Spotlight on Registered Dietitians, Part II

In part one of this spotlight, registered dietitians Felicia Stewart and Alexandra Rae provided advice for those starting out in the dietetics field. In part two, Alexandra and Felicia tell us about their website, Fully Nourished, and how it has helped them reach more people seeking help from their expertise. (EHC): Tell me about Fully Nourished. What is it and what inspired you to start it?
Felicia Stewart (FS) and Alexandra Rae (AR): Fully Nourished was born in the summer of 2017 from a shared vision of having an impact on the health and wellbeing of others. With so much conflicting nutrition and wellness advice out there, we created an online resource to share credible and exciting — as well as easy to understand and implement — information. We also both absolutely love cooking and recipe development, so we enjoy having a platform to share our recipes and inspire others in the kitchen.

We’ve worked hard to create a brand that appreciates each individual’s journey and recognizes that nourishment is achieved through more than just food. In our opinion, feeling truly and fully nourished incorporates wellness of the mind, body and soul. We aim to provide resources, inspiration and a supportive space to help others.

Each week, we extend our passion for a happy and healthy life by sharing articles, recipes and insight on the latest nutrition research through our blog, Instagram and Facebook pages. It’s our goal through Fully Nourished to help others eat well, live inspired and feel fully nourished!

EHC: How do your balance your full time jobs as dietitians and run a website?
FS and AR: We work hard to strike a balance between our roles as clinicians, Fully Nourished and our personal lives. It isn’t always easy, and it can certainly be challenging to shift gears. Each week, we set aside time after work and on the weekend to develop our content and connect with the online wellness community via Instagram and Facebook. It can feel like a lot to juggle, but we’re so passionate about our work and wouldn’t have it any other way!

EHC: What advice do you have for students interested in going into your profession?
FS and AR: Read. Continue to feed your brain with the latest research or regularly review previous course notes (human anatomy, nutrient metabolism, medical nutrition therapy). The field of nutrition is constantly evolving. Don’t be afraid to ask your peers, teachers and mentors for reviews and research they turn to.

Listen. Truly listen to the patients or clients you’re working with. Their stories and experiences aren’t only fun and exciting, they can shed light on their motivators, true desires and underlying fears. Individuals are also more likely to open up to you and consider your recommendations when they feel like you truly understand where they’re coming from.

Always ask questions. The old saying is true: “The only stupid question is the one not asked.” Throughout your education, internships and even as you enter the professional realm, don’t be afraid to ask questions or reach out to fellow dietitians for the opportunity to observe their work. Continuously ask questions and we promise that you will be not regret the learning opportunities that arise.

Network. Although the world of nutrition continues to grow and develop, the network of RDs is close and well connected. Attend various networking events in college and throughout your internship program to meet dietitians in a wide variety of roles, as well as other health care professionals. Maintain communication with the individuals and if you’re truly interested in the work they do, don’t be afraid to let them know! As we mentioned before, dietetics is a close-knit community, and we all love to support those entering the field.

Be open to any and every opportunity. You never know what opportunities may arise and what you may learn from them. Take advantage of each and every experience that comes your way, even if it seems trivial at the time. You may meet a future mentor, learn about new cultures, find passion for an area of dietetics you’ve never even considered or learn what you aren’t interested in, which can be just as valuable. With an open mind and intentional reflection, each experience is an opportunity for personal and professional growth.

EHC: Are there any classes, programs or activities that aren’t directly related to dietetics that have helped you succeed in this field?
FS and AR: We both have varied experiences outside of dietetics that we value and believe have contributed to our success in the field. Classes including business management, cultural anthropology, psychology and counseling provided organizational skills along with an understanding of human behavior. Along with understanding the science of nutrition, it’s also important to have a knowledge base in what motivates and influences individuals (cultural background, family dynamics and personal goals) to be successful in dietetics. Classes outside the realm of nutrition were just as beneficial as those within it.

FS: There were many extracurricular activities we were both involved in, including sports, student government and volunteering that have also played a role in our dietetic careers.  For example, I was involved in student government throughout my undergraduate education. I held a position on the executive board which required a great deal of responsibility and time on top of a full class load. This experience helped to develop my public speaking, time management and leadership skills, all of which are used daily in my current position.

EHC: What’s the biggest misunderstanding people have about your profession?
FS and AR: The biggest misunderstanding people have about this profession is the difference between a registered dietitian and a nutritionist. An RD is a licensed nutrition professional that stays up to date in the latest nutrition science by acquiring continuing education credits to maintain their licensure. To become an RD, an accredited bachelor’s program is required, along with the completion of a 1200-hour supervised practice dietetic internship. As of 2024, a master’s degree will be required for application to such a program. RDs must also pass a comprehensive exam exemplifying their expertise in clinical, community and managerial nutrition (food service). Lastly, the term nutritionist isn’t regulated, and anyone can technically call themselves a nutritionist.

Another major misunderstanding is that a dietitian will tell you exactly what to eat and take all of your “fun foods” away. Nothing could be further from the truth! We aren’t the food police and hope to rid the public of this misconception. We strongly believe that all foods can fit into your life and aim to promote a balanced approach to eating. Of course, we love and encourage a diet emphasizing fresh fruits and vegetables, but ultimately, we strive to empower people to become in tune with their bodies and to nourish themselves in ways that make them feel awesome and allow them to live a full life!

Interested in learning more about Alex and Felicia? Be sure to check out Fully Nourished and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

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