March is Nutrition Month

Nicole Pin, MAN, RD works as a dietitian at a University in Ontario.

 

What are your day-to-day responsibilities as a University dietitian?


My responsibilities are different every day. As a dietitian working in post-secondary food service, my role includes a lot of collaboration and project-based work. Some of my daily tasks include:
  1. Supporting students on campus with allergies and other diet challenges.
  2. Working with campus wellness on health promotion and nutrition initiatives for the student community. 
  3. Helping with recipe development, nutrition analysis and labeling for our menus. 
  4. Developing nutrition programs like allergy-safe menu options, nutritious snack choices, and balanced meals.  
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What nutrition topics do you get the most questions about?

 
I get questions about all sorts of nutrition topics. Lately I have been getting a lot of questions around balancing a busy work or school life with making time to prepare meals. I think with many of us going back to in-person work or school schedules it’s been challenging to start a new meal routine. 
 
I also get a lot of questions about how to include more plant-based foods. One easy strategy I like to share is looking for ways to add plant-based options to your usual meals. For example, if you’re making a spaghetti sauce you can use half the animal protein and add in a can of lentils as a way to include plant-based protein and increase fibre. 


What are some common misconceptions about healthy eating?

 
People often have the idea that healthy eating looks the same for everyone—which is not true! What is healthy for one person may not necessarily be healthy for another. We have to remember that each of us is unique with differences in health status, lifestyle factors, cultural influences, and genetics, which all impact our individual nutrition needs. 


What is your approach when providing nutrition advice?


My philosophy when it comes to nutrition is that ‘all foods fit’. I promote a non-diet approach that focuses on developing long term sustainable habits that line up with overall wellness goals. Often I find myself encouraging people to reframe thoughts on food or nutrition that come from a negative mindset. A lot of people focus on removing or avoiding foods when they are trying to make dietary changes, instead, I like to ask what could be added to a meal. For example: adding protein to an afternoon snack to make it more satisfying or including spinach and tomato slices on a sandwich at lunch.  


What do you like most about being a dietitian?


What I like most about being a dietitian is how diverse my role is. As the ‘nutrition expert’ on our team I get to be involved in a lot of different projects and am constantly learning new skills and growing as a professional. It’s also really rewarding knowing that I am working to make a positive impact— I love when someone comes up to me and says I’ve helped them or made a difference in their day!


How do you stay up to date on all the latest nutrition research and trends?


There is so much information (and misinformation) out there that it can be hard to keep up. I try to take advantage of professional development opportunities, such as webinars or seminars and subscribe to nutrition and dietetic newsletters. Networking has also been a great way to stay up to date with best practices and the latest trends. 


What’s your top nutrition tip?


Consider nutrition as one part of the bigger picture of health and wellness. Nourishing ourselves works together with self-care, movement, and mental health to create the foundations for a balanced lifestyle. 
 

Check out these articles and recipes recommended by Nicole:
 

Quick and Easy Lunch Ideas 
Keep Active at Work 
Best Buys at the Grocery Store 
Yummy Quinoa Lunch 
Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal 
 
Interested in connecting with a dietitian for personalized nutrition advice? Use our Find a Dietitian tool
 
Did you know that most employee health benefit plans include dietitian services? 

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