Interview by Anna Hudgins, nutrition student at Texas A&M University and intern at Nutrition Awareness.
This week the spotlight is on entrepreneur Toby Amidor MS, RD, CDN. Toby has over 15 years of experience in nutrition and has established herself as one of the Tri-State Area’s top experts in culinary nutrition, food safety and media. She trained as a clinical dietitian at New York University and has counseled patients for over 6 years in her private practice, Toby Amidor Nutrition. Toby is also author of the new book, The Greek Yogurt Kitchen, where she incorporates Greek yogurt into unexpected dishes, enhancing not only the nutritional value of the dish but the flavor as well. She has been featured as an expert on the health benefits of Greek yogurt in many recent TV and radio spots.
Toby, what do you enjoy most about being an RD?
I love to be able to spread reputable information about eating healthy. I also love the comradery and support from fellow RDs.
How did you become a blog contributor to Food Network’s Healthy Eats?
I was working at a start-up nutrition company in downtown NYC and the company was not doing well. During some business discussions, the CEO recommended my fellow RD Dana Angelo White and I to work on FoodNetwork.com new project called Healthy Eats blog. This 90-day project turned into a 9-year gig that I am proud to be a part of since the idea was born.
How do you remain up to date with current science-based research?
I don’t have time for leisure reading because I am always consumed with reading anything having to do with nutrition. I read the AND journal, Today’s Dietitian Magazine, and I’m subscribed to several science-based newsletters and emails. I also scour social media as many of my fellow RDs post hot topics and new research regularly.
Where do you find inspiration for your recipes and what is your family’s favorite meal you make at home?
My favorite family meal has been changing as my kids grow older and their tastes evolve. These days we love to make crepes from scratch and fill them with Greek yogurt and a variety of fruit like strawberries, raspberries and/or bananas.
What inspired you to write The Greek Yogurt Kitchen?
On the day my son was born, my mother brought me a bag of snacks including a white container with a full fat Greek yogurt—and it was love at first bite. I have been experimenting and using Greek yogurt in my cooking ever since. I wanted to showcase the versatility of this dairy delight that goes past breakfast and snacks.
What has been your greatest challenge in becoming an entrepreneur? Do you have any advice for someone who wants to start their own business?
My work hours are a challenge but also allow me the flexibility to do things I love with my kids and for myself. Being an entrepreneur means working endless hours, including holidays and weekends. I don’t mind because I love what I do. The flip side is that I can start my day once my kids go to school so I can cook breakfast for them and having a home office means that I am home most days when my kids get home from school. In order to complete all my work, however, I do work late hours. It takes time to find that balance.
What is the most frustrating thing about being in the nutrition profession?
The most frustrating thing is the misinformation communicated to the public that continues to fuel consumer confusion. It is tough to compete with popular bloggers, TV personalities, and other self-proclaimed nutrition experts who are not qualified to disseminate this type of information or make the claims they do.
My education at New York University’s Nutrition Education Department really helped mold my based nutrition knowledge. Since graduating when I was 24, my views on what we eat have evolved based on scientific studies, trips to farms and discussions with farmers around the country, working with famous chefs, and being a mom.
As a contributor to U.S News and World Report Eat + Run blog, what type of physical activity do you engage with regularly and how does that affect your food choices?
I play competitive tennis and am part of three leagues. I am the co-captain of my village team—we won the league championships last year! I am also part of several USTA leagues, again my team won the championship this past fall. Subsequently I was bumped up to the next level—so now I am getting my butt kicked!
What has been your favorite on the job experience?
I love giving public talks, doing television appearances and cooking demonstrations alongside famous chefs. I had the opportunity to work with Ellie Krieger, on Bobby Deen’s show Not My Mama’s Meals, and with Bobby Flay. I have also been to farms around the country and let me tell you that there’s nothing that tastes better than fresh picked strawberries. They literally went from field to my mouth!
Is there any advice you would give to someone who is thinking about becoming a dietitian?
1) Always be true to what you believe in. I love being a registered dietitian and feel strongly about which foods and companies I work with. Always be careful about the connections you make and the messages you are spreading.
2) If you want to take a certain path in the field of nutrition, then it is possible. Reach out to RDs in the field, many are more than happy to connect you with RDs in your area or help guide you to where you want to go. I am always happy to connect on social media with RD students and fellow RDs.
Thank you Toby for being a part of the Dietitian Spotlight Series!