In today’s online world, it is increasingly difficult to separate fact from fiction. When it comes to eating well and optimizing our health, we rely on the expertise of credentialed professionals like Cal-EZ registered dietitian Danielle Omar. Registered dietitians like Danielle guide us to make informed choices and develop healthy, research-backed nutrition habits.
In honor of National Nutrition Month, we asked Danielle to reflect on her career as a registered dietitian and share the challenges her profession faces today, how it’s evolved and the impact common “healthy” buzzwords have had on our relationship to food. She also shares her advice for those looking to participate in the field and her approach to healthy eating.
Catching up with Danielle Omar, RD – her profession, the nutrition industry and her philosophy to healthy eating:
On how the role of a Registered Dietitian has evolved
“The internet has dramatically changed what’s possible for RDs. We have more opportunities to influence brands and the food industry, and we have the ability to work with people and impact communities in a global way. These opportunities just weren’t available 20+ years ago,” Omar says.
Like many professions, the need to keep up with technology and assert one’s authority as an RD is critical in our current world of information overload.
Omar explains, “Since becoming a registered dietitian back in 2001, RDs have had to become technology and social media savvy. In order to have a private practice you have to be online and visible.”
Standing out as a professional in the field can also be a challenge, yet it’s worth it
“RDs compete not only with non-credentialed “nutritionists” in the online space, but also more nutrition noise and “alternative facts” than ever before. There are so many fad diets and pseudo experts in the space, who to trust can be very confusing to the consumer.”
On her healthy eating philosophy
However, in spite of these challenges, a career as a Registered Dietitian is rewarding and Danielle’s enthusiasm for the work she does is inspiring.
“I am in love with the idea that everyone can have a great relationship with food and that cooking for yourself doesn’t have to be a chore or “hard.” We live in a fast food society and I want to encourage people to change the context in which they see preparing their own food.”
Our approach to healthy eating comes with responsibility
“The term “healthy” has taken on a whole new meaning and has become a subjective term based on whatever “diet” dogma you follow. Paleo, low carb, gluten free, vegan, etc…these philosophies about how we should eat have created a lot of confusion for the people I work with,” Omar explains. “Terms like low-carb and gluten free have become synonymous with being healthy and there’s a lot of unraveling that needs to be done to set the record straight.”
“The women I work with tend to strive for “perfect” and oftentimes words like “organic” can become symbols for a perfect diet,” Omar adds. “Yet, feeding ourselves is one of the most important personal responsibilities we have. Doing it in an intentional way can mean the difference between sickness and health – today and in the future.”
Are you interested in a career as a Registered Dietitian?
The field covers a spectrum of practice areas.
“There are so many specialties in the clinical setting, from pediatrics to oncology to nutrigenomics. There are RDs who work in the lab doing research. There are community RDs who work in public health. There are PhD level RDs who teach. There are corporate RDs who work in the food industry and agriculture.”
That’s not all! Omar continues, “There are media RDs, chef RDs, and RD authors. I’m sure I have left some practice area out, but dietetics is really a multi-faceted career with so much opportunity.”
Are you a new RD?
Danielle offers this piece of career advice:
“Think long-term. I see many new dietitians coming right out of their internship going straight into private practice or becoming a “blogger.” I think it’s smart to think longer term, to spend some time in the field you trained for, honing your clinical and counseling skills, and getting a feel for what area of practice you’re truly passionate about. It’s this passion that will have you stand out, and will drive your career now and 20 years from now.”
What questions do you have about what registered dietitians do, the nutrition industry or for Danielle Omar, RD? Leave your questions in the comments!