4 International Resources for Global-Minded RDNs

Rawpixel/ iStock / Getty Images Plus
Rawpixel/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

Ever since I was young, I have loved to explore new places and experience different cultures. These passions did not stop when I became an RDN. In fact, since beginning my career in nutrition, I have had countless opportunities to travel, taste new foods, interact with people from different cultures and meet nutrition professionals from all around the world!

My first experience in working with a unique cultural population didn’t take place abroad, it was within the United States. As an undergrad, I participated in a summer internship in Nome, Alaska. Working with the local population in a secluded village with very limited food resources taught me how to problem-solve within a cultural context. It also opened my eyes to the importance of considering cultural diversity in education strategies. This experience inspired me to look for greater opportunities like it. I joined the American Overseas Dietetic Association as a way to network and learn what dietitians are doing around the world; and I became a Kids Eat Right International Volunteer, which gave me access to resources to utilize in practice both in the U.S. and abroad.

Following completion of my master’s degree, I was awarded a scholarship to study medical Spanish and practice nutrition in Peru. My RDN credential allowed me more independence in my work there. I was able to counsel and educate Peruvian patients on their diets while learning about their local foods, typical meal patterns and ways of life.

One of the Academy’s goals is to become a global nutrition leader. Our world is in need of nutrition experts to fight chronic malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies, and achieve food security on a global level. It is essential for our profession that students and young RDNs become knowledgeable about these issues so we can collaborate to raise awareness, promote health on a global level and utilize our skills to optimize the nutritional status of our world.

Are you inspired? Take a look at the following resources 4 International Resources for Global-Minded RDNs - to learn more about nutrition and our role in the global community.

American Overseas Dietetics Association
The American Overseas Dietetic Association is the international affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. AODA includes both Academy members who are interested in international nutrition and those who are currently living and practicing abroad. It is a fantastic resource for networking with nutrition professionals from around the globe.

Global Nutrition Report
This report outlines major nutrition issues around the globe and supports improvement of nutrition status across all nations. It is the first comprehensive nutrition report and includes specific prevalence numbers of major nutrition issues in 193 different countries. The goals of this report are to raise awareness on key nutrition issues, reflect on new actions and report on progress from previous reports.

Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Nutrition Security in Developing Nations: Sustainable Food, Water and Health
This document clearly outlines the Academy’s position regarding nutrition and food issues in underdeveloped nations. The Academy supports policies, programs and practices that work to achieve nutrition security and sustainability.

International Nutrition Education Pilot Project
Recently, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation launched an open-access collection of nutrition education resources and materials for use in international settings. The first collection focuses on Central America, with greater expansion of the project planned for the future.

Kristen Heitman, MS, RDN, LD
Kristen Heitman, MS, RDN, LD, is a research dietitian at Ohio State University and student outreach co-chair for the American Overseas Dietetic Association. In her free time, she enjoys tasting new foods, hiking and exploring new places.