March 14th 2012… celebrated your birthday today? How about an anniversary? Maybe you had a baby? Well, it’s likely you didn’t know this but you shared your celebratory day with a group that considers itself ‘food and nutrition experts’. And at this point, I’m guessing that you still don’t know what group I’m referring to (unless you are one of the ‘food and nutrition experts’). It’s ok, you’re not alone. Like you, its highly likely that most folks in the US had no clue that today was Registered Dietitian Day. I saw a few Facebook posts from fellow colleagues, but nope, no flowers from the hubby, no fanfare in the streets, no hoopla in the news. Just another day…
So let me enlighten you a bit, just a little bit.
I’m a registered dietitian. It took years of college degrees, internships and a board certification exam for me to get ‘RD‘ behind my name. Yup, it was hard work but compared to my husband, who is finishing up his 14th year of medical studies, I guess my journey was a piece of cake… did I mention I love cake? Especially homemade cake, with cream cheese frosting. Note to hubby – it’s not too late to order me a cake.
And where do you find registered dietitians (or RDs as we call ourselves)?
Perhaps you went to hospital with a heart problem? And just before you were discharged, in comes a young lady wearing a white lab coat. She hands you some information on what to watch in your diet to keep your heart healthy. You’re thinking ‘get me out of here’. Ring a bell? Yes, we’re in hospitals, and typically you get referred to our services as an after thought… which is why we arrive just as you’re stepping out the bed. So if this happens to you, just bear with us. We understand that you may not be feeling up to it, but just take the information, give us a smile, go home and rest and then when you’re ready, read the information and get healthier. We’re here to help when you’re ready.
Many RDs provide specialist services in outpatient clinics. If you need to lose some weight, or are having some difficulties improving you blood sugar levels, you can ask your physician to be referred to us. We will spend plenty of time getting to know you and working on some goals that fit your personality and lifestyle to help you get to your happy, healthier state.
Some RDs like to hang out in labs, testing different nutrients and seeing how our cells respond to these. They spend hours capturing data, theorizing, testing theories, asking questions, answering these, finding new questions… you never know, the next nutritional panacea may be just around the corner…
RDs can be found in kitchens too. Most of us really love to cook, and some of us work closely with chefs or are even chefs ourselves. Others prefer to manage the food service operations. Ok, we know what you’re thinking. Hospital food and school meals need some work. We’re doing our best. We have limited budgets, bundles of red tape, and other stretched resources, but our big ideas keep our wheels turning, even in the mud! So if you’re a parent and you want a farm-to-school program for your child, come and find us. Share your vision and ideas. Respond to hospital satisfaction surveys. We want to do better, and hearing from you will help us.
Some RDs thrive in community work, and our shared goal is a healthier environment from soil to food store to make good and nutritious food accessible to all. We love nutrition education, and we love to share our knowledge to empower communities to improve their food conditions and choices. We work daily to break down the social injustices in our food system, and we are conscious that a sustainable food supply is possible only if we all become more conscious eaters. So yes, you’ll find some of us at farmers’ markets and on farms, or in food deserts and community health clinics.
In fact, you’ll find us anywhere there is food and nutrition issues to tackle, or opportunities to run with. We don’t always agree with each other, and we don’t always agree with our professional body, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, but we all do our best to speak in one voice for the advancement of our role in society. And no, it’s not to put you on a diet or police your food. We’re simply here to steward our and your health. And yes, in fact, PLEASE buy us chocolates next RD day because we like our treats too.
Jess Avasthi MS, RD, LD (phew… that takes some effort to type!)
Keeping Food Real