Carrie Dennett, MPH, RDN, CD
NUTRITION BY CARRIE;
FREELANCE NUTRITION WRITING
for something nutrishus
In this world of information overload, Carrie has a unique path that led her from copywriting to dietetics and we're fortunate to have her expertise shared in numerous publications. Like other entrepreneurs in this series, you'll see the interesting variety of tasks that keep Carrie busy and passionate about her career. She has great advice for all of us and is working in an area of great importance - our relationship with food, not just our knowledge (since knowing doesn't necessarily translate to doing).
Why did you become a RD?
I was working as a health and wellness copywriter, and became very interested in the role of nutrition and lifestyle in disease prevention. I realized that many people needed more than just information in order to change their eating and activity habits, so I decided to become a dietitian so that I could counsel people one-on-one to help them overcome barriers to change.
What area of dietetics do you work in?
I wear several hats (the life of a nutrition entrepreneur!), but I have two main jobs. One is providing outpatient nutrition counseling to weight management patients. The other is as a freelance nutrition writer, writing regularly for The Seattle Times, The Washington Post, Today’s Dietitian and Environmental Nutrition. I also do some phone-based nutrition coaching, run online programs, do public speaking and take on editing projects for other dietitians.
How would you explain what you do?
I help my weight management patients heal their relationships with food, get off the diet roller coaster, cultivate intuitive and mindful eating skills and improve their self-care. I also do a lot of debunking of nutrition myths, both with my patients and with my readers.
What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?
In my clinical job, it’s nutrition counseling sessions, planning grocery tours and other group events, and keeping up with research related to my specialty. For my freelance writing, it’s research, writing, editing, interviewing, recipe testing, food photography, pitching editors, keeping up with social media, and brainstorming ideas for new articles.
What has been your career path?
My undergraduate degree is in journalism, and I worked as a newspaper reporter for about 10 years before transitioning to health and wellness copywriting, and then to graduate school at the University of Washington to become a dietitian. I became the nutrition columnist for The Seattle Times while I was still in grad school, and my first job after graduating was working in oncology nutrition.
What advanced education or special training do you have?
I have my Masters of Public Health in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Washington. I’ve taken workshops in motivational interviewing and in FODMAPs and IBS. I’m also working on becoming a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor.
In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now?
Dietitians would have the respect they deserve as the true nutrition experts, given the education and training they receive. The public would know that all dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are dietitians—and they would know why that matters!
What misinformation about RDs would you like to clear up?
That we all work in hospitals. I like to tell people that if they are ever in the hospital and needing enteral or total parenteral nutrition, they will be damn glad that there are highly skilled dietitians working in hospitals, but that dietetics is a very diverse profession, and we are everywhere, including on the cutting edge of nutrition.
What are you passionate about in dietetics?
I love working with patients and helping them form a healthier relationship with food. I also love writing about nutrition for both the general public and for other dietitians. I feel that my clinical practice informs my writing, and my writing informs my clinical practice. I learn so much every day, from my patients and from researching my articles, that some days I feel like I’ve never left grad school—in the best possible way.
What is your favourite meal?
The pasta Bolognese I make once a year during the holidays. But I also love a really good salad with dark leafy greens, some sort of protein, whole grains or pulses, some avocado or nuts, and my homemade vinaigrette. Yum!
What tip(s) would you give to our readers?
There is no single perfect way of eating for everyone. What works for your co-worker or best friend may not be right for you. If you want to eat better, you can’t go wrong with increasing whole and minimally processed foods, reducing highly processed foods, limiting distractions while you eat and practicing tuning in to your body’s hunger and fullness signals.
More about Carrie:
Website/Blog: Nutrition By Carrie
Facebook: Nutrition By Carrie
Pinterest: Carrie Dennett, MPH, RDN, CD