Lately, I have been giving a serious amount of thought to the question “What do I want to be when I grow up?” With graduation from my dietetic internship program looming in the near future (one week, eek!) most of my precious free time is being spent on indeed.com, hunting for the perfect job. One conundrum I frequently run in to are the job descriptions that include “nutritionist” but not “dietitian”, even though an RD could fulfill the job duties just as well, if not better, than said “nutritionist”. Also, why are dietitians not as frequently quoted in newspaper articles and on TV segments as “nutritionists” are? Why do I continue to find that 95% of people I introduce myself to as a dietetic intern look at me like I’m Cerberus. (To the gentleman I met at The Bulldog whose response to my introduction was ‘Oh, so are you like, an engineer?’, I’m talking to you.) It is like dietitians are these phantom “food police” officers who should not be spoken of.So here we go…
Who are we?
We are the all-knowing, ever powerful, omnipotent food and nutrition experts. Okay, I am exaggerating slightly. But according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics the food and nutrition expert part is true! And to set the record straight, we have credentials. Any Joe Schmo with a studio art degree can get a job giving nutrition advice and he is magically transformed into a “nutritionist”. Don’t get me wrong, I love art, it is important. And i believe we need artists who will work to preserve as well as evolve all art forms. But just be aware of who it is you are taking nutrition advice from. Sorry, Dr. Oz, you did not make the cut for the list of legitimate sources for diet advice.
What kinds of places do we work in?
Fun fact: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – formerly, the American Dietetic Association – was originally created with the intent to help preserve food and improve the nutritional status of the public during WWI.
We have come a long way. In this day and age you can find RDs in hospitals, long-term care facilities, outpatient clinics, and fitness centers. We work in corporate wellness, culinary nutrition, and are on staff for professional athletic teams. Companies like Kellogg’s, Heinz, and Whole Foods have benefited from employing RDs. You can find dietitians articles in Cooking Light, Self, Fitness, and even The Wall Street Journal. So, why again it is so hard for me to find a job?
What exactly DO we eat?
Everything. If it won’t make us nauseous, cause us abdominal discomfort, or result in a breakout of hives and we can get our hands on it, we’ll eat it. Most dietitians agree that everything in moderation is the best “diet” to be on. I, among a majority of other RDs, don’t agree with the quick-fix/crash/cleanse/starvation/smoothie/low-carb/high-protein/green tea extract/african mango fruit/hollywood cookie diets that are advertised disproportionately to good ole’ fashion diet and exercise. (Although there are obviously diseases that warrant out of the ordinary diets.) You will find us eating our daily salad and grabbing water instead of juice, but we also love to indulge in the occasional donut or five. There is nothing we hate more than being seen as the food police. And we love MyPlate. Make half of your plate fruits and veggies, people!
Anyone and everyone who wants to make a healthy, sustainable, lifestyle change can benefit from working with a Registered Dietitian. I, for one, am always open to answering even the simplest of questions. The dietetics profession is expected to grow by 21% from 2012-2022. And I believe we are entering the work force with a bang during the time when we are most needed. According to the World Health Organization, poor diet and physical inactivity are the two leading risk factors of chronic disease worldwide. They are also both modifiable. An RD is trained in how to help the population make lifestyle changes that will reduce the incidence of chronic disease. We’re talking the health of the WORLD. So please call to schedule your appointment with your local dietitian today! 😉
One more thing, before I go. This may be shocking but what I am about to disclose is the secret behind every weight loss nutrition prescription that a dietitian has ever had anything to do with. Here it is… calories in<calories out = weight loss. Take this knowledge and apply liberally.