Katie Brown is a private practice dietitian with Inspire Nutrition in Edmonton, AB. She also helps feed tiny babies in the NICU.
Onto the interview with Katie Brown, MSc. RD:
What inspired you to want to become a Dietitian?
I’ve always been more interested in science than in other school subjects. Nutrition blended a love of foods with a love of science.
What did your education and career path look like?
I started my undergrad in a different field – Environmental and Conservation Sciences. I was going to save the endangered species of the world! But then I realized I don’t love being outdoors *that* much and started looking around at other options.
I liked nutrition for its science base, and the clinical aspect of helping people was a huge draw. When I went through the program, most internships were done post-graduate. I didn’t get an internship on my first try applying, so because I’d found the research aspect of science fascinating, I went straight into grad school to do an MSc, also at the U of A.
My project looked at the effect of B-vitamin supplementation on homocysteine levels in a rat model of diabetes. I applied for an internship again at the end of my master’s and was accepted at that time.
My time as an RD has mostly been spent in the clinical world, particularly in NICU – I help premature babies grow by providing TPN, and high-calorie tube feeds. It’s a gratifying field! I’ve recently become interested again in the more grass-roots part of nutrition – helping people eat – so I started a private practice on the side in the summer of 2019.
What types of clients do you mostly see?
Katie Brown is mainly interested in a non-diet approach, helping clients who have been in the diet cycle (yo-yo dieting) for years to regain a healthy relationship with food.
What keeps you motivated? How do you deal with challenges at work?
I love seeing clients become less and less stressed around food and meal times!
It’s a huge motivation to see that weight lifted off their shoulders and see them be able to focus on other important things, rather than constantly obsessing over food, calories, or body image.
What traits (soft and/or technical) do you think are important for all dietitians to have?
In private practice, technical skills include being social media savvy (I focus on marketing through Instagram) and being creative in coming up with original IG content. Soft skills include being open to feedback and change, time management, and self-promotion.
This last one has been hard for me, and for a lot of private practice RDs that I know – we’re not used to the spotlight, so having to promote ourselves and our services are challenging!
What is the role of cultural competency in nutrition care?
It’s huge! Being aware of different cultures and knowing the critical role that food plays in that culture is paramount.
You can’t tell a newly diabetic Latino woman to not eat tortillas because of the carb content when those kinds of foods are a massive part of her culture and identity. You are setting her up to feel failure and frustration.
Being aware of foods (either the foods themselves or practices around them) of your clients’ culture is so important.
How do you incorporate compassion in your care?
This is huge in my particular niche of private practice.
People come to me after years/decades of influence from the diet industry. They have so many rules that need to be followed around foods (e.g. carbs are bad, don’t eat processed/white foods, no eating after 7 pm, gaining weight is wrong, etc.) that need to be dismantled to be able to rebuild that food relationship.
They are so hard on themselves! Part of my role understands where they’re coming from and listen, support, and guide them to a better place.
How do you deal with nutrition misinformation?
It’s everywhere! My current marketing focuses on Instagram because of all the “influencers” who come up with new diets faster than we can disprove the last one.
Nutrition is not widely taught in schools, so people come up with their opinions, usually just based on what they hear others say (looking at you, Dr. Oz). We need to set RDs up as the only reputable source for nutrition information! But that’s hard because many don’t understand the difference between RDs and ‘nutrition coaches” or nutritionists.
This comes back to our reluctance to self-promote, unfortunately. To answer the question, I deal with misinformation by addressing it as soon as I hear of it and explaining why it’s incorrect.
What are the best resources for the public to stay up to date with nutrition information?
The public DC site has lots of useful info, but many people probably don’t check there. I’d suggest following as many RD’s on social media as you can, as we all have slightly different views on issues.
What is Katie Brown’s nutrition mantra or motto that she lives by?
I’m not sure that I have one! “Just keep trying” might sum up my educational background and current drive to shift to private practice.
Authors: Krishna Shah is a Dietitian Student at the University of Alberta, Katie Brown, RD, is the owner of Inspire Nutrition @diet.free.mom