September 17, 2015 Community, Dietitians, Health No Comments

Frequently, people ask me why I became a Registered Dietitian. My love of nutrition began in high school Biology class. I found the section on nutrition and health intriguing. Appropriately, two more assignments followed: an English a paper on my future career endeavors and a project to interview professionals in my desired profession.  I remember that day so clearly. My aunt Joyce drove me to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Utica. I interviewed one of the RDs there. I am grateful for that RD taking her time to talk with me. It makes me smile, even now.

Fast forward a couple years, (after all my research); I decided to go to a local community college to get my Associates in Nutrition. After that, I transferred into a four year school and then completed my Master’s degree. It was during my second year of college that my aunt Joyce (the one who drove me to the hospital in Utica) passed away. She passed away at the young age of 45, from a massive heart attack related to diabetes complications. I remember her asking me to help with her diet. At that time, I didn’t know what I was doing and I never got the chance to help her. Maybe it’s the reason I am so passionate about helping my clients today. If I can help prevent a similar outcome, that is a success.

Reason number two for wanting to become an RD- my family has the worst genes ever. I tell my clients every day- you can’t change your family (as much as you wish you could). Seriously though, I have a family history of heart disease (high blood pressure, high cholesterol), diabetes, colon cancer and breast cancer. All of these can somewhat be prevented with a healthy lifestyle. (Remember though- you can change your jeans, not your genes).

The third reason, I blame my parents. As a child, they fed me hot dogs and macaroni and cheese. The only vegetables I knew existed were peas, corn and green beans (from a can). I love my parents. They did their best on an extremely limited budget. I also think they did a great job raising me. Their choices in food, on the other hand, needed some work. You can bet I help them out these days.

Then there is my strong passion for healthy food, exercise and living a healthy lifestyle. My family, friends and clients know this about me. It’s who I am. I am an RD through and through. They say you shouldn’t bring your work home with you. I can’t help it. I love the science of nutrition and I love passing along the knowledge and my passion for it to my clients, family and friends.  So there you have it. That’s why I became an RD. I thought it would be fun to ask some of my fellow RDs (and two of my favorite Dietetics students) why they went into the field. Here’s what they said.  #itsCrystalClear #DietitiansRock

“I became an RD because I know what it is like to struggle with weight, disordered eating and body image issues… and find all the wrong answers when you try to get healthy. I wanted the right answers and I love to help people end the struggle, get healthy, feel better about themselves and have a cheerleader along the way. Everybody needs a cheerleader.”   ~Tracy Soulia, MS, RD, CDN, CDE; Owner of My Healthy Bites Nutrition, Plattsburgh, NY

“After a childhood of battling my body and weight, I wanted to help others achieve not only their health goals but peace with food and their bodies.”  ~Christa Valentine, MS, RD, CDN

“I knew in high school that I wanted to be an RD.  I spent some time with a family friend, Jeannie Wolcott, shadowing her.  As a teen, I enjoyed cooking, entertaining and nutrition.  I realized then that food is not the enemy it’s the spice of life.  I wanted to share my passion with others.  I am glad I went into this field.”  ~Pat Salzer, RD

“In 11th grade I had no idea what I wanted to go to college for until I met my sister-in-law’s best friend, Beth Wallace, a pediatric dietitian in Philadelphia. She was so happy and excited about what her job was and who could ask for more than that? I knew I loved food and being active and after hearing from her about the dietetics field, I knew that was where I belonged.  I’m always looking for new ways to challenge myself in my education, and becoming dietetics major has certainly held up to those expectations. The courses we have to take are rigorous and difficult, just like any other healthcare-related major. We not only have to take our nutrition classes, but also several biology and chemistry courses on top of that. Now going into my senior year in the dietetics program at SUNY Oneonta, I find that looking towards the end goal is what gets me through each day. I know that one day I will be able to help others change their lifestyles for the better, and to me, that’s something I’ll never regret.”  ~Emily LaLonde, SUNY Oneonta Dietetic Student

“The reasons why I want to be an RD are many compared to the few. I am so unbelievably passionate about nutrition. I am interested in knowing what I put in my body on a daily basis! Also, growing up in this generation, I look around and find myself shocked and stunned. The amount of people who are overweight in our American society is heartbreaking. I want to help as many people as I can. Health is the most important thing we can focus on. I put myself through the hardship and torture of being a dietetic student became I know once I have achieved the RD status, I won’t be working a day of my life. I will be doing what I love every single day. I’m very excited to start applying my knowledge in the real world and to start changes people’s lives.”   ~Mary Stockhauser, SUNY Oneonta Dietetic Student


Written by Crystal Hein