What do dietitians eat? Cheeseburgers, hold the guilt.
Just in time for #RDNDay, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) Kathryn Shubert sits down to answer the questions we all want to know about what dietitians do and eat. And how she’s sick of all the rules.
Q: Let’s start with a basic background question here: Why are you a dietitian here in Atlanta for Good Measure Meals (GMM)?
KS: I wanted to be a dietitian since I was about 16 – I think it comes from wanting to have the answers to things that people care about and struggle with. I wanted to be an answer-holder. And I wanted to be a dietitian for GMM because of the dynamic opportunity here. I am able to contribute creatively to the business and marketing aspects of the company while also leading one-on-one counseling and teaching programs and lessons. Very few dietitians get to enjoy that range of opportunities – in fact, many end up as strictly clinical dietitians or food services managers.
Q: How would you describe your relationship with food, fitness, and wellness?
KS: I don’t have some super dramatic story. What really drew me into wellness was my experience with traveling around the Amalfi Coast in Mediterranean Italy, and seeing firsthand how other cultures relate to food and have wellness just completely ingrained into the society. Like in Italy, walking is just a thing that you do, eating slowly with long conversations in person with friends or family (or both!) is just completely natural. They don’t have all the rules – they’re not constrained by obsessing about how to not gain weight — being healthy and connected and grounded is just part of their society and that is so much better for you. The Amalfi Coast is where the Mediterranean diet was “birthed,” but honestly that “diet” is simply just how they eat. The area is even traditionally lower income, so they naturally just ate more fish, beans, etc. Ironically now, we’re all trying to be more like them, but they didn’t even really try.
Q: It’s hard to just “ignore all the rules,” so what would you say is one thing most people get wrong about their diet when they’re trying to do the right thing?
KS: Focusing too hard on one food instead of the whole big picture.
Q: Now let’s turn the tables: What is one piece of your own advice you should probably take to heart?
KS: Eating more vegetables!! I also need to eat breakfast within the hour of waking up, but I tend to wake up late and I have a long commute so I don’t always eat until I get to work.
Q: Speaking of, let’s get a little snapshot of a “Day in the life of Kathryn Shubert, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.” — It’s 7 a.m. What are you doing?
KS: I’m trying to get out of bed, let’s be honest. I’m not meal prepping. I’m trying to get the heck out of bed.
Q: We’ve all been there. Fast-forward to 3 p.m. Now what are you doing?
KS: Haha, it’s funny you say 3 p.m. because that’s “Tea Time” in our dietitian pod at GMM. We go on a 1-mile loop walk. Otherwise, I’m following up with emails to my community partners and meal pick-up location sites about future events and programs like our body composition classes or our program “Fueling for your Workday and Workout.”
Q: OK it’s 6:45 p.m. What are you doing?
KS: Usually eating Good Measure Meals at home in my living room with my husband. Yes, I actually eat Good Measure Meals. Yes, he does too. He’s a big dude, and we like them because we don’t have as many munchies as we do when we don’t eat the Good Measure Meals.
Q: You know we’re going there – it’s 9 p.m. What are you doing at the end of the day?
KS: I really love to be in bed before 10 p.m. Yes, I know that I have trouble waking up still. I play with my miniature golden doodles Chewy and Leia (ironically, no, I haven’t seen Star Wars) and I have a skincare routine that I do in the evenings.
Q: Love that you also eat the Good Measure Meals at home – I think it’s safe to say the entire staff does that. Which one is your favorite?
KS: I always go for those Tsukune Meatballs – I LOVE noodles and anything pasta-like, and the sweetness that Asian food can often have. (Now that I mention it, I also like the Asian Meatloaf with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes – LOVE the flavor of the wasabi without that extra killer burn.)
Q: What is one thing you wished everyone understood about dietitians as people?
KS: I wish people knew as a whole that dietitians are not the food police. We’re trained to be more supportive than demanding, which is very confusing with the strict diet culture that we have these days.
Q: What is one thing you love to eat that shocks your friends the most?
KS: Probably Killer Burgers or Shake Shack. Also – now I don’t always do this – but I will get a milkshake, too. Oh, and I get cheese on my burger.
Q: Before we all run out and order fast food after hearing that, tell us about a time when you felt like you were really making an impact as a dietitian.
KS: Recently, there’s been one particular woman who comes to multiple of my classes and programs — assisting her on her journey has really made me feel like I’m making an impact. She knows she needs to eat enough; but whether on purpose or not, she and a lot of people eat less than they’re supposed to — that’s a common problem for people. This particular woman is still coping with eating enough and realizing her goal results are going to take longer to achieve in the slow and steady process of building those healthy habits that will last the rest of her life. We usually have a brief one-on-one conversation after class, and I know she’s gotten involved with a weight support group and that she’s being so smart with her weight expectations.
I’m not a one-and-done with her — she wants to keep learning, and it’s worth her time to hear me educate, even if it’s on the same topic. As GMM dietitians, we encourage check-ins, but a lot of people don’t come back because they’ve heard the spiel already and they think they have enough accountability on their own. But she keeps coming back. It’s so encouraging.
Q: To wrap up, here’s one big question, and you can take your time. If you could stand on a special RDN platform and give one piece of advice to the entire world, what would it be?
KS: One piece of advice?! That’s so hard! I think I would say — Be wise in the habits you create – because habits are what lead to your long-term issues, for better or for worse. And be a good steward of the one body that you have.