For this week’s spotlight, I interviewed a fellow Buckeye, Jenny Lobb. We competed our undergraduate degrees together at Ohio State in 2009 then both went on to do our dietetic internships at Mount Carmel College of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio (Mt Carmel no longer has an internship program).

All of us! The 2010 class of Mt Carmel dietetic interns!
All of us! The 2010 class of Mt Carmel dietetic interns– now all RDs!

Jenny, tell me more about where you are today in your career. After my internship and passing my RD exam, I took my first job as a dietitian working for a small business in New Albany, OH. I taught weekly nutrition classes to small groups of women, led grocery store tours and conducted private nutrition counseling sessions for families and individuals. Although I enjoyed working with individuals, empowering them to make changes to improve their health and lives, I realized during this time that I wanted to go back to school to pursue a career in community nutrition. I could not ignore the fact that there were many individuals in my community who could not afford to purchase healthy food, much less pay to see a dietitian for nutritional advice. My desire as a dietitian is to see healthy food become more accessible and affordable for all individuals in the community, regardless of resources and income level. For that reason, I am currently enrolled in the Master’s of Public Health program at The Ohio State University.

Jenny and her favorite study buddy Samson.
Jenny and her favorite study buddy Samson.

What’s a day in the typical life of Jenny?
Monday-Friday I get up and go to class. After class in the morning, I have the rest of the day to study, work on assignments, volunteer, etc. I am currently volunteering with a project called Mapping the Food Environment, which seeks to identify food deserts in the central Ohio area. I also work as a graduate research associate on a project called Communities Preventing Childhood Obesity. Much of my work can be done from home as I support the project through literature review and data management.

What got you interested in the field of nutrition?
I first became interested in nutrition when I was taking French class in high school. As I learned more about European culture I was fascinated by the French paradox: they eat an extremely rich diet but stay fit and healthy. I wanted to learn more about the diets of other cultures because let’s face it, Americans have a lot to learn from the rest of the world– not vice versa. The world doesn’t need more Coca Cola & McDonald’s!

What is your ultimate career goal and where do you see yourself in 5 years?
My ultimate career goal is to work collaboratively with others in the field of public health to make healthful eating more realistic for individuals in our community. I will likely end up working for a health department, a non-profit organization, or some other organization that seeks to improve access and availability of healthful food.

What is your favorite part of your day as an RD?

Right now, being a student again, I like having the flexibility to choose what I want to work on at any given point in my day. If I want to work out in the middle of the day and work on school work in the evening, I can. I can volunteer in the afternoon or the evening and do schoolwork whenever. It is kind of nice not having to report to anyone but myself!

What is the biggest challenge in the public health field?
The biggest challenge that I face is our current food environment. Fast food and junk foods are cheap, convenient and easy to find. Healthful foods are usually more expensive and they take a little more work to find. The food environment needs to change so that healthful foods are the “default” or easy option for consumers.
I couldn’t agree more! The default always seems to be vending machines or drive-thrus. Wouldn’t it be great if the default was an apple and a handful of almonds?

The question everyone wants to ask an RD: do you follow any certain diet?
I don’t really follow a diet, but I am a big advocate for eating by the seasons. I subscribe to a CSA (community supported agriculture) program during the summer months, so I get fresh, in-season produce from a local farmer each week for part of the year. I plan my meals based on the produce that is available and supplement with other items as needed.

What is the most memorable meal you’ve ever had?
The first Thanksgiving dinner I ever had at my mother-in-law’s house. My mother-in-law is a vegetarian, so she prepared a non-traditional dinner that was ab
solutely delicious. Lots of bright colors and flavorful vegetables, including a butternut squash pie for dessert.

What is one food you couldn’t live without?
Peanut butter. I have always been a fan of PB& J, and I think I ate one for lunch just about every day of my undergraduate experience. Now, I like to snack on carrot sticks with PB, apple slices with PB, and ants on a log.

I think PB&Js got a lot of people through undergrad. What food or nutrition related book or documentary do you think everyone read or watch? Michael Pollan’s Food Rules. It’s a quick, practical and entertaining read that gets you thinking about what you put in your body each day.

What is the top tip you give your clients or friends?me
Eat by the season! It’s a great way to make sure that you’re getting your fruits and vegetables; plus, it’s a fun way to learn about new foods and discover delicious recipes.

What is your favorite place to go or thing to do in your city?
There are lots of great Metro Parks and walking/biking trails in Columbus. I like to take walks with my husband and our dog.

What would you say to someone interested in becoming an RD or getting into the field of nutrition? Any advice or caution?
Try to emphasize that healthy eating can be easy and delicious. Don’t be afraid to share what you personally do to eat right each day (how you prepare meals, select recipes, etc.) I have found that most people have a working knowledge of how to eat right, but they just need a little confidence, encouragement and practical advice to make it happen.

Connect with Jenny: