A Day in the Life of a Dietitian: DishWithDina

There is a screenshot waaaay down in my Instagram feed of a conversation I had with my dad a few years ago when I said I would be going back to school to become a Registered Dietitian and he didn’t understand why I needed to spend so much time and money on a degree and title just to learn how to make a salad.

That discussion cracked me up at the time; but, here we are, four years later, and now it makes me equal parts angry and sad. Becoming a dietitian requires either a Bachelor or Master of Science (usually in nutrition), meaning four years of school––taking classes like anatomy and physiology, microbiology, biochemistry, biostatistics, and medical nutrition therapy––or at least a couple of years in an accredited program for those who ended college the first time around without a B.S. to gain entry into a science program. After that, provided your application is selected, is a year-long competitive and exhausting dietetic internship/supervised practice (that’s 1,200 hours working for free, people––at hospitals, nursing homes, health clinics, and community programs––usually while simultaneously paying for and attending weekly seminars and/or full-on grad courses back on campus), followed by taking and passing a national exam. At the end of what seems like a venture into pre-med, you must be thinking, “Wow! Dietitians must get paid like doctors!” Not even close. In the U.S., the average annual salary in this field is about $53,000, and not much higher in the big cities.

Day in the Life

Those ain’t cookbooks.

Like my dad, so few people seem to actually understand––and respect––what a dietitian is and what this profession is about, even though 2017 marks the profession’s centennial with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in the U.S. Hopefully, this blog will give you insight into my new life as a dietitian and the dietetics field overall; but, I encourage you to ask questions of any health and wellness practitioner to better understand their role––and credentialing––in supporting people’s health.

To start, not everyone has taken the same path to get to where they are in this field, and there are definitely some folks making it a little more confusing for the layperson than it has to be (or, perhaps, taking advantage because of it). Lately, and especially in the world of social media, it seems the general public tends to believe doctors––and celebrities––over dietitians when it comes to food and nutrition. Case in point: the newly released documentary What the Health which is getting plenty of buzz from all sides (and which I’ll save for a future discussion). So, how about we make a deal? I won’t perform open heart surgery if you don’t tell people about the miraculous weight-loss benefits of raspberry ketones and garcinia cam-whatever-the-heck. (I’m looking at you, Dr. Oz.)

Next, being a dietitian is not just about encouraging people to eat salad (though, yes, we would love for you to get your recommended daily nutrients by consuming all kinds of fruits and veggies to promote overall health and prevent disease). We span the gamut of occupations, from clinical nutrition to community and corporate wellness to public speaking to recipe development and foodservice management. The list goes on! For me, a typical workday––and, as an entrepreneur running her own private practice, that’s usually every day of the week––can often look something like this:

8:00 am – 12:00 pm – Conduct research on chronic conditions, rare illnesses, food-drug interactions, allergies and intolerances; review client charts and follow up with clients from previous week

12:00 am – 4:00 pm – Work with volunteers on community collaborations; develop marketing materials and online/social media promotions; draft and schedule blog posts; attend practice group conference calls and professional development webinars

4:00 – 8:00 pm – Meet with clients (weight loss, prenatal/gestational diabetes, disease management) for nutrition counseling sessions; write up client charts; follow up with interdisciplinary teams as needed

The only salad I make during these days is for myself during lunch. #burn

Lastly, as I’ve said many times before, I want to make a difference in this field and I realize it could be a bit of an uphill battle, if I let it. I remain determined to dispel some of the preconceived notions (or ignorance) out there and clarify any confusing concepts, and I would love your help. Thanks in advance to anyone who chimes in.

  • If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about health-related issues about which you’d like to learn more, please post below.
  • If you are an “RD2Be,” please let us know what concerns you most about venturing into this field or what you’re most excited to pursue in your new career.
  • If you are a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, please share below your stories of starting out, the wackiest things you’ve heard from clients, patients, or other health professionals, or any of the successes and challenges you’ve come across over the years. I’m hoping to turn this “Day in the Life” blog post into a series and would love to line up interviewees over the next few months.

Open Wide: June 2017 Edition

If I ever decided to print out the unabridged version of my running to-do list, it would probably require a dozen reams of paper. Sometimes, I take a look at that list and get incredibly overwhelmed––how is it possible I’ll ever accomplish all those tasks, attend all those conferences, network with all those people, if I want to meet my goals by a certain time? But I also get excited when I see all of my hopes and dreams written down and start visualizing my future and what success means to me.

Desk & Breakfast

Building an empire requires a hearty breakfast.

I often forget to reflect on the completed items, the things I set out to to do and did. When I look back at that log of checked-off items, I can’t believe how far I’ve come and how much closer I’m getting to creating the life I want to live and the career I want to have, becoming an expert in my field, and (hopefully) making a difference in people’s lives.

This week, I’ll purposely be carving out some time for reflection when I meet with two of my dear friends, who are also in the health and wellness field. These lovely ladies are part of my 2017 Board Meetings (a type of mastermind group). We meet every month, but this time, we will be at our half-way mark, allowing us to be grateful for goals we’ve met over the past six months, review goals not yet met, and revise any forward-planning items to realistically achieve whatever we can by year-end. Much like how the summer solstice signifies the time when days begin getting shorter and shorter, at this point in the year, we tend to sit back and put ourselves on auto-pilot, doing less and less, riding it out until the holiday season appears and telling ourselves we’ll just catch up in the new year. For my Board Meeting members and myself, June gives us the opportunity to re-energize and keep the momentum––and motivation––going for the next six months.

What successes have you achieved so far this year? What challenges have you had to face? Are you impressed with or disappointed in yourself? Have you been ignoring some of the more difficult tasks out of fear, lack of time, or another reason? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

If you’d like to be a part of our 2018 Board Meetings, please keep an eye out for an announcement here and on our Facebook page around mid-October. There is no cost to join, but you do have to attend monthly in-person meetings in the NYC area.

Open Wide: May 2017 Edition

These days, everyone from professor/author/food policy advocate Marion Nestle to my grad school classmates to my dietetic colleagues inspires me. In addition to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, I have also been a student member of its many Dietetics Practice Groups (DPGs) such as Food & Culinary Professionals, Nutrition Entrepreneurs, and Public Health/Community Nutrition, among others. I make a point to carve out time every morning to read the many newsletters I receive to develop as much insight as possible. The more I learn, the more driven I am to do the best I can and make a difference in the field of nutrition…locally, nationally, and globally.

My long-term goal is to help fix what ails so many people in this country by teaching them (a) how and what to eat to optimize their health and reduce their risk of disease, (b) how to be savvier food shoppers, and (c) to really understand that what goes inside their bodies can have a huge impact on how they feel and act. Becoming a Registered Dietitian, opening my own private practice, and continuing to pursue a Master of Science degree in nutrition is setting me on the path to becoming an expert in my field. But there’s always so much more I can be doing and want to do.

Macaulay

(photo credit: Vickie Savvides, Sharon Pang)

In the next decade, I want to make DishWithDina a brand across all media to reach a wider audience and help people achieve their healthful lifestyle goals, be it through a talk show or a road show. For now, I’m starting small and allowing myself to be patient in my pursuits. I’ve been keeping up with weekly blog posts that I hope you have been finding educational and/or entertaining. This summer, I plan to launch DishWithDinaTV and cannot wait to share the line-up with you! By the end of the year, I expect to engage with more and more of you, both in-person and virtually, and look forward to learning about your own food stories.

Every minute of my life up to this point has paved the way for me to succeed in these new (ad)ventures. I am fearless, I am committed, I want to continue to be inspired, and I am thrilled to have a chance to be inspiring to others.

GIVEAWAY: Passion Planner Limited Edition Planner

I have been having so much fun keeping my Attitude of Gratitude going and sharing my goals and dreams with all of you these past few weeks.

As mentioned in my last blog post, I have been getting back into using paper planners to keep track of my priorities and schedule. Not too long ago, I came across Angelia Trinidad’s story of how she dared to dream big and is now running the very successful Passion Planner company. Angelia is a young, female entrepreneur who gives back in so many ways to communities, universities, non-profit organizations, and the hundreds of thousands of followers on her social media platforms. This philosophy is actually built into Angelia’s company mission. (Read more about it here.)

Being an entrepreneur is no small feat. Having done so myself for the past two decades, a great deal of blood, sweat, and tears (so many tears) goes into putting together a business plan, marketing one’s services, and spending hours doing outreach in hopes for just a handful of clients who will help spread the word, all while trying to maintain some sort of work-life balance when both of those sides are now blended—nay, blurred—into one.

After passing my Registered Dietitian exam back in September and announcing I would be wasting no time in launching a private practice, I was gifted a limited edition, compact-sized, undated (Sunday start) Passion Planner by a dear friend and mentor and so, in turn, I’m giving away TWO copies of the same this week (to U.S. residents only for now). These planners include pages for your short- and long-term goals, reflection questions, blank and gridded pages as well as motivational quotes and challenges to keep you actively engaged in creating your best life.

passionplanner

 

If you’re interested in snagging one of these FREE copies (valued at $30.00 on the Passion Planner site), please leave a comment below or e-mail me (click on “Contact” page for address) by 10pm ET Thu, 12/15 with the following:

  1. What you’re most passionate about and why.
  2. How you intend to “pay it forward” (this could be in time, energy, or money).

Two recipients will be selected at random and announced on Fri, 12/16. Best wishes and happy planning!

Note/disclaimer: This is not an ad. All giveaways are new items I’ve purchased with my own funds and want to give away in hopes of passing along encouragement and positivity to others. I ask for nothing in return (though, if you wanted to follow my blog, Twitter, or Instagram accounts, or forward this post along to others, that would be lovely). In doing this giveaway, I acknowledge a complete release of WordPress and Passion Planner by each entrant or participant and that this is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with WordPress and/or Passion Planner.

GIVEAWAY: Dailygreatness Training Journal

Last week, I wrote about my Attitude of Gratitude and did my first in a series of giveaways inspired by my experience of reinventing my career—and myself in the process.

I believe that reinvention means always striving to be a better version of oneself, not just stopping once a goal has been met. The past few years of being both back in school and in my dietetic internship have really done a number on my health and well-being, which is ironic since all I’ve been doing since 2013 is pursuing a career in the health and wellness fields. Not only do I want to lead by example for my clients and practice what I preach, but, as I reach my 50th year on this planet, I want to be sure I enter it with a fit mind, body, and soul.

On that note, one of my next goals—which some of you might have already seen hash-tagged on my social media accounts as “fitby50″—is to undo a lot of the damage I’ve done since I stopped working full-time and started going back to school. In a way, I think this experience has helped me become more empathetic to my clients who have had their own health and fitness challenges. It’s easy to think that saying, “just do it” can motivate someone into changing a behavior, but that’s not always the case when you have an unrealistic workload, don’t know how you’re going to fit one more thing into your already jam-packed schedule, are perpetually exhausted, and no longer have the mental acuity to care about anything more than just making it to the next day without punching a baby in the face or wanting to stepping into oncoming traffic (as told to me by a friend).

As much as love my high-tech tools, I’ve decided to return to paper planners and journals recently. There’s just something about scribbling on a page (and adorning it with colorful sticky notes) that makes me giddy versus typing furiously with both thumbs onto a blank screen.

dailygreatness_orig

I came across the Dailygreatness journals through some random (or not so random, if you believe in the power of the universe…hmmm) online promotions and decided to order a bunch of different copies to check them out. I’ve used paper planners before, but have always thought they could be so much better if they combined a journal component, maybe threw in some motivational quotes, pretty pictures, colorful pages, etc. When I opened my Dailygreatness order, I squealed in delight because it does just that.

For this round, I’ll be giving away one copy of the Dailygreatness Training Journal (to U.S. residents only for now). From the product page:

The daily pages will guide you to create healthy habits through the 8 daily steps of training, diet & food journaling , meditation, gratitude, intentions, stretching, health tips and self-awareness. The weekly and monthly check-ins keep you committed, accountable and motivated. With a 12-week review to celebrate your progress, each stage lays the foundation for achieving your health & fitness goals, reaching your potential and creating a rocking fit body, mind and spirit.

If you’re interested in snagging this FREE copy (valued at $39.95 on the Dailygreatness site), please leave a comment below or e-mail me (click on “Contact” page for address) by 10pm ET Wed, 12/7/16 with the following:

  1. Your health & fitness goals for 2017.
  2. How you will “pay it forward” when you meet your goals (this could be in time, energy, or money).

Recipient will be selected at random and announced on Fri, 12/9/16. Best wishes and keep daring to be great!

Note/disclaimer: This is not an ad. All giveaways are new items I’ve purchased with my own funds and want to give away in hopes of passing along encouragement and positivity to others. I ask for nothing in return (though, if you wanted to follow my blog, Twitter, or IG accounts, or forward this post along to others, that would be rad). In doing this giveaway, I acknowledge a complete release of Dailygreatness, Rocking Fit, and WordPress by each entrant or participant and that this is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Dailygreatness, Rocking Fit, and/or WordPress.

GIVEAWAY: The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention by Pamela Mitchell

I’ve been keeping the Attitude of Gratitude going post-Thanksgiving by reflecting on dreams that have already come true. For me, that list keeps growing and I’m forever grateful for everyone in my life who’s supported, encouraged, and loved me unconditionally in order for me to follow my dreams. Because of the good things that have come my way, I want to “pay it forward” by doing a series of giveaways starting this week.

I’ve mentioned this umpteen times before, but one of my very early interactions in one of my many career changes was with Pamela Mitchell. Pamela’s seminar was a turning point for me and is something I would refer to at many moments of indecision over the past decade. Thankfully, Pamela has turned her guidance and success stories (you can read mine starting on p. 124) into a book and I’ll be giving away not one, but TWO copies of it this week (to U.S. residents only for now).

10-laws_mitchell

If you’re interested in snagging one of these FREE copies (valued at $16 on Amazon), please leave a comment below or e-mail me (click on “Contact” page for address) by 10pm ET Wed, 11/30/16 with the following:

  1. Your big dream for 2017.
  2. How you will “pay it forward” if your dream comes true (this could be in time, energy, or money).

Recipients will be selected at random and announced on Fri, 12/2/16. Best wishes and happy dreaming!

Note/disclaimer: This is not an ad. These are new items I’ve purchased with my own funds and want to give away in hopes of passing along encouragement and positivity to others. In doing this giveaway, I acknowledge a complete release of WordPress by each entrant or participant and that this is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, WordPress.