Have you ever been curious about what a one-on-one nutrition session with a pediatric registered dietitian is like? Wondering what the MKN dietitian team is like? Or maybe you didn’t even know this is something that we offer.
We have one of the most qualified, experienced, compassionate, and understanding teams that you will find.I want give you a glimpse into what that’s like by introducing you to the two amazing dietitians on my team who do online consultations so that you can get to know them for any time you find yourself needing some specialized help for your child and their nutrition.
It was so important to me to bring dietitians onto my team because then I could feel good about getting you the right kind of support even though I (Kacie) no longer personally take new one-on-one clients. So instead of having to go out and find someone on your own and take that risk of not knowing whether they are really going to know what they’re doing, you have my endorsement and you know that they follow my approach.
If you’re familiar with me and how I do things, then I think that can be a really great comfort to know already that the person who’s going to be helping you sees things in very much the same way.
It’s really easy to book a session online. You just go to this page on my site. You can see Dana and Bianca’s availability on the calendar. These are all virtual consults, so you can live anywhere and you’ll choose a date and time that works for you. They often have evenings and even weekend availability as well to help accommodate your schedule as much as possible.
What are some common reasons parents/caregivers book an appointment with our dietitians?
- picky eating
- healthy eating advice
- concerns about weight
- ideas to help meet nutrient needs
- starting solids questions
What is the first session with our dietitians like?
Bianca: During your initial session, I’ll spend some time getting to know you and your kids, and I’ll ask about your primary concerns. I like to get a good picture of your family’s specific needs, food preferences, and schedule before we work together to set some practical goals. At the end, I will email a short summary of our visit with any extra resources we may have discussed.
Dana: During our initial call we will begin to piece together a map of when any picky eating began. This will involve getting to know your family, your schedule, and other techniques you may have already utilized. After our call I like to send a video coupled with a typed summary of suggested resources for you and your family.
Meet the Mama Knows Registered Dietitians
I’m so excited to introduce you to my MKN team registered dietitians, Dana Wallace and Bianca Anderson! Below I’m sharing a number of questions and their answers to help you get to know them.
To give them each a brief introduction before we dive in, they both have extensive education and training in nutrition. Dana has about 15 years of experience as a dietitian and Bianca is about to hit 10 years as I’m writing this. I was so impressed with both of them when we went through the interview process. I knew in my gut that I had found the right people to join Mama Knows.
Read on below to get to know both Dana and Bianca!
Get to Know Dana and Bianca, our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists
Kacie: Tell me about yourself.
Dana: I’m a married mom of three little boys who keep me very busy. Our sons are three, five and seven. And I currently live in Colorado, but I have lived in many states before that. My husband is in the military, but I’m originally from the East Coast, from New Jersey (just like Kacie!). Though my married name is plain, I guess, I have a very Italian maiden name and probably for that reason, I’ve always loved food and I’ve loved to eat. So I think that was always gonna be a big part of my life, whether I chose to do it as a profession or not. And outside of the boys, I’ve always loved to be super active. So Colorado has been an awesome fit for me and my family; I love running and working out in any sense. That’s probably my biggest stress relief and favorite hobby.
Bianca: I have a husband and two boys. They’re five and two years old. And then we have a dog who we love to death. We live in Flagstaff, Arizona, which is the northern part of Arizona. We love where we live. It’s kind of a small town, and I work in an outpatient pediatric clinic here. And it’s a great place to work because I get to collaborate with a lot of other pediatric therapists, such as occupational therapists and speech therapists and specialty pediatricians. So I get to see a lot of different kids and families.
One of my favorite parts of my job there is that I helped to start an interdisciplinary feeding clinic. I collaborated with speech and occupational therapists just for kids who need some extra help with eating when they are there, like trying to get off of a tube feed or just being very selective. And we see all sorts of kids there. It gives me lots of experience and it’s challenging and a really fun place to work.
Kacie: How did you decide you wanted to be an RD?
Dana: When I was younger, being active in sports was always a pretty big part of my life. I started running more seriously in high school. And to be honest, I didn’t really know that being a dietitian was a career choice. At the time, I was waitressing at an Italian restaurant, a very common job for a teenager. And one of my coworkers was going off to college and she started talking about studying nutrition. And I said, “I didn’t even know that people went to school for that.” She’s the one who gave me a lot of information about it. Then of course, the more I looked into it, I thought, “Oh, wow, this is something I personally am interested in.” And then to get the chance to share that knowledge with other people, because it wasn’t put out there very much in my opinion, which was really exciting to me. So it just fell into place that way.
Kacie: I really identify too with that desire to share the knowledge with other people. There’s so much that I learned once I started studying to become a dietitian. I never saw myself being a teacher, but now I feel like we kind of are.
Dana: I love that. I completely agree that you get to learn something then teach it. And what’s also great about nutrition is that it is evolving. I don’t feel like there’s much of a chance that your knowledge or opportunities are going to stagnate because there’s always new research coming out. There’s always new things to learn and new opportunities, which I think isn’t available in all professions. So that was also something exciting to think about; that you can go learn about sports. You can do something with children. You can learn new things all the time, which is again, less rare, I think, than it is in other professions.
Kacie:So not only are you a very experienced dietitian, you also have been working with kids, which is why you’re here with us at Mama Knows. But what drew you to working in pediatrics?
Dana: I always loved kids, which I think is probably what most people would say in this position. When I was in school or during my internship, we did a lot of rotations with adults. You don’t get a huge amount of time with kids. The thing that I started seeing over and over again, no matter what type of specialty we were studying or participating in at the time, was that I wished the patients had more nutrition knowledge so much earlier because I felt so many things could be prevented.
And it was really mostly just for lack of opportunity, because at least for me, I don’t recall ever taking any nutrition classes when I was younger or for anybody to teach me how to eat or listen to my body or accept my body. And so for me, it just seemed like a huge open space of, wow, I wish I could start from the beginning and help children develop a positive relationship with eating, a positive relationship with their body, and just how important it is to their health, and so maybe we can avoid some of the situations I’m seeing so frequently in adults. That’s really what I’ve had the opportunity to do, which has been amazing.
Bianca: I probably would have told you I always wanted to work with kids. My mom was a teacher and so I grew up around kids and I was always in her classroom. I love kids. Working in Flagstaff as a new dietitian, in a small town, I got to wear a lot of different hats. I did outpatient, inpatient, adults, and children, and I think especially working with the adults really pointed out how many of the issues I was seeing really took root in childhood, like perceptions about food and beliefs about food and body image and things like that. That just kind of set in stone my desire to work with children and kind of lay a foundation for a healthy relationship with food.
Now that I’ve been in the pediatric world for years, I’ve had a lot of families tell me or parents tell me, hey, I had these really unhealthy beliefs about food and that it’s totally changed. I think that is one of the most rewarding and humbling parts of my job. It just points out one of the most beautiful parts of parenting is that we’re always students of our kids. The kids that I work with and my own kids. I love my job.
Kacie: What brought you to Mama Knows?
Dana: I’m not fantastic with social media. I don’t follow a lot of different things, but I do follow things of interest. When I started following the MKN account, the best way I could describe it was very informative, but also very relatable, which I think so many people are craving because oftentimes we get to social media and we feel imperfect and inadequate almost immediately. It comes to a topic that so many people already feel stressed about and maybe feel like they’re not doing enough. It’s easy to find sources that just contribute to that stress. Whereas I feel like the MKN account always eases that stress versus added to it, which is so important, particularly when parents already feel so critical of themselves. I feel so much that MKN is about cheering yourself on instead of criticizing yourself as a parent. That’s a big difference from a lot of other nutrition accounts. I think that all of your followers would agree with that.
And in addition to that, there were a lot of real life examples. It wasn’t just, “Here’s some information and do with it what you will, but instead, here’s a situation where this could be helpful for you,” or “Here’s a tool that’s been helpful for me and how you can use it too.” It was a lot more action and example, which again, I think is the way that so many people learn.
I think you have to meet people where they are. Many accounts, while informative, lack how the information translates to someone’s life, and everybody’s real life looks different. If you are advertising or speaking about how there’s only one right way to do things or implying that there’s a lot of wrong ways, it can really weigh heavy on parents.
Bianca: I’m always looking for resources for the families that I work with, and a lot of them are on social media. I found MKN first on Instagram. I think we send a lot of the same messages. I actually remember listening to a podcast of yours once and I was like, oh my gosh, it’s like she just recorded a session that I had with a family.
I think MKN does such a beautiful job of making things realistic and down to earth and showing the highs and the lows of parenting, which I think is scarce, but so needed. As a parent, feeding my kids has been far from easy in so many ways. I feel like I get these blinders on with them. If I was seeing them in our clinic, I would be like, “Yes, I know exactly what to do.” But then when it’s my own kiddo and he’s gagging or eating butter by the spoonful, I’m like, what should I do? So I think it’s been good for me as a mom to just hear what I need to hear when I need to hear it without judgment.
Kacie: What do you feel surprised you the most about becoming a parent?
Dana: Oh my gosh, that is probably the hardest question you’ve asked me. I guess it’s just that you think if you do everything the way that you think is perfect, that it’s gonna turn out the way that you think it’s gonna turn out, where in reality, there’s such a learning curve to understanding that imperfection is really going to be the only constant in your life as a parent, including when you’re feeding your kids. I think that as parents think, “Well, if I just put everything on the right plate at the right time and I make it exactly what I want to, every time I make it, they’re gonna eat it, right?” But there’s always going to be something new that is an issue.
I think it humbled me and also just made me react differently to things. It kind of tamed my expectations that imperfection is normal and that it doesn’t define me as a parent or define my child, quite honestly. Because I think that’s the other issue is when parents struggle with feeding their kids, they feel so much stress and the child can feel that. And that can kind of make the child feel like, “Maybe something is wrong with me.” Which isn’t helpful either.
Bianca: When Luca, my oldest, started foods, I was obviously so excited because I was a pediatric dietitian. So I remember him sitting in the high chair and we were taking pictures. I made this beautiful sweet potato. I’ve never spent so much time on a sweet potato in my life. And he seemed excited. But then as soon as he took a bite of the food, he just started bawling, crying hysterically like, mom, what did you do to me? This betrayed me. After that, he actually had a really hard time with eating. So my speech friend, I called her and I was like, I just need you to come feed my child. So she came over and coached me through it, did exactly what we do at work, but I just needed that.
Kacie: What is your favorite piece of advice for new parents as they navigate feeding their child?
Dana: I would say outside of just using the word grace, which I’m sure you use a lot in terms of making sure to give yourself some grace, is I always tell people to try to lead by example when it comes to food. What that means is I usually kind of break it down to three E’s. The first one, just being the word “example,” meaning what do your children see with your relationship with food? Are you constantly talking negatively about foods you can’t have? Are you talking negatively about your body or about what the food’s gonna do to your body? Try to lead by example in terms of how you view food in your body, make sure they see that. Because if there is one thing I’ve also learned as a parent is that kids are very smart. They remember everything and they’re watching what you’re doing, and what you’re saying all the time, right? All the time. So that’s the first E.
The second E is always “environment,” meaning try to create the environment that you would want to eat in. One of the biggest things I try to do with clients is I always tell them we’re gonna take the dinner table from chaos to connection. We want to remember that it’s not just about food and that that time for your family can be very sacred. And sometimes it’s even more important than whether or not they finished that meal. And so trying to create that good environment is the second one.
And then the third E is always “empathy,” which means reminding yourself that kids are not not eating to drive you crazy. I think we think sometimes it’s fully just for power and control, but sometimes it’s more than that. They’re not doing anything on purpose to do this to you. Just to try to empathize with, you know, nobody taught them how to eat either. Remember that you’re all learning together. I think that can make it a little bit easier to work through some of the struggles that feeding can bring.
Bianca: I think this is something I’m working on as a parent too. It’s just that we have these expectations that are great for our kids and what eating is going to look like. I also think it’s really important that we try to put those expectations to the side and really meet our kids exactly where they are and with what they need. That’s something I spent a lot of time talking about with parents. Just because yes, I would love for my kid to sit down and eat a meal of brussel sprouts and salmon, but the fact of the matter is my two-year-old is hooked on barbecue sauce and condiments right now. That’s his thing. And so we are kind of starting there and working from there. I think that it’s really important to create a more positive feeding experience for everybody.
It’s so hard not to put pressure on yourself and worry about the little things. I say this and fully acknowledge and I am still working on it. Again, it’s so much easier telling families to do this, but then applying it at home, it gets tricky, and there’s grace for that.
I feel like a lot of what I do during my sessions is just problem solving. For my family, our schedule is just the beginning of getting crazy with after school activities and I know my kid needs to eat every two to three hours. What do I feed them that is shelf stable, without letting them graze all day or drink juice or whatever, just because we’re on the run. So I feel like a lot of it is just problem solving and troubleshooting.
Kacie: What do you want the Mama Knows crew to know about you?
Dana: I think what I try to get across to most people is that I am really just like all of you, right? I, of course, have a baseline of knowledge about nutrition because I love it and it’s something that I study, but that doesn’t make me immune to having some of the struggles that you have. I want people to know that I am in a judgment-free zone in terms of nutrition and that I’m really here to meet you where you are and to help you find solutions for your particular issues. I’m a very big advocate for not providing people with blanketed information, meaning that one thing is gonna work for everybody. I want people to know that I’m not here to judge and that I am here to find solutions for your kind of specific struggles.
Bianca: I don’t know your kids like you do. And I don’t know your family like you do. And I really wanna work to make the recommendations work for you. I wanna take time to get to know your specific needs and your child’s specific needs. I like when families tell me, “that’s not gonna work for us.” Then we can come up with a different plan. I feel like when we have those kinds of conversations, that’s when we see the most change happen. I think that’s really rewarding.
Just a quick little disclaimer, there are a few limits on what we can provide across state lines, but for most of the nutrition help that y’all come to MKN for will be something that we can help with. We can’t help with things like managing medical conditions or diseases through diet due to different state licensing laws, but for more general nutrition help, picky eating, starting solids, questions about diet, needing help supporting a healthy weight, whether you’re worried about underweight or overweight, these are all things that we can typically help with and more. If you’re not sure whether or not we can help with your specific issue, just get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m so excited for you to get to know Dana and Bianca a little bit, and see what you might have in common with them.
Book a One-on-One Nutrition Consultation Now
They really are just two of the loveliest human beings. I’m so lucky to have them on my team. I know you are in great hands with them and they will work hard to help you. You’re going to love Dana and Bianca just as much as I do!
If you’re looking for help with picky eating, nutrition concerns or just figuring out how to feed your child and family, the Mama Knows Nutrition team is here to help you make feeding easier and take the guesswork out of the process.