Kristy Leavitt, RD
ALBERTA HEALTH SERVICES
& THE DIETITIAN KITCHEN
for something nutrishus
Update: Some things have changed since October 2, 2015 for Kristy and her career - she was our 2nd ever feature in this series; please check out her updated responses below to see what she's been up to! It's great to see dietitians spending their 'spare' time blogging to help people sort through the misinformation/confusion and to provide practical advice.
We are pleased to feature Kristy Leavitt as part of our What RDs Do interview series. Kristy's entrance to dietetics sounds a bit like mine - I took a first year nutrition class in university, thought it seemed practical and applied since I wasn't sure what I was aiming for. Kristy is an outpatient dietitian in Calgary and shares her insights into the future of the profession.
Why did you become a RD? (*updated January 6, 2017)
Like many people trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives, I always knew I wanted to ‘help people’, but didn’t know that would lead me to becoming an RD. I never planned to become a dietitian, and up until grade twelve I had never even heard of the profession of ‘dietitian’, let alone have a clue what dietitians do. I entered university with the goal of becoming a pharmacist, but about halfway through my first year I realized that I hated chemistry and as the Pharmacy program is very chemistry-based, I decided Pharmacy was not for me. Little did I know the Nutrition program also contains more chemistry and biochemistry than I would have liked…
Alas, I was left trying to figure out what heck I was going to do as a career. I had, though, taken a first-year nutrition course as an elective in my first semester and I quite enjoyed it. I decided to look into what being a dietitian was all about and, after mulling it over, talking about it with people who were close to me, talking with a family friend who works as a dietitian, and praying about it, I decided to study nutrition and become a dietitian! The thing that most appealed to me is the ability of food to prevent so many lifestyle-related diseases. How cool is it that the foods you put in your mouth can literally cause your body to become diseased or cause your body to become strong, healthy, and thrive?!
What area of dietetics do you work in? (*updated January 6, 2017)
I work in a Women’s Health Clinic (Obstetrics & Gynecology) in a hospital in Calgary, within Alberta Health Services. I also recently launched a blog titled The Dietitian Kitchen. I'm excited to be able to bring relevant and practical nutrition info, delicious and good-for-you recipes, and encouragement and inspiration to individuals who want to live their healthiest life: body + soul + spirit.
How would you explain what you do? (*updated January 6, 2017)
I meet one-on-one with women who are patients of our Women’s Health Clinic (women who are pregnant, or who recently had a baby, or who are part of the Gynecology division of the clinic). I use food and nutrition to assist women in making changes to their eating habits and in their relationship with food to help them have a healthy pregnancy, manage any existing health conditions, and improve their overall quality of life. Women come to me for a variety of reasons, such as gaining enough weight or gaining too much weight too quickly in their pregnancy, polycystic ovarian syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, weight management, and nutrition for breastfeeding. In addition, I teach a couple of classes at the hospital and am part of some working groups with other Alberta Health Services dietitian from around the province.
What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks? (*updated January 6, 2017)
My day-to-day work varies, but generally includes meeting with patients in the clinic, preparing for those appointments, planning for upcoming classes that I’m teaching, participating in working group meetings and related project work, and reading/learning to grow my knowledge. In addition, a couple times per year I have a dietetic intern doing part of their internship with me.
What has been your career path? (*updated January 6, 2017)
Following university and internship, I worked in two term positions- one, at a community health center working in a diabetes and cardiovascular management program as well as helping run a weekly drop-in group for young women who are pregnant and new moms; the second was as a public health dietitian, where I ran weekly groups for pregnant women and new moms, taught infant nutrition classes, and served as a nutrition resource for that community area. During that time, I also started a private practice and saw clients out of my home. A few months after my second position ended, my husband and I decided to move to Calgary. I spent a few months working at a private nutrition consulting clinic and then moved into my current position with Alberta Health Services.
What advanced education or special training do you have? (*updated January 6, 2017)
I don’t have any advanced designations; however, I have engaged in a variety of continuing education opportunities, including local and national events. The field of nutrition is constantly evolving and there’s always more that I can grow in when it comes to counseling clients, so it’s imperative that I’m continually learning.
In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now? (*updated January 6, 2017)
I’d love to see RDs making more of a name for ourselves and having established ourselves in people’s minds as the go-to source of accurate nutrition information. There’s so much misinformation out there, which can make it super confusing for people to figure out how to eat. It would be helpful for RDs to have more of a presence in all forms of media and social media, being more relevant in how we talk, and talk more about FOOD than nutrients (because people eat food, not nutrients).
I'd also like to see improved access to dietitian. Dietitians who work in the public sector, like myself, have the fees for their services covered by provincial health care (such as Alberta Health), but if someone isn’t connected to a particular hospital clinic or their doctor’s office doesn’t have a dietitian, then they typically need to seek out a private practice dietitian, which means paying out of pocket. I’d love to see all workplace extended health benefits cover dietitian services so dietitian services available and accessible for people who may not be able to cover the cost themselves.
More about Kristy:
Blog: The Dietitian Kitchen
Facebook: The Dietitian Kitchen