Let’s just say that March is MY month! Not only is my birthday on March 1st, but March is National Nutrition Month and today, March 11th, is National Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day. There is lots to celebrate in March!
A question I have often been asked is, “what made you decide to be a dietitian?” Since it’s RD Day, I’m going to celebrate by telling my story.
First, I must say that it is incredibly ironic that I’m a registered dietitian because throughout my childhood I argued with my dad countless times about what I ate (I have a sweet tooth) and would always tell him, “you’re not a nutritionist so stop telling me what to eat!” I laugh when I think about this and how my future children won’t be able to say that to me!
Anyways, I grew up in northern Minnesota and spent the majority of my time riding and showing horses. There are a lot of young girls who dream of pretty horses running through the fields and being able to comb their pretty manes. Well I got to live it, and it was pretty spectacular. I was obsessed with horses. Ask anyone that I went to high school with and they will say I was the girl who loved horses. So it was only natural that I planned to grow up to be a horse trainer and manage my own horse stable. Well, my mom put the kabosh on that dream pretty quickly (she is a very smart woman). She told me that horses could remain my hobby, but I needed to find a CAREER that would pay the bills and allow me to support myself. I’m sure my mom was envisioning me living with them forever if I went to college to get an equine management degree.
This left me with no ideas of what I should do with my adult life, especially because I grew up with parents who were involved in the nursing/medical field and I struggle a lot with the sight of blood, needles, wounds etc. so that career field was not going to work for me. Therefore, my smartie-pants mother started searching the medical field for other career options. At some point she mentioned dietitians and how she worked alongside a pediatric dietitian who I could shadow for a few hours at the hospital to see what the profession was all about.
I honestly don’t remember much about what I even observed with Judy, the pediatric dietitian, or what we talked about. All I remember is that after we met that I basically thought, “yeah, I could do this” and decided I was going to be a dietitian. I probably should have put more thought into it, but I liked the fact that dietitians are able to work in many different areas of food (food service, business, hospitals, elderly long-term care facilities and the list goes on and on). Job options are always a good thing, and humans will always need to eat so I figured I would always have a job.
The summer before my senior year of high school I toured one university that had a dietetic program – University of Wisconsin – Stout. I loved the campus and the small town of Menomonie, Wisconsin and I didn’t find it necessary to tour any other school. Plus, I was very confident that they would accept me as a student as I met all of their academic requirements. Hence, the phrase when in doubt, go to Stout.
With every nutrition course that I took at UW-Stout I knew that I had chosen the right career. I love cooking, baking and eating food so it made sense to be a food and nutrition expert. After graduating from Stout I moved to the Twin Cities to complete my dietetic internship and pass the national registered dietitian exam. I am very proud to be able to call myself a registered dietitian, and it has definitely come in handy since becoming a triathlete. Best of all, I have made many great friends since working in this field, and look forward to the future friendships in the years that will come.
Happy Registered Dietitian Day to my fellow dietitians!