Susan Watson, RD, BHNSc. Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor
A LITTLE NUTRITION & NUTRITION ACADEMY
for something nutrishus
As a Canadian dietitian, I have known about Susan for years. She teamed up with Andrea Hardy to create Nutrition Academy, but has also created a thriving business with numerous employees (you’ll see that collaboration is important to her!). Her past career plays into her passion and likely her current success, although you can tell she really wanted to become a dietitian and is an incredibly hard worker.
Why did you become a RD?
I used to be a fitness instructor and found that most of my clients wanted help with nutrition too. I thought that having knowledge in both areas would be a great complement to helping people.
What area of dietetics do you work in?
Private practice + consulting
How would you explain what you do?
I am a business owner and operate a full service nutrition clinic in Winnipeg Manitoba called A Little Nutrition. We have 7 different office locations, a full-time office manager, and 8 dietitians specializing in various practice areas including pediatrics, plant-based nutrition, diabetes, chronic conditions and digestive health.
I also co-founded Nutrition Academy with my business partner Andrea Hardy and we deliver online courses to the public and continuing education courses to dietitians and wellness coaches. We also have a podcast on meal planning called Get Meal Prepped [season 2 launches in Sept. 2019].
In my spare time I also chair the Dietitians of Canada Consulting Dietitians Network. I have been working on improving dietitian medical benefits with employers and insurance companies for over 4 years now.
What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?
Most of my days are spent working on growth and development of my nutrition business in Winnipeg, and the remainder of my time is spent mentoring my team and staff. Sales and marketing is my first love, so I spend a lot of time developing leads and opportunities for my team so that they can have a consistent form of employment.
What has been your career path?
Dietetics is a second career for me. Prior to becoming a dietitian, I use to be a sales executive for top paint manufactures in Canada. I started with Sherwin Williams, then ICI Canada and finally Akzo Nobel. This is where I learned the world of business and developed many of my sales and marketing skills. I was divorced and had to go to school part-time for 9 years before being able to make the jump over to dietetics. To pay for internship and life while going through my training, I also owned 3 rental properties and used this side business to help get me through the transition.
What advanced education or special training do you have?
I did a minor in psych and business while at the university of Manitoba, which I think helped me a little bit. However, I am always taking nutrition courses on all areas of practice so that I can help my team when it comes to debriefing or helping them with a complicated case. Most recently, I completed Angela Grassi’s course on PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), and I finished my certification in intuitive eating by Evelyn Tribole. I also take a lot of business courses to help me be better at human resources and business systems.
In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now?
I feel that dietitians have to start working together and sharing resources and knowledge. I see so many RDs going out on their own and doing it all themselves. It’s almost impossible to be an expert in all areas of nutrition, and teaming up and building nutrition clinics for the public is what I envision for the future. It’s very hard to find the credible nutrition advice, and I believe our presence of dietitians is stronger if we bond together as a profession. Partnership and collaboration is where I would like to see the future of dietetics.
What misinformation about RDs would you like to clear up?
Myth: Dietitians are only allowed use the Canada’s food guide and that we are the food police.
Facts: In my practice we have our own practical teaching tools that we use to explain healthy balanced eating that is customized to the individual client. We actually have never used Canada’s food guide in practice because it is too general. We also have an all foods fit and inclusive approach to eating, so we are certainly not the food police!
What would you like people to know about RDs?
That we are medically trained with over 5 years of education and are registered and licensed, just like a physiotherapist or a chiropractor. I want people to check credentials before hiring a nutrition coach and make sure that registered dietitian is part of their credentials, as there are many people promoting nutrition that are not as qualified as dietitians are. It really is a buyer beware situation.
What are challenges you encounter as a RD?
I’ve found that there has been a lot of challenges with getting recognition with medical insurance companies and employee health plans for dietitian coverage. Most people will have massage or phsyio, but do not have dietitian coverage. I’ve been advocating for more employers to choose dietitian services to be added to their employee extended health plan for years now, and I feel like we are just starting to get some traction.
What are you passionate about in dietetics?
#1: Increasing access to dietitian services by getting more Canadian employers to add dietitians to their extended medical health plan.
#2: Encouraging dietitians to support each other in practice and collaborate. We are stronger together.
What makes RDs unique/different from other nutrition/wellness professionals?
I think dietitians and nutrition/wellness professionals have one thing in common, we all want to help people. However, dietitian education and professional standards for using evidence-based sound nutrition advice is critical for long-term health. The other thing that makes us different is that we can do more than just give out nutrition advice, dietitians can work in hospitals and specialize in medical areas like tube-feeds, or run nutrition clinics like I do. Our advice is not sexy or trendy, but it will always be safe to promote long-term health goals.
What is your favourite meal?
Anything new and exciting that I haven’t tried before! I am always up for a culinary adventure!
What tip(s) would you give to our readers?
If you do not have dietitian services as a medical benefit, ask your employer to add registered dietitian services to your extended medical health plan.
Make sure your nutrition advice is coming from a Registered Dietitian.
More about Susan:
Pinterest: A Little Nutrition
Facebook: A Little Nutrition
LinkedIn: Susan Watson, RD
Podcast: The Get Meal Prepped Show
YouTube: Get Meal Prepped