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You may have worked with her in a weight loss program, you may have heard an episode of her podcast “Taste Buds,” or you may have seen her byline on recent ARC Health and Wellness Community content. Introducing our very own Kelsey Butler, MS, RDN, who began in February as a content contributor with us. But she’s also doing various other gigs: developing recipes, analyzing nutrition and creating informational videos and other content for contractors, including Fresh20, Skinny Ms, Champ City, SheFinds and Life Recipe Magazine.

Does that sound like a lot? That’s the way Butler prefers it.

“I’m a Gemini and an enneagram type 7, so I’m all over the place. It’s awesome to have so many different options,” said Butler, who’s lived in Philadelphia, Alabama, New Zealand and now Colorado. “I could never do the same thing every day. It just wouldn’t work for me. Everyone’s different. Some people have the standard full-time dietitian job with the same daily routine and that’s great, but that’s just not my kind of lifestyle.”

We’re featuring Butler this month so our community can get to know the face behind the name. In this interview, she candidly discusses her journey into dietetics, the challenges she’s faced and her proudest initiatives, providing insights into her passion for promoting sustainable lifestyle changes amidst evolving nutrition trends.

Q. Describe your various roles.

A. I have a lot of different roles. I contract with a lot of different companies; the ARC Health and Wellness Community is one of my main ones. Whether it’s scheduling webinars and making sure they’re approved for CPEU credits, creating resources or making sure health and wellness professionals have great ways to network, I’m hoping to build out the membership program and make it a lot more enriching. I’m just really trying to make sure health and wellness professionals and dietitians have a great experience in the community.

I also have worked as an advisor for nutrition apps since 2019, building features, offering insights for language, just how the backend things can work and doing research tech. I also meet with clients in different roles; I’ll do meal planning, group coaching, one-on-one counseling or group coaching. I have shorter term contracts as well, sometimes I build the materials or give a dietitian’s opinion, or work on programs for different conditions or goals. Sometimes I help build a lesson plan or write an article for a workout and nutrition website. It’s kind of all across the board. It’s a little bit of everything.

Q. Why did you want to work in dietetics?

A. I’ve always been into cooking and baking. I actually wanted to be a chef for a while. I checked out a lot of culinary schools. Then my mom was like, “Don’t you like weekends? Don’t you want to go to bed not late at night?”

I’ve also always been pretty good at science. In high school, I struggled with an eating disorder, and that kind of pushed me to want to start in a DPD program in college. Through recovering with that, I learned not only the mechanics behind food, but also became fascinated with our relationship with food. That’s kind of been my passion and what I’ve been focused on.

Q. How did you get the jobs you have?

A. As soon as I finished grad school in August 2019, I took my RDN exam three weeks after I graduated, then I moved to New Zealand. I wasn’t on a normal track. I couldn’t be a dietitian in New Zealand unless I took the exam there. So I tried to find a remote choice. That didn’t happen right away. At first, I was a bartender for a brewery and nannied. There were a lot of side hustles going on to pay rent. Then my first contract was helping an Instagram influencer write meal plans for her website. Next, I got a job working for a nutrition app, then a job coaching, which were all part time for a few hours a week. After a while I didn’t have to bartend or nanny anymore. In July 2022, I was fully entering contracts and freelancing. It took some time to build and a lot of patience.

Q. What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the industry?

A. The biggest challenge for me has been burnout. I think a lot of dietitians get burnt out. A lot of us are very motivated and type A, strong people. I just want to do it all and I want to help everyone. I don’t want to half ass anything. But I think at some point, you have to realize if you can’t keep yourself healthy, you can’t help other people be healthy. If I’m burning myself out and overexerting myself, it’s not going to be beneficial for anyone. It’s finding that balance and setting those boundaries for myself. It’s been a big challenge and a big win over time for myself. It’s made my career so much better.

Q. What is one thing you wish you had known before starting your career in dietetics?

A. There are a lot of things that are complicated on the business side of things. I’m a dietitian first, but I’m also running my own business. As a small business owner, I have to do my taxes, market myself and keep track of my finances. And it’s hard. I wasn’t taught that in school. I only had classes for things like biochemistry and counseling. That’s been a big learning curve, how to get into all of that.

Q. Has there been anything specific that helped you move forward in your career?

A. What’s been good is having friends that are dietitians, having a network of dietitians around me that I can ask for help and ask for advice when I try to do something. Honestly just having someone to vent to that gets it is really helpful. I would say keep your dietitians friends close because it’s really nice to have that backup.

Q. Is there a program or initiative that you are most proud of?

A. There’s one that I’ve been doing since 2021. It’s called the We Transform program. It’s a group of women onboarding other women that are looking to change their lives. We work with clients who have weight loss goals, but we take a sustainable approach toward change that helps them improve their lives in the long run. We have a team made up of a therapist, a fitness trainer and an accountability coach; I run the nutrition program. It’s a really motivating 16-week program. We get to work pretty closely with our clients; it’s nice to see the change and have that relationship with them. It’s nice to know I’ve built the nutrition side of it from scratch and have been a big part of sustainable change in many women’s lives.

Q. Have any “hot topics” in the dietetics/nutrition industry impacted the way you do things?

A. Hot topics in general change how I do my job because I have to do a lot of unlearning with my clients. Oftentimes there’s misinformation and trends that come around and a lot of times they’re not even new. Unfortunately, a lot of what I do is just reeducate clients based on those hot topics and trending diets like keto, gluten free, organic, even Ozempic for weight loss. A lot of this stuff isn’t that new. We’ve done this before, just rebranded it. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to talk people off the ledge of those trending, quick weight loss diets and bring them back to healthy behavior changes that will actually be sustainable in the long term.

Bio:

Kelsey Butler is a registered dietitian nutritionist. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and food science with a concentration in dietetics from Colorado State University and a master’s degree in nutrition sciences from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Along with her work with ARC and various contract positions, she works as product manager and wellness lead with morphood, where she helps build app features and offers advisory services to the team. Before that, she worked as nourish director for Champ City, where she built the nutrition program to offer one-on-one and group nutrition consultations for program members and led educational classes, challenges and cooking classes. Additionally, she worked with Heali Ai as a dietetic advisor, a motivation nutrition specialist and then nutrition research and marketing lead to manage nutrition analysts, help create app features and manage social media accounts. She received the “Outstanding Leadership Award” at the Health 2.0 Conference’s Winter Edition in December 2022. When she’s not focusing on nutrition, Butler has a passion for cooking, the outdoors, running and travel.

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