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Meet the Dietitian

Introduction

Emily Conyers is a registered dietitian and nutritionist (RDN) currently living in Jacksonville, Florida. She is originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but spent most of her life in Oviedo, Florida with her parents and younger brother. Emily first attended college at The University of Central Florida (UCF) and obtained a bachelor’s in psychology. Emily then went on to graduate from the University of North Florida (UNF) with bachelor’s and master's degrees in nutrition/dietetics.
 
Emily specializes in weight management (loss or gain), nutrition for chronic kidney disease (CKD), and optimizing body composition and strength for weightlifters.

Early Life and Education

From a very young age, Emily was interested in all aspects of nature. She had a love for animals, flowers, herbs, geology, rivers, and lakes. She started a “Nature Club” at the age of seven and its main purpose was to feed the animals living in the half acre backyard. She had an herb garden and would read books all about their medicinal properties.

Image by Jonnelle Yankovich

She liked to grow pretty flowers such as marigolds and sunflowers, had a rock collection, and even housed a pet stag beetle in the back of a toy truck. She would also go bird watching in the backyard and write down little notes so that she could try to find the birds in the books her grandma gave her.

After moving from Wisconsin to Florida, her love for nature persisted, but she also became very interested in nutrition and would use a little notebook to jot down what she ate trying to closely follow the food pyramid. She loved to be physically active participating in softball and lacrosse as well as neighborhood games such as capture the flag, kickball, and manhunt. Emily found it difficult moving from Wisconsin to Florida at the age of 10. She was bullied for her accent, clothes, weight, you name it. No matter how much adversity she faced, she always persevered and strived to do her absolute best in academics, music, and sports.


After high school, Emily decided to pursue psychology at the University of Central Florida (UCF). She worked as a sampling specialist and deli team member at Super Target while attending college. Though she found psychology fascinating, she was struggling to find a fulfilling career path. During her junior year, she decided to do some soul searching. She remembered during her freshman year she was told that she had pre-cancerous cells and that the only way to prevent developing cancer in the future would be to eat a nutritious diet and exercise regularly. After making changes to her diet and working out at the gym regularly, a year later she was told the pre-cancerous cells were gone. She thought to herself – “What if I could help others prevent chronic diseases in their future too?”


She remembered how fascinating she found nutrition as a young child and even as a teenager. She also realized how well her education in psychology would complement a career in nutrition as many of the obstacles people face with eating are mental and behavioral. She began looking into the career path to becoming a nutritionist. She found that in order to become a registered dietitian/nutritionist, she would need to get a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program. She began taking prerequisites at UCF that she could use towards a bachelor’s in nutrition and dietetics. After graduating from UCF with her bachelor’s in psychology, she decided to move to Jacksonville, FL to pursue a bachelor’s in nutrition/dietetics at the University of North Florida (UNF).


Emily worked as a dietetic technician at Mayo Clinic and fitness room attendant at Deerwood Country Club while working on her second degree. She completed her second bachelor’s in 16 months and was then accepted to the highly competitive master’s degree program combined with a 1200-hour supervised practice dietetic internship at UNF. She completed her food service management rotation at UF Health Jacksonville, her clinical rotation at Baptist Downtown Jacksonville, and her community rotation at the Jacksonville Senior Centers and WIC. She also completed specialty rotations with the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars, American Diabetes Association Pediatric Diabetes Camp, the St. Vincent’s Mobile Health Unit for elementary students, Mayo Clinic (inpatient, outpatient malnutrition/nutrition support, and outpatient dialysis), and Life Care Center Jacksonville (short- and long-term care).


Emily presented her graduate school professional seminar to the First Coast Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and UNF students regarding the topic: L-arginine as an Ergogenic Aid. Emily was also a contributor on the 2017 publication, “The Role of Protein in Regulation of Food Intake, Satiety, Body Weight, and Body Composition” in the Journal of Nutritional Health and Food Engineering. Emily received second place in her graduate student symposium literature review regarding omega-3 fatty acids and their efficacy in the treatment of depression.

Image by Hush Naidoo Jade Photography

Professional Experience

Emily began her career working in an inpatient hospital. Emily would assess, educate, and monitor patients with a wide variety of conditions including, but not limited to, congestive heart failure, diabetes, kidney disease, gastrointestinal disorders, eating disorders, overweight/obesity, bariatrics, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), dementia, swallowing disorders, malnutrition, pressure ulcers and wound healing, orthopedic surgery recovery, and tube feeding and parenteral nutrition. Emily covered the ICU, PCU, Med/Surg floors, Neurology, Labor and Delivery, Orthopedic Recovery, and the Skilled Nursing Unit.

While Emily found this experience to be extremely valuable, she found that it was very difficult to help patients produce a significant, long-lasting change in their lives in this acute setting. Emily wanted to be able to work with people on a more long-term basis as behavior and habit changes require continuous follow up, support, and accountability.


Emily meets with her clients via telehealth on a weekly or biweekly basis but also communicates with them between sessions via text and email. She is also able to meet with clients that live in Jacksonville for an in-person grocery store tour. She takes the approach of letting clients take her on their typical grocery trip but then makes suggestions on how to make better choices and decipher food/nutrition labels. 


Emily recognizes that optimal health is achieved from multiple aspects, not solely improved nutrition. Emily has her clients also focus on optimizing sleep, stress management, mental health, and fitness. She assesses clients’ current diet and lifestyle and collaborates with them on a plan that will get them to their ultimate goals. Emily analyzes her clients’ current dietary patterns and assists them in making modifications that won’t make them feel super restricted and deprived. 


Each week Emily has clients focus on 1-3 tasks that will get them closer to their end goals. Emily provides the tools and resources to facilitate nutrition changes, but also provides the encouragement and accountability factor that is key to producing a lifelong change. Most people know what healthy eating entails, but Emily helps clients to actually facilitate behavior change. Emily’s clients have access to a portal with personalized meal plans and recipes based on their specific macro and micronutrient needs. They are also able to track their food intake utilizing the same portal.
Emily analyzes lab work, food and medication interactions, and supplements. Emily recognizes that many chronic conditions stem from chronic inflammation which is why she also offers omega-3 lab testing to assess the adequacy of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet (known to affect inflammation). 

Work with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Emily is particularly passionate about working with clients with CKD because she has physically witnessed the power that nutrition has over slowing the progression of the disease. While working in the hospital and completing internship rotations at a dialysis clinic, Emily heard from countless patients how they wished they had listened to their healthcare staff about changing their diet. Changing one’s diet can be the difference between hours and hours of dialysis each week and living a healthy, fulfilling life.

Image by julien Tromeur

The diet for CKD is NOT one size fits all. Google will have people thinking that they can’t eat anything anymore which causes people significant mental distress. Emily is here to sort out what specifically applies to them by analyzing lab work.


Emily has helped clients with glomerular filtration rates (eGFR) in the teens jump back into the twenties and forties jump back into the fifties. Emily has helped clients significantly lower their cholesterol and triglycerides, blood sugar and hemoglobin A1C, and blood pressure. She has also helped clients discover undiagnosed nutrient deficiencies and/or insufficiencies. It is truly rewarding for her to see clients translate nutritional science into real life tangible results. 

Image by Dom Fou

Teaching Experience

Emily is an online adjunct professor at Florida State College at Jacksonville teaching human nutrition. Most of her students aspire to attend nursing school, so Emily instills the importance that evidence-based nutrition information plays in overall health. Emily emphasizes the importance of preventative care:

 

“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”

– Hippocrates

Nutrition Philosophy and Approach

Emily’s philosophy is “every food fits” and personalizes each nutrition plan to the individual. Emily helps individuals optimize their nutrition without feeling restricted so they can get stronger and gain confidence in their eating habits. Emily helps her clients to establish a realistic lifestyle change, not a temporary diet that will ultimately fail in the long run.  

Image by Tatev Arsh
Image by Andrew S

Hobbies and Interests

In her spare time, Emily enjoys working out at TitanUp Fitness (weightlifting and HIIT), taking figure skating lessons, playing kickball, dancing, bike riding, boating, cheering on her favorite team (The Green Bay Packers), traveling, attending educational nutrition conferences and seminars (especially FNCE!), supporting animal charities, watching comedy, true crime, and healthcare shows, and spending time with her family, friends, and pet cats.

If Emily won the lottery, one of the first things she would want to do is open a no-kill animal shelter. Emily recognizes that optimizing nutrition, staying active, spending time with loved ones, laughing, and lifelong learning are all essential for optimal health and happiness. 

Professional Achievements and Recognition

Emily has won awards such as the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) Star Ambassador, the Above and Beyond award, and the Outstanding Service award. 

As a CAHPS Star Ambassador, she was recognized for being an employee who demonstrates a commitment to service, managing complex member issues with compassion, and showing exceptional attention to her everyday responsibility to improve member experience.

Image by Wan San Yip

Emily won the Above and Beyond award for going out of her way to help a patient that needed a specialized tube feeding formula that insurance wasn’t going to cover. She worked with the formula company and hospital leadership to get the formula approved for the patient during their stay.


The Outstanding Service Award was given to Emily for providing dietitian services at the hospital during Hurricane Matthew and taking care of hospital employees’ pets. 


Emily has given back to the University of North Florida and former professors by presenting to undergraduate students about the nutrition care process and nutrition support calculations. Emily has also presented on local Jacksonville news segments about new year’s resolutions and different types of milk. Emily has also presented to senior citizens about various nutrition topics including fad diets and diabetes prevention. 

Image by Andrew Tanglao

Future Goals and Aspirations

Emily’s goal is to continue helping more and more clients change their lives for the better. Optimal health is priceless. To witness a client go from hopeless to thriving truly makes Emily feel fulfilled. Helping a client avoid dialysis is an indescribable feeling.

Emily plans to work with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) on national dietitian licensure so that clients can work with whichever dietitian they would like regardless of the state that they live in. 

Emily also plans to continue to work with the Florida Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (FAND) on increasing access to nutrition care for people across Florida. Health insurance companies in Florida have put a hold on accepting dietitian providers into their networks for over a decade which has prevented Floridians from utilizing their preventative care benefits.


Emily wholeheartedly believes in evidence-based practice. She will continue to stay up to date on the latest nutritional science by attending nutrition conferences and seminars and reading peer reviewed literature. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, as a seasoned registered dietitian/nutritionist, Emily helps individuals optimize their nutrition without feeling restricted so they can get stronger and gain confidence in their eating habits. Emily helps her clients “regain the sparkle” in their eyes by providing the tools and resources, education, and guidance and support.


Emily empowers her clients to lose weight and actually keep it off, optimize body composition and increase strength, and improve lab work so that they can live life the way they envision it. 


Know your strength, regain your sparkle.

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