Shannon Crocker, MSc RD PHEc
VIBRANT NUTRITION COMMUNICATIONS
for something nutrishus
Shannon seems to have done it all in the world on private practice and consulting, plus she tried out a few other practice areas first. I can’t remember when I became aware of her work, but it may have been when I got into commodity communications work. It’s not only the career that can be interesting, I also find it interesting to learn about different undergrad nutrition programs and specialties available to students. Shannon’s love of food and cooking shines through everything she does, and as you’ll see, she does many different things.
Why did you become a RD?
I was a foodie at heart even as a kid. Growing up, we had an enormous vegetable garden, along with fruit trees and raspberry bushes. I learned at a very young age to cook (I was cooking meals for my family at 12 years old) and eat basic whole foods; I think this is what originally lit my passion for food and nutrition.
In high school, I became keenly interested in fitness and health. I thought about being a doctor for a while. One day I sat down at the kitchen table with my mom and she helped me to connect my love of food, science and health and I decided that being a clinical dietitian was for me.
So off to University of Guelph I went! I loved the sciences and my clinical nutrition courses. BUT, during my undergrad, I worked in a hospital and quickly realized that being a clinical dietitian was actually NOT for me (good thing I didn’t go through to be a doctor!).
It was then that I realized that I loved the idea of helping healthy people to stay healthy. I quickly changed my speciality to nutrition education and it was definitely the best choice for me.
What area of dietetics do you work in?
I work in nutrition communications as a consultant and media dietitian. I have been a consultant for 13 years, but I have always worked in nutrition promotion and education.
How would you explain what you do?
I am a food and nutrition communications consultant and president of Vibrant Nutrition Communications.
I regularly work in media — both traditional and social media — however, the majority of my contracts are with food industry and commodity groups in nutrition communications strategy, resource and program creation, and recipe development.
I’m a writer and create content for e-newsletters, videos, websites, social media, blogs, educational resources and brochures for consumers and health professionals.
I’m also a speaker, workshop facilitator and teacher of wellness programs.
I offer full-service resource development and project management from concept ideation, environmental scans, literature reviews, writing, recipe development and testing, to pilot testing, promotion and evaluation. I have a team of consultants that I bring on depending on the need of the client and the scope of the project.
What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?
That’s the best part of consulting – there are no typical days! Having said that, most days you’ll find me at my desk, writing for at least a couple of hours. Probably about once a week I move my office to the kitchen for recipe development and food photos – those are definitely some of my favourite days!
What has been your career path?
My first job right out of grad school was as a Public Health Nutritionist and Physical Activity Promoter at the Halton Regional Health Department where I developed nutrition promotion resources and programs and worked in community advocacy. It was a great introduction to the nutrition world!
Even still, while I was working at the Health Department full time, it wasn’t quite the right fit for me, and I was teaching group nutrition classes and doing brand spokesperson work on the side.
After about four years I left to work at McMaster University Student Health Services where I created a campus-wide nutrition promotion program, including promotion of healthy choices in the cafeterias. I also ran a group wellness program and offered a nutrition counselling. I really loved that job – working on a university campus was truly energizing!
After a couple of years (the Director left and so did the money!), I took a position with Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) with their Nutrition Education Team.
At DFC I mostly created school nutrition programs that were used across Canada and trained teachers on how to teach nutrition to their students. As much as I really enjoyed that job, when I had my kids I wanted to work part time and it wasn’t an option.
So, I decided to jump into the world of consulting in nutrition communications. That was 13 years ago and I haven’t looked back!
What advanced education or special training do you have?
I have my Masters in Community Nutrition. I’ve also taken cooking courses at various spots including George Brown College – I find it incredibly helpful to have culinary skills – and recently became a Professional Home Economist.
In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now?
WOW! This is a great question. In an ideal world, dietitians would be more influential than Gwyneth Paltrow in the health and wellness arena. We are THE experts in nutrition – we just need to get out there and get heard!
Really, I would love to see more dietitians working in super creative roles, especially in health and food innovation. And wouldn’t it be great if every major workplace and all schools would have dietitians on staff – or at least have dietitians services with health coverage.
What would you like people to know about RDs?
I’d like people to know that we would love for you to invite us to dinner – we don’t judge your food choices. And yes, we’ll even eat dessert! Really, I think it’s important for people to know that we’re human first, dietitian second – we eat all sorts of foods. We’re healthy eating enthusiasts. Not food fanatics.
More about Shannon:
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