My career as a dietitian started with The Freshman 15.
It may be a college cliche, but The Freshman 15 was real for me.
At the time, I didn’t connect my morning pastries, nightly ice cream, and 2am pizzas to my weight gain. So I went to see a dietitian, who gently taught me about balance. And I started to see that how I fed my body mattered–not just in terms of how my jeans fit, but also in how I felt, physically and mentally. It was a major shift in thinking that stuck with me.
When I finished college and moved to New York City, I landed my dream job: an assistant to an editor at a major magazine (which means I also learned the art of eating healthfully on a meager starting salary). The position happened to be in the nutrition department.
Suddenly I was immersed in food and nutrition every day, dreaming up story ideas, writing articles, and interviewing scientists about their research. I met so many registered dietitians, and the more I learned about their work, the more I realized I wanted to be one too.
So I went back to school, and one course at a time, worked my way toward becoming a dietitian. Truth be told, I cried at the kitchen table after my first biology class, wondering if a former English major like me could handle hard sciences. But I pushed through with my eyes on the prize, eventually earning my Master’s degree as well.
After I passed my registration exam and had the official initials (RD) after my name, I felt energized. One of the best parts of being a registered dietitian is how many different paths you can take. So I tried a lot of things: I held small-group sessions at a rec center around weight loss, did a stint counseling moms-to-be at an ob-gyn’s office, worked with people who were newly diagnosed with diabetes at a local hospital, and taught nutrition classes to nursing students.
I also started a blog, Real Mom Nutrition, after having kids and realizing that feeding them (and myself) was a lot harder than I thought it would be–and figuring other moms might be having the same struggles. I made a conscious decision to always be honest, sharing my successes as well as my stumbles. My goal is to help moms feel less stress, pressure, and guilt around feeding their families.
That’s a thread I see among registered dietitians: A genuine desire to help people. Just as that dietitian helped me find a better balance for myself years ago, we meet people where they are, cut through hype and misinformation, and guide them toward finding a healthy way of eating for their life and a healthy relationship with food.
And I can assure you, we’re not the food police!