EVOLVED SPORT AND NUTRITION
for something nutrishus
I am very excited to share a male perspective (and Ben speaks to being a male in a female dominant profession below). I 'know' him from our facebook Dietitian's Support Group (aptly named) and am amazed at everything he has accomplished in a few short years. I knew from the start that working in sport dietetics in Canada meant private practice for me (hence something nutrishus), but I think it's great that Ben has turned that need into positions within his practice and volunteer opportunities as well. I too look forward to seeing the expansion of jobs for dietitians in sport in Canada as it is a large gap and area of opportunity for us.
Why did you become a RD?
This is a bit funny because originally I didn’t want to be a Dietitian, I wanted to be a Pastry Chef so I started working in restaurants and hotels in Toronto with that dream. My family didn’t like the idea of me being a Chef and a Pastry Chef as they thought it would be too hard on my body and health later on in life so I was forced into a University program. I chose something at least related to food, which brought me to Ryerson’s Nutrition and Food program and I had every intention on failing in the first semester so I could justify going to Culinary School. Once that first semester started, I fell in love with nutrition and food, and before I knew it I became an RD to combine my passion for Culinary, Nutrition, Sports and Athletics.
What area of dietetics do you work in?
I currently work in Sports Nutrition, which is a small field in Canada but has grown rapidly in the last few years.
How would you explain what you do?
This is a bit difficult as my job description is so vast and things can change at the drop of a hat. The primary focus of my job is to work with people, professional and amateur athletes as well as celebrities to give them advice on their nutritional practices to help them be healthier and to perform better in their sport or their life. A lot of this has to do with finding exactly what works best for that client in regards to supplements, foods and timing in relation to the sport or physical activity. Everyone is different and responds differently to nutritional and athletic interventions.
What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?
‘Typical’ no longer exists in my world, but a day can range between seeing some clients at one of my many clinics or online, doing nutritional education presentations, posting to social media, coordinating my volunteer team or completing a project. I also have to fit marathon or triathalon training into my day! For my weekly tasks I’ll compose the Evolved Sport and Nutrition (ESN) nutrition tip of the week, do recipe development, have business meetings, write for either my blog or my book, update my website and to constantly think of new and innovative ways to promote health and physical activity.
What has been your career path?
When I started my career in Dietetics, I started in Long Term Care. This left me unsatisfied because I had always wanted to work in Sports Nutrition but when I started my career there were no jobs and there still aren’t that many. So when it was decided that I would leave LTC to pursue Sports Nutrition, I had to create my own job, so I started up Evolved Sport and Nutrition. Now that ESN is in it’s 3rd year of business, I’ve been able to grow it, create more jobs in Sports Nutrition, hire and train other Dietitians to work in Sports Nutrition and provide them with ongoing support. Now that ESN has partnered up with many amazing people and companies I’ve been able to provide sports nutrition services to not only the Greater Toronto Area but to all of Canada via an online counseling platform.
What advanced education or special training do you have?
Originally I trained as a Chef and a Pastry Chef before I became a Dietitian. During this time I also became an athlete by competing in runs, marathons and soon to be triathlons. Having really developed a love and passion for nutrition as well as athletics, I then trained with the Sports Dietitians of Australia to get my certificate in Sports Nutrition (*offered through the Sport Nutrition Network within Dietitians of Canada). I then became a personal trainer to combine those worlds together with my culinary background, allowing me to make physical activity recommendations in my practice. From that point on I acquired the ISAK level 1 certificate to allow me to perform body composition analysis tests to better serve my athletes as well as show people the difference between weight loss and body composition change. I also completed multiple Dietitians of Canada’s certificate courses, including the Sports Nutrition supplement course, vitamin and mineral supplementation course, mindful eating as well as some life coaching courses and advanced physiology and kinesiology courses.
In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now?
My dream for the industry 5 years from now is to have more Sports Dietitians working in gyms and athletic centers to collaborate with personal trainers and athletic coaches. Most people recognize that healthy lifestyle changes are approximately 70% nutritionally based and only 30% physical activity based. To me, it doesn’t make sense how people will pay for thousands of dollars of personal training and ignore nutrition when nutritional interventions are much more successful in creating sustainable healthy lifestyle changes.
Another dream of mine would be that the role of a personal trainer is combined with the job of a nutritionist and the training would be completed in a college level program. The case files would be managed and supervised by a Sports Dietitian that is qualified in both nutrition and personal training/ athletics where the Sports Dietitian would deal with the highly complex cases. This combination of both these roles would allow for more effective lifestyle change and promotion, along with scientifically backed nutritional interventions. It doesn’t make sense to have these two fields that are so closely related for preventative health be so separate and poorly understood by each other, there needs to be a bridge between the two fields to be truly effective.
What misinformation about RDs would you like to clear up?
The public seems to think that RDs are pushing some sort of agenda created by the government to sell milk or something like that. I can assure you all this is not the case. Dietitians are trained to be objective, respectful of dietary preferences and practices. In fact, the only agenda we have is to educate people with the latest scientific evidence to help make healthier food choices to promote health.
What would you like people to know about RDs?
That we’re not the food police. I hate eating with people because they will look at me and order the salad because they think I’m judging their food choices for some reason. Well I’d be the worst one to judge when I’ve just ordered fried chicken!
What are challenges you encounter as a RD?
I’d like to speak to some of the unique challenges I face as a Male Dietitian as we’re a VERY small percentage of Dietitians, in fact there were only 3 males in my graduating class at Ryerson and over 100 women! One of the biggest challenges I face is the automatic assumptions that I get because I’m male. These assumptions could range from not being able to be empathetic towards clients, me being super strict or not understanding/ caring. This really upsets me because it’s not only potential clients that have these assumptions, but other healthcare practitioners, including other Dietitians! I can assure you that gender plays no difference in my ability to do my job well, which is true with other professions as well. It baffles me that this kind of thing still exists in this day and age.
What is your favourite meal?
Fried Chicken with a biscuit and Mac & Cheese or a Burrito, seriously.
More about Ben:
Website: Evolved Sport and Nutrition
Facebook: Evolved Sport and Nutrition
If you're a dietitian that would like to be featured, email me for the details!