Dietetic Career Spotlight on Dan Fenyvesi, Food Sobriety
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on OCTOBER 1, 2018
Changing the world on a global level, Dan Fenyvesi, MS, RD, is enriching the lives of people in Latin America as he travels and films his dual-language nutritional documentary. He also just wrote a book, Food Sobriety, which is a must-read.
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
“Why do rich, educated Americans eat worse than poor people in Europe?” My parents are European immigrants and, as a child, I heard this question often.
I grew up with a garden and home cooked meals, though I absorbed those values, there were debates over my occasional requests for “normal” food like burgers and Cheerios. This was the beginning of bigger picture questions such as, why is it such a struggle to make wise dietary choices and what role does culture play?
Later, as an adult, when I volunteered in Nicaragua, I stayed in a village where the non-profit I worked with had spent years teaching the cultivation of vegetable gardens and the use of solar ovens. I then stayed in another village where people didn’t have gardens and they fried most of their meals. The people were not nearly as healthy looking and, in particular, their skin and eyes were more worn. Witnessing firsthand the incredible effect of diet motivated me to become an RD.
Your Job Title?
I work part-time at a dialysis clinic, I am adjunct faculty at two colleges, and I consult for a company that runs diet and fitness resorts. I am also a recently published author – my book, Food Sobriety, conveys a simple, inexpensive method of sustainable weight loss based on solid science and the traditional diets of Latin America. I am also traveling the world screening my dual language documentary short and giving workshops on my work on the nutrition transition (when societies shift from traditional to modern diets) in Latin America.
Company you are with now?
DaVita, Montgomery College, Frederick Community College, Shane Diet and Fitness Resorts
– Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nicafulbright/
– YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo3MekuduMw&t=1s (my documentary short)
Describe a typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
I start work from home on my treadmill desk. I stroll for an hour grading papers and then spend another hour working on my book and film project: emailing universities and other organizations about giving presentations and researching grants and potential projects for nutrition in the developing world. Then I go to the dialysis clinic. I meet with patients and go overlab results, medications, and dietary recommendations. Since DaVita encourages a fun workplace environment, I sometimes play songs on my guitar for patients.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
My international work started with volunteering. Later, I received a Fulbright Scholar grant. Regarding dialysis, a friend told me about an opening and I applied.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
Thinking through the science of nutrition comes naturally to me, but my counseling skills were lousy at first. I’ve attended many trainings on motivational interviewing over the years, and I have gotten better.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
Be open to possibilities, you will be surprised how much you can learn from any job, even ones that didn’t seem appealing at first. Also, stay current with what other dietitians are doing. Some niche that you learn about, for instance, indoor gardening or nutritional genomics, might eventually become part of your career.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?
Some of the work I am doing now, when I give talks on nutrition in the developing world, is not paid (beyond honorariums to cover travel). I consider my payment to be that my ideas are joining the larger conversation in nutrition on what is happening globally and what we should do about it.