It’s nutrition month so we are featuring two of our resident Thriving Dietitians: Emma McCrudden, Sport Dietitian in Althletics and Recreation and Melissa Baker, Manager of Nutrition and Wellbeing in SHHS.
Thriving Campus features testimonials, contributions and personal experiences linked to health and wellbeing from UBC staff members.
How do you thrive at work?
Emma: I love health, food and sport, and I’m very fortunate that my role at UBC allows me to combine all three! Knowing that I am helping others improve not only their own health and sports performance, but also the health of their friends, family and future clients makes me want to get up and go to work every day. Providing athletes with nutrition resources (which can be found here: http://gothunderbirds.ca/sports/2016/7/5/nutrition.aspx ) and teaching them to cook and really enjoy food is a very rewarding part of my job. I love teaching sport nutrition to my students, who will one day be helping others learn more about how nutrition can improve their health.
I wear a number of hats at UBC, working as a part-time sport dietitian with the varsity programs – looking after 600 athletes – and part-time as a sport nutrition lecturer for the School of Kinesiology and Food, Nutrition & Health programs. It can get a little overwhelming at times.
Being organized helps me stay on top of my workload. My calendar is crazy, but I feel more relaxed if all my reminders are in one place. That way I know nothing gets missed. I have really had to learn to prioritize tasks and be realistic with deadlines. When you keep people informed of your progress and they know you are doing the very best you can, they are assured that you are going to produce some great work in the long term.
Melissa: I thrive on connection, so I feel very lucky to work with so many amazing people in addition to having the opportunity to connect and work with students on a daily basis. I love being out and about on campus promoting wellbeing by encouraging the UBC community to eat well and move more.
I have planned walking meetings, joined colleagues for a lunch-hour bootcamp class or Wreck Beach stair challenge, promoted eating healthy in the dining halls (with thanks to our awesome chefs who are happy to work with me) and work closely with UBC Wellbeing to support various initiatives. Nutrition Month (March) and Dietitians’ Day (March 15th) are sure to be packed with events to help myself and others thrive at work and home, too!
Eating well is also essential for me to thrive at work. I start most mornings off with chocolate (using cocoa powder) overnight oats, mixed with nuts, seeds, Greek yogurt, berries, peanut butter and cinnamon. I never get sick of this combination and it is packed with protein and antioxidants.
Eating a healthy lunch at the dining halls or Harvest Market is easy with a variety of nourishing options – from salads and soups to custom stir-fries and grain bowls. My favourite dish is served on Wednesdays at Open Kitchen (Square Meal): spicy lentil dahl with naan bread. It is so tasty, filling and really inexpensive. Try it out and let me know if you like it!
How do you thrive at home?
Melissa: While I thrive on connection and spending time with friends and family, I love “me time” at home in my kitchen trying out a new creative recipe or doing some writing. I write for my blog (upbeet.ca) and for the Huffington Post (Canada Living section).
Doing a yoga class, a hike/snowshoe or jumping on my bike are other things I love doing that help me thrive during my time off. I also enjoy volunteering and am currently putting my efforts into my position on the Dietitians of Canada Board of Directors. Trying new things is fun for me too. I just agreed to play on a beach volleyball team, which I have never done before – so I apologized to the team in advance for my lack of skill!
Emma: Although I love being organized, I have had to be a bit kinder to myself recently and accept that there are going to be really busy times in my life when things aren’t going to be as well organized as I need them to be. And that’s ok. We are living in a perfectionist-driven world and it’s easy to feel like you are underachieving if you aren’t meeting those high standards all the time. It’s important to give yourself a break and prioritize what is important at that moment in your life.
Making sure I have looked after some basic meal planning is also crucial. I believe that good nutrition has the power to impact a lot of areas in life, including sleep (and I love sleep!), concentration, the immune system and energy levels for work and activity. I keep meal planning very simple. I find time over the weekend to plan meals from Sunday night through to Friday lunchtime and allow myself to be more flexible the rest of the time. I always start by picking protein for the meal and once I know what that is, the rest comes pretty easily. I then look at snacks and breakfast foods. I keep grocery lists on my phone so it’s easy to repeat them week after week. I group foods using the layout of my local store, which I know pretty well, so I’m efficient once I get in there. Occasionally, if time is really limited, I will use pickup or grocery delivery services – which I think are brilliant ideas!
Emma McCrudden trained as a dietitian at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland and then obtained a master’s with distinction from Loughborough University, England, in sports nutrition and exercise physiology. She has worked as an Applied Performance Dietitian for the English Institute of Sport and was also the lead dietitian for Leinster Rugby, a decorated professional rugby team based in Ireland. She moved to Canada in 2013, where she joined the Canadian Sport Institute, working mainly with the Canadian Women’s Soccer team and Swim Canada, as well as with multiple winter sports teams. She moved to a combined teaching and sports dietetics role in January 2016 at UBC. Emma focuses on the specialist application of the science of nutrition to performance enhancement in sport, aiming to maximize training adaptation, optimize body composition and minimize risk of injury, overtraining, illness and burnout.
Melissa Baker is a registered dietitian with a passion for health and wellbeing. She strongly believes in choosing food that is both healthful and delicious! Melissa is also a big advocate for taking time to share meals with friends and family, and believes that basic cooking skills are a key ingredient in a healthful diet. After graduating from UBC’s integrated dietetic program in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, Melissa worked in many different practice areas including clinical, retail, industry, media and consulting. In 2014, Melissa went back to school to do a Master of Health Science in Nutrition Communication from Ryerson University. She loves being a part of the exciting nutrition world and staying up to date on nutrition trends. She is a true food lover, and was named “Canada’s Food.ee of the Year” in 2015 by vacay.ca. Since October, 2016, Melissa has been providing counselling and educational outreach to students in residence, supporting wellbeing initiatives for staff and the UBC community, consulting for the UBC Food Services culinary team to increase the healthy offerings and writing articles for her UBC blog.