Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Registered Dietitian Lens I Look Through -- National Registered Dietitians Day

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).

I have 2 websites: http://www.theveggiequeen.com/ and http://www.pressurecookingonline.com/, this blog and my other blog: http://www.pressurecooking.blogspot.com/. I sell products that I love on my websites and I am always on the lookout for great new ideas to keep people eating well with an eye toward health. I am currently working on developing an herb and spice blend for everyday use.

Late in 2007, I produced and starred in a pressure cooking DVD, Pressure Cooking: A Fresh Look, Delicious Dishes in Minutes, which is 75 minutes long and comes with a 16 page recipe booklet with 14 recipes. I continue to do freelance writing online and in print with a foodie and environmental focus. In 2008, I became a fellow of The Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy. I have appeared on radio and TV, and have been quoted in many national magazines. All of this is in a day's work, and I love it.

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.

Here is what other Registered Dietitians are blogging about:

Beyond Prenatals - Food vs. Supplements and Real Advice vs. Fake Advice
Annette Colby - No More Diets! A Registered Dietitian Shares 9 Secrets to Real and Lasting Weight Loss
Ashley Colpaart - Dietitians working in food policy, a new frontier
Diana Dyer - There and Back Again: Celebration of National Dietitian Day 2009
Marjorie Geiser - RD Showcase for National Registered Dietitian Day - What we do
Cheryl Harris - Me, a Gluten Free RD!
Marilyn Jess - National Registered Dietitian Day--RD Blogfest
Julie Lanford - Antioxidants for Cancer Prevention
Renata Mangrum - What I'm doing as I grow up...
Liz Marr - Fruits and Veggies for Registered Dietian Day: Two Poems
Meal Makeover Moms' Kitchen - Family Nutrition ... It's our "Beat"
Wendy Jo Petersen - March 11 is our day to shine!
Diane Preves - Registered Dietitians and the White House Forum on Health Reform
Andy Sarjahani - Dr. Seuss Tribute continued: Green Eggs and Ham and a Sustainable Food System
Rebecca Scritchfield - Big Tips from a "Big Loser"
Anthony Sepe - RD Showcase: Registered Dietitian Day, March 11, 2009
Kathy Shattler - RD Showcase for Nutri-Care Consultation
UNL-Extension, Douglas/Sarpy County - Nutrition Know How - Making Your Life Easier
Monika Woolsey - Dietitians--Can't Do PCOS Without Them!
Monika Woolsey - In Honor of National Registered Dietitian Day
Jen Zingaro - My life as a Registered Dietitian


Anthony Sepe said...

Happy RD Day, Jill. Very nice blog and nicely done.
All the best,
Anthony Sepe

Annette Colby, PhD, RD said...

Dear Jill,

Happy Registered Dietitian's Day!

Twenty-five years as a RD. That's great! You deserve a special day of recognition.

I loved reading your story about the many varied hats you've been wearing over the years. Never a dull moment with you! You're an inspiration to the field of health and nutrition - and you do look absolutely beautiful.

With joy,
Annette Colby, PhD, RD

hormonewoman said...


I love that you actually work with food, not the abstract concepts behind it.

Thanks for participating in Blogfest!


Renata said...

Hi Jill,
You have inspired me to get a pressure cooker. In Brazil (where I am from), that is an essential kitchen item.

Liz Marr, MS, RD said...

Ms. Jill,

Thanks for sharing your journey as an RD. As I said in my post, one of the best aspects of being an RD is the "limitless possibility for creative application." You're living proof.

Best to you on RD Day!


Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

I'm adding pressure cooker to my wish list. What a wonderful, varied career you've had!

Diana Dyer said...

"Savor the flavor" - you said it best! Happy (late) RD Day to you!

Diana Dyer

True said...

I just found your blog, it is really great. I just got a pressure cooker a month ago to make the garlic broth from Fat Free Vegan kitchen and I was wondering what else I could do it with it...now I will look no further!

I've often thought about going back to school for nutrition, but I'm afraid I would hear way to much about how you need protien protien protien and that being vegan is bad. It is great to see that you taught classes and you are vegan!

Anonymous said...

I really varied career you have had. Also love the idea of using pressure cookers, they are great. The diy solar system expert.