Happy National Dietitian Day! I thought I would share with you why I decided to go into the field of nutrition.
Most people have no clue what they are going to major in or what they want to be when they grow up. I was one of the lucky ones who knew at the young age of 16 what I wanted to be.. a sports dietitian! How on earth did I even know what that was you’re thinking? That’s because I had to see one!
Back in high school (Go Providence Catholic!), I was a cross country, track runner and basketball player (my first love). As a freshman in high school, I starting “dieting”, reading magazines, cutting back of calories and most definitely on fats. I assumed, if food had fat in it, I would ” get fat”. As my low fat diet progressed, I went down 2 sizes in pants, but I was tired and cold all of the time, my energy levels were quite poor which lead to some endocrinology issues.
When I was 16 my mom had me go to the doctor she worked for, a pediatric endocrinologist, where they ran blood work and some tests to figure out what was going on. This lead to MRI’s, Dexa Scans, you name it. While I didn’t know it at the time, they were actually looking for tumors, as they suspected I had cancer. Thankfully, all tests came back great except my blood work (still) and body fat percent. It was determined that because my diet was so low in fat, it was causing all my blood work and hormones to be off. Not only was my body fat too low to get my period but it was also causing other abnormalities as well.
I was referred to a Registered Dietitian at University of Chicago whom I met with that next week. She educated me on the importance of fat and gave me examples of where I could add in healthy fats in my diet. (I’ll never forget the suggestions so here were some of hers: Brummel and Brown butter and peanut butter on my morning bagel (previous to that it was eaten dry), peanut butter and crackers after school before basketball, butter on my potato or vegetables at dinner, etc). (Huge shout out and thanks to whoever that RD was who gave me those suggestions! She knew exactly how to handle a young, uneducated girl afraid to add in too many calories and fats into her diet. You rocked.)
My energy levels rose, I gained a few pounds (I assume by the way I looked from Sophomore year basketball to Sophomore year track), my energy levels were great. Performance wise the effect was even better. I was able to PR in both the mile and 2 mile run that track season and I ended up winning MVP of Varsity track that year as a sophomore. Just because I added in some fat in my diet. Blew my mind! I decided then and there that I was going to learn everything I could about nutrition and that someday, I would become a Registered Dietitian. (I went a step further, and declared I wanted to be a Sports Dietitian. Which was why, when I passed my board certification in 2010, it made me the happiest person in the universe! I can now proudly call myself a Board Certified Sports Dietitian.)
Not everyone is inspired at such a young age to choose what they do with their life. But I believe things happen for a reason and that this profession is what I was called to do. My food philosophy may change as time goes on and as new research is released, but my passion for nutrition and wellness will never change!
To quote Marc Anthony, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Moraine Valley Wellness Coordinator