Registered Dietitian Day: Meet Our Nutrition Expert, Michelle Smith

michelle

Celebrate

The role of dietitians is more relevant these days than ever. Worldwide obesity has doubled since 1980 and more than 1.9 billion adults are overweight. Children aren’t immune either – over 42 million are considered overweight. Considering that so many of our dietary choices and the resulting detrimental outcomes are preventable, it’s important to have a moment to reflect on dietitians’ contributions to our well-being. It falls on them to educate consumers on who they can trust in “the muddy seas of nutrition advice.”

So we’ve decided to honor PureFormulas’ very own dietitian, Michelle Smith. Effervescent and bubbly, Michelle is a tiny dynamo who’s so knowledgeable, personable, and fun that any fear you may have related to nutrition fades away. Despite seeing each other on a daily basis, I’m always learning something new from her. “I have a garden,” she says as she settles in for our chat. “In fact, I haven’t bought a banana from a store in two years.”

Details like this pique my curiosity. What else does she have in her garden? “Papaya, calendula, pesto, dill, tomatoes – I can keep going,” she says and laughs her trademark infectious laugh. Before long, we make plans for me to see this magical garden of hers. She also shares that her healthy vegan lifestyle doesn’t stop with her. Her dogs reap the benefits, too. “I make them healthy treats. I use sweet potatoes from my garden and dehydrate them.”

Background

But how did she get started on her path to become a dietitian? After completing her Bachelor’s degree in Animal Biology, she became interested in adopting a more plant-based lifestyle. But there were so many myths and so much misinformation out there. “People would tell me, ‘If you go vegetarian, your teeth will fall out, your bones will break.’ Just things that made me want to research it and find out more on my own.” And after sitting in on her sister’s nutrition class, she withdrew her application for speech pathology and instead applied to pursue Human Nutrition and Dietetics at an FIU graduate program. It was fate, if you will, how everything fell into place.

When asked why it’s important to celebrate dietitians, Michelle is quick to observe that it’s often a thankless job: Becoming a dietitian requires years of education, internships, certifications, and behind the scenes work to stay abreast of the newest trends and information. According to her, it’s a rewarding feeling to be acknowledged and to have others recognize the tremendous effort and time that went into attaining the coveted RDN title; to have those around her appreciate the knowledge she and other dietitians have is one of the most invaluable benefits of doing what she does.

Sound Advice

The age-old adage, “The way to a person’s heart is through his stomach,” seems to encapsulate Michelle’s day-to-day experiences. When asked about the purpose of her work, she says that her “job is not to convert, but plant a seed.” Whether it’s drinking an extra glass of water or squeezing in an extra 30 minutes of activity, every small adjustment to your lifestyle counts.

“I like to encourage people to try something new. I’m not about the whole ‘All or Nothing’ attitude. It’s all about making better long-term decisions. Baby steps will guide you to your goal.” As for her own favorite quote, Michelle remarks that “‘Food is medicine’” is a great saying. The best thing you can do is listen and pay attention to your body.” She recommends feeling and responding to the signals your body sends before they turn into actual problems. For example, she recommends, if you’re feeling stressed out, make sure to set some time to unwind early in the evening, or use essential oils to help center yourself and your thoughts.

And for those who are interested in embracing a more wholesome lifestyle, Michelle has some thoughtful and enlightening reading recommendations to steer you in the right direction. Her picks? The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone and Vegan for Her by Virginia Messina and JL Fields.

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