Celebrate Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist Day!

Ellie Wilson


It is one of my favorite days of the year – a day when I get to celebrate the work of my peers and how they improve wellbeing through the transformative power of nutrition, celebrated every year during March, National Nutrition Month. You may not realize it, but you benefit from the work of registered dietitian-nutritionists (RDNs) every day, and so do many people in your life! RDNs work throughout our food systems, from farm to table, molecule to menu, recipes to research, and most importantly, they translate the science of food, culinary skills and clinical nutrition into solutions and communications that serve individuals, communities, and populations.

In your communities, RDNs often direct school food systems, working to fuel growth and learning for our children, and help them explore healthful eating. RDNs direct hospital-based clinical nutrition and food service, food banks and community-based organizations, restaurant chains, military operations, food product development, work in academics and sports, public health prevention and medical nutrition treatment across the entire lifespan. RDNs are also chefs, farmers, entrepreneurs, and culinary nutrition educators. RDNs may also be board-certified in advanced practice, pediatrics, sports nutrition, gerontology, and nutrition support. It is a dynamic field centered on meeting the needs of all with evidence-based, empathetic, and respectful nutrition science and care.

RDNs have been part of all those institutions for over 100 years but were rarely powered or resourced well enough to deliver and measure the full value of their expertise. That is changing – the most recent shift in focus on nutrition and health has risen to prominent view in the last 10 years. The true capacity of RDNs to meaningfully change health when the right infrastructure is in place has broken through via Food-as-Medicine initiatives. These programs have been growing out of non-profits that created services when there was no other way to meet specific nutritional needs. The New York State Department of Health has also worked to build capacity through many innovation initiatives. This included produce prescription programs and RDN-prescribed, medically tailored meal programs serving our most vulnerable and chronically ill.  When data systems began to track that care and outcomes, the opportunity became clear – when food and nutrition treatment with RDNs is available, quality of life and the ability to recover and thrive is not just possible, it changes everything about costs, and empowering patient confidence and capacity to restore health, elevating the importance of applied nutrition science and access to qualified nutrition care to the health of our communities, states and country. This is interwoven with other societal issues and allied health disciplines driving change through social determinants of care – it all comes together in prevention and treatment that fuels health, equity and opportunity.

I have the privilege of serving our communities through the work I do at Price Chopper/Market 32 – ensuring food information is the best it can be in all the channels it is needed: for our customers’ and teammates’ benefit, for business operations, and community and healthcare collaborations with resources like the Know Your Colors nutrition guides program in Price Chopper and Market 32. I love the work I do, and continually learning how to support my peers in their vital roles using nutrition to safeguard and promote wellbeing. To better illustrate what that can mean, I will share a statement from a fellow RDN quoted in our professional journal this month. Alice Dunham, MS, RD, LD/N, works with veterans in Sarasota, Florida. She wrote: “I am proud to be a registered dietitian-nutritionist because every day I am a public servant. In my role, I am serving as a mental health dietitian for veterans in transitional housing. Witnessing the positive impact nutrition therapy has on a person’s psychological health and overall well-being is special. I am able to help this population work through challenges including food safety, nutrition security, feeding environments, food relationships and budgeting a balanced diet. Each day feels like I am fulfilling a great purpose: to heal people through food. It is the most rewarding profession. I am so grateful to be a nutritional caregiver daily and help people navigate their health.”

Me too – knowing the work I do supports so many ways food brings joy and health is why I entered this profession. Wishing all my friends and colleagues the very best on RDN Day! 

Written by Ellie Wilson, MS, RDN, CDN  Senior Nutritionist, Price Chopper and Market 32   NNM17_SocialMedia_RDNDay_PlumCelebrate great food that is good for you, and the dedicated, passionate women and men that bring better health through nutrition to your community!  March is National Nutrition Month, (#NNM) and today marks the annual celebration of Registered Dietitian-Nutritionists.  The largest group of nutrition professionals in the world, we are over 70,000 strong in the United States! In a time of unprecedented interest and need, Registered Dietitian-Nutritionists (RDNs) are improving nutrition security by working throughout our food and health care systems to ensure residents have access to safe, delicious and nutritious foods.   Nutrition is getting a lot of love these days – and a lot of action, with RDNs at the center of it. In communities, RDNs are at the center of food access and education; school, college and hospital food and nutrition service and clinical care; farmer’s market education, and community-based medical and specialty nutrition therapy. Food companies are working with RDNs to ensure food labeling is correct, and food operations are safe and sanitary. Supermarkets and convenience store chains have dietitians working at the corporate offices and stores, and RDN entrepreneurs have small businesses all over the state. RDNs are also bringing delicious recipes and evidence-based education to social and traditional media channels – it is an exciting time to be a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist!   2017 is of particular importance to our profession – it is the celebration of our Centennial. For the past 100 years, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has been dedicated to building a profession that optimizes health through food and nutrition. The Academy was founded as the American Dietetic Association in 1917 by a visionary group of women committed to taking on the greatest food and nutrition challenge of the day: conserving food, feeding the troops and nourishing Americans while combating malnutrition in the face of severe food shortages during World War I. They continue this work today, closing the gaps between individuals and the good nutrition they need. RDNs help you put your best fork forward and make great food good for you – celebrate RDNs and great nutrition today! NNM17_SocialMedia_Meme_Fruit