Wednesday, December 16, 2015

What RDs Do: Sue Mah, RD, MHSc

for something nutrishus

Today we have a well-known, familiar media dietitian. Toronto's Sue Mah says nutrition and health has always been a part of her life and with her communication skills she now helps train others through workshops. Sue has 3 businesses and 2 business partners; she definitely doesn't sound bored as a consulting dietitian! As we've seen in other interviews, Sue is also a dietitian that enjoys dessert.

Why did you become a RD?

My paternal grandfather was the first medical acupuncturist in Toronto and my dad is a chef. So I grew up eating wholesome food with a focus on health and wellness. As a competitive runner in my school years and then a certified fitness instructor during university and beyond, I knew first hand the importance of healthy eating and sports nutrition. I became a RD to help educate, empower and inspire others to eat well and enjoy eating delicious, nutritious food.

What area of dietetics do you work in?

I like to call myself a nutrition entrepreneur! I have founded/co-founded three nutrition businesses in Canada:

- Nutrition Solutions Inc. – is my own consulting business which I started almost 20 years ago. I focus on nutrition communications, nutrition strategy, product innovation and media spokesperson work.

- Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists – was created in 2007 with my business partner Lucia Weiler, RD to advance the nutrition knowledge of food and beverage professionals.

- Media Training Boot Camp – was created in 2015 with my other business partner Gina Sunderland, RD so that we could share our media expertise with dietitians and other health professionals looking to build their media skills.

How would you explain what you do?

As President of Nutrition Solutions Inc., I write nutrition education articles and develop nutrition resources for consumer and health professionals. Media is a large part of my work. I was the nutrition editor for The Health Journal magazine as well as the dietitian columnist for Best Health magazine, and am the in-house dietitian for CBC News Network in Toronto. I’ve been featured across Canada in hundreds of media and social media features, including TV shows, Twitter parties and a dozen TV commercials. Some of my other interesting projects include speaking at conferences/events, creating media pitches, writing blogs and participating in creative nutrition education campaigns.

With Nutrition for NON-NutritionistsTM, dietitian Lucia Weiler and I train professionals across Canada including chefs, PR professionals, sales reps, marketing teams, advertising agencies, food service staff and sales reps. Our interactive workshops and courses have been proven to improve the nutrition knowledge of our participants on both a personal and professional level.

To help build a stronger voice for the dietetic profession, dietitian Gina Sunderland and I offer Media Training Boot Camp workshops and webinars. We share our real live experiences and secrets of success. It’s rewarding to see how much confidence dietitians gain after taking our workshops.

What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?

A typical week usually involves a few writing assignment deadlines as well as communications with clients. I spend quite a bit of time on professional development by attending nutrition events, participating in webinars, and reading the daily nutrition headlines/research. I love to blog and tweet about the latest nutrition trends and news from recent events.

What has been your career path?

I studied Nutrition and Food Sciences as my undergraduate degree, followed by a Master of Health Science in Community Nutrition, both at the University of Toronto. My first job was as a Public Health Nutritionist for the Region of Peel Health Department. After four years into the job, I was feeling a bit bored and at that time started my nutrition business part-time as a freelance writer/consultant and media dietitian. A couple of years after that, I quit the day job and devoted my time to my own consulting business. So far, I’ve built three nutrition businesses/brands, and it’s been a wonderful journey!

What advanced education or special training do you have?

The Master of Health Science degree encouraged me to think critically about various issues and research. In my role as a Public Health Nutritionist, I realized that I loved to write and train others. I was also an internationally certified fitness instructor for 13 years, which further strengthened my communication skills. Being my own boss made allowed me the flexibility to choose the projects that fit my timelines and philosophy. When you’re passionate about what you do, it’s fun, not work!

In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now?

I’m thrilled to see more dietitians in the media today compared to 5 or 10 years ago. This only helps to strengthen the visibility of dietitians as the food and nutrition experts. In the next 5 years, we’ll see more dietitians creating their own nutrition videos and shows. Some of this is already happening and it’s fantastic!

I envision more dietitians working collaboratively on multi-interdisciplinary teams. There will be a growing interest in integrative nutrition, nutrigenomics, sports nutrition, and food for positive mental health. Dietitians will be teaching/training other health care professionals.

What would you like people to know about RDs?

Dietitians work in diverse settings – hospitals, individual counselling, grocery stores, media, food sector, product research and development, marketing, educational institutions, administration, public/population health, research and policy. Our common goal though is to help Canadians enjoy wholesome food to prevent illness, manage health-related conditions and lead healthy, active lives.

What are challenges you encounter as a RD?

At my husband’s corporate dinner parties, people think I’m judging what they’re eating. I’m not judging anyone! In fact, I’m the first person to ask for dessert!

What is your favourite meal?

Since childhood, my favourite meal has been my chef Dad’s homemade soy sauce chicken wings!

More about Sue:

Website: Nutrition Solutions Inc.
Website: Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists
Website: Media Training Boot Camp
Twitter: @SueMahRD
Facebook: Sue Mah, Nutrition Solutions Inc.
LinkedIn: Sue Mah

Thanks Sue! Find out more about What RDsDo.

If you're a dietitian that would like to be featured, email me for the details!