The Hardest Part of Running Your Own Nutrition Business

This blog post idea came to me while I was reading a Facebook post written by a mother asking about infant feeding advice. She was asking about a trendy formula item and asking for feedback about what she should do. Her child is an ex-premie with issues with reflux and has been exclusively breast fed. I had to replay and say something, because I couldn’t not offer a nugget of knowledge on this topic. But that leads me into one of the hardest things I have learned about owning my own nutrition business. She then appreciated my feedback and responded with more questions. That was great engagement, but the advice she was asking for “free nutrition advice” is how I make money for my business. That is my wheel house and I feel like I would do a disservice to myself and my profession. Plus, giving out nutrition advice online is dangerous in terms of a liability perspective.

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I don’t sell a physical item. I provide people with knowledge on a complicated topic, nutrition. The interesting thing is that this complex topic involves food and the act of eating, which we all do multiple times a day. Everyone thinks they already know about food and they don’t need an expert on that topic. Unlike a physical therapist who is working with clients to help them move in a certain way to get stronger, my skills are providing information/knowledge with clients to help them overcome certain food-related issues.

It is incredibly hard to convenience people that is worth paying for nutrition advice. Sometimes I think it would be easier if I sold some product. Anyone will purchase a physical item from someone and then they to keep that item, but when you pay for nutrition counseling services you aren’t always getting a physical item. I’m empowering you with knowledge about a certain topic that you get to take with you and use from here on out. The thing I have found challenging is not just handing out nutrition advice for free. That information is my “income” for my business. If you want those recommendations, then you need to pay for that advice. Embracing that idea has been tough. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to help ALL the people and spread all my nutrition knowledge for free to everyone, but that isn’t helpful for me or my profession. You don’t see doctor’s prescriptions for people for free. That knowledge that they possess is their lively hood. The same holds true for Registered Dietitians. Our knowledge lies in knowing how food impacts your life and your well-being.

I don’t want this to come off in a negative way, but instead to help encourage and empower other Registered Dietitians to stand up for what they know and feel confident in asking people to pay for the information they request of you. You don’t have to feel pressured to just give away that knowledge for free.

When You Go For It ... It Doesn't Always Work Out

I have shared over the years lots of encouraging words on this blog, lots of successes and positive things that have happened in my life and with my career. That is definitely exciting and I am so thankful for those positive parts of this journey, but I also wanted to share with you that things don’t always go according to your plan or what you imagine.

I have always been of the mindset to pursue every crazy dream that I have and to just say “YES!” and go for it. The worst that happens, is that you fail and that thing you wanted to do doesn’t happen. But putting yourself out there is important. It takes courage and guts to try something, knowing that you might fail. Well as you can probably guess … I ended up falling short and failing in something that I pursued recently. I decided to apply for a National position within the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It was kind of on a whim. In fact, I had a co-worker ask me why I was applying and I said “because I can and I want to!” It was an opportunity that I went after and decided to go for!

I was honestly super surprised when I got the call saying that I was one of the finalists that was going to be put on the National Ballot. I didn’t really think I would actually get chosen. I was excited and then to learn that there was only two of us going for this Delegate-At-Large position, I was even more excited. I had this “good feeling” about this situation and that this had to work out! Well the election process came to an end and I got a call saying that I wasn’t selected. I had not received the most votes to win that position. I am not going to lie to you, I was disappointed. I had gotten my hopes up and felt like this crazy goal I had for myself was attainable and this was right time to do this! Well that wasn’t the case. That position wasn’t meant to be mine. The other girl that ran against me, will do an amazing job. She was very qualified and I hope that she enjoys and values that experience.

I wanted to share that this opportunity didn’t go in my favor this time. That is ok. Yes, I am disappointed, but at the same time, I am proud of myself. I went for something that I never dreamed I would do! I put myself out there (on a national level) and I am proud of pushing myself to apply and for making it to the ballot. Would I have done an amazing job if I had been elected … heck yeah, but this wasn’t my time and that wasn’t the position that I was suppose to be elected to. Am I going to let this most recent failure keep me from pushing myself and applying again in the future ? No! I am going to apply in the future for another position. I want to someday be elected to a position within the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on the national level.

I don’t know how your week is going or if you have felt like a failure in a certain area of your life … I want to remind you that you never succeed with things you never try. Be proud of yourself and for putting your best foot forward and never stop pursuing your dreams!

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Your Vote Matters!

Are you a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND)? Have you voted in elections in the past? The answer to those questions should be YES! If you are a member of AND, but haven’t voted then this is your year to let your voice be heard. Just like with political elections, you have a right to let your opinion matter and to put that opinion out there. We are nearing election time for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which will run February 1st-15th, 2019. That means you have about 2 weeks to click through and vote for the slate of candidates on a national, state and local level. In 2017, 12.8% of Indiana AND members voted in the national elections. That is above 10%, but not quite 20% of members. I think we can work to improve those numbers! If you are paying dues to AND then you take an active role in voting and choosing the leadership that assists with the goals/focus of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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Are you wondering who all is on the national ballot? There are a list of candidates available now online and then biographical information available on the candidates as well. Each candidate has their biographical information available online and then also a video that they had to submit with the application. Take the time to read through these candidates and when you see an email in your inbox announcing the start of elections … take the time and cast your vote!

Are there state and local elections as well? There are elections for the Indiana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics board and then also the local organizations, including the Central Indiana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. These list of candidates will be sent out starting February 1st as well and so watch your email for those announcements and take the time to support and vote for these local RDNs who are volunteering their time to serve.

How long does it take? There will be three emails that you can anticipate receiving in regards to elections - one for the national election, one for the state election and one for the local election. It may sound like a lot, but it doesn’t take that long. It takes a few minutes to click through the list of candidates and make your selections. Keep an eye on your email and then work to get that ballot filled out as soon as possible!

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2018 Year End Review

It is crazy to think that 2018 has now come to an end and we are getting ready to embark on 2019. It has been such a great year filled with so many neat surprises and I am eager to look forward and see what 2019 holds for myself, for RD Anna and for my family.

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Wrapping Up 2018 Goals

  • Weekly Blogging - Successfully accomplished. I was so excited to be able to write and share with you all 52 blog posts in the last year! Also posted daily nutrition information on the RD Anna Facebook page almost every day to share a variety of nutrition information with followers.

  • Media Contact for St Vincent - Successfully accomplished. I was able to do 6 TV media interviews and then 1 Newspaper interview as well over the last year in the greater Indianapolis area.

  • Writing a chapter for AND’s Nutrition Communication book - Successfully accomplished. This was such a neat project and an amazing process to be a part of. I am excited for the publication of this book in 2019 and to get to see the chapter that I helped to write!

  • Test Question Writing Committee for CSPCC (Certified Specialist in Pediatrics in Critical Care) - Successfully accomplished. This opportunity came my way unexpectedly, but was a neat process to be a part of and I learned so much about how standardized tests are created and written.

  • Wrote article for the Building Block Newsletter for the Pediatric Nutrition Practice Group on RDNs working to create separate breast milk and formula preparation areas. I was excited to get this draft sent off at the end of the fall and eager to make edits and have this article published in the spring of 2019.

Goals for 2019

  • Continue with weekly blogging. I have really enjoyed putting together various nutrition content for the blog and sharing that information with you all. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please feel free to Contact Me and let me know what you would like to learn more about!

  • Continue to serve as a media contact for St Vincent and do TV, Radio or Newspaper interviews as needed.

  • Continue to grow my contracting outpatient nutrition counseling business with Mini Minds in Carmel, IN. This undertaking has been quite the learning process. I am hoping to pick up more clients and do more outpatient counseling as the year goes on and continue to do some class education as well for families.

  • Work to complete additional hours towards a Lactation Counselor certification and renew the Certified Specialist in Pediatrics Exam. I am always working to learn more and advance my nutrition knowledge. I am hoping to continue to do this through completing the necessary coursework and obtain some additional certifications.

  • Run as a national candidate for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Ballot as a At Large House of Delegate in the category of 30 years and younger. I decided to give this a try and just go for it. Elections will be held at the beginning of February.

I always think that is fun to take a moment and look back over the last year and see some of those analytic data that I can get from running a website. It is so fun to see more people being exposed to the content that I provide and hopefully increasing that impact that I am able to have!

Blog Statistics

  • In the last year, RD Anna has had 2,025 page visits which is an increase of 26.2% from last year (that is any where from 121-218 page visits per month).

  • During the last year, 1,924 unique IP addresses were looking at my content, which is an increase of 35.9% from the year before.

  • The vast majority of readers are in the United States (84%), but there were about 3% from Canada and 1-1.5% from India and the Philippines.

  • When it came to popular content the most popular blog post was “Always Say Yes!” which had 166 page views, then the Pregnancy Glucose Test post that had 157 page views and in third was My Nutrition Journey which had 110 page views.

Thank you for taking the time to read and support this website, my blog and my business. I have appreciated all your comments, you taking the time to read what I write and give me your feedback. I really enjoy having this outlet and using this platform to help provide nutrition education to people around the world! I am so thankful for a wonderful 2018 and excited for more wonderful opportunities in 2019.

AND National Preceptor Month

Here in April the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is celebrating all of the preceptors that help dietetic interns during their year long rotation. You may not know, but to become a Registered Dietitian you have to complete a year long, accredited internship. This process involves an application and matching process. So not all of the applicants who apply will get matched to an internship rotation site. It is a competitive process. During that internship year, you participate in different rotation sites and gain a variety of different experiences working with a variety of dietitians. All those people who help to teach future dietitians are an amazing group of preceptors. I have been impacted by such great preceptors during my internship back in 2010. I am still friends with some of those dietitians and I am so thankful that they were willing to take the time to teach me. 

Most professions now that internships or other similar programs where professionals work to students to help teach them. I think this is such a great way to learn. As a professional, in any career area, I encourage you to volunteer and take a student. Work with them and encourage them as they go through schooling. Your work and time teaching these students help to create great employees in the future. 

Eat Right Preceptors and Mentors  

I included this graph above of the supply and demand of dietetic internships since 1993 until 2015. The yellow line on top is the dietetic students that are graduating from college. The blue line is the number of dietetic internship applicants. The green line is the number of dietetic internship applicants who are actually matched. I thought it was helpful to see that there are lots of students graduating with nutrition degrees, but a far less number actually become Registered Dietitian. In terms of the job market and preventing over-saturating the market, I am ok with this, but I think it is that much more important to work with these students and help create the best dietitians in our work force. 

I have enjoyed working with the Coordinated Program in Dietetics through Purdue since I completed my internship back in 2011. I have been a preceptor for the last 7 years. I have also gotten to work with some IUPUI students and Ball State students over the years. It is rewarding to get to see these students learn and gain confidence. It is also exciting to be able to teach them about my passion for nutrition. I also love seeing these students apply and land their first jobs. It is neat to get to be part of that process and stay in touch with those students. 

If you work in an area where you can serve as a preceptor and help teach students, take advantage of those opportunities. Thank you to all those Registered Dietitians who have served as preceptors over the years and for those who helped me get to where I am today as well. You all are amazing! 

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My Experience at FNCE 2017

I had to the chance to go to FNCE this year in Chicago for a day. For those of you that don't know FNCE is the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo. It is the annual national conference hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. I haven't been since I was an intern back in 2010 when it was in Boston. I was very excited to attend this year, because it was in Chicago (3 hours north of Indianapolis). Even with having a small (10 month old) child, I wanted to try to go. Shout out to my amazing mother, who came up with me and watched William for the day. That was such a huge blessing and really made it possible for me to go.

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I was actually given a scholarship to attend FNCE this year. The local Dietetics Association that I belong to - CIAND (Central Indiana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) gave out a $250 scholarship. I thought I would apply and I was so excited that I was chosen. With this scholarship I took a day off work and headed up to Chicago for the conference. 

If you haven't had the chance to attend FNCE, then mark the upcoming dates on  your calendar, save some money and try to go! It is worth the time and money. It is such a HUGE conference and there are so many neat speakers. You have the chance to earn SO many continuing education units and network with amazing dietitians.

I wanted to share with you some of the highlights from my 24 hours at FNCE. 

Purdue Alumni Reception 

I was able to get up to Chicago on Sunday evening and attend the Purdue Alumni Reception. I was so glad that this event was sponsored by the Department of Food and Nutrition and by the Alumni Board. There was a great turn out and such a fun chance to see old classmates and professors. I was able to bring my Mom and baby with me so that was neat to show off my little guy and have some help watching him. 

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Networking Luncheon

On Monday there was a luncheon at a hotel near the conference for the authors of a book that Barb Mayfield is leading. It was so great to have a chance to network with some other amazing dietitians. This nutrition communication book will be such a great resource for dietitians and I am excited to see it come together and so thankful to be included on this project.

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Educational Sessions

I love being able to go to continuing education sessions and I wish I could have attended more of these. I had fun though attending three of them during the day on Monday. My favorite had to be the main speaker on that day, which was Kimbal Musk. He is such an interesting person and it was so neat to hear him talk about his philosophy with food. Plus his mom is a RD! Another interesting session was one on Type 1 Diabetes in Africa. Very neat and made me want to go on a medical mission trip. 

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If you haven't been to FNCE before,  mark your calendar and try to go next year. Some other fun parts to FNCE is the Expo Hall, the awesome networking events with the DPGs and of course the main speakers. It is such a neat conference and I am so thankful for being able to go this year!