Back in 2005-2007, I worked as a dentist and health educator in Iran. The private dental office I worked out of offered oral health nutrition classes for children and adults, and I would peek in on them occasionally. As time went on, I became more and more curious about the impact nutrition has on our health. It wasn’t too long before that curiosity developed into a deep-seated passion for nutrition science.
So, after some time in dentistry, I made a mid-course change in my career. I decided to pursue a Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition at the New York Institute of Technology and to complete the Didactic Program in Dietetics at California State Polytechnic University.
Don’t get me wrong. I did enjoy helping people meet their oral health-related needs, but the experiences I’ve had as a dietitian have impacted me in a much more profound way. As a science-minded person, I love engaging in research, but I also get a deep level of satisfaction from helping clients achieve higher levels of personal wellness. And in my work as a registered dietitian, I get all that and more.
Every single day, I marvel at the idea that food, which is part of our everyday lives, can have such a huge impact on the way we feel. Many people know this intellectually, but until they start making the specific changes that truly nourish their bodies, they don’t quite experience the impact. But it’s my job to help them absorb the information and shift their experiences with food until they start to feel the change.
New clients come to me confused about why they’re not losing weight or why they’re experiencing uncomfortable digestive symptoms. Some have followed advice found online or even from medical doctors who tell them to eat X, Y, and Z. We all know internet advice is only worth so much, but the truth is, even most medical doctors only get a few nutrition classes while they’re in med school. Dietitians, on the other hand, have in-depth nutrition knowledge about the science of food as well as experience working with patients to determine what eating patterns will best help them achieve optimal health.
My job is to help my clients shift the way they think about food and the way they relate to their bodies so they can use nutrition to manage their symptoms, boost their energy levels, and revitalize their feelings of wellbeing. When a patient is ready to improve their nutrition, it can completely change the trajectory of their lives.
So, that in a nutshell is why I changed the course of my career and chose the path of dietetic and nutrition research and instruction. When I think about it, though, I can see how my work in the dental field prepared me for the work I do now. My background in oral health care provided me with the tools and skills that allow me to analyze and interpret scientific data, which I share with my clients in ways that they can understand and appreciate. And then I help them create a plan of action based on that information.
It’s evidence-based science, not magic. But it does feel a little like magic sometimes.