Gin & Zin

Interview with Chelsea on being an RD

It’s not every day we interview each other! Jaclyn is the interviewer today~

Where did your love for food and good nutrition begin? Have you always been health conscious? Growing up my mom was always eating healthy, or on a diet in some way. We had a lot of non-fat products around, and we always had fresh fruit available for snacks. That being said, my dad would pick me up from school every now and then with a ho-ho in the console and I would sometimes down a bag of microwave popcorn after school most days in junior high. My mom always exercised, though. Almost every day. And she still does. I have always been health conscious for sure!

On a run… her happy place!

Chelsea and her Mom going on a bike ride over a decade ago.

My healthy mom really planted the seeds, and the seeds were watered when I had my appendix taken out at age 16. I laid around a lot in the healing process and watched countless hours of cooking shows. After that I wanted to be the next food network star!

After graduating high school, I enrolled in cooking school at ARC as well as business classes at CSUS because I really wanted to own my own restaurant. Classes. Work. Impacted schools. Not a lot of funds for school. Working in restaurants. I didn’t know if working with food all day would change my love for it, and hefty student loans weren’t a great way to start out any business. I needed a change of plans.

3 years into college, my sister in law provided the sun for the seeds that were planted a long time ago, as I was on hold to register for classes (it wasn’t done online in 2004). She said “Why not be a dietitian?” I had never heard of that before! Coming from a family of RN’s I knew I didn’t want to go down that line. It wasn’t for me. But this! Yes! Please!

What do you love about being a Registered Dietitian?

I love having the honor of guiding people to take ownership and accountability in their health. In order to make dietary changes, improvements, or even learn how to cook, it requires some spark and fire. I love being a part of this process~ igniting the flame in my patients to change, grow, or learn. Also, I really do love food, and creating healthy wholesome food that tastes amazing. I adore seeing that lightbulb turn on when I make a suggestion a client hasn’t thought of~ I adore being a part of that minor change in their day that improves their flow, cook time, and/or health.

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During the internship she enjoyed doing cooking demonstrations for The American Heart Association & KCRA News.

Can you explain the difference between a Nutritionist and a Registered Dietitian? 

This question is funny and has changed since I have become one! In school we were pumped up so much to “own” our title, and help clarify to the public the difference. And now our governing body has approved an additional title Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. It is still confusing….

A nutritionist can be anyone. It can be someone who sells supplements without any formal training or medical knowledge, or someone who has their PhD in Nutrition. There is no formal testing nor certificate to call yourself a Nutritionist. A Registered Dietitian (Or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) must have a Bachelor’s of Science (Biochemistry & O-Chem, anyone?!), then be accepted into an internship. Some internships are 6 months, some are 18 months, most are unpaid, or require payment to be made. After completion of the internship, then one is eligible to sit for the RD/RDN exam. My internship was about 2000 hours, took a calendar year, and provided about 22 master’s credits. And cost $8,000. You bet I am proud of my title!

What are some challenges you face as a dietitian?

One of my biggest challenges with adults is working with closed energy. Some report being so eager to hear from me, to have many questions, and then I can’t get a word in. Many adults just want to be heard. I can identify with that, so this challenge then becomes a blessing. I am the listening ear for a lot of people, one who will give (slightly!!) unbiased opinions or the space to be heard. Many of my sessions resemble therapy on some level. I kinda love it but I also kinda need to teach them how to meal plan, cook cauliflower, or limit oxalates in their diet!

My biggest challenges in working with kids is having more than one patient in the exam room! In the room it can be chaos with the child (or children) present. The kiddo and the parent both have needs. I am there to attempt to make both of their needs met. Most times I go into the room with puzzle pieces from different puzzles and try to make them fit. Individualized care is tricky but also the best part of the kind of care I give.

It is also tricky to navigate my personal world and my professional world, especially being a mom, and with my son Owen’s history and our experience with feeding, OT, “picky eating,” etc. Sharing this helpful information without getting too personal is hard for me! If a parent is doubting my advice or weary to motivate, I usually share with them that I am, too, a working parent and then they automatically soften and realize “Oh… We can do this!”

If you had a magic wand and could eliminate 3 foods or ingredients what would they be and why?

Pouch foods~ because we need to chew and experience a variety of food textures, for more, see my fervent post on them HERE.

Sugar~ where it doesn’t need to be! Added into yogurt, salsa, crackers, sausage, tomato sauce, etc. So annoying. Save it for that baked good or real treat, let’s not have it add it up in everything else throughout the day.

Fake/dead foods~ like imitation butter, danimals “yogurt”, Sunny Delight, artificial fruit snacks (even organic ones aren’t great either!) because these foods are not fuel, but junk! Let’s eat alive foods!

What 3 foods would you like to see everyone eat each day? 

  1. Fermented foods: sauerkraut, raw pickles, kefir, kombucha

Home brewed kombucha fermenting

2. Fat: Olives, olive oil, avocado, or avocado oil

3. Cruciferous Vegetables: kale, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage,

Chelsea’s daughter enjoying raw broccoli during dinner prep

It is such a blessing to witness others improve their health, and I’m so honored to be a part of their journey.

Thank you for sharing your career path with us, Chels, and those avocado bell peppers look amazing!

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