Rafika Al Ghrawi, R.D., L.D.
DIET CENTER LEBANON
for something nutrishus
I came across Rafika as the IAAND Lebanon Country Representative (International Affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) as I continue to make this series more global. She seems to be at the forefront of dietetics in Lebanon which has its own challenges, but she still faces the misinformation and belief that dietitians just make meal plans and work in weight loss (yes, some do). International perspectives are great for reminding us of our differences and similarities.
Why did you become a RD?
In Lebanon, you do not have to be an RD to practice. However, at the American University of Beirut the faculty members thought bringing in such a program would raise the bar for quality practice in Lebanon. I was lucky enough to be shortlisted for the license. At the time my main concern was to receive the best education and training for professional practice.
What area of dietetics do you work in?
How would you explain what you do?
I am the manager at a clinic that specializes in nutrition and that offers healthy catering and meals to clients.
What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?
My typical day goes by checking in the office at 8 a.m. seeing new clients, or following up with returning clients. Filling out meal plans for clients subscribed for the catering services. Planning with shop personnel for future events and follow up on tasks being done. Around three pm I go to the kitchen and double check the food of the clients that need medically altered food. Planning with marketing team for promotions and programs. Handling with our customer care team any issues or pending needs. Then I check out around 5.
What has been your career path?
I was recruited back in 2015 by Nutrition and Diet Center. In Lebanon, it is a renowned clinic for being the first nutrition clinic in the Middle East that provided dietetic consultations and healthy catering.
My first position was as a quality control officer. My main tasks were to make sure that we redeemed our food safety awards and abided by ministry standards for food safety. After a year and a half, and at the time I was studying for my RD exam, I requested to be transferred to a clinical position. When a vacancy arrived I transitioned into clinical work. At this position, I counseled over a hundred patient from weight loss cases to cases requiring specific medical nutritional therapy. As part of our corporate social responsibility we also participate in seminars and workshops where we offer nutritional education for members of the community. In 2018, I was promoted to clinic manager where I took on additional managerial tasks for the clinic.
What advanced education or special training do you have?
I have undertook special training in sports nutrition, food safety, diabetes management, and weight management.
In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now?
I hope in 5 years from now, people recognize how important our profession is and not just from a weight management perspective, but also from a medical perspective.
What misinformation about RDs would you like to clear up?
Our job is not just limited to managing weight loss cases.
What would you like people to know about RDs?
We love eating too...
What are challenges you encounter as a RD?
Main challenges include having to clear up information about fad diets and false weight loss claims. A lot of people like to believe that taking one drink of tea would help them lose the weight instead of going through a lifestyle change.
What do people think that you do for a living?
Tell people what foods they should and should not eat.
What are you passionate about in dietetics?
I think our job is not limited to giving meal plans. I think that is just the basics of it. The relationship any individual has with food is very complex, some people eat when they are happy, others when they are sad. I think our job is to figure out those behavioral triggers and help patients manage them.
What makes RDs unique/different from other nutrition/wellness professionals?
I think we have a balance between the scientific knowledge that diet has with health while also balancing the psychological reasons of why people consume food the way they do.
More about Rafika:
Linkedin: Rafika Al Ghrawi
Facebook: Rafika Ghrawi