Leslie Bonci, MPH, RDN, CSSD, LDN

Leslie Kitchen.png



for something nutrishus

I took a stab in the dark and reached out to Leslie on twitter to see if she'd be interested in taking part in the series, she graciously accepted and I am pleased to share her responses below. I've worked in sport nutrition throughout my private practice years, so to me, Leslie Bonci is a household name and I'm honoured to share her experience and expertise, as well as her infectious personality!

Why did you become a RD?

I majored in biopsychology as an undergraduate, wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with that degree but in graduate school my first class was a maternal and child nutrition course and I knew right away. I wanted to impact an individual’s health through their mind and plate.

What area of dietetics do you work in?

I started in Cardiac and Pulmonary rehab, went on to general outpatient nutrition, and then specialized in sports nutrition, digestive disorders, eating disorders and weight management.

How would you explain what you do?

On any given day, I can be one-on-one with clients, doing media work, recipe development, teaching a class, or writing. I never have cookie cutter days which makes me very happy.

What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?

I never have typical days, but weekly I do both radio and TV, weekly I see clients on an individual basis, weekly I devote time to writing (working on 2 manuscripts), weekly I work on recipe development/ideas for pitches, and blogs on behalf of industry clients.

What has been your career path?


Undergrad degree in Biopsychology from Vassar college- graduated in 3 years, went to graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh graduate school of public health and obtained in a 3 year period a MPH (Master of Public Health) in Nutritional Epidemiology, took the undergrad nutrition courses and grad nutrition courses to fulfill the requirements for a dietetic internship, did the dietetic internship and also worked on a research study funded by the National Cancer Institute.

My first job as a RD was at a Cardiac and Wellness Center in Wheeling, WV where I had the opportunity to work with exercise physiologists and develop wellness programs. Moving back to Pittsburgh, I contacted the University of Pittsburgh department of athletics and they said yes to having me work with their athletes. I worked with Pitt athletics for 29 years. I also worked for the Pittsburgh Steelers (24 years), The Cleveland Browns (3 years), The Pittsburgh Pirates (15 years), Toronto Blue Jays (15 years), Washington Nationals (3 years), Milwaukee Brewers (3 years), Pittsburgh Penguins (5 years) and still work with the Kansas City Chiefs (going on my 3rd year). I also consult to the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, the WNBA and Olympic athletes.

I was also a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for 8 years and still do quite a bit of media: TV, radio, print, online and videos.

I have authored 2 books and co-authored 4 books.

What advanced education or special training do you have?

I have the CSSD credential - board certified specialist in sports dietetics.

In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now?

Many more private practitioners delivering our counseling via cyberspace. Nutrigenomics will play more of a role so we can customize our recommendations as precisely as possible. There will be more nutrition “experts” in our space so we have to find the way to stand out, debunk the junk and safeguard our clients.

What misinformation about RDs would you like to clear up?

We are not the watchdogs, we want to be eating enablers, not disablers. We are food and nutrition professionals. We eat and we want our clients/patients to enjoy food without guilt, fear or angst.

What would you like people to know about RDs?

We have fun, we are fearless, we are proactive not reactive and we can have an impact. We are the Real Deal!

What are challenges you encounter as a RD?

Trying to debunk the misinformation when my clients get their nutrition info from those that do NOT know. Trying to position science as sciensensational, and combat the scienciness that non RDs tend to preach.

What do people think that you do for a living?

I am often referred to as the nutrition lady, kind of like the Avon lady going door-to-door selling nutrition. Actually a door-to-door food truck would really be meals on wheels and give people the opportunity to taste and learn simultaneously!

What are you passionate about in dietetics?

The ability to compel and impel as well as dispel the misinformation. The excitement of taking the science and communicating in easily digestible bites while cultivating consumers’ interest in taking care of themselves for the long run. I am always thrilled when an eating disorder patient is actually able to eat without fear, or the Crohn’s patient eats without pain, or the athlete notices positive impacts on performance as a result of tweaks to timing, quantity or quality of his/her eating plan.

What makes RDs unique/different from other nutrition/wellness professionals?

We bring the food and nutrition expertise, the clinical background, the counseling background, the understanding of the importance and role of cultural diversity on food choices as well as knowledge of nutrition needs throughout the lifecycle.

In addition our background in food service and food science enables us to put the nutrition into the kitchen!

What is your favourite meal?

Seafood bouillabaisse, crusty Sourdough bread and a wonderful Pinot Noir.

What tip(s) would you give to our readers?

Try everything. Be willing to go out of your comfort zone. Be humble and don’t be afraid to stumble. Be assertive and take chances. Put yourself out there because if you don’t someone else will!

More about Leslie:

Website: Active Eating Advice by Leslie

Twitter: @lesliebonci #ActiveAdvice

Instagram: @boncilj

Facebook: Leslie Bonci

LinkedIn: Leslie Bonci

Google+: Leslie Bonci

Thanks Leslie!