For some people, a job is just a job. For others, it’s a calling. “I thought I could help people learn how to be healthy and learn about the creator that made these healthy foods,” says Iris, a DaVita dietitian from Florida
Spurred by a need to heal her fellow man through food, Iris’ mission has taken her all over the country. Born and raised in the New York City’s The Bronx, where she “rode the train every day to school,” Iris went on to study dietetics at Loma Linda University in Southern California, and then to a DaVita clinic in Florida, where she’s been an integral part of the team for two years.
Nurturing comes naturally to Iris, who has a young son, and dietetics encouraged that trait. The field also offered the flexibility required when raising a family. “That was just what I needed,” observes Iris. “I have grown to love the renal field.”
Dietetics is not an easy field, but Iris says the rewards constantly outweigh the challenges, especially “when patients are so happy because they have succeeded in getting good labs.” She helps them achieve these goals by encouraging them at every step. She also loves a good mystery. “I think I enjoy most when the patient and I have to be detectives and figure out how to get labs in line,” notes Iris. “Sometimes, it is not easy to figure out why the labs are out of range.”
A good dietitian cares about his or her patients, and Iris is no different. “My husband thinks I spend too much time talking to them,” she laughs. “But I help them succeed.” It’s this commitment that motivates Iris teach her patients to “care for their health” and develop their own “desire to do right” by themselves.
Living and working in sunny Florida, just minutes from the beach, is its own reward, but Iris is also a big fan of her DaVita family. “As a dietitian, I am not alone,” she says. “There is a whole network of DaVita dietitians ready to help. These dietitians believe in the motto, ‘One for all, and all for one.’
Iris maintains that she has learned so much in her time with DaVita that she can’t pick “just one” thing. “I have learned too much in two years!” she protests.
But when pressed, one moment does indeed stand out to Iris: the hemodialysis patient who was the inspiration for her Lemon Yogurt Parfait recipe. “It’s really interesting how an out-of-the-box thinker can be so useful,” she notes. Her patient was having difficulty getting enough nutrients due to having had his stomach stapled in the past, which limits the amount of food a person can eat at a sitting. “I was always telling him, ‘Your labs are low, you need to eat protein, la la la!’—the same song every month,” she recalls.
One day, this same patient stood in front of the dairy case in the supermarket, trying to decide which yogurt to buy, perplexed by all the choices. The store clerk struck up a conversation with him, and after learning of the patient’s need to supplement his protein, told him about Greek yogurt. “Wow,” enthuses Iris. “To my patient’s surprise, and to mine also, Greek yogurt has more than double the protein of regular yogurt.”
Iris went on to do some of her own investigating. “It turns out that a 6-oz container of Stonyfield® yogurt has 5 grams of protein, but a 5.3-oz container of Stoneyfield® Greek yogurt has 13 grams of protein,” she notes. “Thus the creation of this really yummy recipe. I am so happy that my patient was able to transform my constant reminding—“your labs are low!”—into something that will help many people.”
And now that summer is right around the corner, Iris’ refreshing Lemon Yogurt Parfait will be a welcome addition to the recipe list of anyone managing kidney disease. Packed with protein and sweet without being too high in sugar, it’s the ultimate renal-friendly snack. Even better, with no cooking time, and only two steps of preparation, this “really yummy recipe” is a snap to prepare. Hallelujah!