Dietetic Career Spotlight: Rachel Gargano, MS, RD, LDN, CSSD
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on JANUARY 10, 2013
From research to clinical to community nutrition to private practice and consultation, Rachel Gargano, has experienced a wide variety of fields before combining all her passions into her dream job. – Sarah
Sarah Koszyk, RD: What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
Rachel Gargano, MS, RD, LDN, CSSD: Interestingly enough, my love for nutrition started when I became very ill in college. I contracted something called Dientameoba Fragilis – a parasite that lives in your intestines and wreaks havoc on your health. This year-long ordeal made me very aware of my body and the tenuous relationship between food, emotions, and our well-being. Where I went to college, we didn’t have a nutrition degree so I opted for the next best thing: Exercise Science. After that I went full throttle into a Nutrition Communications Master’s while completing my DPD to get into a dietetic internship. *phew*!
Your Job Title (s!):
Registered Dietitian, Wellness Coach, and Sole Proprietor/Owner of RG Nutrition and Wellness (Stoneham, MA).
Contract Sports Dietitian for The Core Diet/QT2 Systems (Boston, MA).
Contractor Registered Dietitian for WellnessFX.com
Company you are with now:
You guessed it: RG Nutrition and Wellness.
A typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
Honestly, every day is different. My weeks include everything from a 16 to a 4 hour days – and everything in between! Having my own business means I not only work with clients to reach their health and wellness Best Self, but also balance the books, schedule appointments, pay the bills, and continually make changes to my short and long term business goals. Somewhere in there I have to find time to center myself and take a couple deep breathes so that I can be fully present for my clients.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
I’ve gone through many variations of being a dietitian. I started out as a research assistant and head of the OMNI Heart Study research kitchen at Brigham and Women’s Hospital for a couple years, then worked as an oncology dietitian at a hospital in Connecticut for a few more. Coming back to Boston I worked as the Senior Nutritionist/Supervisor for a local WIC program before jumping into a Nutrition Communications Manager with NuVal in Braintree. After working in hospitals, research settings, nonprofit and for profit, I finally realized that what I want to do most is work with people one-on-one to see food as a companion in their life rather than a controller. To help them know that food is just the band-aid for
whatever else might be going on in their life, and that awareness can bring a new peace. So here I am, having started my own business. And I LOVE it!
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
Great question. I believe I was born with the important ability to empathize, listen closely, and allow people to feel at ease and comfortable in my presence. The skills that I think have helped me the most are how to gently coach people in behavior change, ask the right questions, and allow for silence in finding the right answers. I truly think these coaching skills have allowed me to hone my innate abilities — together they have helped me become a better dietitian.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
Don’t hesitate. Make long term and short term goals and jump after them! Even if they seem far-fetched and difficult; when you’re passionate about your work, it’s worth every ounce of effort. Most importantly, go out and talk to people who are doing what you’d like to do. Ask them how they got there. Talk to them about their struggles and their successes. What they would have done differently and what they’d keep exactly the same.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?
Watermelon. Ha! Well, that would be wonderful, but more seriously: Being able to help people on their health journey and know that I’ve played a role in their increased confidence in food, body acceptance, mindfulness, energy, and positive outlook. I just love it when someone walks out of my office knowing that it’s not about perfection, but everyday successes – and that they’ve had a success that has them (and me!) smiling. Now that’s amazing job satisfaction if you ask me!