Tuesday, May 3, 2016

What RDs Do: Rebecca Lewis, MS, RDN

REBECCA LEWIS
HELLO FRESH
for something nutrishus


Rebecca saw the series and was eager to be a part of it, to showcase the many talents and areas dietitians work in. She is very passionate about health promotion, disease prevention, and kitchen skills so we can cook more at home. It's great to hear about a RD working for a meal-kit company, a job that came out of her internship. I love that Rebecca aims to 'change the world through food' and that she feels she has the best job ever!

Why did you become a RD?

My interest in food started when I was just a little girl. Both sets of my grandparents were farmers - everything they ate came from their gardens, they raised their own animals, and baked the most delicious fresh breads. Growing up, I can remember my mom setting me on the counter to watch her as she whipped up one of her traditional Serbian dishes. Moreover, it was customary in my family for us all to eat together at the dinner table every night. My family placed great value on preparation of our meals and the way it brought us together. To this day one of my favorite things to do for the people I care about, is to cook for them.

What has been your career path?

I earned an undergraduate degree in psychology, traveled near and far to other cultures, explored many ways of living, and also watched my mother pass away far too early from the food related diseases that plague this country. My mother’s passing was the catalyst to change my diet and lifestyle. I read and devoured every Michael Pollan book I could get my hands on. I made a move from California to Colorado - where I helped build a huge front-yard garden, raised chickens, and got involved in our local food networks. I also decided to go back to school to learn more.

I obtained a Master’s degree in nutrition, and I focused my passion and energy for food towards health promotion and disease prevention. My thesis work focused on demystifying cooking; breaking the barriers to get adults back into the kitchen.

I stumbled upon HelloFresh and was intrigued by how a meal-kit company could solve the issue of work-life balance. I reached out to the CEO and interviewed him for my thesis. Then, what started as an interview with the CEO, ended up becoming my opportunity to intern with an extremely forward-thinking company! After graduating and becoming fully licensed as a Dietitian, I came aboard full-time with HelloFresh as their Dietitian/Nutritionist.

What area of dietetics do you work in?

Food Service, Counseling

How would you explain what you do? What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?

I love what I do and I couldn’t image a better job that would provide the exposure and influence that working as the Head Dietitian at HelloFresh allows me. I am passionate about health, relish great food, love having a platform to talk about nutrition, and feel incredibly lucky to be able to do what I do every day! In fact, here are the Top 5 Reasons that I have the BEST job ever!

1. I help drive and support the HelloFresh mission of getting people back in the kitchen and enjoying cooking again! 

2. I have the opportunity to engage and enrich our customers on wellness & food-related topics via email, online resources, print, TV, and social media.

3. I work closely with an extremely talented and creative team of chefs; I get to taste and collaborate on innovative recipe ideas and contribute nutritionally needed feedback for any areas of redesign.

4. I enjoy conducting regular analysis of trends in the food industry and needs of our specific HelloFresh customers.

5. I flex my professional Dietitian skills every day in ensuring our recipes meet health goals - every recipe is subject to a nutritional analysis to ensure that it fits into our target nutritional goal ranges.

What advanced education or special training do you have?

I have an Undergraduate Degree in Psychology and a Masters Degree in Nutrition. I am fully licensed as RDN.

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

In an ideal world, nutrition education including home economics will be required learning in school. While we emphasize the importance of learning to read and perform math – how we feed ourselves will be viewed as equally important to general health.

Moreover, Dietitians will be viewed as respected experts that help address food issues preventatively instead of just after the fact. They will be on advisory boards for any and all food companies to ensure that a triple bottom line is enforced so that the best interests of their customers are protected.

Lastly, as customers become more and more fed up with the lack of control the current food industry gives them – they will collectively raise their voices (and their votes) to demand transparency for what is in their foods. Of course, I hope to see that more people will embrace the art of cooking at home!

What are challenges you encounter as a RD?

I am genuinely surprised by how little nutrition knowledge people have and how few actually feel confident in the kitchen. I empathize with people though - if you didn’t learn from a family member, and you never took home economics, where would this type of knowledge come from?! Cooking is like any sport or hobby, you have to do it frequently to get faster and better at it.

What do people think that you do for a living?

People think I am a walking encyclopedia of nutrition knowledge! They think my job is to tell them all the foods they shouldn’t be eating.

What would you like people to know about RDs?

RD’s struggle with the same food issues that everyone else does! The difference is that we use a background of knowledge to acknowledge those problems, believe that we can change them, and then take action to do so. It’s hard to make bad choices when you are well informed – ignorance is not bliss!

What are you passionate about in dietetics?

In the short term - I have a strong desire to put food and at-home cooking knowledge back in people’s hands, while teaching the skills necessary to execute that action. I want to help our customers feel self-empowered to take better care of their health and make better lifestyle choices instead of relying on fast food and restaurants.

My long-term goals are taken from a bigger picture perspective - it is my dream to change the world through food. Nutrition is more than just calories – it is our small everyday choices that eventually lead to an accumulated lifetime of good nutrition. I am extremely passionate about food and nutrition and am determined to be a part of a solution that can really make a difference. Accomplishing these goals is an achievement dedicated to my mother – the one who believed in me and taught me about the nourishing power of food.

What is your favourite meal?

I love roasting a whole chicken with lemons and herbs! My guilty pleasure is peanut butter – I LOVE it and have a spoonful (or two) just about every day!

What tip(s) would you give to our readers?

Cook at home MORE – it empowers you to take control of your health and it’s a FUN creative expression we rarely get as adults anymore.

More about Rebecca:


Twitter: @rebeccalewisrd 
Instagram: @rebeccalewisrd
Website: www.hellofresh.com

Thanks Rebecca! Find out more about What RDsDo.

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

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