Registered Dietitians on the front lines of COVID-19
By Robyn Goldberg, RDN, CEDRD-S
There are many careers that registered dietitians can have. Dietitians can maintain a private practice as I do, seeing people virtually or in person; others work in medical centers (as I started my career as a clinical registered dietitian); some are in food service (which I also did early on as a student), and dietitians can also work for a grocery stores.
I have great respect for my colleagues who are putting their lives at risk and are exposed to the coronavirus daily. They are often unseen heroes. Clinical dietitians with whom I have worked at the hospital where I was formerly employed are seeing patients with COVID-19 and I can barely imagine how frightening and anxiety provoking it is to work in a hospital setting at this time. Dietitians who are working in food service managing staff, keeping a kitchen safe and infection free, find these challenges more complicated when necessary cleaning agents are not easy to obtain. Dietitians who are a part of various grocery store chains having stocked shelves and items that are in demand provide the service of guiding grocery store managers with what to order and what to prioritize. We likely do not think about the dietitians who work as a part of grocery store purchasing chains, buying produce and dairy products from local farmers and purveyors, given the complexities the farming communities are experiencing. Many dietitians are learning on the job to calculate how much or little of specific items to order based on the food shortages that occur.
During the pandemic, I have been helping clients be part of meal preparation at home with their roommates and families. Working on food exposure is necessary and inevitable during this time and being able to go with the flow based on availability and convenience is a skill I help my clients develop. Clients learn how to develop courage and confidence around food in different circumstances as this is necessary and happening all the time. This may be a much needed time to have the support of a dietitian who can help a client endure the challenges centered around food and the anxieties that arise with it.
Covid-19 is teaching dietitians to raise their standards, awareness, and values when being of service to all and has created obstacles to overcome. This pandemic is teaching me what I want to be different in my life, what I will continue to embrace and what I will never forget during this trying time.
As a clinician have you thought about what it has taught you? On the micro level, as a small business owner, I think about how to keep my clients safe for when I will eventually have some sessions in person. What precautions will I take for myself and those who come into my office? How will my office remain sanitized? On a personal level, what do you hope to embrace differently in your work and life? Do you think about how we take the small things for granted such as a handshake, a hug, taking a bite off someone’s plate? Maybe it is as simple as asking for food samples in the prepared section of the store? Whatever it is, life is and will be different and realizing that dietitians are putting their best effort forward daily to assist others in many walks of life reminds me to not take my role for granted.
My thanks to the many on the front lines including the dietitian heroes!
About the author:
Robyn Goldberg, RDN, CEDRD-S, began her career at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles as the in-patient dietitian in the Department of Cardiology. Over the last twenty- three years she has developed her own private practice in Beverly Hills, CA, where she specializes in medical conditions, disordered eating, eating disorders, Health at Every Size, pre-pregnancy nutrition, and people in recovery. Robyn is a Certified Eating Disorders Registered Dietitian and Supervisor from IAEDP She serves as a Nutrition Consultant for the Celiac Disease Foundation. For the last eight years Robyn was the Nutrition Counselor for the Susan Krevoy Eating Disorders Program at The Wright Institute Los Angeles, led eating disorder and body image groups at various sober livings in Los Angeles. She is a contributing author and is a nationally known registered dietitian nutritionist. She has been quoted in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Fix, Shape Magazine, Fitness, Oxygen, Pilates Style, Diabetes Forecast, BH Weekly and Life & Style. She has been on national television as the eating disorder expert on The Insider. Robyn is the author of the new book The Eating Disorder Trap: A Guide for Clinicians and Loved Ones.