Get To Know Me

March 29, 2020

Hi! I’m Jen Belanger. You may know me as your Registered Dietitian (RD), your Zumba instructor, or that girl from Mass Appeal. No matter how you know me, thank you for visiting my blog! I’ve been considering starting a blog for quite a while. I’ve always found some reason why it’s “not a good time,” whether it’s because I’m too busy or afraid I won’t keep up with it. I’m all done with excuses, so here we go! I actually wrote this blog post on a plane to California back in August (remember when we could travel?) so that tells you how long I've been stalling! Like all great pieces of writing, I thought I’d start my blogging journey with the who, what, where, why, and when of my adventures as an RD. As we move along in my blogging journey, I’ll cover nutrition topics that are relevant to both my life and your life and do my best to answer your questions as we go.

What: I thought I’d make my first blog post about what I’m up to and how I got here. Many of you know I’m an RD but are not sure what that means. I often feel like I’m on a game show called “guess my job description.” I’m commonly asked “do you make menus? Don’t you like, put people on diets? Oh, you’re the food police?” My response is usually “all of the above, and none of the above.” I’d like to clarify what a “diet” is. A diet is simply what you eat. I have a diet, you have a diet, my dog has a diet, your pet hamster has a diet. If you haven’t already noticed, “diets” in their traditional sense do NOT work. If you work with me, I’d never put you on a diet. My job is to help you have a healthy relationship with food, not be afraid of it.

Within the past year or so I’ve made the jump (head-first, I might add) into pediatric nutrition, and I ADORE this age group. I’ve been an RD for almost seven years and have primarily worked with adult and geriatric populations. While geriatrics can be a really fun population to work with, let’s face it, kids, teens, and adolescents are our future. In my practice I see a lot of obesity, lipid disorders, food allergies, picky eating, and food aversions (sometimes very extreme). My interests are ever changing, but right now I can't get enough maternal and infant/toddler nutrition. I'm also big on sustainability, both in the kitchen and in life in general. If there’s anything I’ve learned from being in this field, it’s that healthy habits start early; before age two, one, even before a baby is born. Pregnant and planning to become pregnant women have a huge responsibility and very important role to play in the future of our children. Your food choices now can affect your future children and even grandchildren. If we don’t establish good habits in our children early on, we cannot expect them to maintain healthful habits over their own lives and instill these habits in their own children.

Where: I serve Western, MA and work out of offices in Belchertown, Wilbraham, West Springfield, Westfield, and Hadley (yes, I spend a lot of time in my Jeep. More time to listen to podcasts!). Someday I’ll have an office space to call my own, but right now I’m content with traveling to where I’m needed.

When: Pretty much always 😉. Starting my private practice has been nothing short of amazing, exciting, rewarding, and time-consuming. Admittedly, I’m a bit of a workaholic. I know burnout is a real thing, and I’m trying hard not to let myself fall into that trap. I just have so much to say and do that there truly aren’t enough hours in the day.

Why: Hopefully I’ve done a good job of explaining the ‘why’ already. Through my as an RD and just as a woman approaching thirty (Ah!!), I’ve discovered how important it is to my own physical and mental health to eat well, exercise, and feel good about how my choices affect our environment. If I can help other women and families to recognize these qualities too, then I’ve done my job.