What inspires someone to become a dietitian? For Noelle, it was a good friend. While growing up in Berkeley, California and taking classes in nutrition, she became close friends with someone who had diabetes. “As I learned more about diabetes and the special role nutrition plays in the management of this disease,” Noelle shares, “I knew being a dietitian was the right career for me.”
That career goal led Noelle to the University of Oregon where she received a degree in biology and then on to Oregon State University to complete her graduate degree in nutrition.
Today, after working in dialysis for over two years, Noelle enjoys giving patients the tools to feel healthier and live longer. However, this is not always easy to do. “The most challenging aspect of my job is telling people that they need to avoid or reduce their intake of foods that they really enjoy,” Noelle explains. “Food plays a special role in people’s lives and it can be difficult to change eating patterns. I try to help patients find a way to change the way they eat without feeling deprived by teaching them about variety and moderation.”
Since joining her DaVita center in Oregon four months ago, Noelle has become a strong believer in patient participation. “The single most important thing patients can do to improve their health is to take an active role,” says Noelle. “This means asking their health care team to explain things, learning what their lab values mean and asking for support from family and staff.”
For example, Noelle recalls a particular patient who was having a tough time lowering his high blood sugars. “One day his wife came in with detailed food records. We talked with his doctor who decided it would be okay for him to try switching to rapid-acting insulin to see if it would help. We talked about diabetes management and he and his wife continued to keep detailed food records. They worked very hard to eat healthy meals and follow our medication recommendations. Finally, he got his blood sugars within target. It’s successes like these and the strong motivation of some patients that make my job so fulfilling.”
If you’re motivated to eat healthy, but still want to enjoy delicious food, try Noelle’s Crunchy Chicken Wraps and Tuna Veggie Salad.