Come Monday, I will officially “graduate” Summa cum laude (highest honors) with my B.S. in Nutrition & Dietetics and a minor in Biological Sciences.
More on that later…
TODAY I am excited to announce that in addition to a Masters in Dietetics, I will earn a graduate certificate in Wellness Coaching and become a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach.
By the end of 2021, I will be MS, RD, CSCS, NBC-HWC!
Why am I adding Wellness to my graduate studies?
Allow me to elaborate.
Nutrition is a science. The concept of energy balance, macronutrient distribution, and caloric intake to achieve weight loss, maintenance, or gain is fairly simple. A healthy diet is also fairly straightforward: Eat whole, nutritious foods. Prioritize vegetables and fruits. Eat enough protein. Nourish yourself. Listen to hunger and fullness cues.
The concept of a healthful diet is basic. I often joke with friends and family that I have been in college for 6 years just to tell people to eat vegetables. Obviously, it is not that simple, or being a Registered Dietitian would not be a worthwhile career. What I have come to realize is that nutrition is just as much an art as it is a science. So many factors play a role in someone’s dietary habits. Eating is just as much psychological as it is a means to survive.
When I first entered the Dietetic Program at Rowan University, I was uneducated and naïve. I thought that to be healthy, you simply must lose weight until you are considered “healthy.” As I have taken more science and behavioral-based courses, my perspective has drastically changed. I now understand that weight loss (and health in general) is more than “calories in versus calories out.” There is an intricate balance between one’s genes, biology, physiology, environment, gut flora, and diet; All of these elements influence our health and are factors that contribute to disease risk.
Someone can have all the nutrition knowledge in the world, but if they lack the resources, self-efficacy, or struggle with other physical and/or mental illnesses, eating healthy may not be as simple as it seems.
The healthy diets that dietitians, doctors, coaches, etc. preach is at the surface of health. Below the surface, however, is a hidden iceberg of convoluted factors. What’s more, these factors differ for every individual. One person may simply need a meal plan to succeed and be considered “healthy.” Another may need behavioral counseling, substantial nutrition interventions or medical nutrition therapy, physical/orthopedic rehab, among other treatments. Someone else may have all of the nutrition knowledge and considerable readiness to change, but lack the finances to purchase fresh, wholesome foods. Some people may want to be healthy, but have no idea where their next meal is coming from or how they are going to feed their children, let alone themselves.
Nutrition is not black and white. We must consider ALL of these factors when we provide nutrition plans and counseling. The role of the Registered Dietitian should focus on all aspects of health: Physical, yes but also emotional.
As a (soon-to-be) Registered Dietitian, I understand the complexity of nutrition as it relates to mental health. As a health professional, I will offer nutritional expertise, knowledge and practical application of exercise, and professional wellness coaching. When addressed in conjunction, these specialties have the ability to drastically change an individual’s health and enhance the quality of their life. Proper wellness coaching has the power to improve the prognosis of any disease.
I started studying Dietetics because the science of food and its role in health fascinated me. However, I now realize that with trained coaching techniques, I have capabilities far beyond what I ever imagined. I can do more than write a meal plan or a diet order; I can change the world.
And that is what I intend to do as an RD and NBC-HWC!