Elle, I can’t wait to hear all about your role as a Dietitian..could you briefly describe your job? I’m the Registered Dietitian at MyFitnessPal, a popular food logging and exercise tracking app based out of San Francisco. In addition to being the nutrition spokesperson for the company, I am the Food & Nutrition Editor for their blog, Hello Healthy, and I am also involved in product development—like helping with updates and improvements to the app. In terms of the area of dietetics, it’s really a broad mix of Nutrition Communications and Technology.
Have you worked anywhere else before MyFitnessPal?
I was super lucky to find my dream job right out of grad school, so this has been my only real job as a RD. I completed my dietetic internships, during which I did 6 months of clinical work at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill which I loved! My plan before becoming the RD at MyFitnessPal was to start my own private practice—which I hope to do at some point in my career, even if it’s part time.
What made you want to become a Registered Dietitian? Like many girls, I struggled with body image in my teens and early 20s. It was my discovery of whole foods, cooking and my genuine love for food that helped pull me out of that horrible trap. Developing a healthy relationship with food was eye opening, and so wonderful I decided I wanted to talk about food and how to enjoy it every day for the rest of my life. It only made sense to become a Registered Dietitian!
What do you think is the “next diet”? Quite honestly, I don’t really pay much attention to diet trends, but I hear cauliflower is the new kale which I’m kind of excited about! (ps. have you checked this cauliflower ‘rice?)
Do you want to share some frustrations you face as a Dietitian? You know, as a Dietitian I always thought my friends, family, co-workers, even strangers would put what I’m eating under a microscope–or think I’m judging them for what they have on their plate. Thankfully this hasn’t been the case. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I really do enjoy eating a healthy balance of everything, burritos, kale salads, chocolate chip cookies… and the people around me see that.
What is your mantra or definition of ‘healthy living’? Rather than reinvent the wheel, I think I’m going to tweak one of Michael Pollan’s food rules:
For our future RDs, do you have any recommendations on didactic vs coordinated program? No two people’s path will be exactly the same but for me, the Coordinated Program was the best way. The coursework and internships were neatly packaged together, which means I didn’t have to stress over the possibility of not getting an internship spot. I also enjoyed being able to break up all of coursework with the practical experience of working in a hospital and in public health settings.
Any word of advice for future RDs? Definitely check out my FAQs post on nutrition, a career change and grad school. If you decide you want it, make a plan and don’t look back. It’s a long road to becoming a Registered Dietitian, but life’s too short not to do what you love—and I couldn’t imagine doing anything I love more.
Thank you so much Elle for hanging out with me and my readers. Hopefully we will grab a coffee together when I visit San Francisco..
You can get hold of Elle Penner, MPH RD
Healthy Lifestyle Blogger & MyFitnessPal Registered Dietitian Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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