Abbey Sharp, RD
for something nutrishus
Today we're lucky to have Toronto's Abbey Sharp on the blog. Abbey wears many hats in her entrepreneurial dietitian role. She has a unique skill set which lends itself well to her media roles and YouTube page. Like me, she works with commodity groups, and encourages a moderate and long-term approach to eating which includes a healthy relationship with food. I like her comment at the end regarding what our food does (or doesn't) say about us.
Why did you become a RD?
Mainly because I just loved food so much.
What area of dietetics do you work in?
I work in media and communications, usually with a food first or culinary edge.
How would you explain what you do?
I own a food and nutrition communications business and work as a nutrition and food spokesperson for various top food brands and commodity boards. I also do a lot of recipe development, blogging and freelance food and nutrition writing.
What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?
Every day is different, which is what I love so much about my job, but my day-to-day tasks usually involve working with brands on large and small spokesperson campaigns. Sometimes it means learning or developing brand messages for TV or radio interviews, testing recipes for brands, shooting food photos for my blog, writing and shooting YouTube videos, hosting food events and teaching workshops.
What has been your career path?
I always knew I wanted to work in media, but right after my internship, I started a masters program in sociology looking to study the sociological aspects of food. My goal was to get a PhD because I thought that would make me an even greater “expert” for media opportunities. But after two months of absolutely hating my life in grad school, I dropped out and launched a now very successful business in media.
What advanced education or special training do you have?
I have a lot of culinary training (George Brown), and acting/ TV training (York university, Second City, and years of theatre training and experience as a child/teen).
In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now?
Hopefully we will simply be better represented in the media and the public will better understand what a dietitian does and how they differ from other nutrition experts. I also would love to see the public embrace a more moderate long term approach to healthy eating, rather than the quick-fix fads we see circulating today.
What misinformation about RDs would you like to clear up?
That we just work in hospitals and treat people with Ensure or tube feeds. Dietitians help people not only recover from illnesses through diet, but also help prevent illnesses in all sorts of settings. Look at what I do- it’s the farthest thing from working in a hospital calculating feeds. I also hate that people think that dietitians just regurgitate Canada’s Food Guide or that we are simply government puppets. Dietitians are mandated to make our recommendations based on evidence and personalize it to the client- none of us only use any one method or only one government funded tool.
What would you like people to know about RDs?
That dietitians understand the bigger picture. We understand the social, emotional, cultural and nutritional aspects of food, and we carefully balance those when making recommendations.
What are challenges you encounter as a RD?
Mainly just trying to counteract bad misinformation put forth by the media.
What do people think that you do for a living?
I think most people can’t answer that in one sentence simply because I do so many different things. I even have a hard time explaining my job succinctly.
What are you passionate about in dietetics?
I am passionate about helping people improve their long term relationship with food and empowering them to love their bodies and food again.
What makes RDs unique/different from other nutrition/wellness professionals?
We understand that food is often just part of a larger issue. People aren’t overweight just because they eat more than they expend and the solution is not as simple as just telling someone to eat less. There is always something deeper that often is left unaddressed by other wellness professionals.
What is your favourite meal?
Oh gosh, dessert for sure. I particularly love anything with caramel like sticky toffee pudding. I know, not what you were expecting a dietitian to say, right?
What tip(s) would you give to our readers?
Listen to your body and honour it with the fuel and food it needs. Don’t think of food as good or bad, or yourself as good or bad when you eat that food. Learn to find peace with your body, food and yourself.
More about Abbey: