By: Nikki Nies
I recently had the pleasure to interview Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, CSSD (DJB), a sports dietitian based in Chicago, Illinois. On behalf of We Dish Nutrition (WDN), I enjoyed checking out what Dawn’s been up to and learning more about what a sports dietitian does! Thank you Dawn for taking the time to chat with me!
WDN: How do you approach or respond to others that seem to have a different food philosophy from you?
DJB: I trade judgment for curiosity. I ask questions, point out similarities to find common ground and I respectfully disagree when diet principles are based in fad instead of facts. I believe in real food, more fun and no B.S.
WDN: When you hear the word “Flexitarian” what immediately comes to mind?
DJB: Flexitarians are pro-plants, not anti-meat. I wrote The Flexitarian Diet because it’s how I eat. I’m a plant-loving vegetarian who is flexible enough to enjoy meat, poultry, and fish occasionally.
WDN: What are your key responsibilities as the nutrition consultant for the Chicago Cubs? How did you go about becoming a consultant for them?
DJB: This is my 6th season as the Chicago CUBS nutrition consultant and every season has been so different. Here are some examples of what I do: Develop recipes & review menus, meet with players individually, give team talks, post inspirational nutrition signs, and create fun ways to present healthy food such as a superfood smoothie station & superfood travel packs.
I love this saying: “Let success find you based on your incredible energy for serving.” I got the initial job interview because the team doctor heard about my hard work & enthusiasm for helping people (word of mouth). I got the job because I was authentic – honest about what skills & passions I have (and don’t have).
WDN: What advice do you have for students and other RDs looking to enter the sports nutrition field?
DJB: Start now! Start doing sports nutrition for anybody. Write about it in your gym’s newsletter, donate a handout for a kids soccer league, create presentations for your yoga studio – get creative. Jobs come to those who are DOING – it doesn’t matter where you start – just start serving. Also, get INVOLVED in the Academy’s SCAN DPG to be around inspiring people & events.
WDN: While each athletes’ nutrition needs may differ, what is one core recommendation you provide to all your clients?
DJB: Food is energy. Junk food = junk energy. Clean food = clean energy. Don’t get worked up about the details, get the big things right: Sleep, hydrate and enjoy a variety of nourishing, real food.
WDN: What do you find to be the biggest barriers for people to overcome unhealthy eating habits in the time crunched, rushed society we live in?
DJB: Biggest barrier: They don’t make it fun. Magical things happen when people are excited about what they are doing. “Saying you don’t have time is like saying you don’t want to.” So, I encourage clients to think about what they actually WANT to change…and then it’s easier for them to make the time.
WDN: How do you juggle all of your responsibilities? As a nutrition consultant for the Cubs, as a food and nutrition blogger with Huffington Post, as a nutrition expert on the advisory board of Fitness Magazine while maintaining a fantastic website and balancing work and life responsibilities?
DJB: I slow down, to do more. I used to feel panicked and anxious. Now, I breathe & mindfully prioritize one thing at a time. Advice I follow: Enjoy the process of work, don’t just work for the outcome. Meaning, instead of just rushing to check things off my to-do list, I enjoy doing the little daily tasks. Makes for much more joy in work & life.
WDN: What projects are you currently working on?
DJB: I just finished my new book featuring a new, FUN approach to eat more superfoods (out in 2016). I’m currently working on an interactive online nutrition course for clients who want my philosophy in a self-study format instead of private sessions. Oh and I launched my new website, I’d love for you to check it out: www.dawnjacksonblatner.com.
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Photo Credit: Dawn Jackson Blatner