Karen Wetherall


Karen Wetherall, MS, RDN, LDN

Director, Dietetic Internship, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Owner & President, Tranquil Eating Associates

How did you get started in your career?

In high school I was interested in human biology and cooking.  I was also interested in teaching. I went off to college to study nutrition, then I completed a coordinated Masters-Dietetic Internship program in Boston to become an RD. I was most interested in outpatient counseling, and I obtained a WIC job at Mass General Hospital’s (MGH) Chelsea Clinic. This expanded into counseling adults for diabetes and cardiovascular issues. I noticed that most of my clients needed to lose weight, and they had behavioral issues surrounding their eating. A few years later I obtained a job at Children’s Hospital of Boston at the Judge Baker Center which was an inpatient unit for eating disorders (ED). This was where I began to be educated about working with EDs. Although I enjoyed this experience, it was a part-time job, so when the opportunity arose for a full-time job, I went to the main campus of MGH to work in the cardiac rehab clinic. My focus with these clients was on weight management through a heart-healthy diet. However, I also joined the ED team at MGH. Every Friday the ED team would do a full day intake with a client, and the following Friday the team of MDs, therapists and RDs would discuss treatment recommendations. I also saw clients for outpatient counseling including clients with EDs. The inpatient setting at Judge Baker, and the comprehensive team approach at MGH were incredibly valuable experiences which expanded my confidence and training in working effectively with clients with eating EDs. 

Fourteen years into my career my husband moved his business to east Tennessee, and I scoped the area for my next position. Having had the experience of teaching nutrition at the Preventive Medicine course at Harvard Medical School, my husband encouraged me to check out teaching possibilities at the University of Tennessee (UT) in Knoxville. I felt fortunate to land a job as the Dietetic Internship Director. This job allowed me to join my two loves of nutrition and teaching. It has been such a pleasure to work with bright and energetic students/future RDNs. This was a part-time position, so I began a private consulting practice, Tranquil Eating Associates. There was a need in Knoxville for RDNs experienced with EDs, so my business has been steady with minimal marketing; primarily fed through relationships with therapists, MDs and other RDNs.

What advice would you give to someone new to the field?

Read books, attend seminars and workshops, join BHN (Behavioral Health Nutrition), participate on their listserv, and get at least one mentor which includes an RDN for professional supervision. 

You can learn more about Karen at www.tranquileat.com

Kayla Jessop


Kayla Jessop, RDN, CDN, CEDRD-S

Website: www.kaylajessopnutrition.com/

Instagram: @kaylajessopnutrition

What is your current position?

I am the owner of Kayla Jessop Nutrition. I primarily do individual nutrition therapy, meal support, supervision, and run RO DBT skill classes.  

How did you get started in your career?

I started working in outpatient counseling where I helped individuals using medical nutrition therapy. Occasionally, I saw people with disordered eating and eating disorders and found that I preferred working with this population. Watching the healing process of their relationship to food and body is a very rewarding experience. After I found my interest in eating disorders, I sought out BALANCE Eating Disorder Treatment Center where I eventually became the Lead Dietitian over the PHP, IOP, and outpatient levels of care. BALANCE also gave me the opportunity to learn and co-facilite Radically Open DBT skills class. From there, I launched my private practice and completed the intensive training in RO DBT. 

What advice would you give to someone new to the field?

Seek out supervision! I am very grateful for the supervision I received, as it has not only helped me therapeutically, it has greatly impacted the well-being of my clients. Supervision has shaped me to the dietitian I am today. Thank you Jessica Setnick for being my fearless leader and supervisor!

Michelle Lelwica


Dr. Lelwica is Professor of Religion at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, where she teaches courses on the intersection of religion, gender, culture, and the body. She did her graduate work at Harvard Divinity School, where she received a Masters of Theological Studies in Christianity and Culture (1989) and a Doctorate of Theology in Religion Gender and Culture (1996). She is the author of Shameful Bodies: Religion and the Culture of Physical Improvement (Bloomsbury, 2017), The Religion of Thinness: Satisfying the Spiritual Hungers behind Women’s Obsession with Food and Weight (Gürze Press, 2009), and Starving for Salvation: The Spiritual Dimensions of Eating Problems among American Girls and Women (Oxford University Press, 1999), as well as scholarly articles, popular blogs, and podcast interviews that explore women’s conflicted relationships with their bodies. She has also published articles and taught courses that focus on mindfulness practice and social justice. 

How did you get started in your career?

I started studying the religious and spiritual dimensions of eating disorders and related problems as a graduate student of religion at Harvard Divinity School. I was deeply disturbed to discover the negative attitudes towards female bodies that are prevalent in traditional Christian theology, and I began to recognize the parallels between the patriarchal aspects of this tradition and the images, myths, rituals, beliefs, and morality surrounding contemporary women’s pursuit of thinness. This recognition led to the writing of my dissertation on the religious dimensions of eating and body image problems, which became my first book (Starving for Salvation). My second book, (The Religion of Thinness) challenges American culture’s devotion to female thinness and is written for a broader (i.e., non-academic) audience. My most recent book, Shameful Bodies: Religion and the Culture of Physical Improvement, builds on my previous work on eating and body images problems to analyze a wider range of issues that often produce body shame, including (dis)ability, chronic pain and illness, and aging, as well as weight.

What advice do you have for someone new to the field? 

Stay open to a complex and integrative perspective on body image and eating problems—one that explores their spiritual dimensions and that thinks critically about the cultural underpinnings of these problems. This openness will foster an understanding of eating disorders as responses to human suffering that tragically create more suffering. Such an understanding fosters the compassion that is necessary for the process of healing. I urge new professionals in the field of eating disorders to investigate the spiritual needs that obsessions with food and weight thinly veil, and I would encourage them to define “spiritual needs” very broadly (i.e., in non-sectarian terms), including the need for a sense of purpose, love, inspiration, courage, community, agency, and peace.   

Erica Drewry


Erica Drewry, CEDRD, RDN, LD

Website: www.alignednutrition.com

Instagram: @alignednutrition

Facebook: @alignednutrition

How did you get started in your career?

I always liked science and I loved the idea of working with people. I started out majoring in pharmacy and quickly realized that I wanted to help people more preventatively. Once I began studying nutrition, I became obsessed with being thin and learning the “perfect” way to eat. I used nutrition information as a weapon to try and “whip myself into shape.” I wasn’t willing to go into practice for fear of infecting others with my rigid and unrealistic standards. 

Fortunately, I was able to work with a dietitian and therapist which transformed how I view nutritional science.  I couldn’t believe how much psychology was involved in changing my eating habits and self-management. 

From there, I had a clinical job and some earlier entrepreneurial stints. Gaining clinical experience was invaluable to me and exposed me to eating disorders right away. I entered private practice in 2011 and haven’t looked back. Over the years, I’ve honed my niche to end up where I am today. 

What is your typical day?

Many people think they want to go into private practice while being unsure what that actually looks like. Do you work typical 9-5 hours? Do you take naps at 2 pm on a Thursday? The answer is whatever you want it to be. Consider what kind of boss you are to yourself. 

It’s important to develop systems and have a job description for yourself just like you would at a traditional job. It’s a good idea to batch your tasks and have set office hours. I resisted this structure for years (that’s why I left the hospital job – freedom!). But the truth is, you can easily work too much or completely ineffectively if you don’t develop systems and refine your tasks. You are the intake coordinator, dietitian, marketer, biller, collection agency, networker, CEO, etc. Which leads me to delegation – it’s helpful to hire professionals into your business as you grow. If you are in sessions for 6 hours and someone new reaches out to you for help, it might be nice to have someone answer/return their phone call?

In a typical day, I consider structuring my schedule, the roles I’m performing that day, developing systems for things I do more than once, and now hiring out tasks I don’t enjoy or do as well as someone else. 

What advice do you have for future nutrition professionals?

When I first started, I had no idea what supervision was. It is essentially hiring a more seasoned RD to advise you, support you, and help you learn how you show up in practice. Beyond helping you with a tough case, a good supervisor can share how to manage the emotional labor of this work and deal with your own feelings about who or what work you are doing. I recommend this to everyone whether it’s required or not. Supervision helped me not feel alone and supercharged my professional expertise and philosophy.

Learning about yourself and how to take care of yourself is essential. This goes beyond getting your nails done or taking a weekend away but being able to check in with yourself on a regular basis and meet your needs. Those needs might be rest, time away from work, making a difficult phone call, a tough decision in business, creating a policy with yourself, focusing on a specific type of client, or seeking support from a therapist. 

Sarah Gleason


Sarah Gleason, RD, LD, CEDRD

Website: SarahTheDietitian.com

What is your current position? 

I am my own boss.  I have had a private practice for 10 years and work exclusively with people who have eating disorders.

How did you get started in your career? 

Just after graduation I just wanted a job.  For five years I did assorted work in hosptials; working on the ENT floor, Diabetes Self Management Training, Med/Surg floor etc.  I worked in a gym as their dietitian. I also worked in a nursing home as the food service administrator. None of those jobs fit me or my personality. I like to sit down and chat with clients.  It was quite difficult to do that right after a patient had a CABGx4! I moved to Tucson in 1999 and quickly found a job at Sierra Tucson a psychiatric rehab hospital, there were are about 10 beds dedicated to people with eating disorders diagnosis.  I fell in love with the job immediately. It was hard.  I had a very steep learning curve. I had to ask many questions.  But, it just felt right and I haven’t looked back since then.  Over the last 20 years I have worked in residential, either as a full-time RD or PRN, and I started my own office. In these last 10 years I dove head first into volunteering for local and national organizations which has been time consuming and such a learning experience. 

What advice would you give to someone new to the field? 

  1. Get involved. Volunteer for local or national organizations that speak to you. The more people you meet the better your connections to getting your dream job.
  2. You will likely have more than one job that doesn’t suit your dreams.  That is what I hope for you. Those are the jobs where you will learn about yourself, your tenacity, your spirit. You will learn about you.
  3. When at a conference, ask a question to the speaker, even if there are 250 people in the room. Start it with “Hi, I am (fill in your name) from (city, state).” You will stand out from the crowd.
  4. Get a supervisor if you are working with or want to work with clients who have eating disorders.

Casey Bonano


Casey Bonano RD, LD, CEDRD

Practice Website: wwww.dallasnutritionalcounseling.com

Ebook Website: www.thefoodfreedomguide.com 

Instagram: @dallasnutritionalcounseling

Twitter: @caseybonanord

Facebook: @caseybonanodietitian

What is your current position?

I am the sole owner of a private practice in Dallas, Texas called Dallas Nutritional Counseling where I provide outpatient services to those struggling with eating disorders and disordered eating. 

How did you get started in your career?

For as long as I can remember I knew what I wanted to do and it had nothing to do with nutrition. I entered college with a completely different major and I quickly because disinterested and restless. I browsed the different colleges and available majors. I knew I wanted to do something in the sciences, most likely something within healthcare, but I had no idea what. That is when I stumbled across nutrition and the idea of becoming a Registered Dietitian, which I knew nothing about. I talked to the head of the department, and decided to change my major second semester sophomore year. I began my coursework, applied to the coordinated program, and was accepted. During my internship I hated just about every rotation. I was wondering if I had made a terrible mistake, and I was questioning whether or not I really wanted to be a dietitian. Then I interned with a private practice dietitian specializing in eating disorders, Intuitive Eating, and Health at Every Size. Over the couple of months of my last rotation, everything became clear. This was exactly what I wanted to do. After graduation I spent a couple years in clinical dietetics, but I knew my passion was working with eating disorders. I began working part time, nights and weekends, at a residential eating disorder treatment center. I eventually left clinical dietetics to work full time for the eating disorder treatment center. After a couple of years, I transitioned to another treatment center where I was working 30 hours a week and officially opened my own private practice. After several years of doing both, I left higher levels of care to focus solely on private practice and outpatient care. 

What advice would you give to someone new to the field?

If you are trying to get into the field, but continue to find road blocks due to lack of experience, try to get experience in non-employment avenues. Reach out to local eating disorder dietitians and see if they have any part-time, volunteer, or shadowing opportunities. Become a member of the local and/or national eating disorder organizations such as IFEDD (international federation of eating disorder dietitians) and iaedp (international association of eating disorder professionals) and make connections with those currently in the field. Let everyone who will listen know that you are looking to get into the field. Paid experience is not the only experience of value. If you are new to the field, learn as much as you can and never assume you know enough about the treatment of eating disorders. Attend any and every educational opportunity about eating disorders even if it is not specifically geared towards dietitians. Make sure you are receiving adequate supervision and if you are not seek it out from a Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian Supervisor. 

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