Katie Spada RDN, LDN



for something nutrishus

As a dietitian, I am often mistaken as the person who takes the meal orders when talking with patients...Additionally, in my private practice, I have found that people think I am going to tell them everything they can’t eat, when in reality it is just the opposite, and I often find myself encouraging clients to add foods back in to their daily nutrition regimen.

I came across Katie on Instagram (with a post about what people think she does as a dietitian) and reached out because we’re both former athletes. In her private practice she focuses on helping with the transition after sports as well as working in a clinical setting full time. Through her responses I learned much more about her initial interest in dietetics, which definitely shaped the areas she now works in.

Why did you become a RD?

I became a dietitian because of a couple of things. The first being my 11 year career as a competitive synchronized swimmer. As a synchro swimmer and with several other sports as well, your body shape, appearance, and weight are constantly being judged and discussed. I struggled with my weight due to a thyroid autoimmune disease (of which I didn’t know I had), and so I was always told to do more cardio, eat less to try and obtain this “perfect synchro body”. And quite honestly, I was miserable. And so my own struggle in sport peaked my interest in nutrition. Additionally, when I was a teenager, my younger brother battled cancer. He really struggled with weight loss, mouth sores, and even needed PN (Parenteral Nutrition) during his treatment. This was my first exposure to the more medical side of nutrition, and I knew I wanted to help kids like my brother as least find some comfort while going through such grueling treatments in the form of nutrition.

What area of dietetics do you work in?

Currently, my full time job is as the Pediatric Dietitian at Children’s Hospital of Nevada! In my private practice, I focus on helping retired athletes transition their nutrition in life after sport, learn how to fuel their bodies for this next phase of life, and regain confidence during the transitional phase.

How would you explain what you do?

In the hospital, my goal is to optimize the nutrition status of every kiddo I have on my case load. Whether that be through tube feeds or PN, or new onset diabetes educations, failure to thrive nutrition therapy, etc.

In my business, I work with retired athletes and first focus on healing their relationship with food and exercise through the mindful and intuitive eating principles, making peace with where they are at in the transition out of sport, and learn how to eat best for them in this new chapter.

What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?

In the hospital, I attend daily rounds with the interdisciplinary team. After screening to identify which patients need to be seen for the day, I do rounding myself and visit with each kiddo and family, complete a nutrition assessment, and document my findings in the EMR (Electronic Medical Record).

The tasks for my business change daily! When I don’t have client calls, I am working to create Instagram content, watch webinars and courses that help me expand my knowledge on how to grow my business, work on setting up systems to streamline my business, and any ancillary tasks such as answer emails or DMs (Direct Messages) that may arise.

What has been your career path?

I was very fortunate to be hired almost immediately after passing my exam into a per diem clinical position. I started that position two and a half years ago, and in that time, I have floated through several different specialties in the hospital. As per diem, I floated all over from adult ICU, med-surg, cardiac, transplant, etc. I then moved into a part time position where I mostly covered burn and oncology units. I did enjoy these quite a bit. When I moved into a full time position at the same hospital, I covered the adult cardiac units. I did not like these units in the slightest.  So when the opportunity came to transition to pediatrics, I jumped at it. For the last 8 months, I have been mostly in Peds, PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit), NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit), and adult MICU (Medical Intensive Care Unit), and have found it to be very rewarding.

What advanced education or special training do you have?

At the moment, I am working on my Masters in Sports Nutrition.

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

In 5 years, the ideal food and nutrition industry would allow hospital RDs order writing privileges nationwide. Additionally, dietitian would be a protected title nationally as well. I see the field moving away from a weight centric approach, to a more mindful approach. While weight loss is a major part of what dietitians do, I see our approach shifting more to teaching mindset around food, rather than being numerically focused.

What misinformation about RDs would you like to clear up?

A dietitian and nutritionist differ greatly in the knowledge about the pathophysiology of disease processes and that impact on nutrition status. I think there is major confusion about the difference between a nutritionist and a dietitian. Dietitians have specialized intensive training and exam requirements in order to prove competency in assessing nutrition status and recommend a plan of care to facilitate desired nutrition related outcomes.

What are challenges you encounter as a RD?

As a dietitian, I am often mistaken as the person who takes the meal orders when talking with patients. Additionally, I struggled with other practitioners actually reading my notes. I have found that in the pediatric world, it appears to be better (at least in my hospital) than in the adult world.

Additionally, in my private practice, I have found that people think I am going to tell them everything they can’t eat, when in reality it is just the opposite, and I often find myself encouraging clients to add foods back in to their daily nutrition regimen.

What are you passionate about in dietetics?

I’m most passionate about sharing how food can be healing. I have seen, particularly in the athlete world, how food is viewed as a hinderance or something that is bad and will make you gain weight. I’m passionate about spreading a message of food neutrality, and encouraging a healthy and healing relationship with food.

What is your favourite meal?

My favorite meal is my dad’s famous shrimp and scallop vegetable medley! He sautés a variety of vegetables (usually zucchini, eggplant, asparagus), and then pan sears shrimp and scallops, and serves it over a bed of jasmine rice. He cooks the seafood in a butter, wine sauce, that makes the flavor out of this world!

More about Katie:

Instagram: @fueling.former.athletes

Website: Spada Strong Nutrition Services

Thanks Katie!