So you want to be a Sports Dietitian?


By Robin Allen

Working for Dining Services at the University of Illinois I frequently worked with the team Sports Dietitian.  At that time university athletic departments employing Dietitians were just starting to become popular.  At first, the Sports Dietitian was part-time.  But the need for full-time dedicated Sports Dietitian became apparent and now there are 2 full-time Dietitians in the Department of Athletics at the University of Illinois. As the Dining Services Dietitian, I used to meet with the athletes and the Sports Dietitian and tour the Dining Halls showing the athletes the appropriate foods and how to obtain what the Sports Dietitian recommended.  This was especially important for those athletes who had food allergies or intolerances.

We also had dietetic interns who rotated through the department or spent the summer interning with Dining Services.  The interns always thought they wanted to be a Sports Dietitian.  So I would arrange a meeting with the Sports Dietitian which  was an eye-opening experience.   She revealed she worked about 60+ hours per week, attending practices and games, working with the Training Table, being present at the Training Table to advise, meeting individually with the athletes, making meal plans for when they traveled and attending their workouts.  The depth of knowledge needed ranged from muscle building, weight lifting, weight control, eating disorders, fad diets, supplements, religious and cultural beliefs and food allergies and intolerances  and much more.  My head was spinning! Many Sports Dietitians were athletes themselves which added credibility to their science.  And the final straw:  NO DATING THE ATHLETES! While sounding glamorous at the time, the job of the Sports Dietitian is rigorous, challenging and always changing and not always glamorous but always rewarding.  This knowledge is vital to the health of the athletes and helping them to achieve their full potential and  avoid chronic disease in the future.

Want to know more?  Visit the SCAN (Sports,  Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition website.

Also the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association (CPSDA), the voice for Sports Dietitians.

Also tune into our webinar Performance Nutrition Considerations for Service Members and Veterans, presented by Kimberly Feeney, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS.  Kimberly is an experienced Performance Dietitian, prior Army Dietitian and currently is working with the United States Air Force.

This blog was posted by Robin Allen, a member of OneOp (MFLN) Nutrition and Wellness team that aims to support the development of professionals working with military families.  Find out more about the OneOp Nutrition and Wellness concentration on our website on Facebook, on Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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