National Nutrition Month® is actually an annual nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign, celebrated each year during the month of March, focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. There is also a celebration for a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist on the second Wednesday in March.
Today, we want to recognize Cassia Regional Director of Nutrition & Culinary, who has been a registered dietitian for twenty years. Kari was always interested in health and nutrition and during her first year of college, she took a General Nutrition course and fell in love with the idea of working in the nutrition field.
What does Kari do on a typical day? Though people may think dietitians concentrate on weight loss that is not what Kari does at all. Her work is much more focused on the following tasks:
- Managing overall nutrition care
- Preventing malnutrition
- Maximizing the quality of life for Cassia residents
- Menu and recipe development
- Hiring and training new staff
- Nutritional assessments
- Policy development
- Educating Cassia’s culinary and nutrition teams on regulation changes
As Regional Director of Nutrition and Culinary, Kari provides support to dietitians, culinary directors, certified dietary managers and chefs at skilled nursing and assisted living communities and adult day programs. Her passion for nutrition comes from a deep-seated feeling about food, and its importance during every stage of life. Food is not only important for the body, Kari points out; it is also a touchstone for connection, emotional well being and quality of life.
Kari’s advice for eating well includes “eating the rainbow.” That means choosing a variety of different colored whole foods throughout the day and week. “Eating fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors will help increase your intake of different nutrients to optimize various areas of your health,” Kari says.
We asked Kari what her favorite food might be, just to see if dietitians are anything like the rest of us. “I don’t think I could live without chocolate,” she says. “Luckily there are some health benefits from chocolate, when enjoyed in moderation. Hmmm. Maybe she IS like the rest of us, after all.