Behind the Counter with Sarah Schlichter, RD

Dr. Jessica interviewed Sarah Schlichter, who became a Registered Dietician (RD) in 2016. 

What inspired you to become an RD? 

My undergraduate degree is in sports business. I originally wanted to work in college athletics, as I was a former college and high school athlete myself. After graduating and working, I soon realized that I was interested in health and wellness, and wanted to learn more about food and nutrition. I learned that there was an actual career as a dietitian, where I could study food and wellness and help people. I took an introduction to nutrition class and loved it, and decided I would go back to school and pursue nutrition. 

How would you say your approach differs from other RDs? 

I think as Registered Dietitians, most of us learn about helping people lose weight in our curriculum and courses, and that’s what the general public thinks we’re here to do: put them on a “diet.” However, nutrition is much more complex than just what you eat. I take a more holistic approach, and I educate my clients about other aspects of health — including social connection, exercise, relationship with food, and eating foods they enjoy. My work is very client-centered, and rather than setting goals for my clients, they come to me with goals and I help them get there. It really is a “team” effort.

Can you explain what you mean by “intuitive eating” and how that informs your work with patients?  

I truly believe in an intuitive eating, non-diet approach. Intuitive eating is a term that was coined by two dietitians, Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole, in 1995. Rather than following a set of rules or guidelines about eating, intuitive eating places the choice on the person, and helps him or her learn to eat based on their internal intuition and cues. I work with clients to reignite and tune into hunger and fullness cues, honor their cravings, understand what foods make them feel good and build a balanced plate based off of foods they like and enjoy. One myth about intuitive eating is that you can “eat whatever you want whenever you want,” and while that may be true to an extent, it is a very simplified understanding of intuitive eating. Being an intuitive eater means combining emotion, rational thought, and instinct with food and overall choices. So, even if you think you want ice cream in the moment, you may realize that you need something that will give you more sustenance and longer-lasting energy so you can accomplish more in your workday. In that case, you may choose something else with a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates and save the ice cream for later. 

I see you’re an endurance runner as well as a nutritionist! How do you combine these two passions? How can nutrition work together with exercise?

Nutrition and exercise go hand-in-hand together, as it is important to learn how to fuel properly for endurance exercise and activity. I typically work with endurance athletes in helping them understand the types of foods to include before and after a workout (and what the difference is), as well as how to eat throughout the day and why that is important. For some athletes, food choices may change more before exercise or leading up to an event, so we work to ensure athletes are getting a proper distribution of nutrients to support their sport and recovery as well. 

What is the subject of your Ebook? Who would you recommend it for? 

My Ebook is all about two of the natural feelings we have around food; hunger and fullness. While they may seem like simple concepts, many people have become out of touch with their own hunger and fullness, and perhaps find themselves eating when they aren’t hungry, or eating beyond fullness constantly. Both situations can be part of a “healthy lifestyle,” but when we are constantly overriding our internal cues, we become more out of touch with our bodies. My 50 page Ebook and workbook helps people understand how to get back in touch with their natural hunger and fullness cues and intuition. You can learn more about the ebook here

Anything else you’d like to add? 

You can find more about my work, nutrition for exercise, and easy recipes over at Bucket List Tummy.

Sarah Schlichter is a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s in Public Health. She writes the blog, Bucket List Tummy, and works as a nutrition consultant, freelance writer and sports dietitian. In addition to the recipes and nutritional articles on her blog, she also has a self-paced sports nutrition course for endurance athletes and is the co-host of the Nail Your Nutrition Podcast

Jessica Nouhavandi