, cupping and consulted a naturopath who is also an MD. He would take a drop of her blood and analyze what her body needed to heal. Keep in mind, this was 20 years ago!!!!!
After conquering colon cancer, our family was shaken once again as my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2012. Again, she’s been able to battle and conquer lung cancer without the help of chemotherapy. She’s always been a believer of combining Eastern and Western medicine together.
Why Am I Sharing All This? It all goes back to answering the question of what life experiences has shaped my philosophy as a Registered Dietitian. Some individuals can do everything right; however, they still get diagnosed with a disease (i.e. diabetes, cancer, cholesterol, etc). I know firsthand how this is possible. During counselling sessions, when individuals beat themselves up over not doing enough of x, y and z, I can empathize with him/her; however, it’s always about being proactive and how he/she can prevent the condition from worsening and/or how to live a healthy lifestyle despite having a certain condition. I have understood from a young age that “one size does not fit all” in terms of nutrition recommendations. You must respect the client and the client’s philosophy while helping them to achieve his/her goals. Because of my own life experiences and what I have been able to see, I am very open in collaborating with all different health care professionals. I do truly believe that each profession has their area of expertise.
In school, all nutrition students learn the theoretical knowledge; however, in practice, I personally always make it a goal to translate the recommendation into practical terms. Everyone has heard that he/she needs to eat more fibre or limit salt intake; however, it really is the expertise of a Registered Dietitian where we can translate these recommendations into practical terms (i.e. what are some simple, healthy and delicious recipes that meet those recommendations? what are some food products that can help boost fibre intake? what are low sodium products? etc.). I have never been shy to stand behind products I believe in. I believe clients look to Registered Dietitians for specific product recommendations (i.e. what should they buy)? Products I recommend are always products I truly believe in and I would use/eat regularly.
Food For Thought: As a Registered Dietitian, I make sure that individuals do not feel like I am the food police. I make sure individuals do not feel judged. I want individuals to have a healthy relationship with food. Many individuals believe he/she is eating healthy; however, have a chat with a Registered Dietitian. You may be pleasantly surprised by the tips you are able to pick up! 🙂 Are you ready to have a chat with a Registered Dietitian?