P50 Exploring the Experiences of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) who Educate Through Cooking and Food Preparation


      Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) often provide guidance on preparing healthy meals. Although food science and culinary skills are addressed in coursework to become a RDN, those involved in nutrition education do not universally incorporate hands-on cooking in their practice. Cooking skills, knowledge and confidence have declined among the public, while rates of obesity and chronic disease are on the rise. RDNs can play a central role in teaching essential cooking skills and food-related knowledge. This calls for exploration on the perspectives and characteristics of RDNs drawn to culinary education. Few studies have investigated the personal experiences and viewpoints of RDNs involved in teaching the public how to cook.


      To explore the perspectives of RDNs who teach cooking and food preparation, to better understand their experiences learning to cook and teaching others. Cooking-related knowledge/skills perceived as lacking among the public and necessary to perform their role are compared with competencies outlined by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Food and Culinary Professionals (FCP) Dietetic Practice Group.

      Study Design, Setting and Participants

      The research design is cross-sectional and qualitative. Face-to-face semi-structured interviews are conducted remotely via Microsoft Teams. A convenience sample is recruited from community settings, including private practice, worksite wellness, supermarkets, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, and SNAP-Ed.


      Interviews are recorded, transcripts are coded, and recurring themes are summarized.


      Analysis of pilot data (n = 14) on experiences learning to cook indicate cooking at home with parents while growing up, food science coursework, and personal interest in cooking. Emerging themes mirrored several FCP competencies, including communication skills, knife skills, ingredient substitution, time management, meal planning and food safety.


      This pilot study examines the perspectives of RDNs who teach hands-on cooking, thereby providing insights on the competencies needed to teach others and best serve the public. Our findings merit research with a larger sample to further compare with FCP competencies, and potentially inform dietetics education programs preparing students for careers as RDNs.
      Funding University of Saint Joseph, Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) Grant.

      Appendix. Supplementary data