Q&A with Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Danielle Kiser
Name: Danielle Kiser MS, RDN, CDN
Tell us about yourself: My name is Danielle! I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and Spinning Instructor. I have my master’s degree in nutrition. I moved to Glens Falls last year and instantly fell in love with this town. I work in a variety of community settings as a dietitian including a sports medicine office in Saratoga, a nursing home, I’m a wellness consultant for CDPHP (doing large presentations), and prior to Covid I was teaching Spinning classes at the YMCA. I love cooking, dogs, running, and spending time with my family.
Why did you choose nutrition as a career? I have always been into eating healthy and exercising. I played sports throughout high school and began running long distance in college. I struggled with understanding how to fuel myself properly - which many if not most adolescents do. I had negative body image thoughts at times and remember feeling very confused on what was truly healthy. I now dedicate my practice to helping others understand how to eat healthy but also enjoy life and find balance.
What's the best part about your job? The best part is helping others understand that nutrition isn’t “all or nothing”. It’s not that we shouldn’t ever eat cake, it’s just that we shouldn’t eat it all day every day. I prefer hands-on learning which has been harder to do during the pandemic. One of my most favorite things is leading a Grocery Tour! I walk around the store with a family and show them my top secret dietitian tricks. For instance how to pick out the best tasting produce or the cheapest protein sources. We talk about how to save money, how to create healthy meal ideas, and how to make nutritious food taste delicious.
What is your favorite food? Any "guilty pleasures”? I am not a picky eater by any means. I was known for being a little strange growing up when it came to food. At a very young age I liked practically all seafood, fruits, and vegetables. If I had to pick a favorite food it would probably be oatmeal though. I have eaten it almost every morning for the past 5 or so years. I do switch up the flavor and the items I add into it. Honestly, I really thought I would get sick of it by now.
My guilty pleasure is probably cinnamon buns… more specifically my homemade maple cinnamon buns! I’m not a big baker but these are an exception. I also don’t even view them as a “guilty pleasure” because I have learned not to associate food with guilt. I recognize it wouldn’t be healthy to eat them every single day, but every once in a while they fit into a healthy diet!
If you could give someone just one piece of nutrition advice, what would it be?
To NEVER follow a “diet”. Dieting is one of the most unhealthy things we can do to our bodies. The diet industry makes SO much money off of putting out plans and products that only do one thing.. Make people unhealthier (mentally and physically) and gain weight in the long term. It’s a genius business plan when you really think about it.
Instead of dieting I try to bring people back to the basics. Eat your fruits and vegetables, drink enough water, move your body! Don’t be fooled by “nutritionists” online either. Look for the credentials “Registered Dietitian”, “RD”, or “RDN”. These are experts in the field who went to school for this and can provide safe information.
Why do you feel nutrition is so important for everyone, especially kids?
I think it is MOST important for kids! I desperately wish I knew what I do now when I was growing up. The habits you learn and develop as a kid carry though all the way to adulthood. If fruit juice, white bread, and candy are staples in your diet when you are young it’s going to be hard to break that sweet tooth as you get older.
Additionally, your body is growing and developing at such a fast rate. We reach peak bone density in our 20’s which means our bones will be as dense and strong as they EVER will be! This is why it is so important to make sure you eat enough calcium, vitamin D, and protein as you are growing.
Do you have any opinions on any of the latest diet or wellness trends?
I’m sure you can tell I’m not a huge fan of trendy diets by now. There are some pretty crazy ones out there. The “Keto” diet is an extremely popular one right now. Basically it’s saying that you can have all of the fat (butter) and protein (bacon) you want but to strictly restrict carbs (aka fruits, vegetables, whole grains). This diet was actually created to treat epilepsy. If you do not have a seizure disorder, I would never recommend you to follow this.
It is especially not healthy for kids. It can lead to nutrient deficiencies, stunt your growth, and harm your heart health. So why do people do it??? The quick satisfaction of weight loss… which at first is in fact water weight. For every gram of carbs you store, you also store 3-4 grams of water. As soon as you start eating carbs again you gain all of the weight back (plus usually a little extra!). So skip the Keto diet and instead increase your fruits and veggies while decreasing foods like ice cream, cookies, and chips.
If you weren't a nutritionist what would you be?
This is a difficult question. I have been so sure for so long that this was my calling. I think if I wasn’t a dietitian I would still be in education. I could see myself as a college professor or some type of presenter. In high school I was terrified of public speaking and now it’s my passion. I was determined to get better at it because I was sick of getting uncomfortable. My upper body would become a giant red rash and my voice would crack. It was so embarrassing! I learned first hand that practice makes perfect. Plus it’s a huge feeling of accomplishment when you conquer a fear like that!
What does a typical day look like for you?
This question varies greatly from pre-covid and post-covid. Currently much of what I do is either at the nursing home or online. I wake up early and head to the nursing home. This involves screening residents for malnutrition, managing the kitchen, and working with the medical team to make sure our elderly patients are receiving the best care. I prescribe specific diets, supplements, and I’m in charge of tube feeding calculations.
When I leave the nursing home I usually either head home to start virtual consults or I head to a local grocer if I’m leading a Grocery Tour. Virtual consults are fun because people can do it from the comfort of their own homes. These patients can range anywhere from a young high school athlete aiming to run faster to older adults with diabetes trying to manage their weight. At night I finish up any charting I have leftover, go for a run, and enjoy relaxing and dinner with my family.
Knowing what you do about school lunches, what would you grab for yourself if you were in school?
I haven’t thought about this in a long time! I would definitely grab a piece of fruit like an apple, skim milk (aka calcium and vitamin D for my bones!), chicken patty (not the healthiest option ever but I remember that was my favorite school lunch day!!), and a salad if that was available to me. In high school I remember sometimes only getting salad at lunch thinking that was “healthy”. Then I would feel hungry all day. Now I know to add some protein and carbs to make it a satisfying meal.
I noticed that you just released an e-book! Congrats, that’s amazing! Tell us a little bit about it:
Yes! This was my very first book I have ever created so I am very excited. I actually attached a link to share with everyone at the youth center! The book includes snacks, soups/salads, entrees, and desserts. Most of the recipes are pretty simple (minus my cinnamon buns but trust me they are worth it!). The majority are also vegetarian and/or gluten free. Although I am not either of those things myself, I wanted to respect and accommodate those who are.
It’s funny to me that I did a recipe book because I am very much so a “wing it” type of cook. I can’t stand following exact recipes and love making random creations from the ingredient in my pantry and fridge. I think my next book is going to be something that involves “OK, here are 5-10 ingredients most people have on hand, and here are “x” amount of recipes you can make from those 5-10 ingredients!”
What is the best (maybe top five?)nutrition advice that you would give to our 5th-12th grade members?
Seriously, don’t put yourself on a diet! If you have questions about nutrition or being healthy talk to a Registered Dietitian like me :)
Eat your fruits and veggies (at least 5 servings a day!)
Drink water over fruit juice/soda/energy drinks etc!
Even if two people ate the exact same thing every single day and moved the same amount they would have completely different bodies
Be kind to yourself and your body - comparison is so easy today with social media. It can be very painful. Instead, focus on being the healthiest and happiest YOU.