Dietitian or Nutritionist, Can you tell the difference?

Dietitian or Nutritionist, Can you tell the difference?

Today is my golden anniversary for becoming a dietitian. I became a dietitian five years ago on October 5.  I wanted to do a special post to celebrate this. Recently, I’ve had several prospective clients candidly tell me they didn’t know what to expect when seeing a dietitian. I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate my RD-iversery than to open my doors, invite you in, and help you understand what to expect from working with a dietitian.

This is how most people think it’s going to go: I’ll give you a calorie recommendation and a meal plan, and then send you on your way. You won’t hear from me again until you get my OUTRAGEOUS bill and cry in the corner while you eat the chocolate cake I forbade you to eat. Sound about right? I, too, want to know what to expect before I go to a new place or have a new experience.  I will obsessively search the websites of restaurants before I arrive, what attire is appropriate? Is it kid-friendly? If so, DO THEY SERVE ALCOHOL?

Let me illustrate it another way, this year I got my first facial. I thought I approached it with no expectations, because I didn’t have anything to compare it to. Let’s just say it didn’t meet the expectations I didn’t think I had. It wasn’t until after the fact that I realized I was expecting my facial to be like a massage. After a good massage, I feel like I’ve had a workout and napped for 8 hours at the same time. Facials are amazing,  but they aren’t a massage, they serve different purposes. Your past experience with a dietitian may be limited to a hospital. Your experience with me will not be like that. You may also have seen a nutritionist or a personal trainer for a weight loss plan; that is also NOT like working with me. Again, those serve different purposes. As dietitians continue to break out of their traditional hospital roles and into the community, many people may wonder what to expect. What questions will we ask, how in depth will we go, how long will the appointment be?

The questions you never thought I’d ask

I personally think the office I work out of is pretty comfy, maybe even a little homey. You won’t have to sit on an exam table, or shiver in a hospital gown, I won’t poke or prod you. I may refer you on for testing or suggest you see a doctor, and I can’t make any promises they won’t do one of the aforementioned things, but I will not do any of that. Let’s just get something on the table to start with though, I am a medical professional so I may ask you some questions that seem a little weird for a “food person” to ask. I will ask you about your medications, your labs, your menstrual cycle, and likely your bowel habits. The more information you have the quicker and smoother it will go. You may be thinking, I just want to lose 10 pounds why would you want to know about my medical history? There is a reason why you are seeing a dietitian and not following some online diet plan, it’s because you want something personalized and evidence-based and that means I have to know the whole picture.

Sometimes people call me a therapist, because I will listen to your problems and try to put the pieces together to solve the puzzle. Food is personal, and food is emotional, or at least we’ve made it that way. Your session is about you. I want to know you and determine what type of interventions are going to work best for you. So just like it may seem weird that we talk about your medical history, I will also ask you about your lifestyle. Who you live with, what type of job you have, if you prefer puppies or kittens? Ok, that may not be a real question, but I do like to really know my clients. This may seem weird at first, because if you are used to your annual (or less than annual physical) with your primary care physician, you may not have a relationship with them at all. This is not true in my practice. I will occasionally work with someone for only one session, but in general nutrition isn’t a one-and-done type of relationship.  My initial appointment is usually about 60 minutes. My clients may be seeing me for quite a while and I want you to feel comfortable sharing anything, you never know if it is related or not.



Can’t I Just google it?

Almost every call I receive from clients are desperate ones. They have tried everything, googled every answer and nothing is working. I get it, there is a lot of information out there, how could you, who has a job/family/life have time to sift through it all to make sense of it? In working with a dietitian you are getting someone who has, at a minimum, a 4-year degree in Dietetics and done an approximately one year (or 1200 supervised practice hours) internship. Not to mention, that internship is hard to get into – there’s only about a 50% acceptance rate. After that, all Registered Dietitians have to pass an exam, and from there we have to maintain our credentials through continuing education. As dietitians, we are evidence-based. That means we are taking the science and research and applying it to the field of nutrition.

We are in an exciting time as nutrition is taking the forefront of many people’s interest, including researchers. With the help of social media, the research is also reaching the masses at warp speed. That means sometimes the research is still preliminary, or it may reach someone who misinterprets it, sending us all into a frenzy.  My favorite example of this warp-speed nutrition research is eggs. When I was in school, which you may remember was only about five years ago, eggs were bad and you shouldn’t have very many because they could elevate your cholesterol. Now, we basically say that eggs are a great inexpensive source of protein that has many nutrients, like choline, that we need. Science and research is changing. It is my job to stay up to date on the most current research and help you navigate what that looks like for you. If you are a vegan, you don’t eat eggs, so knowing about the changing research isn’t helpful to you. Again, the benefits of working with a dietitian is that we work to apply the research to your preferences and lifestyle.

There is an extra layer of complexity to nutrition research right now, which is keeping us all on our toes and wondering what to believe.  We are just now starting to understand that our genes play a big role in our health. Going back to the eggs, someone with a particular gene may respond negatively to too many eggs, but as a population most people won’t respond negatively to eggs. This makes it increasingly hard to say that one food or food group is “good” or “bad,” because it likely depends on the person.


One last thing you should know

We aren’t a one size fits all profession. Just like your primary care doctor may refer you to an orthopedist for knee problems, or a gastroenterologist for gut issues, most dietitians specialize in something. Nutrition is such a broad field and knowing it all beyond the basics, is beyond my brain capacity at least. Even what you would likely think is the main thing that unites all dietitians, counsel on weight loss, many dietitians don’t do. As a practitioner I mainly focus on gut health, and weight management. Make sure you find a good dietitian who specializes in what you need and meets your personality. If I’m not a right fit for you, I likely can help you find someone who is. I want you to get the help you need and I think a dietitian can do that for you. If you are still having trouble determining why a dietitian versus a nutritionist is the right fit for you, just remember that a dietitian is always a nutritionist but a nutritionist isn’t always a dietitian. A good test to use, is to ask the nutritionists that you meet when their RD-iversery is, if you need a reminder, mine is October 5th and I’ll be celebrating!

{Healthy} Brownie Recluse Spiders

{Healthy} Brownie Recluse Spiders

I’ll be honest, as a mom of a picky eater, there are lots of times I just want to throw in the towel and feed my child M&Ms and cupcakes all day. I trick myself into thinking she’d be happier, and I would be too. Recently I was listening to a  webinar about picky eating by a couple of other dietitians. I walked away from that webinar with a renewed sense of direction for helping my picky eater. They said the goal should be to get your child to eat an orange and green fruit or vegetable most days. This goal provides adequate nutrition for growing bodies, even if your picky eater’s palate is limited. After a couple of failed attempts, we resorted to a few favorites, like my sweet potato waffles and then I went back to my original thought, that maybe feeding my child M&M’s and cupcakes didn’t have to be a bad idea.

When I first pulled these out of the oven my little picky eater didn’t want anything to do with them. So, I asked her if she wanted a cupcake, and in true picky eater fashion, she told me, “no, she didn’t like them”. UGH! They are chocolate, I thought, WHOSE child are you?!?

Putting my best Halloween-loving mom brain on, I decided to make my little “cupcake” (they really are more of a brownie, but my daughter doesn’t know what a brownie is yet) into spiders. I grabbed her favorite candy, M&Ms of course, and another favorite snack, pretzels, and made these fun, Brownie Recluse Spiders. Adding a little spider frenzy was all that it took to make my little picky eater into a believer.

Note: While I love the curled legs of the pretzels I have to admit they did take a few extra minutes to make, so if you are trying to make these quickly, grab pretzel sticks instead.  I have also made this recipe with bananas instead of pumpkin. You can sub it out one-for-one but as you’d probably expect they are a little bit sweeter, not a bad thing for most people. I would also recommend using dark cocoa powder if you are using banana to minimize the strong taste of banana.


Check out the full video on how to make these fun treats. 

{Healthy} Brownie Recluse Spiders
Print Recipe
{Healthy} Brownie Recluse Spiders
Print Recipe
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare mini muffin tins with non-stick spray.
  2. Add peanut butter to a sauce pan and melt over medium heat.
  3. Add ingredients to a large bowl and mix until combined.
  4. Spoon batter into muffin tins. (Unlike, typical muffins and cakes the batter will not smooth out as it bakes, so try to smooth the tops before baking). Bake for 20 minutes or until baked through.
  5. Allow brownies to cool and add 8 pretzel "legs" and 2 chocolate candy eyes to each brownie.
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Inspiring Independence in Picky Eaters: {Free Printable}

Inspiring Independence in Picky Eaters: {Free Printable}

Lately, we’ve been struggling with the eating habits of my 3-year-old picky eater.  Maybe, it’s because my almost one-year-old is just experiencing all these new foods for the first time, and I am comparing his food acceptance to her pickiness;  maybe it’s a little burnout; maybe it’s a little bit of my own  health problems with my thyroid that I have been dealing with for the last several weeks. Whatever it is, I had hit my mommy and dietitian breaking point.

My daughter is extremely independent, and has been very capable of selecting her foods and feeding herself for quite sometime. That means when she requests a snack, she isn’t really requesting it, she is demanding it. Even when she says it with the sweetest voice, you know what is going to happen when you say no. Rather than having to tell her no all the time, which I felt like I was, I decided to try a little bit of a positive approach. She has just started being really interested in crafts and coloring and creating things that are “fridge-worthy.” Taking this into consideration, I decided to create a coloring sheet to be a fun backdrop for my little experiment. I helped her select the right color to go on the right fruit and vegetable which she colored meticulously. Then we colored strips with the names of colors on them. She knows a few letters so I explained each word to her and had her color them so she could remember which color was which word. Then I laminated the coloring sheet and the word colors sheet because I had the intention to use them over and over. (I actually might frame it to make it an even more permanent fixture). Then I attached a clothes pin to the paper (you could also use velcro strips), so we could swap out the color of the day. I hung it on the wall and we selected a color of the day which I incorporated into our dinner that evening.

As you can see she was really into coloring this printable.

Nutritionally, eating a wide variety of colors helps maximize the antioxidants and phytonutrients that these foods provide. Each color provides a unique blend. Grouping fruits and vegetables into colors is something that I do with my adult clients as well. I usually use the acronym BROG (Blue/Purple, Red, Orange, Green) to hit all the highlights. You can read more about BROGing for adults here.  I decided from a color matching standpoint to increase the number of colors for this activity to 6 (Blue, Purple, Green, Yellow, Orange, Red). While ideally, she would be eating from multiple of these groups each day, we have to start somewhere.

So far, this is has been going surprisingly well, like Christmas morning well! The day after we created it, she ran excitedly into my room asking what today was, I responded, Friday. She said, no, and repeated, “what day is today?”, clearly irritated I didn’t understand her nuance. Oh, I realized, today is RED day.

If you are ready to up your picky eater game, or just want a fun activity to get the whole family involved in meal planning check out my free printable.


  • Free Printable
  • Crayons or Markers
  • Clothes pin or velcro strips
  • Laminating Sheets (optional but this will make it last much longer)
What I Didn’t Expect: My Thyroid Surgery Journey

What I Didn’t Expect: My Thyroid Surgery Journey

Back in January, for about 2 weeks I had the reoccurring feeling of a lump, like I had swallowed a large pill, in the back of my throat. It would get better and worse and change with different positions. As a mom, of a then 4-month-old and a 3-year-old, I was a little surprised to find myself making a doctor’s appointment.  With young kids, and just coming out of intense prenatal care, most mom’s know that if your arm isn’t falling off you don’t make time to see the doctor. My doctor performed a physical exam and found nothing, she suspected reflux, but I told her that I had a family history of thyroid cancer. My doctor suggested we do an ultrasound to just rule out any physiological abnormalities. That ultrasound showed a large  mass on my right thyorid. This of course was not the news that I wanted to hear. The next step was a biopsy that came back benign, and a follow up ultrasound. I met with the surgeon as the mass showed slight but definite growth. He said that I could wait until my baby was a year since it may interfere with breastfeeding. 

If you have been following me or reading my posts for any length of time you know that this is not my typical post, but as I’ve shared my story with others, I have found so many with similar stories.  I am writing this to encourage and help others who may have this journey in their future. Now, my outcome in no way is reflective of what your outcome could or will be, but I think there are a few unknowns that I had, that may help others navigating this journey.


  1. Breastfeeding

This was probably the biggest unknown for me, and truthfully one of my biggest concerns. At this point, I hadn’t been away from my baby for more than about 6 hours at a time since he was an infant. I had stopped supplementing with bottles, since he was eating real food so well.  When I met with the surgeon he said to expect that I will likely not be able to nurse for 24-hours, and warned that there is a chance with any surgery that my milk supply could dry up all-together. When I arrived for my surgery, my doctor advised me that as soon as I felt “normal,” I could return to breastfeeding. I am the type of person that doesn’t tolerate NyQuil so I was prepared for the worst.  The type of anesthetic that my doctor used didn’t make me loopy or really even drowsy. I had my surgery in the morning at 7:30 am, so I nursed my baby before I left for the hospital and then was able to nurse him again when I was upright later that afternoon.


  1. Pain

 My pain was very minimal, in fact I didn’t take any pain meds. I don’t share this to say how amazingly tough I am, but to show that my doctor was right.  Back when I had the breastfeeding discussion with my doctor he had told me that I would likely be able to stick with over-the-counter breastfeeding-safe medications like Tylenol to manage my pain. When he told me this I didn’t believe him, but it turns out his 20+ years of surgical experience were far more reliable than my fear of pain. I think the stiffness was probably more pronouced than the pain.


  1. Swallowing

Probably my worst symptom came from my unability to swallow. During the prodcedure my uvula (you know, that little thing that hangs down in the back of your throat), got nicked.  In the process of healing it swelled up and made swallowing and carrying on a conversation very difficult.  As a dietitian, I definitely know about the swallowing process, but I got to experience it firsthand. From a dietary standpoint,  I learned that there are very few nourishing and satisfying foods that are easy to swallow. Sure, pudding, ice cream, and beverages are great for a few meals,  but I got a little burned out, and in general wanted something savory. There are also few quick options. Several times I opened my pantry or fridge scanning for something to put in my mouth and ended up back on the couch before I could find anything. 

A dietitian’s firsthand experience with dysphagia.

Just for fun, I wanted to share a few of my favorite post-surgery eats.

On day 1, I ate pizza! It’s a little crazy to think that, but my throat had not swollen yet, and truthfully I only ate about half of a slice. By day 2 I tried to eat it again and couldn’t swallow it.

On day 2, I ate eggs and soft sautéed veggies

On day 3, I ate mac and cheese

To fill in the gaps I ate some pudding, ice cream, and drank a lot of water.  Two convenience foods that I found I could surprisingly tolerate well were peanut butter M&M’s and graham crackers. As I got a little better later in the week, it wasn’t as much that I couldn’t swallow a larger variety of foods, but when I tried to eat my normal portion of most foods my swallowing became fatigued. I am writing this 7 days post-op and still struggling with some swallowing difficulties. My pathology came back benign, but the mass they pulled was almost 5 cm. I am still on the road to recovery. Have you been through something similar, or know someone who has? I’d love to hear your experiences.


Is Turmeric all it’s cracked up to be?

Is Turmeric all it’s cracked up to be?

Disclosure: I received this product complimentary for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

There’s been a lot of experimenting with new flavors and spices (hello, lavender donuts!!) going on around here. Some special spices go beyond just adding flavor to your palate. Turmeric is just one of those special spices, the “anti-inflama-everything” spice, as we like to call it.  A compound in turmeric called curcumin is responsible for much of it’s helpful properties. 

Let’s talk about some of the benefits packed into this bright little spice….

  1. Antioxidants and Anti-aging 

Turmeric increases the body’s antioxidant capacity. Just by living we are all creating free-radicals (some of us more than others).  Oxidative stress is caused by dangerous free radicals floating around in the body, which can interfere with chemical reactions the body needs to perform. The effect of the body not being able to perform certain reactions can cause disease, quicken the aging process, and in some cases lead to more serious chronic conditions. Turmeric, an anti-oxidant, neutralizes these free-radicals preventing the oxidative damage that causes inflammation. 

2. Fighting Rheumatoid Arthritis 

Curcumin (the active component in turmeric) has been studied for it’s ability to fight rheumatoid arthritis (RA). A study was done on 45 patients following two groups of people. One group was taking a curcumin supplement and one group was taking NSAID. The conclusion of this showed that the group taking the turmeric supplement showed more improvement in the movements of their joints, rather than the group taking the NSAIDS, without having any adverse side effects  (

3. Gut Function

It is estimated that between 10-15% of the adult population in the US has IBS. For those suffering with nagging IBS symptoms, turmeric may do just the trick. As a food based addition, having 1/2-1 1/2 teaspoons per day (with black pepper of course) helps with gut motility (or the muscle contractions of the GI tract), and can stimulate the activity of digestive enzymes which help break down foods that may be giving you tummy troubles.

To Supplement or not to Supplement?

With all of these curcumin benefits- and many more- it seems like this little compound may just be the “magical spice of life”! However, the one recurring problem with this antioxidant is that it’s absorption rate is extremely low. In fact, only a small portion of this spice is actually absorbed by the small intestines with the rest being excreted out of the body. That means to experience some of these studied benefits of turmeric, you have to significantly increase your intake which may require a supplement.

Before considering a supplement, ask what you are hoping to accomplish by incorporating turmeric? If you are looking for general long-term health benefits, consider adding it as a food-based spice first. Finding a reliable supplement in any category can by tricky, but because the absorption is so low, finding a good curcumin supplement adds another layer of difficulty. One of the curcumin supplements I trust is CardioTabs.  Their formulation provides a much smaller particle size (sub-micron), resulting in the same benefits and a higher absorption rate. When comparing their supplement with standard curcumin powder, there’s performed 280 times better in absorption rate. CardioTabs is offering my readers 20% off any of their products including the Curcumin with the code: MPR17414 at

Cooking with Turmeric

 Turmeric is a mild spice, and when used as an additive to a meal, you may not even notice it, other than the color.  I like to add a dash to my smoothies or a pinch to my eggs. Here are a few other great foods that you can incorporate it into: Stir-fry, oatmeal, cookies, mashed potatoes, or veggies. Be sure to add a pinch of black pepper to help with the absorption. 

Still need a little inspiration? These are my two favorite turmeric recipes:

Who Should Use Caution With Turmeric?

If you decide to take a supplement be sure to talk with your healthcare provider as any supplement can interfere with medications. Extra caution should be used for those taking Warfarin or other blood thinners. Curcumin can also cause increased stomach acid, causing extra reflux. Lastly, those who are pregnant should not take a supplement because it can stimulate contractions. For most of these instances it is likely ok to include turmeric on a regular basis as a food, but not as a higher dose supplement.