What do dietitians really eat? Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Alissa tells all.
Just in time for #RDNDay, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) Alissa Palladino sits down to answer the questions we all want to know about what dietitians do and eat–in a realistic, never boring approach to balanced living.
You could be anything in the world. Why are you a dietitian?
My decision to pursue a degree in nutrition and become a dietitian happened about a year after I graduated from Yale which was the same time I was really getting into running. I was working as a teacher and loved teaching/educating and working with people.
I had always been interested in health and fitness and thought what job could I do that could be an extension of what I really loved to do and that felt authentic to my personal interests and passions. I really had no idea what I was getting into. I started with an intro nutrition masters course at NYU and that solidified everything for me.
I get to talk to people about food and nutrition. I get to help people improve their health, improve their lives, and really do it based on nutrition science. I love to help people cut through all the myths and crazy things and diets.
Why Good Measure?
I could go on and on and on. I love this organization. The team aspect and being part of the nonprofit – I love that at GMM I can people improve their health and in the process, provide funding to Open Hand to help those who don’t have means improve THEIR health. The environment is amazing – opportunities, encouragement.
Initially, my intern coordinator when I was doing my dietetic internship at Emory knew that I was interested in corporate wellness, so she connected me with Good Measure Meals.
After I graduated, I got hired in a contract role to run our internal wellness program and in doing that I got a feel for the org and really liked it.
I kept getting opportunities to expand my role – serving as a customer service liaison, phone consults with GMM customers, responding to email nutrition questions, supporting the marketing team with nutrition content… and now I’m on full-time doing one-on-one nutrition counseling on-site and at our partner corporate fitness centers.
Tell us about a time when you felt like you were really making an impact.
I had a client the other day who, like a lot of women, had a history of restrictive dieting. 1200 calories per day, no carbs.
We bumped up her calories based on her basal metabolic rate (BMR) and exercise level – what a balanced diet looks like. She expressed how relieved she was and how eye opening it was.
Then, she emailed me the next week and said, “YOU WERE RIGHT”– has a lot of energy, already seeing weight loss. I feel like I was able to build that trust – through education and training, but also thanks to the 1-on-1 counseling interaction.
It’s hard to let go of the past especially when you have a history of clean eating and binging – hard to trust someone telling you that you can eat more and explore foods that have been scary in the past.
What is one thing you wished everyone understood about dietitians as people?
I guess that we are actually people, and not always “perfect” eaters. We enjoy ice cream and wine. At least I do.
What is your connection to the meals?
- I eat them every day. I really think they’re delicious. I stand behind the nutritional balance and the CONVENIENCE is paramount. I live alone and preparing an entire meal for one especially after a busy day – well it just doesn’t happen.
- Feel strongly that healthy eating can and should be ENJOYABLE and I love that our meals show people that.
- They’re not only a great resource in the short term for busy people trying to eat more healthfully, but they also teach long-term sustainable healthy eating habits by showing people what a balanced meal looks like and what appropriate portions look like.
It’s 7 a.m. What are you doing? You know we’re going there – it’s 9 p.m. What are you doing?
7 am- heading out for a run
It’s 3 p.m. Now what are you doing?
3 pm- every day is different- at my desk, working with a client, on the phone with a GMM customer, writing an article for our blog, communicating with partners over email, taking a wellness walk with co-workers on the Armour Yards loop. Around 3 pm is also usually my snack time. I always pair protein and fiber-rich carbs for snacks to keep me satisfied and energized. Think Greek yogurt and fruit, or raw veggies with a Greek yogurt based dip.
O.K. it’s 6:45 p.m. What are you doing?
6:45 am- eating dinner usually on the couch, usually a Good Measure Meal. By 9 pm, I’m reading my kindle in bed. Sleep is a priority. I recently read Shoe Dog, a memoir by the creator of Nike, Phil Knight and Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer (I am OBSESSED with her).
Where do you spend the majority of your time when you’re not at work?
One of my biggest hobbies and how I spend my non-work hours is exercising – so running in Piedmont Park or with the Atlanta Track Club.
When I hang out with friends, we usually go to Barcelona Wine Bar in Inman park for dinner/drinks, The Den for drinks (tucked under Beetle Cat), or Parish for brunch.
What’s your spirit animal? Why?
Definitely a cat. I can’t really tell you why. But my parents have cats (that I adopted in college) and I just really identify with them.
Favorite Good Measure Meal? Why? Runner up?
I honestly enjoy so many of our meals it’s hard to pick. The honey lemon chicken with wild rice and butternut squash is one of my faves. The chicken is so moist and I just love how our chefs prepare butternut squash and how all the flavors of this meal blend together. Also love the sweet potato/black bean bowl, turkey meatloaf with roasted Brussels, and our breakfast breads… especially apple quinoa.
What is one thing you love to eat that shocks your friends the most?
Probably the amount of veggies that I eat. Like so much fiber. And have you ever noticed how orange my palms are (and the soles of my feet)? That’s beta carotene from all of the carrots.
What do you listen to in the car on your way to work or to events with partners?
The radio – country or alternative. I don’t have satellite or anything fancy. I can’t listen to podcasts or books because I will inevitably get lost. Being from NYC, driving itself still requires a fair amount of focus! Current fave song is “body like a back road” by sam hunt. I am usually just listening not singing – I am totally tone deaf. I will sing out loud to U2 and Journey though…
If you could stand on a special RD platform and give one piece of advice to the entire world, what would it be?
Eat more vegetables!
And try to get away from that diet mentality. If the way you’re eating to meet a health goal or lose weight isn’t sustainable, the results aren’t sustainable either. A diet inherently implies something short-term, something you can’t stick to forever.
Who wants to–or can–live without carbs, or chocolate, or wine forever? Who can sustain two-a-day intense workouts forever?
You’ve got to learn how to incorporate “treat” foods and find a form of exercise you enjoy and can do consistently NOW. Lasting health and sustainable weight management comes from making healthy eating and regular physical activity part of your lifestyle.
Ready to chat with Alissa about your health goals? Schedule a complimentary 10-minute consult today!