Emma Denton, MS, RDN
SPECIAL SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION PROGRAM FOR WIC
for something nutrishus
Emma has had a few positions in-line with her passion for early childhood development, but like many, she has started a small coaching business to stay connected to other interest areas (such as sport nutrition for Emma). It will be interesting to see where the world of private practice dietitians takes us and our skill sets.
Why did you become an RD?
In high school, my running coach used to tell us about the importance of the twenty-something hours a day spent away from practice. We would log however many miles and then learn why we had chocolate milk and cherry juice after workouts. I wanted to know more about how I could feed my body to optimize performance and overall health. From there, my interest in nutrition and dietetics only grew.
What area of dietetics do you work in?
You could call me a public health or community dietitian. I am also in the beginning stages of a small business venture offering private nutrition counseling, which explains my website. It's not uncommon to find dietitians who have a full or part-time gig in addition to small business efforts.
How would you explain what you do?
Working in an outpatient clinic for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), I see clients who are at high nutritional risk and my job is to guide them in identifying health priorities, address concerns and empower them to take steps toward positive health outcomes. That involves nutrition-focused counseling and motivational interviewing with a participant-centered approach.
What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?
In addition to counseling, notable tasks include managing medical formulas for high risk clients, creating in-services for nutrition assistants based on policy changes and ever-evolving research, and revamping nutrition education for the WIC program.
What has been your career path?
After completing my dietetic internship at Yale-New Haven Hospital and Yale University, I worked as a home-visiting dietitian for Early Intervention, which provides multidisciplinary services for kiddos with or at risk of developmental delays. Between Early Intervention and my current work with WIC, I taught nutrition education classes for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)-eligible participants as well as classes for University of Rochester medical students including nutrition lecture, cooking lessons and sharing nutrition resources.
What advanced education or special training do you have?
While completing my online didactic program in dietetics, I earned a bachelor's in exercise science and master's in nutrition science. My most recent professional training was in emergency infant feeding.
In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now?
Simply, I would like to see more value placed in dietary quality and overall health and wellness rather than quick fixes like fad diets and products that have proved to be more harmful than helpful. I'm looking forward to seeing how the FDA cracks down on dietary supplements!
What are challenges you encounter as a RD?
One challenge is combating misinformation and misconceptions perpetuated by the media and unqualified persons. Along the same lines, another challenge is staying up to speed with research as well as nutrition topics in general due to their vast and fast-paced nature.
What are you passionate about in dietetics?
Considering that my interest in nutrition came from my experience as a competitive runner, it is no surprise that my passion is performance or sports nutrition. You can also guess, based on my career path, that I am passionate about food security.
What is your favourite meal?
Pick any one of my mom's dishes! Coming in at #1 is a vegetarian pot pie inspired by Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, NY.
What tip(s) would you give to our readers?
Take advantage of the breadth of opportunity that our field offers. You can be a clinical dietitian in a hospital or a sports nutritionist on the sidelines of a professional football team or a chef who works abroad. We have the luxury of not having to put ourselves in a box, so to speak, unless it's full of macaroons and you want to join me!
More about Emma: