Saint Louis University

BLOG: Chef-Boy RD to be in Sports Nutrition

Author: Shawn Zell
Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Food is a powerful thing. It has such an emotional and psychological connection in everything that we do, we often take for it granted. I jokingly say, “Anyone can make food taste good. All you have to do is add enough salt, butter and cream until the end product is unhealthy enough to provide job security for the health care industry”. I have worked in many restaurants throughout the country and I have found myself wanting more from food than just taste. I discovered that I wanted to create and give people food that served a purpose, a functional benefit on their behalf, in their day to day lives! “Healthy Sexy Food” is what I would classify my kind of cuisine. Sexy, you say? Yes! I once had a grumpy little French chef correct me for saying “gravy” instead of “sauce”. “Shawn!”, he said, “We call it ‘sauce’, not ‘gravy’! Gravy sounds like your grandmother made it and that’s not sexy. Food is supposed to be sexy and arouse you!” I have never forgotten those words of wisdom.

Saint Louis University Dietetic Intern to be a Sports Nutritionist
Athletes Performance

On my journey to my dream career, my understanding of food has definitely taken me places in the nutrition world. I moved to Arizona to work with NFL combine athletes who were preparing for the draft, the German National Soccer team, the Chinese Olympic track and field team, and a wide array of MLB players. This incredible experience was all made possible because I had knowledge of food nutrition. Preparing meals, conducting assessments, and making meal builders for clients, all fall into the Nutrition and Dietetics spectrum. Through my move back to St. Louis, I was given an opportunity to prepare food for the 2011 World Series Champion Cardinals within the home of one of the players. I was even able to hold the World Series Trophy hours after they had won it. Again, because of my knowledge of food and nutrition, I was able to hold my own.

Saint Louis University Dietetic Intern to be a Sports Nutritionist
Shawn with the World Series Trophy

Recently, while in the Dietetic Internship at St. Louis University, I was able to check off another sports team in St. Louis. During a specialty week for Nutrition and Physical Performance Interns, we executed a “post workout feed” for the St. Louis Rams, where we highlighted fresh local produce. We spoke with the players about healthy grains, protein, pre and post workout nutrition, and healthy food choices. This knowledge is exactly what dietitians can bring to the table in the Sports Nutrition Industry. Nutrition is a growing field and there is a niche for everyone.

Saint Louis University Dietetic Intern to be a Sports Nutritionist
NPP Interns with SLU faculty at ST. Louis Rams "post workout feed"

The modern dietitian is no longer confined to a hospital or the critically ill sector of the population. Interest in health and wellness is growing and the collegiate and professional sports arenas are slowly starting to employ dietitians to head their feeding programs. Just think—as a dietitian, if you help a player or elite athlete modify their diet, they could potentially see a million dollar return. How is that for measurable success? Food is a part of life, and to say there are limits on a dietitian’s job is foolish. After all the word “food” can be found within the definition of nutrition. As dietitians, we must create our own opportunities and continue to push the envelope. There really is no telling where it can take us. As always, GO CARDS!

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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