Dietetic Career Spotlight on Patty Coleman, Menu Labeling, Sports Nutrition
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on NOVEMBER 16, 2017
Patty Coleman, RDN, LDN, is an outstanding sports and corporate wellness dietitian. She’s also a menu labeling expert! Talk about combining passions and finding a dream job that caters to it all. Read on to learn about her exciting job at Levy. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
I have always loved food and worked in the foodservice industry since my first job in a restaurant at 16; although I did not know my career path until a few years later. I was 20 when I lost my mom to cancer. I didn’t realize it at the time, but her death gave my life purpose. Through that experience, I saw firsthand how food and nutrition can play a huge role in your life, your treatment, your recovery and end-of-life. I became passionate about running and fitness, which I found provided strength and resilience for me and enabled me to get through that difficult time. I was drawn to become a dietitian in healthcare by a strong desire to help patients and their families as they were coping with illness. I spent over a decade in healthcare, before I moved to the corporate sector a few years ago and that is where I am today.
Your Job Title?
Company you are with now?
– Twitter: @dietitianPatty
Describe a typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
No two days are the same, I wear many hats, and I love it! I am the first dietitian in the company, so I have been able to develop the position and I get to work in a lot of different aspects of dietetics. I work for a fun and innovative restaurant company in the sports and entertainment field. My role covers aspects of: Sports Nutrition, Corporate Wellness, and Regulatory Compliance.
Sports Nutrition – At many of our sports and entertainment venues we feed the professional athletes and players as well as the fans. I partner with chefs and team dietitians to help plan menus for their athletes. This involves staying abreast of the latest sports nutrition recommendations, menu planning, and recipe analysis.
Wellness – Luckily, my company understands the importance of happy and healthy employees. So a good part of my role is leading company health and wellness initiatives. This includes teaching healthy cooking classes, organizing various wellness challenges, managing our wellness webpage, leveraging and developing wellness partnerships, and creating and delivering various nutrition and health-related presentations.
Menu Labeling Regulatory Compliance – A big part of my role entails keeping on the pulse of FDA (and local) menu labeling regulations, understanding how that applies to our business, and training our operators in the field on what they need to know to maintain compliance. This involves a lot of project management and training.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
Great timing, a little luck, and realizing this was my dream job and just going for it! I really believe that every previous role I had helped prepare me for this position. From my early days as a personal trainer, my passion for fitness, and experience as a Clinical Dietitian and Director of Clinical Nutrition and Food Service all laid the groundwork and I tap into that knowledge and experience every day.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I was born tenacious and methodical, I have always been that way and those traits come naturally.
I have not always been great at asking for help, but now I have learned to look at it as collaborating. Two brains are better than one, so sometimes you just need to tap into resources around you to talk things through. And I love working in a team, it’s much more fun!
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
Don’t settle. You are supposed to be fulfilled in your life, so if you aren’t at this very moment, that’s ok. Keep working hard, develop yourself, market yourself, and network. Then when the opportunity arises you will be ready, and then go for it!
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what
would it be?
Knowledge – I think people are often grateful to those who teach them something. It can have such a huge impact on your life, which is why I love coaching others myself. If I could be paid with knowledge via: training, books, and classes I would be happy; basically, anything that gets me thinking and learning something new I am forever grateful.