Our Registered Dietitians are some of the most passionate, dedicated, and knowledgeable around! Each day Rachel Kleinman, MS, RD, LD, CDCES, and Melissa Brown, MPH, CHES, RD, LD, work with clients to provide medical nutrition therapy. This is important because it helps clients eat healthier, manage their illness, and enhance their quality of life.
Today, we’d like to take a moment to hear from Rachel. She recently earned her Diabetes Care and Education Specialist certification. So, in addition to providing overall nutrition intervention care, she’s now able to support our clients also affected by diabetes to understand and manage their condition. Many clients living with HIV and cancer have also been diagnosed with other chronic conditions.
Here, Rachel discusses the role of RDs at Food Outreach and why they’re such an essential part of our efforts to combat food hardship in our community.
Rachel, what prompted you to earn this certification for diabetes care?
It was something that I had been thinking about getting since I became a dietitian. By earning this credential, I have gained greater insights into diabetes care and management. Now, I can give dosing recommendations for insulin and show people how to take their insulin and measure their blood sugar. Diabetes is a chronic illness that is on the rise in Missouri and across the nation. I am dramatically more qualified to provide assistance to our clients that may be living with this additional diagnosis.
Though diabetes does not run in my family, heart disease does. The clinical aspects of uncontrolled diabetes do have an impact on heart health. Sometimes when a person has difficulty managing their condition, it can be because of miscommunication, doing something that the patient didn’t fully understand, or not having enough support. These kinds of situations inspired me to get ahead of things before a person ends up in the hospital. Diabetes can be very controlled, and it helps to have different providers in your corner.
What core nutrition services do you as a dietitian provide?
Melissa and I provide medical nutrition therapy to manage illness and improve the quality of life for our clients. Our clients receive a nutrition assessment at intake. Clients are asked various questions to determine their nutrition status and offer help as needed. For example, if someone mentions they’re having trouble meeting their nutrient needs due to side effects of cancer treatment, I discuss with and send them information on strategies to eat despite these side effects.
What about the dietitian’s role in the creation of medically tailored meals?
We develop and analyze recipes. In partnership with Chef Mike and our kitchen team, we help develop and analyze recipes for clients. Together, we ensure meals have the right components to provide nourishment. With food costs rising, it’s been difficult to pay for a few things that our clients love, like olive oil. In cases like this, we help search for less expensive alternatives that don’t compromise on quality and nutrition density.
How else do you help clients manage their diagnosis?
Dietitians provide ongoing counseling and education—including nutrition reassessments. We start an appointment with a short assessment to see how a client is doing and have a conversation about anything they’d like. Those conversations revolve around general healthy eating, weight loss, weight gain, or specific medical nutrition therapy (mainly for diabetes or heart disease).
All of our clients have access to Healthie, a nutrition education platform, where they can see a variety of nutrition education material, create goals for themselves, and send an instant message to either me or Melissa. We’ve recently added cooking demos that demonstrate different recipes the clients can make using the food and nutrition we offer.
When you’re not in the office, what else piques your curiosity?
When I’m not studying, I read a lot—both fiction and nonfiction. I also like to paint and spend time outdoors!