This week, I’m sharing with you my interview with Amber Ketchum, MS, RD, who runs the nutrition and weight loss program at Shane Diet and Fitness Resort in San Antonio, TX. Take it over Amber…
Hello everyone! My name is Amber Ketchum and I’m a registered dietitian from San Antonio, Texas. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition from the University of the Incarnate Word and later attended the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio where I completed my Dietetic Internship and Master’s Degree in Dietetic Studies.
I’ve been working for Shane Diet Resorts since the Texas location opened in October 2012. It’s an adult weight loss and fitness program located at the LaCantera Resort in San Antonio where guests come and stay anywhere from a long weekend all the way through 12 weeks. My job utilizes all of my favorite parts about being a dietitian.
I work directly with the resort kitchen to oversee the meals prepared for our guests, modify and create new menus, write nutrition articles, blogs, lessons, and recipes. I also teach several nutrition workshops and cooking classes each week, and conduct nutrition assessments as well as one-on-one consults and create nutrition plans for our guests when they go home. There’s also the occasional TV appearance on local morning shows to demonstrate healthy recipes and talk about the company. It’s a pretty awesome job!
What’s a typical day in the life like for you?
When I get to work in the morning, the first thing I do is head to the kitchen that prepares all the food for our guests. I work with the chefs to check that the meal is being prepared correctly, and check for any modifications if there are any allergies or special diets. Then I join the guests for breakfast and usually have discussions about the food being served at the meal. The rest of the morning I work on various tasks, such as working on menus, writing blogs, articles, recipes for the company, or creating nutrition class materials. Then back to the kitchen to check on lunch for the guests. After lunch, I may teach a nutrition/cooking class and meet with some of the guests for a one-on-one for a nutrition consultation before they leave the program. We rotate who is on dinners with the guests, so if I’m on I go check dinner and join the guests once again; if I’m not on dinner that day I go home and make dinner, which is one of my favorite ways to unwind and relax.
What got you interested in the field of nutrition?
I’ve always been interested in trying to figure out what’s in food. Even as a child I’d try to read and understand food labels and learned how to cook at from my parents very early on. I’ve also dealt with digestive issues from a young age so knowing what was in food became increasingly important as I grew up. After high school I had no doubts that nutrition was my passion and haven’t looked back since!
What is your favorite part of your day as an RD?
The best part of my day is seeing the look on someone’s face when they realize that their health goals are in reach – whether it’s teaching them something new about nutrition or showing them that healthy food can taste amazing, be simple, and that they can still include favorite foods while having highly successful eating plan.
What is the biggest challenge of being a dietitian in your field?
Oh this one is easy for me – there is one very clear challenge I deal with on a daily basis. Media influence. There is so much about nutrition on TV, the internet and other social media outlets that spread many mixed messages about what foods you should “never eat” or “only eat” or will be the “ultimate solution for weight loss.” I get questions every single day about new diets, foods, or supplements that someone saw on TV or read about online. Most of the time I actually enjoy this challenge. It keeps me up-to-date on the nutrition in the news out there (I’ve pretty much heard it all!) so I get to research all the latest trends. It also gives me the opportunity to educate people on proper eating habits and help them muddle through what can be an overwhelming amount of information.
The question everyone wants to ask an RD: do you follow any certain diet?
I don’t follow a particular “diet” but try to eat as naturally as possible, limiting food from packages and preparing most of my food at home (I love trying new recipes!). I’d also say I have flexitarian tendencies – I usually go a couple of days a week without eating meat because it helps me focus on eating more plant-based foods.
What is the most memorable meal you’ve ever had?
A simple but delicious picnic lunch with my sweet husband in the middle of a day-long hike at Yellowstone National Park. The views were spectacular and it was just a great moment!
That sounds perfect! What diet fad do you wish would disappear?
All of them! I work with clients everyday who have tried pretty much every diet under the sun and I’ve yet to see any fad diet work long term. Most fad diets eliminate or over-restrict at least one food group, or encourage overconsumption of certain foods. This just isn’t sustainable and time and time again I see people gain back all of their weight plus some after spending time on fad diets.
What food or nutrition related book or documentary do you think everyone read or watch?
Supersize Me is one of my favorite documentaries that I think is great for anyone to see. It really makes people stop and think about what’s in their food and the impact food has on the body.
Supersize me is available FREE on Hulu here.
What is the top tip you give your patients/clients/friends?
Even though it sounds a little cliché, it’s okay to take an “all things in moderation” approach to eating even when trying to lose weight. Most people see more success when they aren’t trying to go to any extremes with their eating plan.
I live in San Antonio. I enjoy going to farmer’s markets around town but my husband and I also enjoy making day trips to go hiking just outside of the city.
If you weren’t a dietitian, what would you be?
One of two things – Either a food photographer because I love cooking and making food look pretty or my childhood dream of being a marine biologist because I also love science and the ocean.
What would you say to someone interested in becoming an RD or getting into the field of nutrition? Any advice or caution?
I absolutely love being a dietitian; it is a profession that truly helps and impacts the lives of large numbers of people.
Just make sure you love two things – food and people. It’s so important to have a thorough understanding about what is in pretty much all food and be able to cook so you can teach others. Chances are no matter where you work you’ll be talking about food all day long. Also, most dietitians work directly with a variety of people providing education, food plans, or working with other medical professionals like doctors, so great communication skills are a must.
If you would like more information about Shane Diet Resort or becoming a weight loss or fitness resort dietitian, check out their website or e-mail Amber at amber.ketchumRD@gmail.com. Thank you Amber for being part of the Dietitian Spotlight Series and sharing with us your passion for nutrition!
To check out more interviews with RD’s from around the country, check out my Dietitian Spotlight Series page.