Aimee Takamura RDN, LDN
CORPORATE DINING WELLNESS MANAGER
for something nutrishus
Aimee’s work in a corporate culinary setting intrigued me, so I reached out to see if she’d share her career story. She wanted to work on the food side of things, and while she isn’t counselling individuals, she’s still dealing with fad diets and misinformation in her current role at Restaurant Associates.
Why did you become a RD?
Ever since I started pole vaulting in high school, I became fascinated with the intersection between sports and nutrition. I never realized that what I ate could impact performance. Nutrition was not something I grew up learning much about, so I became fascinated with the topic. In the midst of doing some research online, I stumbled across the topic of nutrition science. I quickly discovered it was an actual college major, and the rest is history.
What area of dietetics do you work in?
I work in corporate dining as a Wellness Manager.
How would you explain what you do?
I oversee and implement the wellness and sustainability initiatives in our café spaces. This includes menu, recipe, and concept development, nutrient analysis, wellness-focused talks and discussions, collaborations with our Fitness Center, nutrition tables, and sourcing of products.
What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?
I spend a good deal of time working with our culinary team to make sure the food we’re serving is varied, seasonal, and creative. I make an effort to ensure we cater to as many food preferences as possible (vegetarian, vegan, avoiding dairy, for example). Other than that, each day is totally different. Some days I spend the majority of my time reviewing culinary concept manuals and writing seasonal menu rotations, which includes recipe editing and analysis. Other days I will participate in collaborations and wellness events. Less glamorous days are dedicated to crunching sales numbers and putting together reports.
What has been your career path?
I started out in a Skilled Nursing Facility. Most of my work was clinical, with some opportunities to work with the culinary team. I quickly realized that I wanted a job where I was more involved in the actual food. I wanted to do more “behind the scenes” work and have more a say with what was being served.
While I still believe nutrition education is crucial for people to have access to, I enjoy doing it in a corporate setting where I hope I can influence positive habits that will have preventative benefits.
What advanced education or special training do you have?
Since I work with food, I am ServSafe certified. I am currently participating in a culinary nutrition program, and may eventually want to get my masters in this field.
In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now?
Dietitians will be regarded as the “gold standard” for nutrition service by even the biggest of companies. We will occupy even more industries than we currently do, as people begin to truly see our value and the knowledge we possess.
What misinformation about RDs would you like to clear up?
That we don’t like dessert and only eat vegetables! Dietitians are the only ones who know where all the chocolate in a building is (or keep it at their desk!). Also, that we have perfect diets. In fact, there is no such thing as a perfect diet.
What are challenges you encounter as a RD?
A big challenge that comes up more and more these days is dealing with fad diets. Most people I have encountered that follow these diets expect me to support their decision and help them stick to these bizarre plans. One woman even requested I start ordering branded keto-friendly products because “the whole building prefers to eat this way now.”
Separating fact from fiction is difficult when so much conflicting information exists in the world, even within our profession.
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