Tuesday, April 11, 2017

What RDs Do: Holly Heartz, RD, MSESS

for something nutrishus

I follow Holly on facebook, likely from her previous sport work, so I already knew she was an animal lover/advocate, but I didn't know she was working in that area. She sees similar challenges with misinformation and getting respect from health care practitioners that we deal with in human nutrition. Unlike some that got into the profession based on a positive interaction with a dietitian, Holly had a different experience, but it still motivated her and now she works in her area of passion.

Why did you become a RD?

As a teen I was always trying to lose weight even though I really didn’t need to lose weight. It wasn’t until after I had my children that I struggled with the excess pounds. I went to Weight Watchers which helped. I saw a RD which didn’t help. She gave me a meal plan but didn’t really talk to me. I remember asking something about how the “skinny people in Hollywood” were able to be so slim. All she said was that they weren’t healthy. After 2 visits I didn’t go back. 

I became a RD to provide answers to people searching for nutrition truths just like I was searching. I was hungry for information. What I love the most about nutrition was the science.

What area of dietetics do you work in?

I work as a clinical dietitian but my love of animals led to the creation of Dog Dietitian. There is a wealth of inaccurate information about dog nutrition that spills over from human nutrition. Dog owners are just as confused about how to feed their dogs as they are about their own nutrition. They also get their nutrition information from inaccurate source such as breeders or trainers.

How would you explain what you do?

My main objective is to provide accurate science-based information about canine nutrition. I do this via blogs and personal contacts with those reaching out to me for answers. 

What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?

I spend a little bit of time every day learning some aspect of either dog nutrition or behaviour (dogs and horses). I am currently developing an education series that will be available on my website. Sometimes I’m contacted by veterinarians who want clarification about nutrition messages dog food reps have presented to them.

What has been your career path?

Since 1998 I have worked in various facilities as a clinical RD. I have also worked in nursing homes and teach nutrition and sports nutrition at the university level. Until 2 years ago, I operated a private practice with a sport nutrition focus.

I still work as a clinical RD while operating Dog Dietitian. In the future I would like to explore enrichment, including dietary enrichment, for horses and dogs.

What advanced education or special training do you have?

I never stop learning and am always taking courses. Besides 2 BSc degrees (biology and nutrition) I have a Masters in exercise and sport science, studying integrative and functional nutrition, and a sports nutrition diploma from the IOC. I have taken graduate courses in animal behaviour and companion animal nutrition from Southern Illinois University (just to name a few).

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

* More respect. 
* More RDs with dual or advanced degrees so nutrition can infiltrate many disciplines. 
* No question in the public's mind that the person to see about any nutrition issue is a RD. 

What misinformation about RDs would you like to clear up?

That RDs and the nutrition information we provide is not influenced by companies.  

What would you like people to know about RDs?

Not everyone interested in nutrition has what it takes to become a RD. It’s not as simple as being able to create a meal plan or develop delicious recipes. Understanding (and passing) courses in chemistry (organic, biochem), physiology, etc is challenging. We need to think critically in applying this information with consideration to people’s behaviour, environment, health status, etc. 

What are challenges you encounter as a RD?

I would like people to understand the difference between a RD and a nutritionist.

Some veterinarians have difficulty accepting me as a nutrition professional for dogs. While they do consult to other specialists many don’t have access to a veterinary nutritionist and take on this role themselves. Just like medical doctors their time is limited to spend with dog owners to help them establish a dietary regime for their dog.

What are you passionate about in dietetics?

After almost 20 years I still love the science. With science there is always something new and exciting on the horizon such as nutrigenomics.

What is your favourite meal?

I love salmon with lemon and a salad…and wine.

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

For those looking for a career outside the box, look to create a business around what you love.

More about Holly:

Facebook: Dog Dietitian
Instagram: @holly.heartz
Twitter: @DogDietitian

Thanks Holly! Find out more about What RDsDo.

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