Dietician works people toward better eating habits

Dietician works people toward better eating habits

February 10th, 2011 by Holly Leber in Business Around the Region

Registered dietitian Indi Maharaj prepares roast beef and asparagus rollups at the Chattanooga Lifestyle Center.

Registered dietitian Indi Maharaj prepares roast beef and...

* Name: Indi Maharaj

* Title: Registered dietician

* Location: Erlanger Hospital

* First job: Middle school science teacher in Trinidad

* Best part of the job: "My favorite part is seeing people improve their health and lifestyle from following some instructions that I give them, and see them improve the quality of their life."

* Worst part of the job: Maharaj said the most challenging part of her job is dealing with resistance to make a change. "Sometimes I give (patients) a healthy diet and they always try to negotiate in the bad stuff, the fast food or fatty stuff. Sometimes it gets me exasperated ... but generally, I try to meet them halfway." Recently, she said, she negotiated with a client to replace his daily chicken patty sandwich with a healthier selection on wheat bread three days a week and only have the fast food two days, for now.

* On food: "Eating is not only a physical act that we do, it's based on emotions, culture, tradition, socio-economics, it's so many different things you have to deal with."

* What she's learned: "There is no quick fix to changing diet because there are so many different aspects of diet. I don't believe in giving people a (predetermined) diet plan, but in listening to what they do and how they eat, and trying to make adjustments."

* How to make a career of it: Get a degree in nutrition, then do an internship at an accredited facility for practical experience. Following that, you take a national exam which will allow you to become registered. A dietician is different, she pointed out, than a nutritionist.

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