A Day in the Life of a Dietitian

February 27, 2019

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Meaghin Svenson, RDN contributes to topics such as Nutrition.

“I sometimes make smoothies on the weekend and sneak in spinach. My son loves them, he thinks he’s drinking something sweet but it actually has green vegetables in it,” Meaghin Svenson, MS, RDN.

It’s another day on the job for Meaghin Svenson, MS, RDN, a clinical nutrition manager at Riverview Medical Center. In order to educate patients on nutrition, she’s got to stay fueled up, too.

What does a dietitian eat during the day? Is their workout routine anything like yours? We caught up with Svenson to learn about her own health and nutrition practices, which may inspire you to improve yours.

Fun Fact #1: She eats a lot of the same foods.

Svenson’s breakfast routine is a nutritional masterpiece because it delivers whole grains, fruit and protein, but you may be surprised to hear that she eats the same thing just about every day: A peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread. Of course if she can only get her hands on an English muffin, that’s okay too. Her morning snack is typically Greek yogurt, while lunch is a salad packed with vegetables, whole grains and preferably a meat-free protein. Fruit is her go-to afternoon snack. At night, she prepares some sort of meat with a fresh veggie and a carbohydrate.

During the day, Svenson sips on water. At home, she tries to change up the taste using fruit infusions in a pitcher. Some of her favorites are cranberry lemon and basil orange.

Fun Fact #2: She’s not afraid of carbs.

While most diet trends shame carbohydrates, Svenson notes that they are important to help our bodies function. Instead, balancing carbs and proteins is a must for her.

“I think carbohydrates get a bad rep,” admits Svenson. “It’s more about keeping the right carbs in your diet.” Veggies, fruits and whole grains provide excellent nutritional content plus they are smarter carbohydrate choices compared to refined carbohydrates, such as those with added sugars or “white” grains.

Fun Fact #3: She meal plans like it’s her job—it kind of is.

On the weekends, Svenson is busy planning out her meals for the week and shopping for all the foods to prepare them. “I really think it’s meal planning that helps,” she says. “It makes preparation so much easier.” In leveraging time off from work to plan meals, she can prepare healthful meals and try new entrees. Sometimes she makes one-dish meals ahead—she loves to get creative with layered casseroles that include veggies, a carbohydrate and meat.

As for what she uses to cook with, Svenson confesses that she is not big into appliance trends such as the Instant pot and air fryer—she turns to the oven for most of her cooking. When advising patients about how to implement dietary changes, she says it’s important to take in mind things like if you enjoy cooking, if you live alone and whether or not you need more on-the-go options. In taking those into consideration, you may be more likely to stick with your eating goals.

Fun Fact #4: She strives to practice what she preaches.

As a dietitian, Svenson knows that patients are interested in her health lifestyle—and that she should practice what she preaches. She does, for the most part. Exercise can be tough to fit in even with a gym membership. During the warmer months, she takes advantage of the outdoors and walks a lot. Most days, she works out with her son at home to exercise routines that she downloads.

“It’s whatever you can manage as a professional and as a family,” she says, adding that people have to find activities that suit their preferences and lifestyle.

Fun Fact #5: She eats out—and indulges, too.

When you eat a lot of the same meals most days, it’s nice to change it up a bit. If you spot Svenson out at a restaurant, don’t expect her meal to be nutritional perfection.

“When I do go out, I treat myself,” she says.

If she is eating on the go a lot during a week, Svenson says she is more mindful of choosing a healthier option. Otherwise, because she does not eat out as much and sticks to a healthy eating plan for most of her meals and snacks, she lets herself enjoy a restaurant-cooked meal of her choice now and then.

“Dietitians all have cheat foods,” she says, adding that it’s important to enjoy yourself now and then. That doesn’t have to mean an all-out unhealthy splurge, which is why knowing how to select heathy options and prepare healthier foods can come in handy for those who eat more on-the-go meals.

Fun Fact #6: She is mindful.

Being aware of what you’re eating and when is key to a healthy eating regimen. Most people need to watch their sodium and fat intake, so it is important to be mindful of these in the foods we consume and work to replace unhealthy foods with better options, such as fresh herbs and healthier cooking oils.

When you become more watchful of what you eat, you will find yourself choosing healthy foods but being able to balance what you should eat with not-so-great-for-you-foods that you love. Most people live with a chronic health issue, and nutrition can support their health. While it may seem daunting to work with a dietitian, she believes in making small changes and fitting them into her patients’ lifestyles. This way, they are more likely to stick with healthy options.

“It’s about balance and being conscious about the decisions you’re making,” Svenson adds.

Meaghin Svenson, MS, RDN, is the clinical nutrition manager at Riverview Medical Center. To learn more about Riverview Medical Center’s clinical nutrition program, click here.

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.