Q&A with Sports Nutritionist: Dawn Jackson Blatner

unnamedBy: 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_about dawnDJB: 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.

DJB_let's work togetherWDN: 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.

Want to learn more about Dawn? Connect with her today! Facebook | Twitter  | Pinterest | Instagram | Nutrition W.O.W. Newsletter Contact

Photo Credit: Dawn Jackson Blatner

Food & Nutrition Magazine

food-nutrition-mag-logoBy: Nikki Nies

Are you a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND)? AND is the largest American organization of food and nutrition professionals. If so, do you actively read their published Food & Nutrition Magazine? It’s a fantastic, evidence based bi monthly magazine that is created and written by Registered Dietitians Nutritionists (RDNs) for RDNs.

This magazine has a plethora of information, everything from food related movie reviews to a list of RDN-Approved Desserts to the exploration of the latest food trendsIMG_8456

Food & Nutrition Magazine’s Blog, Stone Soup, is a guest blog written by members of AND. Some of the latest posts include Shaved Carrot and Fennel Salad, how to get ready for National Kiwifruit Day and  Winter Running Essentials.

I’m a huge fan of Food & Nutrition magazine due to their immaculate content, collaborative efforts and last, but not least, their dazzling pictures. If you’re a fan of the magazine, why not try your hand at becoming more involved in the production and creation of the magazine? To pitch a story,  Food & Nutrition Magazine welcomes engaging, dynamic journalism about food and food trends, innovations in research and practice, and explorations of the cultural and social factors that shape Americans’ diets and health.

Photo Credit: Food & Nutrition Magazine

Nourish to Flourish


Source: http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442478348

Sensational Sustenance Sensory Science Secrets

By: Nikki Nies sensory-science

In an ever-evolving dynamic world, registered dietitians (RDs) should utilize all the tools at their disposal.  Not sure what I mean by this?  This includes understanding and incorporating sensory science and evaluation into daily practice.   By becoming proficient in sensory science it can ensure the best approach,methodology and tools are used to provide the best to consumers.

Sensory science is 

“A scientific discipline used to evoke, measure, analyze and interpret reactions to the characteristics of food/materials they are perceived by the senses of sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing” -Institute of Food Technologies 

While sensory science has been around as long as humans have consumed food, the first official method noted was during a triangle test in Scandinavia in the 1940s.  Since then, the use of sensory science has played a major role in the food industry’s ability to predict and produce adequate products that meet consumer’s wants and needs.

In 2012 alone, there were 12,614 new products on the market.  However, there was an estimated 70-80% failure rate associated with these products.  So, to provide more user friendly products that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but allow industries to better predict and provide products that fall in the “success” category, the use of sensory science has proven to play an essential role in the thorough advancement and development of products.

For RDs to best meet the diverse environments, populations and needs,  including sensory science can be multidimensional and mutually beneficial:

  1. Academia: The use of sensory science can better enhance the outcomes of clinical outreach projects. It can assure scientific basis to what methods are used, why certain products are chosen and provide a transparent overview of outcomes!
  2. Food Service:  By learning how to target consumer preferences and menu descriptions, RDs can increase sales and improve overall consumer satisfaction.  Specifically, by conducting mini focus groups, providing questionnaires and/or incentives for feedback can be a consistent way to make any future adjustments and changes.
  3. Counseling:  There is often a disconnect between what is covered in a counseling session and what’s executed. Using sensory science can be the missing link between practice and practicality.  Through the use of hedonic scales and questionnaires, RDs can have a better understanding in sensory properties, have the ability to explore the genetics of taste and learn if clients are nontasters, supertasters or tasters.  Furthermore, counseling sessions can become more individualized, as RDs will be better equipped to teach clients how to cook to their own taste buds and palate.
  4. Food Demoing: With a new perspective of using all the senses while eating, RDs can take food demoing to the next level.  This can include blind taste tests and/or teaching clients how to be more aware of reactions to different foods.
  5. Working with children:  Using sensory tests with children will help them better learn and become exposed to foods they like.  Repeated exposure to foods can help decrease pickiness and encourage more nutrient rich foods.
  6. Working with older adults: Lastly, for RDs working in long term care facilities, senior centers and/or throughout the community, they may find with age, the deterioration of taste can lead to the need of two to three times more salt than previously needed.  There has been found to be a direct relationship with aromatic perception and decline in brain function.  Furthermore, with the use of ACE inhibitors and altered taste (i.e. dysgeusia and/or ageusia), RDs will be able to accommodate the needs of taste preferences!

So regardless of your work setting, all RDs can benefit from the use of sensory science! Interested in learning more about sensory science? Learn more with the help of Annette Hottenstein’s Sensory Science Secrets!

Photo Credit: Culinary Institute of America: Department of Culinary Science

Source: http://sensationalsustenance.com/about

REAL Dietitian

By: Nikki Nies 0cc5a37

REAL Dietitian is a brand new virtual counseling program founded by Sidonia Swarm.  Swarm is a recent graduate of the University of Miami, receiving a master’s degree in management, marketing and entrepreneurship.  Recognizing a disparity between the need for registered dietitians (RDs), but the lack of access to RDs, Swarm found REALDietitian to meet both needs! REALDietitian has begun its operations at 1871 in Chicago! Choose from mobile consultations, anytime answers and all-access!

Their mission is to:

to provide our users with unparalleled access and support. We strive to empower our users to live the healthiest lives possible through nutrition education. When it comes to nutrition counseling, there are no cookie cutter solutions. Therefore at REALDietitian we have no cookie cutter service. Each consultation, relationship, and correspondence between our users and registered dietitians is personalized and unique. Our team creates solutions to fit specific health needs and individuals’ lives. We promote balance, whole food, and holistic eating.



  • Great Value: Cutting the costs of travel, time and typical office overhead, ODD can over the same great service with an inflated price!
  • Unparalleled Convenience and accessibility: Schedule an appointment to speak with a RD at any time in any way! Talk, text and/or video chat with a RD, your preference! Also, connect via your phone or computer
  • Extensive network
  • Variety of Experts: Each registered dietitian of REALDietitian’s team have their own specialized field

Register today to be a part of the pilot program.  Participants will receive 45 minute consultations with a RD for only $55! By 9/30,pilot participants choose the time and dietitian from our network!

This great resource meets 21st century health needs, while providing a framework of personalized counseling! To stay up to date on real time updates and statuses, follow @REALdietitian and LinkedIn!

Photo Credit:REALDietitian

Kitchfix–CJK Foods

logoBy: Nikki Nies

Want home delivered meals, but want guaranteed freshness? Kitchfix has got you covered! Previously, known as CJK Foods, Kitchfix is founded by Chef Josh Katt and has made quite a name for itself in the Chicagoland area.  The concept of Kitchfix evolved after Chef Josh’s experiences in an after school cooking program in 2010 as well as a personal chef.

As a personal chef, Chef Josh had to accommodate a family’s needs for an anti inflammatory diet.This diet emphasizes the use of whole, unprocessed foods such as fresh, organic fruits, vegetables, and meats, and avoids inflammatory ingredients such as dairy, gluten, soy

Kitchfix cares about:

  • Flavor: By using innovative culinary practices, superfoods work well together with a variety of flavors and textures; Chef Josh Katt is passionate about experimenting with different techniques and cuisines
  • Nutrition: the most nutrient densed foods are used in the superfood dishes; Kitchfix’s nutrition philosophy is based on progressive nutrition research and with the help of Jenny Westerkamp, Registered Dietitian (RD)
  • Animal Welfare: Use only the highest of standards for chicken, pork or poultry; ensured that beef is from a grass fed company, with no added hormones or antibiotics; opt for cage free pork and poultry, which is better for the environments and users’ overall health
  • Local Economy: supportive of local food movement; proudly working with local farms, G7 Ranch Gunthorp Farms
  • The planet: With a rooftop garden, Kitchfix is able to grow their own organic ingredients while adhering to sustainable farming, reducing  their carbon footprint; Kitchfix’s farmers adhere to environmentally conscious practices as well
  • Neighbors: With half of staff hours dedicated to employing from the Cara Program, Kitchfix is able to contribute to the growth of Chicagoland’s economy, providing employees the opportunities to escape from poverty and homelessness
  • You: By providing superfoods that meet Kitchfix’s superstandards, customers are guaranteed to receive the best nutrition with the best flavor

Still not convinced Kitchfix is worth trying? Check out the menu and ordering options! Additionally, peruse the delivery page to find out pricing !

Order Deadlines

  • Wednesday evening for Monday delivery
  • Friday evening for Tuesday delivery
  • Sunday evening for Wednesday or Thursday

Have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to contact Kitchfix! Have you personally ordered from Kitchfix? What was your experience like?

Sources: http://www.kitchfix.com/faq/

Undercover Nikki


Recently, I attended a smoothie night at my local library.  I was looking forward to possibly getting additional ideas of what to add to my smoothies.  I quickly realized that my role as a relaxed taste taker turned into an undercover nutrition student.   I want to explain that my intention in going to the event was to enjoy myself, but once a few inaccurate statements occurred, I couldn’t help, but put my detective cap on.

My intention isn’t to slam this “board certified health expert” as she called herself, but to bring attention to the inaccuracies she discussed and how you can tune into false health information.  For example, she stated

  •  The only type of “super food” one should add to smoothies are dulse seeds.  When in fact, superfoods are foods that have been found to stave off chronic diseases (i.e. heart disease, diabetes, cancer and/or cholesterol), provide more variety and color in one’s diet
  • Several times some one would ask a question and she would deflect by answering “that’s a whole other topic.”  For example, she had listed that smoothies are rich in magnesium, yet she couldn’t explain the “how.”
  • Referred to USDA’s dietary guidelines as represented in MyPyramid.  In actuality, as of 2010 MyPlate is used to represent dietary guidelines.
  • I personally asked her where she does her research and what kinds of websites she would direct us to if we wanted to do further reading on healthy eating.  She replied that she uses a list of websites, but she didn’t know any website names off the top of her head.
  • She would rather opt for cleanses than to take prescription.  To a certain point, I understand the desire to treat and/or prevent illness naturally, but she swears by natural remedies with no discussion of medications.

Yes, I’m biased that Registered Dietitians (RDs) are the premiere food and nutrition expert as that’s what my career and credentials will reflect soon.  However, until my exposure to a nutritionist’s way of thinking and explanation, I hadn’t seen first the extreme differences in a RD and a nutritionist.  While some may argue there isn’t much difference between RD vs. nutritionist, the skill set, expertise and knowledge base is miles different.

I hope the above examples I provided for you gives a clearer picture of skeptical information.  Additionally, I hope you don’t encounter such information in the future.  Yet, no matter where you are, having your “detective” glasses on, discerning the information provided, what’s the evidence behind certain statements and does the information sound logical can go a long way in regards to keeping one sane and healthy.

Sources: http://michelle-livedontdiet.com/blog/2014/3/15/dietitian-vs-nutritionist

You Want To Be A RD?


By: Nikki Nies aai_logo_2013

 All Access Internships (AAI) is the premier information source and community outlet for aspiring Registered Dietitians (RDs).  An array of peer-to-peer tools gives prospective dietetic interns the opportunity to receive advisement on all aspects of the dietetic internship application.

Services Provided:

  • Resume Coaching
  • Webinars
  • Interview Prep
  • Weekly Newsletters
  • Answers to the latest questions!
  • Personal Statement Help
  • Get Matched Bootcamp

Still haven’t signed up yet, check out testimonies of past clients! Its founder, Jenny Westerkamp has just posted 7 WAYS TO BE AN AWESOME DIETETICS STUDENT.  With the next application deadline around the corner, don’t wait to sign up for AAI’s resources, tips and read about first hand experiences!