Dietetic Internship Weeks 9-16

Hi Friends!

Remember how I’m a Dietetic Intern and I used to be really good at blogging about all the things I was doing in my rotations? Yeah, I do too. Not quite sure what happened there. Anyways, today is the last day of the rotation I’ve been at for the past 8 weeks so I figured I should get my act together and fill you guys in on what I’ve been doing!


I’ve been interning at the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition, an outpatient clinic at Children’s hospital here in Columbus. The center works with overweight and obese children and teens. Here’s how it works: patients are referred by their primary care physician. They meet with the CHWN team (a doctor or nurse practitioner, plus an RD and Physical Therapist) and  the team and the family decide their course of action together. They can keep coming for follow-up visits with the team, they can enter an evening nutrition education and physical activity program called New U, or they can go the route of bariatric surgery.

Patients that choose to come back for follow-up visits are seen in the Healthy Weight Clinic. Each time they come in they see an MD/NP, an RD and a PT. There are three RDs that work with the CHWN- one has 30+ years of experience and the other two were closer to my age so it was nice to be able to see a range of different counseling styles and approaches from the three of them. Everyone at the center works well together, and they take a very collaborative approach to patient care, which you don’t see everywhere.

I started out shadowing for a couple of weeks, but after that I was fully able to counsel patients on my own. I got A LOT of practice counseling and was able to really develop my skills which is something that I needed help with.

Almost all of the patients struggle with the same 4 main problems:

1) Not eating breakfast
2) Not having a snack or having an unhealthy snack
3) Drinking lots of high calorie drinks
4) Not eating enough fruits and vegetables and eating too large of portions of starches and meats

When we met with patients, we obtained a typical day of eats from them and then provided nutrition education based on the problem areas that came up during our discussion. At the end of the session we set goals for them to work on until their next visit.

We spent a lot of time educating about the importance of regularly scheduled meals and how they affect metabolism, encouraging healthy breakfast options and emphasizing the importance of combining a carbohydrate and a protein source for breakfast and all snacks. We also spent a lot of time reviewing the MyPlate diagram, reviewing age-appropriate portion sizes and encouraging them to use the 20 minute rule.

Finally, we emphasized the importance of keeping sugar out of their drinks. We had test tubes full of sugar to show them how much sugar was in the regular sodas they drink. Many families were also drinking whole or 2% milk so we tried to get them to switch to at least 1% milk and eventually to skim.

Some typical goals we set for patients were things like:

1) Have a healthy breakfast daily that includes a protein + carbohydrate
2) Have a healthy snack daily that includes a protein + carbohydrate (Keep snacks between 100-200 calories)
3) Choose all sugar-free drinks and limit juice to 4-6 oz per day
4) Aim for 1/2 plate fruits and vegetables with meals (Use measuring cups and downsize plates and bowls to help with portion control, use the 20 minute rule and encourage vegetables only for second helpings).


Two days a week, the clinic sees patients that are interested in or who have already had bariatric surgery. On those days I spent a lot more time shadowing because it is a more specialized area of dietetics. I learned a lot about the surgery itself, the process leading up to it and the bariatric diet plan that the patients follow starting 2 weeks before surgery and continuing for 8 weeks after surgery. In addition to MD/RD/PT, bariatric patients also see a psychologist and a social worker at each visit.


Finally, two nights a week I assisted with and taught the New U  and New U Jr. classes. New U is geared towards teens. They come with their parents and both attend a nutrition education session where a different topic is covered each week for 10 weeks. Following the nutrition lesson, the teens do 45 minutes of physical activity with the athletic trainers. New U Jr is geared towards younger kids and the parents come and get a nutrition lesson while the kids get some activity in with the physical therapists.


Whew! So there you have it. A recap of where I’ve been spending my time for the past 2 months. Up next? A three week break and then I head to a local school district to do a 4 week food service rotation.

Happy Friday!

About Lindsay

Lindsay Livingston is a Registered Dietitian and new mom from Columbus, Ohio. On her blog, she shares simple, healthy recipes, nutrition tips, workouts and snapshots of her life. Follow her on Twitter @LeanGrnBeanBlog and Instagram @TheLeanGreenBean and be sure to subscribe via RSS or email so you never miss a post!


  1. How exciting for you!! I am so jealous! I was a Dietetics major for a semester but ended up switching because our school’s Dietetics program was too competitive and I would have never graduated during this century! I hope you have SO much fun and learn a lot!
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  2. What an awesome experience! As an overweight child I wish someone had sat me down and taught me all that! I had to learn it all myself growing up. You’re really helping these kids!
    Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie recently posted..Financing Your College Degree

  3. How fun!! I bet you had a blast at this rotation (I’d actually love to follow one of the RDs in this program for a day or two!).

    At which school district will you be after break? I’m dying to know! Enjoy your holiday!
    The Candid RD recently posted..FAQ Friday: Do Raspberry Ketones Work?

  4. I’m so glad you’re updating us! It fascinates me how many people still get so many calories from beverages.

    Enjoy your break!!
    Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table recently posted..Strange But Good

  5. Those are almost precisely the ‘how I lost my weight’ rules I tell friends and family who ask!
    Erica { } recently posted..Weekly Wrap Up

  6. Childhood obesity makes me so sad. It’s great you get to help put a dent in it. Great rules to live by!
    misszippy recently posted..Off to the races

  7. Amazing. The same issues I see with adults coming to me for personal training and coaching. I tell them, the kids will do what you do. The best thing you can do is be a good example.
    Pamela Hernandez recently posted..Fat Loss Success Story: Better U Challenge Update

  8. This is amazing! The help and guidance you are providing is so important! Thanks for keeping us posted on what you are doing!
    Kierston recently posted..#RECIPEFRIDAY: Low Carb 5 Spice Chicken Noodle Bowl!

  9. LOVE the goals you set!! Definitely sharing them with a friend :)
    Linz @ Itz Linz recently posted..VLOG: Cosmo VoxBox

  10. That sounds so amazing! And it sounds like you really enjoyed your time interning there :) I’m playing around with the idea of possibly going back to grad school to become a RD, and when I read stories like these, it gets me really excited!
    Molly @ Just Your Average Athlete recently posted..Winter At-Home Circuit Workout

  11. This is so interesting. I am sure you are having an amazing time interning. I am not sure if you are allowed to but I would love to learn more about the statistics of the children you are seeing. (i.e. What percentage are obese vs overweight? What percentage have become diabetic? etc etc)

  12. Wow – what an awesome program! I would think that more parents would benefit from a program like that than just those with obese children. It’s a shame that the maternity parenting classes that are offered prior to having babies only focus on instinctual things like how to give a baby a bath and change their diapers, when as parents, we can benefit more from having basic nutrition information, like meal planning and learning how to play ACTIVELY with our children and the value of it. Thanks for sharing!
    Janice – Fitness Cheerleader recently posted..Running and Depression

  13. Great idea with the test tubes of sugar – and yay for a break! I know you’ll enjoy it. :)
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  14. Hey girl. Question- what exactly is being recommended with the sugar free drinks? I always feel that’s a gray area, because in some cases a diet coke for example isn’t great either. I’d love to know their take. Thanks.
    Carissa recently posted..Fun Old Fashioned Family Christmas

    • for most of these kids, the #1 priority is getting sugar out of their drinks. from the beginning they tell them that they don’t ultimately want them drinking all sugar-free stuff….but usually the #1 goal is to get to sugar-free while also encouraging water intake and then once they’ve made significant changes, they really stress alternating so that every other drink is plain water and then eventually moving to more and more water.

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