Natasha Haskey MSc, RD
MICROBIOME & DIGESTIVE HEALTH DIETITIAN
for something nutrishus
Update: She's modest, but Natasha has been doing lots of great work since her interview was first posted (hint - she co-authored a text book!), read on for more and keep an eye out for her!
It feels a little extra special sharing an interview of someone I know fairly well and who has also recently taken steps to pursue her passion in dietetics even further which is very inspiring. I have shared numerous meals (and some wine) with Natasha and while I didn't intern under her, I know the interns always valued her, and they're another reason this series exists!
Why did you become a RD?
Nutrition is something that has always been important to me. I have always believed that eating well was and is a key way to maintain health. Enjoying great food and taking time to prepare the family meal were values instilled in me at a very young age. I actually remember cooking with my father at four years of age!
What area of dietetics do you work in?
My love for life-long learning never ceases so I am now completing a PhD at the University of British Columbia with a focus on the microbiome! I also do some clinical practice on the side that focuses on probiotics, prebiotics and inflammatory bowel disease. Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to complete more speaking engagements, specifically training colleagues about the fascinating area of nutrition and the microbiome.
How would you explain what you do?
At this point in my training, I lack routine which is very atypical from my previous work as an RD. I am doing a great deal of scientific writing, attending classes and running a clinical trial.
What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?
Life is ‘atypical” right now as I try to embrace every learning opportunity that presents itself. For example, I am learning about various mouse models as they are critically important to understanding the mechanisms of how diet impacts the microbiome. I never thought in a million years I would be learning how to pick up a mouse, weigh it and monitor it for health conditions!!!
What has been your career path?
I have had the opportunity to work in a variety of areas of dietetic practice, that is why I feel I have had such a diverse, fulfilling career. My first job was in a small rural community in Saskatchewan, where I travelled out to various communities and provided one-to-one nutrition counselling. My next career move was working as a pediatric dietitian, which I loved because you could see that nutrition had such an important impact on the children. I then moved on to be the internship coordinator for the University of Saskatchewan Professional Practice Program where I had the opportunity to work with many amazing dietetic students over the years! Many of which have become great friends and colleagues.
What advanced education or special training do you have? (*updated February 26, 2018)
I completed a Masters with a focus on prebiotics and probiotics in Ulcerative Colitis. I enjoyed my Masters work, particularly the research aspect so much that I decided to return to school and complete a PhD. Yes, at my age!
I am particularly proud to have co-authored a text book entitled Gut Microbiota: Interactive Effects on Nutrition and Health - the first textbook of its kind, as it provides a broad overview of gut microbiota & nutrition for dietitians and other healthcare professionals.
What tip(s) would you give to our readers?
I would say embrace every opportunity that comes your way and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Some of the most amazing learning experiences I have had were in those moments where you doubted yourself the most. When you conquer that “thing” that you thought you could or would never achieve - it is an amazing feeling. Oh, and it is never too late to go back to school?!
In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now?
My hope is that dietitians will truly find the respect they deserve. Based on emerging research on nutrition and the microbiome, perhaps dietitians will have the tools to administer personalized nutrition!
What is your favourite meal?
Tough question because I love great food – but I would have to say that some of my most memorable meals have been shared with family and friends over a great bottle of wine :)
More about Natasha:
Website: Natasha Haskey, RD