Katie Dodd is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and has been working with older adults for over 11 years. She is also an entrepreneur, side hustling two websites educating people about geriatric nutrition and helping other dietitians become entrepreneurial in their own way.
We had the great pleasure of speaking with her and talked about her career as a geriatric dietitian and journey as an entrepreneur. She shares key advice on what all family caregivers need to know about nutrition and aging, and she demonstrates how professional growth never ends and is expanding the opportunities for dietitians.
Dodd wanted to pursue a career as a dietitian because of her love of food and health, and originally wanted to work on reversing the diabetic epidemic in children. However during her 1-year internship through her Master’s degree program, she decided to work for the Veterans Administration (VA) who primarily serves an older adult population. “The VA was giving a stipend for the internship. I followed the money” she confessed and was not particular about who her clients were during that time. After her internship, she fell in love with the VA. She loved working with an interdisciplinary care team and being able to travel to her clients' homes.
“When you go to a client’s home you can learn so much about their habits and personal life. You can ask them about the pictures they have on their wall and hear their stories”. Unlike working at a clinic, her role as a home-based primary care (HBPC) dietitian can get to know her clients on a more personal level and it allows her to create a unique plan for each individual. “For example, I had a client who lived in a yurt, and he had appliances inside but had to walk up a hill to get water”, Dodd described. Dodd is dedicated to her job at the VA as she has been working there for the past 11 years since her internship.
Growing as an entrepreneur
Dodd hasn’t stopped growing and expanding her career as a geriatric dietitian. Dodd said that she “had always had an entrepreneurial spirit” and had originally been a business major before nutrition. However as she shifted to paths to become a dietitian, business and entrepreneurship came back to her completely on accident. She was taking a flight and happened to be seated next to a dietitian entrepreneur who had started Nutrition Dimensions, a company for other dietitians to continue their education after their credential. After sharing experiences, Dodd was hired by the founder to help review and edit the continuing education courses. She didn’t stop there and continued to instruct webinars, speak at events, and write articles.
Dodd had always loved volunteering and hustling on different side projects outside of her job, and she believes it is because of her passion for entrepreneurship and drive to always want more.
Dodd has pushed her side hustles into a new level when she began her brand, The Geriatric Dietitian, in June 2019. The goal of The Geriatric Dietitian is to educate people and provide valuable geriatric resources for older adults and caregivers who are providing care for older adults. Most older adults do not have access to a geriatric dietitian, so she aims to educate and serve as many older adults as possible. On her brand’s website, she writes educational blog articles, shares resources, and sells e-cookbooks. She is motivated to work on her resources because she has seen how the quality of life in her clients have improved with her help. And being online allows her to reach thousands of older adults.
In addition to helping older adults and caregivers, she also wants to serve her fellow colleagues. Through the Dietitian Side Hustle, Dodd wants to show other dietitians the opportunities in entrepreneurship and side hustling. She mentioned how dietitians are often fixated that side hustling means to start a private one-on-one consulting practice, but she proves that it simply isn’t true. In addition to the Dietitian Side Hustle’s blog, she also has a podcast where she talks about her different side hustles and is transparent about her experience and processes. Dodd loves sharing her journey and side hustling ideas with other dietitians and wants to share what she has learned.
Dodd has big plans for the future to grow her brands. She wants to continue growing her website and bringing more people to her site and reading her blog. In addition, she wants to release another e-cookbook for older adults and create beautiful recipes specially crafted for older adults’ needs.
“Understand the risks of unintended weight loss in older adults”
Dodd described how in a weight-obsessed culture, “When older adults lose 10 pounds, they do not really think much of it or perhaps their family/caregivers would praise them for losing weight”. However, that is misled because what that older adult lost is not fat but muscle. This muscle loss can be detrimental because older adults need muscle to live independently. Loss of muscle mass can lead to falls, hospitalizations, and overall less mobility.
TLTR: Maintain weight as you age by nutrition and resistance training, so you can maintain your independence for as long as you can.
If you want to learn more about unintentional weight loss, read Dodd’s article about it here.
You can find Katie on:
The Geriatric Dietitian: www.thegeriatricdietitan.com
Dietitian Side Hustle: www.dietitiansidehustle.com/