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Category: Grad School

Thursday Favorites

Hello hello!

I had all intentions of posting Friday Favorites last week, but then school got really crazy. Our Maymester class ended on Monday and it was such a blur. I really enjoyed the material (public health nutrition) but it was a lot packed into 2.5 weeks! Now I’m out of the classroom until August 21. Hallelujah! For the next two months, I’ll be in my first Dietetic Internship-public health rotation. I moved home on Tuesday and today’s my first day!

To get the day kicked off on a fun note, here are some things I’ve been doing and loving over the past couple weeks.

Celebrating Chip’s Birthday

Chip’s birthday was on Memorial Day, but we celebrated the next day since I was driving back to school. His ultimate favorite restaurant ever is Outback, but to my surprise he wanted to eat at Zinburger! I’ve shared about eating there before, I’m sure. We are pretty boring and tend to stick with the places we know we love. I’m trying to make us be more adventurous, but since we were both moving to our hometown for the summer we decided to hit up all our favorites that week.

Usually we both get the buffalo chicken sandwich, but I had just had that at another place two days before. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what I wanted, so I ordered three things ūüôā I got a large wedge salad, then ordered two “sharables” although I certainly didn’t share much mac and cheese. It had this crunchy stuff on top and was so good. Am I a food critic yet?

what a cutie!
Shoutout to intuitive eating, though, because it is so nice to go to a restaurant, order whatever I want, eat how much I want, and enjoy every bite. In my body obsessed days I would have tried to figure out how many calories were in all of it, probably eat something unsatisfying then spend all night trying not to give into my hunger if it came up. Nowadays eating out is fun, not scary.

(Almost) Growing Red Bell Peppers

I might have mentioned this, but a few months ago school was giving out plants as part of some nutrition day celebration. I snagged a red bell pepper plant and then was like… wait I don’t have a yard why did I get this!? So I asked the Interwebs what I needed and then bought some plant supplies. Now I am SO close to having bell peppers! I think. There are 4 or 5 places where you can tell one is going to grow, so I’m just waiting for them to break through. I’ve never grown anything or kept any plant alive, so this is pretty exciting for me. If I’m successful, expect me to never shut up about it.

Yummy Green Beans

A couple weeks ago I found some green beans in my freezer. I made them and was very sad about how watery they were, so I bought some fresh ones and ended up making the best green beans ever. Ok, that’s a bold statement, but they are pretty good. I didn’t measure anything, and it depends on how much you are making and what you like, but here’s a general outline of how I make them.

I fill a pan with water to cover the bottom, then dump in enough green beans to cover the bottom of the pan. After they cook for 5-10 minutes, I drain the water and add butter and minced garlic and stir everything up. The best ones are the ones covered in garlic. I also add a few cranks of my favorite Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning grinder and some salt. I let that cook for 10-15 minutes and eat at least a handful while they cook ūüôā They are best right after cooking, but they heat up well too.

Moving Home for the Summer

Although I’m going to miss living in Durham for the next two months, hanging with my parents all summer is going to be really nice. They have two little pups, and Livi is happy to have some buddies. Plus I have lots of family and Chip’s family here, too, so extra time with them is always appreciated. My parents and I have already established that Friday evenings will be for drinking wine on the porch. They have been cooking with Hello Fresh three times a week, so I’m excited to try it out.

lunch outside with mom yesterday
And on that note, I’m signing off for the day! Have a great one.

Halfway There! Well, Sorta

I took my last exam on Tuesday, so I officially made it through a year of grad school! I say I’m halfway done because technically, we have two years of course work.¬†It’s not quite that simple, but we will go with it for now ūüôā

So what’s next?

I have a week off-hallejuah! Today (Thursday)¬†we’re doing some fun wedding planning things, then tomorrow¬†I’m off to Wilmington for¬†a wedding. It’s for one of my very best friends and I couldn’t be more excited. When we got engaged, she and her fianc√© drove all the way down from Philly for the night! They’re the best, and I can’t wait to celebrate them all weekend.

Next Wednesday our Maymester course begins. It lasts about 3 weeks, and¬†we have it 9-4 pretty much every weekday. Normally I wouldn’t complain too much, but I am anxious about leaving Livi so much after her seizure! However, I know she will be fine and I can’t be a helicopter parent 24/7. If I wasn’t in school and had a normal job, I would already be leaving her that often!

“Um excuse me, I did not approve of this.”

The Maymester ends June 5th, I move home June 6th, and my summer internship begins June 8th! It’s going to be quite the whirlwind. I will be working 40 hours a week as an intern until August 2nd. Then we get a nice break until classes start again August 20 something.

Then we get to do it all over again- a year of classes, a summer internship, and a final fall internship! It’s a lot to think about, so I try not to get ahead of myself. I can’t believe I’ve already finished a year of grad school, and¬†I know the rest will fly by!

Year 1 Reflections

This year was hard, but more¬†specifically, this semester was hard. The first one¬†wasn’t easy, and¬†we had a lot of assignments, but we weren’t in biochem yet. This semester, we had biochem and medical nutrition therapy, which were hard in their own ways. Many weeks I felt like I was just struggling to get to the weekend, then on the weekend I was catching up on studying. However, I’m obviously thrilled to be where I am and wouldn’t trade it for anything! I feel like I’ve learned so much and come so far in my nutrition knowledge in just a year. My program is wonderful and so are the people in it, as well as our teachers! I’m really excited to be a year closer to being a dietitian. I suppose I’ll have to come up with a new blog name at that point. Suggestions welcome!

I’m also really grateful that I immersed myself in the non-diet/Health at Every Size/intuitive eating world this year. I already wasn’t a fan of diets, but¬†I came across some podcasts in the fall that showed me there is a way to incorporate my values in my approach to health. I’m in this program because I love nutrition and want to help people along¬†their health journey, but I wouldn’t feel right doing it through restriction and rigid rules. (I am discussing clients in general, not those who have a medical condition diagnosed by a doctor that requires a specific plan. And obviously body shame is never warranted.) I’ve enjoyed learning more and surrounding myself online with other people who practice the way I hope to. I read Intuitive Eating this year and it was like a lightbulb went off; it made so much sense to me.

Breakfast at the beach a few weeks ago, courtesy of dad

I started grad school thinking I would become a nutrition expert who imparts knowledge to my clients. I would help them lose weight the healthy way, through lifestyle changes. (Rolling my eyes at former me.)¬†Now I¬†have a much different idea of what my role¬†and work will look like. Of course, Registered Dietitians are nutrition experts, but our clients are the experts of their bodies and lives. It’s not my job to tell them what to do or what their goals should be.¬†I won’t be promoting weight loss. I believe that we can approach health in a kinder, gentler way-without focusing on the scale. As people incorporate healthy changes in their life, they may lose weight, gain weight, or stay the same. Why would I celebrate one of these outcomes over the other? Weight does not = health.

I’m now very interested in working in the eating disorder/disordered eating population, which I would have never guessed for myself. Currently my dream job is working one on one with clients to improve their relationship with food and their bodies. Food is nourishment, for sure, but it is also meant to be enjoyed. I feel like in our current culture¬†we have lost¬†track of that and we are either fearful of eating food (or certain types) or using it to manipulate our bodies. (You can find more about my food philosophy in my intuitive eating posts, or read about why I ditched the scale.)

So yeah, my approach is a bit different from the mainstream in my profession and I do feel like the tide is slowly shifting toward a non-diet approach. I know there is a place for me in this line of work and I’m so inspired by the many RDs I follow online doing it already. It does make me a little nervous about my first job after graduation-what if I have to accept a job that involves me putting people on diets? Or focusing on weight loss? All I can do now is focus on what’s in front of me and keep exploring what I want to do in the future, and do my best to make connections there and make it happen.

Oh, yeah! And this year I started this blog! Thank you so much for reading here. I’ve really enjoyed spilling my thoughts in this space and I’m excited to keep sharing my life and my views on health-related topics. If you have any topic suggestions or requests, I’m all ears!

Embracing Chaos and Uncertainty

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind. They have been mostly amazing, but we had a scare with Livi I’ll discuss in a minute. In addition, I’m in the middle of finals and life is just.. crazy. I’m trying to slow down and enjoy the present, but it can be challenging. Chaos and uncertainty are definitely not two things I would like more of in my life, but I’m learning to embrace it.

The best ice cream from my fav place at the beach.

So yeah, we got engaged April 21 which was amazing, as I’ve told you ūüôā Last¬†weekend we went to the beach with my family, my grandma (Hi, Sasa!), and Livi. We had the best time and ate some wonderful food. The weather was perfect-warm on the beach, but not unbearably hot. Between my sister and me, there was plenty of wedding talk and we are just having so much fun in this season in life. She gets married September 30th and I am so excited!

We came home Sunday and on Monday night, our sweet Livi had a seizure. She is two years old and has never had one before, and let me tell you it was the most terrifying few minutes of my life. Maybe it sounds silly, but she really is like my child ha. I’m so glad Chip was with me because I was a complete wreck.

Livi was laying beside¬†Chip and started twitching badly. Sometimes she twitches in her sleep, but it seemed more severe. We sat her up¬†and she kept falling over, so we immediately rushed out to the car and looked for the closest emergency animal hospital (it was like 9:30pm). It was in Raleigh, about a 25 minute drive. While I was on the phone with the woman at the vet, she began seizing badly for about 10-20. Chip is sitting beside me right now saying it was more like 5 seconds, but it felt longer. Her legs were outstretched, and she wasn’t foaming at the mouth or anything, but she was super tense and shaking. I completely panicked and threw her at Chip, who was driving. I am really good at functioning under pressure.

Right after it happened, she threw up alllllll over Chip. Poor guy. After that, she was completely¬†fine which we are so thankful for. The vet said it sounded¬†like a seizure, maybe even a partial seizure, since she was coherent and it didn’t last too long. The whole episode lasted about 5 minutes. We decided the best option was to leave her overnight for bloodwork and seizure watch. On Tuesday morning, we were told she did great overnight but she did have one mildly elevated lab value for liver function after they fed her. I¬†have an appointment with her regular vet on Monday to discuss it all and decide¬†whether or not to order an ultrasound or other tests to rule out a liver shunt. It could be a mild one, or it could be nothing at all. She could have another seizure tomorrow and every month for the rest of her life, or she could go her whole life without having another.

Like most people, I like to have a plan and I like to know what to expect in general. Well, that’s not the case here. I’m doing my best to focus on the present-why use the time I have now to worry about the future and something that I have no control over? All¬†any of us have is this moment so I’m doing my best to stay in it. Livi¬†has been her usual spunky self all week, which has helped me not be so anxious. If she has another seizure, we will do everything we can to figure out why, if possible, or start her on meds if necessary. That’s all we can do!

If anyone can rock a half shaved leg, it’s Livi.

Ok, sorry, I know this is not a dog seizure blog.¬†But it is a big deal to me and is causing me some stress, which is timely because it’s finals week ūüôā I’ve already had one take home final and one presentation, but I have an exam¬†on Friday and my last one on Tuesday. Then we get about a week break and start a Maymester course, but I’m living in denial about that right now. That’s another reason I struggle to stay in the present; in our grad program I feel like I’m constantly looking ahead to the next thing. The next test, next semester, next internship.. it can get overwhelming. I’m going to do my best to focus on being present, and might even start listening to some of my old favorite mindfulness YouTube videos I turned to when my anxiety was worse. If you have any great mindfulness resources, do share!

On a happy note… we are going home to tour a nearby wedding venue this weekend! We have another scheduled for next week, too. I know it’s early, but since we are both in grad school we want to plan what we can now so it’s not as stressful later.¬†In the midst of all of this, I’m learning to embrace the chaos. Well, I already did that before -we all lead busy lives!- but it’s really true right now.

I’m learning that I won’t always get it all done, and I may not be able to give my best in every situation. When things happen, whether they’re exciting like getting engaged or terrifying like a health scare for a person or pet, to-do lists go out of the window. I know in a week this portion of school will be over and I’ll have a short break. I may not get an A on every final, but that’s OK. I’m doing my best, and sometimes that means not doing my best on every single thing. If I need to take time for myself, that’s not selfish. In fact, I’m thinking about going for a run and to get my nails done this morning.¬†The run will help me connect with myself and feel some good endorphins, and getting my nails done will just be nice. Both will help me reduce stress, so I’m going to make it happen.

I know I’m rambling a lot, but it’s almost like therapy for me to come here and spill my thoughts. I’ll check back in soon on the other side of finals and share if I’m successful at staying in the present moment. Wish me luck, and I hope you are having a fantastic week!

Life This Week, Easy Dinner Idea, and Summer News

Hello and happy Friday!

Oh my goodness, this week. It has been crazy and exhausting and fun. I’m paying for it now as I study for Monday’s biochem exam and feel woefully unprepared, but it was worth it. I don’t have a super insightful post in me today, but I do want¬†to share some of my week with you. I’ll throw an easy dinner idea in there too, so I can feel like I gave you something to take with you. ūüôā

Coffee on coffee was a necessity this week because…

WE WON THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!

(Sorry to those who know me in real life, I haven’t shut up about this yet.)

I grew up on Carolina basketball. When I was really young¬†I would¬†put on my UNC cheerleading outfit on and make¬†up cheers and chants for all of the players. When we won the championship in 2009, my mom did cheerleading jumps in our living room while the fight song played. Then I went to college there, and my love for the team and the game grew more. We rushed Franklin a few times for beating Duke, but hadn’t won a championship since 09. Until this year. AND I WAS THERE!

I watched in Chapel Hill¬†with Chip and some friends, and we rushed Franklin where we celebrated¬†with 55,000 other Tar Heels. It was like nothing I’ve experienced before. I didn’t get much sleep that night, but it was so worth it. Then the next day, my roommate and I went to the welcome home celebration in the Dean Dome, and it was a lot¬†of fun. I’m just so proud of this team and what they’ve accomplished, and I’m so glad they were able to clutch this win after the heartbreak of last year.

Found that picture on¬†this guy’s Facebook-don’t know him but gotta give credit! Ok, now that I got all those feelings out, let’s move on.

I haven’t cooked much this week, but I did make some delicious curry.

I don’t think I can even call this curry because it is so far from authentic, but I don’t have another name for it. To make it, I saut√©ed¬†garlic, onion, red pepper, a bag of cubed sweet potatoes, zucchini, a pack of chicken breasts, and this jar of simmer sauce. I let it all simmer for about 3o minutes and served over rice. It made enough for several meals, which was great. This sauce was good, but not quite as good as my favorite¬†Trader Joe’s curry sauce. It was possibly my fault, though-I didn’t realize the sauce had coconut milk in it, so I added half a can which made it more sweet than spicy. If¬†you’re looking for an easy dinner idea, it’s good and there’s really no way to mess it up! You can put whatever veggies you like¬†and add meat if you want.

I’m moving home for the summer!

Livi cuddling my parents’ dogs at Christmas

I totally forgot to share it here, but I received my placement for my summer internship¬†back in February. It’s our first RD internship, and it’s the public health rotation. I was placed in western NC, about 30 minutes from where my parents live. So Livi and I are moving in for the summer! Chip will be back home for the summer with his parents, too, so it will nice to still be close. Although I’ll miss my apartment, Anna (my roommate), and living here, I’m really excited about the internship and to hang with my parents all summer.¬†My parents are thrilled, although I think they’re just excited because they know I’ll cook for them a lot. Oh, and¬†I’ll be sure to chronicle my return to Crossfit. Pray for me.

Around the web this week

This great blog post by Kylie about fullness vs. satisfaction

The Love, Food Podcast I recently discovered and am loving (if you have an iPhone, just search in the Podcasts app!)

This Nutrition Matters podcast episode: “A Millennial Man living with Binge Eating Disorder” I listened to this episode yesterday and so appreciate Ryan’s¬†bravery in sharing his story. Eating disorders are mental disorders, and they don’t discriminate. Men struggle with body imagine and food, too, and I’m so glad he¬†is sharing his experience.

That’s all for me, folks!¬†I hope you have a fantastic weekend.

Day in the Life of a Nutrition Student

Happy Friday!

This was the first week back after spring break, and getting back into the swing of things was tough. But I made it to¬†Friday and I’m so excited for the weekend!¬†My parents are coming to town today and tomorrow is an engagement party for my sister and her fianc√©! I’m so excited to celebrate them and hang out with my family.

Today I thought it would be fun to share a day in the life post. I love reading these on other blogs-I’m totally nosy and just like seeing how other people do life.¬†Also,¬†I think it will be fun to look back on this in the future and remember¬†what a “typical” day¬†was like. I say “typical” because yesterday I had 3 classes, but MWF I only have one. Every day is a little different for me. So without further ado, here’s what I was up to yesterday!

7:30¬†Time to wake up! I took the dog to pee, then¬†went right to the kitchen. Breakfast was oatmeal with cinnamon, peanut butter, and raisins. I eat this almost every morning, and somehow I’m not tired of it. I also eat on the couch every morning while watching the Today Show and reading blogs. Even¬†though I’m all about intuitive eating, that doesn’t mean I eat every meal at the table with no distractions! I love that my classes start later this semester-this time¬†in the morning is probably my favorite part of the day.

8:30-9:20¬†Study time! I finally peeled myself from the couch to work on some biochem with another cup of coffee. My professor posts audio of his lectures and advises us to listen¬†to them again and take notes within 24 hours of lecture, so I worked on that for Wednesday’s lecture.

9:20-9:45¬†Pack up and get ready for school.¬†I spend approximately 2 minutes on my appearance for school. I pretty much always¬†just throw on workout clothes, whether or not I’m exercising¬†that day, and a hoodie. Hey, I like to be cozy. I put on moisturizer,¬†pack my lunch, and call it a day. I also HAVE to get my room clean before I leave for the day, or it drives me crazy.

9:45-10:15¬†Commute to school.¬†I park my car at the park & ride and take the bus from Durham to Chapel Hill. The commute isn’t bad at all, just 20 minutes on the bus.

10:15-11 Put my lunch in the fridge at school, eat a snack (banana, pretzels, cheese), and hang out in the break room.

11-12:15 Class time. My first day of the class is environmental science. After class, I had 15 minutes to get to my next one. Sometimes I rush and go grab my lunch between class, but yesterday I decided to wait.

12:30-1:45 Class number 2-medical nutrition therapy! We learned all about cardiovascular disease. I had a pack of crackers to hold me over until class was over.

1:45-3:30 Break. Yesterday I used the long break to meet with some classmates about a group project and then continued working on those biochem notes. Oh, and I ate lunch. I had a salad almost exactly the same as the one I shared last week. About an hour later, I was hungry again so I had some soup that I made a few weeks ago and froze. I just grabbed the container from the freezer this morning and let it thaw during the day.

Studying view.. not too shabby

3:30-5:15 Last class! On Tuesday, my epidemiology class is a lecture but on Thursday we have lab where we work on an assignment in teams. Yesterday we had the whole time to work on the part of our group project that is due today. Class ends at 4:45, but we stayed a little late to finish up.

5:15-6 Commute, pick up my car, go by Target for a few things. I needed coffee filters, spinach, and chocolate milk. All the essentials.

6-6:30¬†I’m greeted by Livi when I get home, who promptly leaves me to go eat. Does anyone else’s dog do this? Once everyone is home, she runs away¬†and eats all her¬†food. I also talk with my roommate and swap my leggings for running shorts.

6:40-7:40 Run and walk. I ran 3.5 miles outside and it felt so great! I ran at an easy pace and listened to a podcast. When I got home from class, my head hurt and I just felt blah after being at school all day. After my run, I felt all better. Fresh air and endorphins are a winning combination. I came back in after my run to grab Livi and took her on a short walk.

7:40-7:50¬†Make dinner. I didn’t want to cook¬†but I was hungry, so I made a sandwich.¬†I used my roommate’s awesome panini press, which I should use more often. I’m super boring when it comes to making sandwiches-just spicy turkey, provolone, and spinach! I finished off a bag of carrots in my fridge and dipped them in ranch, duh. The chips are sea salt and cracked back pepper flavor and so good.

7:50-9:30 I watched the news for a little bit, then showered, started some laundry, and cleaned a bit.

9:30-11¬†Blogging and Netflixing. I decided to not do any more school work for the day. I thought about working more since I know I’ll blow off studying this weekend in favor of hanging with my family, but I decided relaxing was more important. Sometimes clearing my mind is more beneficial than trying to force myself to study more! So I turned on Gilmore Girls and started working on this post, then went to sleep around 11.

The end. I hope you have an awesome weekend!

What Intuitive Eating Looks Like for Me (Yesterday’s Eats)

Happy Friday!

I hope you’ve had a good week. Today I have one more class then I’m going home to celebrate my dad’s birthday and my sister’s first wedding shower. Wahoo! But first, I wanted to share what I ate yesterday.¬†I do not share this to suggest that¬†the way I eat is perfect¬†or that you should eat like I do. Quite the opposite. Tuning¬†into your own wisdom about how to nourish your body and relationship with food may yield an eating pattern¬†that looks totally different from what I eat. ¬†I share this to show what intuitive eating looks like for me, in real life.

I’ve written about intuitive eating here several times, so I won’t rehash all that. However, I suspect some people may have read those posts and then thought–“Ok, that’s all fine and dandy, but what does that actually look like?” It looks different for everyone, and it looks different for me every day!

Yesterday I was in class 11-5, with a long break in the middle, so I¬†had to plan ahead. I couldn’t just wait and see what I crave, and I definitely didn’t eat without distractions. Friendly reminder that intuitive eating is NOT a diet. There are no rules and there’s no way to mess up. Simply put, it’s¬†tuning into your internal cues of¬†hunger and fullness, your food preference, and how food makes you feel rather than following¬†an external set of rules.

Breakfast

I woke up around 7:15 and had breakfast shortly before 8am. I went to my apartment gym at 8:30, so I wanted to give myself some time to let it settle.

Don’t be fooled, I ate this on the couch watching the Today show.

I had what I have most days-oatmeal cooked with milk, with cinnamon, raisins, and crunchy peanut butter mixed in. So good and satisfying! Oh, and coffee with half & half, obviously.

In the past, I used almond milk in my oatmeal. I didn’t really like it. I just thought it was healthier because it was lower in calories and sugar. If you like almond milk or can’t/don’t eat dairy, that may be a good option for you! But I’ve found that I enjoy oatmeal with regular milk much more, so that’s what is healthiest for me.

Snacks

I packed all of the snacks you see here for school. And more coffee. Sometimes I eat everything I pack, but I¬†didn’t yesterday. We have a little cafe/quick stop store at school, and sometimes I’ll get a snack there, but I try to pack my own to save money! Seriously, a KIND bar costs an arm and a leg.

Right when I got to school at 10:30, I was hungry so I had the banana and cheese. My first class¬†ends at 12:15 and the next starts at 12:30, so on these days I just snack if I’m hungry and¬†wait to eat lunch later. Yesterday I ate the bag of crackers during that class. It sounds boring but the Trader Joe’s Multigrain ones are pretty¬†good. And not as loud or smelly to eat as my turkey sandwich and carrots.

Lunch

Picture taken at home, but eaten at school. Anyone spot a little puppy?

Finally!! 1:45 came and it was time for lunch. Yesterday it was a turkey sandwich with cheddar cheese and spinach on whole wheat bread. I also packed baby carrots and peeled clementines in my favorite sandwich box. My last class was at 3:30, then I headed home.

I ended up not being hungry for the almonds or apple, so those went back into the pantry/fridge.

Dinner

Chip came over and we had leftovers for dinner, but I also roasted some broccoli to go with it. We were both hungry, so we had the chips and salsa (x2) you see below while we waited.

If you love salsa, go buy Pace Picante Medium. It will not disappoint!

 

I always take the placemats away for dinner. We are both too messy.

We had dinner around 7, and it was leftover chili from Tuesday and roasted frozen broccoli. It’s the¬†easiest thing ever. I set the oven to 400¬į, and after a few minutes when it was thawed,¬†I added olive oil, salt, pepper, and some Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute and put it back in for a bit longer. It’s very scientific ūüôā I shared the chili recipe over on my Instagram¬†the other day¬†if you’re interested!

One Final Snack

Some nights I don’t have a snack, some nights I do. Last night was a night that I did. I got hungry around 10:30, so I had a bowl of cereal then went to bed.

Peanut Butter Puffins-hadn’t had this in a while and it hit the spot.

The End

Overall, I really don’t eat that much differently than before I discovered intuitive eating. I had already rejected the diet mentality and did not restrict many foods. However, my relationship with food has really improved for the better. I don’t want to give off the impression that I have it all figured out-fostering a healthy relationship with food is a lifelong process. ¬†I consider nutrition as I make most¬†food choices (not all-sometimes I just want a dang cookie and I’m not concerned about what nutrients it gives me), but I don’t let it rule my life. It’s very freeing and has left me with a lot of brain space to focus on more important things, like memorizing biochemistry reactions for school. And a lot of other more fun things, too.

So You Want to Be a Dietitian

Hello hello!

School is finally back in session after a long winter break! Yesterday I only had one class, and today I have three. Even though I enjoyed every minute at home, it‚Äôs nice to be back on a schedule. (I‚Äôll regret saying that soon enough.) I‚Äôve been wanting to share a little more about my journey to grad school, what my program entails, and¬†other routes to becoming a dietitian.¬†If you’re interested in the program or becoming a dietitian, don’t hesitate to comment or send me an email. I’m going to do this post FAQ style and answer questions family and friends commonly ask me, otherwise I’ll ramble incoherently. ūüôā

What was your undergraduate major?

Exercise and Sport Science. Originally I was thinking of applying to medical school and doing the nutrition undergrad degree at UNC. I took intro to nutrition the fall of my sophomore year and fell in love! I decided nutrition was what I wanted to do long-term. At the same time, I took in organic chemistry and despite my hardest work, I made a C. This meant I was ineligible to apply to the undergraduate nutrition program (needed a B-). Although I was bummed, I would have had to pursue further education to become a RD anyway. I decided on Exercise and Sport Science, because I was interested in it and it was a nice complement to my interest in nutrition.

What program are you in now?

I‚Äôm currently in my first year of the combined MPH-RD program at UNC. That¬†means I’ll get a Master’s of Public Health in Nutrition and also be eligible to sit for the Registered Dietitian exam when I graduate. Currently, you’re not required to have a Master’s degree to be a Registered Dietitian, but many RDs¬†do have one. I’m in the School of Public Health at UNC, so we have to take certain classes to meet the public health component of our degree, like health behavior and epidemiology. To meet the Registered Dietitian component, we take all of the courses required by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (also abbreviated AND). Some examples are¬†biochemistry and¬†two levels of medical nutrition therapy (starting this semester!).

What is a combined program in dietetics?

There are several routes to becoming a Registered Dietitian, but in general the steps are:

  1. Take all of the courses outlined by AND
  2. Complete the (unpaid) internship hours
  3. Pass the RD exam

There are two types of dietetic programs-combined or didactic, leading to a bachelor’s or graduate degree.¬†In a didactic program, you must complete all of the required RD coursework and then apply to internship programs. The application process for the internship is pretty intense and involves a matching system. You may not be matched the first go around, which means you have to sit out another year and try again.

In contrast, I’m in a combined program, which means my internships are guaranteed. That is a huge reason why I applied to UNC and only UNC (more on that below). There is still a matching component, but I’m guaranteed to have an internship somewhere.

How long is your program?

The UNC MPH-RD program is 28 months long. We alternate between classes during the fall and spring semesters, then internships during both summers and the final fall. I started in August 2016 and will graduate in December 2018. Most people take several weeks to study for the RD exam, so I’ll probably take that in January or February of 2019.

Although it may take longer if Livi doesn’t let me get anything done.

What are the internships like?

I’ll do my first internship-the public health experience- this summer. Most of those are at local health departments, all in North Carolina. Next summer (2018), I’ll do a clinical rotation, and then fall of 2018 I’ll do an individualized advanced placement. This is all specific to the program I am in, and the special areas of focus vary school to school.

Where did you apply?

Just UNC. Seriously. UNC is the only combined dietetics program in North Carolina¬†and I knew I wanted to stay in state. Also, I LOVE UNC and will bleed Tar Heel Blue until I die, so I’m pretty happy to still be there! To be fully transparent, I’ll share that I applied during my senior year of college and was not accepted. I¬†knew how competitive it was, so I wasn’t expecting to get in, but it was still hard! In that year off I said YES to any opportunity that came my way. It made for a busy, but awesome year and I did get in on my next try.

UNC Bell Tower

If I didn’t get in, I was hoping to begin the¬†didactic program at North Carolina Central University.¬†I would have needed about a year of coursework, then hopefully be matched to their year-long internship, then finish up the Master‚Äôs of Science in Nutrition shortly after becoming a RD. I would have been fine doing that, but I’m so happy with the path I’m on now as it’s packaged nicely and my internships are guaranteed. Additionally, I really wanted¬†a degree in public health and the education that comes along with it.

I’m interested in becoming a dietitian. Where do I start?

AND has a list of all accredited programs here. You can sort them by program type: coordinated, didactic, or undergraduate. If you decide graduate school¬†is the path for you, you’ll need to take the GRE and prerequisite courses, then apply to programs.¬†Some people know this is what they want to do from a young age, so they do an undergrad degree in dietetics and then go straight into an internship. There are many routes to the same outcome, which makes it confusing but also flexible for a variety of needs.

If you’re considering this career path, go for it! I know it can be scary, especially if you’re doing something completely different right now. I’m only a semester in but I can say with confidence that it’s worth it.¬†I’m thrilled¬†to be on my way to becoming a Registered Dietitian and if you have any questions, I’m more than happy¬†to share my experience!