I have recently begun my Master of Science program in Human Nutrition at a graduate school in South Carolina. Thus, I’ve been busy and, at times, overwhelmed by the course load, though I am really enjoying my courses in nutrition and dietetics. For example, I cannot express my excitement enough over being able to study the molecular structures and metabolic pathways of photosynthetic pigments (such as carotenoids and anthocyanins) and then getting to discuss and debate over their potent (in my opinion) roles in promoting health and preventing/controlling disease.With classes like Food Composition, Human Nutrition, Orientation to Dietetics and various laboratory courses, I am strengthening my problem-solving and critical-thinking abilities, studying the biochemical nature and interactions of macro and micronutrients, and gaining an educational experience centered on nutritional therapeutics, health, and wellness. Thus, I am one step closer to becoming a registered dietitian! Another update (and the inspiration for the title of this blog post) is that recently, I had the good fortune to shadow a prominent nutritionist in Paris, France. Charlotte Debeugny, is a board-certified nutritionist and a published author and blogger with the website “Nutrition in Paris”, where she advices on the latest research findings related to health, nutrition, and wellness while also posting her musings on current foodie trends and diets (website found here). Charlotte studied Nutrition at the British College of Nutrition and Health and graduated in 2011 and now lives and practices in France. I had actually come upon her blog while researching nutrition and dietetic programs in Paris, France (don’t ask) and was greatly impressed by her blog posts, research findings, and her publications (she most recently co-wrote and published ‘Le Régime 5/2 à la Française’, her book on intermittent fasting). I decided to send her an email, informing her that I would be in Paris for a short time period and if she would be interested in allowing me to shadow her during that time. I did not expect an answer from such an eminent authority on nutrition and diet in France and in the UK so I was shocked and pleasantly surprised, as you may expect, that she responded right away and was more than willing to allow me to observe and shadow her in a private practice/consulting-based setting
(Guess I’ll include some pictures, to keep your attention throughout this entire post 😉 ) So finally, that Tuesday morning of September 2nd arrived (I had landed in Paris the previous day). I took the address that Charlotte gave me for the clinic location, found the nearest metro, and navigated myself over to the 17ème arrondissement of Paris. I found the clinic, was buzzed in and guided into the building by the secretary, and then to Charlotte’s office. Charlotte, a tall, stunning lady with a striking demeanor, was also very kind and sweet and made me feel right at home. We quickly jumped into conversation, before her first client of the day came in, and talked about anything and everything related to nutrition and dietetics: the dietitian’s role in medicine, research and study findings related to new food and health trends, disease prevention, the ‘French Diet’, so on and so forth.
For her practice, Charlotte works closely with doctors and other health professionals and provides individualized support and advice for her patients (or in this case, clients) , which I was able to witness firsthand. Sitting in on her consultations was actually one of my first ever real-life experiences in the field of nutrition and dietetics! Charlotte was patient, personable, highly knowledgeable, and thorough in her advising. Her clients (mostly British and a few French) were also friendly, eager for education and advice, and had no problem with me being there, sitting in on the consultations. In fact, they would even ask me for my advice and opinion over many issues! I gained so much insight from this experience; instead of simply reading about the role and job of a dietitian or watching videos, I was able to observe firsthand for myself that the role of the dietitian most essentially functions as an Educator, Supporter, and Guider; with all of the information out there regarding health and nutrition, the dietitian acts as the ‘navigator’ in processing the right/necessary information and translating it to the layman and guiding their patient/client towards the right direction, suitable for the individual’s lifestyle and physiology. And of course, the key role of a dietitian in the field of medicine is prevention (whereas a physician’s role would be to treat the ailment); by teaching and providing the tools for the patient to make the necessary dietary and lifestyle adjustments to prevent illnesses before they begin. A very necessary role in the field of medicine, indeed.I learned that a lot of “behind the scenes” work goes into the process, a lot of research and paperwork before and after the consultations and follow-ups on the client (for example, Charlotte keeps track of her client’s daily intake via Nutrilog and MyFitnessPal). It’s very important for the dietetics practitioner to stay updated on new health and nutrition information, to attend conferences and workshops, network with health professionals, play an active role in social media (yet another reason for my blog), and continue to volunteer as much as possible in the community. So this is just a tiny synopsis of my experience working with Charlotte. On my last day there, I interviewed Charlotte for my blog (which shall be posted soon!), where we discussed her book (and her second one which will be coming out soon), her own experience with Intermittent fasting, new trends in the food and health industry, and much more. I will also be doing a post regarding the French Diet (yes, that is a thing). After having lived and studied there in the past, I have gathered a few assertions regarding the French lifestyle and eating habits that we (especially Americans) can learn from. Sooo, be on the lookout for both of these blog posts soon. Now, since I kept your attention for so long, I will leave you with some more pictures of my stay in Paris (plus, I need to empty out pictures from my overly-stuffed iPad…). Enjoy! The Louvre, morning and night
Attending Friday prayers at the Grande Mosquée de Paris
Many a coffee break
A day well spent at the Musée d’Orsay
Landmarks (Basilique du Sacré-Coeur and Petit Palais in the center photo)
Exploring the Musée Jacquemart-André (on my birthday!)
Dreamy scenes of Paris
Found a late-night Farmer’s Market!
Notice that pictures (or a discussion) of food are missing? Very observant 🙂
Well, we’ll just leave all of that for another post, shall we??