Registered dietitian Jenna Moore knows what it’s like to be on both sides of the issue when it comes to nutrition.
“I was originally obese. Nutrition was one of my greatest passions,” she said. “I did some soul searching and realized you go to school to learn things you care about. I figured if I could help myself, I could certainly help others.”
Through her work, Moore aims to inspire a lifestyle shift, rather than a quick fix for those who are trying to get healthy.
“My favorite thing about my job is seeing people be successful with nutrition,” she said. “I have seen some amazing success stories of people who have lost 50-plus pounds and gotten off of their diabetes medication. There are so many incredible stories that I’ve been fortunate to be a part of. Those kinds of moments are what I live for.
“When I was obese and I came to a dietitian, I was really scared because I thought I wouldn’t be successful. But then I learned it’s more of a practice. It’s not a marathon or a sprint; it’s a life journey.”
Moore talked with the Business Journal to discuss her prior relationship with dieting, her philosophy on food and how she sees the future of nutrition.
How long have you been in the Springs?
I was born and raised in Monument. I went to school in California for a year and came running right back. I fell madly in love with Colorado and have been in the Springs ever since. I’ve been here for about 11 years.
Talk about your path to this point in your career.
I went to Southern California for film school and I just realized there were way too many buttons to push. I took a year off and then decided to do something crazy and go to school for nutrition. When I was at UCCS and going through my dietetic internship and getting my feet wet in a lot of different fields, I was in a situation where I had done all of these different rotations with all of these different fields and I was kind of getting nervous. I realized I didn’t really enjoy any of the things I was doing. I had an opportunity to go to a presentation that was hosted by Southern Colorado Dietetics Association. They were having a speaker that evening; it was the Denver Broncos dietitian, and I had the opportunity to speak with him after his presentation. I ended up landing my dream job up in Denver as a sports dietitian at an athletic training facility. ... I’ve now had the opportunity to work with the Colorado Avalanche, the Denver Broncos, men’s professional basketball, European league. … What I knew as an intern was that I wanted to help people with being healthy in both nutrition and exercise. I was exactly where I needed to be then and am exactly where I need to be now. I have my own private practice in Colorado Springs and I also work as a contractor up in Denver. ... As a private practice dietitian, I am a health care provider so I can meet with people through their health insurance. A lot of people don’t realize that they qualify for preventative health care and ... you can see a registered dietitian three times per year, and it is completely covered by health insurance. Most people have access; they just don’t know it.
What is your educational background?
I went to UCCS and got my Bachelor of Science in Health Care Science with an emphasis in nutrition. Then I went on to pursue my certification as a specialist in sports dietetics. I am a sports dietitian by trade. I work with a lot of athletes, but one of my big passions is helping people with losing weight. I love helping people find something that they’re passionate about that’s active. Nutrition can be so confusing because there is so much misinformation out there. Social media articles, people’s opinions, blogs — all of that can be so conflicting. The beautiful thing about nutrition is that it is a science. If you look at the cold, hard data, you can understand the nuances and miscommunications about nutrition. ... Helping people understand nutrition is the most important part of my job.
How has COVID impacted your business?
At first, it was terrifying. I was one of only a few people who did not get unemployment [benefits] up at my job in Denver. When they shut down, I wasn’t getting any of the referrals that the orthopedic surgeon usually refers me. Even though I could still see people virtually, I wasn’t. That kind of prompted me to get really creative with my private practice and dedicate my energy towards that sector of my life. I have been doing a ton of marketing and started writing blog posts about hot nutrition topics. Since then, I’ve had my busiest quarter ever. It’s actually really fun. With a virtual perspective on nutrition, you really don’t need to see someone in person — though some people prefer that one-on-one interaction, especially with the initial consult. For other people, they don’t have to leave their home, so I’m seeing a lot less cancellations due to weather or car difficulty. Also, I can see their kitchen and they can see mine, so there is a whole new level of communication through products, ingredients and label reading. In the long term, it really has helped my business. I enjoy working from home.
What is your philosophy on food?
I think the most important philosophy is that all foods fit. A lot of people get behind the idea of restriction and deprivation due to some type of diet that they’re on. But I think what most people don’t understand is that it’s not the food that’s the problem, it’s the ingredients — especially when it comes to inflammation. People avoid breads and desserts because they think these foods are bad, but in reality, it’s the ingredients that can be the problem. If you just change the ingredients, you can have any food. If you keep in mind portions, frequency and balance, all foods fit.
What are your thoughts on diet culture?
It can be tricky. Basically, there is a reason the word ‘die’ is in diet. It’s not meant to last. It’s really not. I really do try to take a neutral position when people come to me and they have something that they believe in and something that they want to try for themselves. I don’t want to discourage them from trying anything, as long as they know it’s going to be temporary. The problem with diets is that they lack individualization. I really do believe there should be 5 billion different diets for 5 billion different people. They should be tailored to each person and ever-changing. Diets aren’t meant to last. If you can build a nutrition plan or platform, that tends to be a more effective way to helping people not feel restricted and move towards their goals and success.
Do you have any advice to people struggling with their nutrition?
I think the best thing that you can do for yourself if you’re struggling with nutrition is get a second opinion — a credentialed professional who knows what they’re talking about. A lot of people I work with have the mentality that they want to do it on their own and I love that. People want to feel empowered by their decisions and choices with nutrition but it’s not something we learn in school. We’re taught food pyramid and basic stuff but we’re not taught on an individual basis.
What goals have you set for your business in 2021?
The future is virtual. It is much more convenient for people to meet with a dietitian from the other side of their telephone. I think the future of health care in general is going to be much more geared towards virtual platforms. For me, it’s about making sure people have the resources they need to have a successful virtual appointment. I want to master the technological process because that’s extremely important in today’s world.