Thursday, April 9, 2009

By Jove, I've Got It- Registered Dietitian!

(6-11 servings of grains daily? This pyramid bought to you by the grain lobby.)

I think I've stumbled upon the perfect second career for me. It's so obvious I don't know why it didn't occur to me before.

Registered Dietitian!
Foodie? Check!
Super-opinionated about food? Check!
Love science? Check!

Feel like I'm making a difference? Check!
Potential for political activism? Check!
Growing field? Check!
Teaching/ coaching? Check!
Professional degree that doesn't require me to be an entrepreneur? Check!

I think the fact that I'm a gardener, pickler, fermenter, and food traditionalist could really work in my favor, too. Or not- depending on how many of my professors are bought and paid for by Monsanto.

Which leads me to a drawback: I have a bit of a subversive streak. Naw, it's bigger than a mere streak. It has its own area code.

For instance, I think reducing food to nutrients or constituent parts (Eat more beta carotene! Eat more oat bran! Fish oil will save us all!) is a bunch of hooey which serves only one purpose- to stuff the pocketbook of Big Food. And even though, every few years, the food authorities make a big show of announcing reversals on former findings, these things have a way of coming up again and again (beta carotene, oat bran, and fish oil lobbyists shoulder a lot of the blame- politics and food, together again). And I'm sure also it's the Cartesian reductionist model of science, hard at work. I intuitively know that there is more to food than it's parts. And I have a feeling that view wouldn't be terribly popular in most RD programs.

Another unpopular opinion of mine: Big Food has inflicted a vast evil upon humanity and ecology in the name of profit and global domination. That'll make me a total freaking ray of sunshine in an RD program, won't it? Michigan State has an outstanding program in food and nutrition sciences, but the school also has many ties to industry. That troubles me deeply. But moving out of state for school is out of the question.

Still. This is the first time I've felt really excited about a second career. And I've been looking for a second career for more than a decade; golly, I was thinking of changing my major to medicine when I was in my second year of grad school. Sad to say I chickened out.

Now the only problem is, I'm too excited to sleep.


Rabbits' Guy said...

This physical therapist I go to has lots of schooling and anatomical learning and detailed charts of the inner workings of joints and muscles .. and a fine ticket framed on the wall. All needed. But most of what he does is say "Here, do these four exercises twice a day at home, faithfully and for god's sake do them until you feel a good stretch. Otherwise you won't make any progress."

I suspect dietician is similar ... you do need the training and education and listen to all the different theories etc ... but much of what you'll do is say "Here, eat these things four or five times a day and for gosh sakes cut out the fats, sweets, and processed junk."

So you'll have to listen and study a lot of hokum, but not have to dispense it!

A promising choice! We have a young dietician friend makes a good living writing short things for health brochures/newsletters/etc.

It's just you'll have to be a Spartan!

Young Snowbird said...

There is a school in Tempe, Arizona that has programs in Holistic Nutrition. Not that you'll move here to take the classes... just saying that there are places that take a holistic approach to diet, and you can get certified in it too.
They even have Holistic Nutrition Educator, yeah. So with RD and an understanding and advocacy of what you already know, you can help change the way we all eat and feel. Excellent!

Congratulations on finding your niche!

chaiselongue said...

Yes!!! Just think of the changes you could make to received opinions in this field. Go for it! Do you have distance learning programmes in the US? That could solve the moving problem if you wanted to study somewhere else.

Meredith said...

Yeah - you'd probably have to put up with a lot of yuck in the training, but then you'd offer so much to the people you worked with, what with your already extensive knowledge about how the food comes to be in the first place, how they can get closer to its roots, etc. High-octane dietician...

d. moll, said...

Sounds like it could be a match. My friend Jeanne Peters is an RD, she was the one who introduced me to fermenting and the whole Weston Price Nourishing Traditions thing. She has been been on L.A. for some time now, but has this business going with her hubby.

kheli said...

Great idea! I have been looking for someone who can help me figure out what is right for me to eat (lactose intolerant). This seems like it might suit you to a tee! Just think, you could be a "militant" registered dietitian!

ilex said...

Thanks for all the support and suggestions, guys. I still didn't sleep well for all the excitement, and my new path was the first thing I thought about when I when I woke up this morning. This feels exactly right to me.

Kheli-- I recommend you begin with making your own yogurt, preferably from from raw milk if you can locate a source. I'm lactose intolerant, too, but not to raw milk, and definitely not to 24-hour homemade yogurt. I use Yogourmet starter in the yellow box- You can find it at most health food stores. But instead of making the yogurt for only 6 hours, go for a full 24 (I've jury-rigged my slow cooker with canning lids to maintain the temp at 110F). A 24-hour timeframe will ensure bacterial digestion of all the lactose. You do need to pasteurize the milk to give the beneficials a blank slate, but home pasteurization is far more gentle- take the temp no higher than 180F. And use whole fat milk! Non-fat milk has zero nutritional benefits.

Try searching for raw milk near you at It might involve buying a cowshare and even becoming a raw milk activist, but I think you're probably up to the task :).

(Ok, soapbox alert--) Factory milk is not milk. You may as well be drinking chalk-water. Industrial processing kills all the beneficial bacteria, and damages enzymes, proteins and amino acids. We drank fresh, real milk for more than 10,000 years. The stuff we've been drinking for the past 50 years is not milk.

There, first preachy dietitian lesson, done.

PJ said...

Well, I was excited when I saw the diet pyramid. There are so many different ones the world over and I have to think there's truth in all of them. I especially like the ones that have physical activity at the base.
I can't say that I have the best diet but then again I live with Mr Meat and Potatoes, still, we're pretty moderate in consumption of processed foods. I look forward to your progress.

PS It just occurred to me that if you're prone to sleeplessness, at least occasionally, that you might want invest in a form of far infrared heat. It will give you deep muscle relaxation and help you fall asleep. I have a rainbow for my neck/back problems and it helps me nod off by relaxing muscles and disasapating pain. I listen to books on tape and conk out pretty quickly, a big change for me.

Anonymous said...

w00t! Wow, that rings really true. I will ditto what Rabbits' Guy said - you will probably have to put up with a lot of "nutrionism" in school (unless you can find a cool holistic program) but you can juice that up with other kinds of certifications or just knowledge.

Kheli- I couldn't handle lactose (even yogurt) until I started eating raw sauerkraut and such. After I laid down a good bed of non-dairy probiotics, I was able to handle milk in moderate quantities again.

Verde said...

Yeaaa!!!! That sounds like a great fit! Especially since you have some retrainng $$$.

Seems like you go and you get the degree and get above board. This means you can get a regular job with benefits. OR it give you a whole lot more credance and working language to say what and where. The alternative routes have been slowing gaining ground for quite a while, anyway

btw, I think the food pyramid I grew up with was sponsered by the dairy association.

Kate said...

Go for it Ilex.... I've wanted to for years and never have. I just complain a lot about the crazy food pyramid that makes people fat. Now I have a friend though who studied for a second life, as a nutritionalist and naturopath while bringing up 5 children! She and I agree.... eat mostly what you grow and a little bit of everything else. Never buy processed food, if you want it, process it yourself .... that'll slow down how much of it you eat!
Are you still going to Ian's in September?

MOTM said...

You know, from reading your blog an RD would be a perfect fit for you. How exciting to find a new path! Kudos and well wishes on your new adventure!

Kate said...

I commend you for your enthusiasm, and I wish you luck in your new field. I also share all the opinions and views you expressed in this post. But I could never do that job. I think I would find it FAR too depressing to constantly rub up against the horrifying reality of the average American diet. Even if I felt that I could make a difference, for me personally it would probably be too depressing. But I applaud anyone who can do it, and you sound like a great candidate for that job.