Heather Caplan is an anti-diet, weight-inclusive registered dietitian with a virtual private practice. Her work pulls from the foundations of medial nutrition therapy, non-diet and intuitive eating principles, and weight-inclusive practices.
Heather also hosts a weekly podcast, RD Real Talk, talking with her fellow anti-diet weight-inclusive practitioners as a free option to learn more about non-diet and weight-inclusive practices.
You may have seen some of her work in national publications such as The Washington Post, Runner’s World, Outside Online, NBC News, EatingWell, and Women’s Running.
Check out her full interview below!
Tell us a little about yourself, how did you get started as a dietitian and what do you do today?
My career started in public and community health, as a WIC nutrition counselor. I enjoyed that job and learned a lot; it was my first experience with counseling, which I’ve now done in every job I’ve had since! That said, from day one, I had some entrepreneur vibes in my head. I started a blog and always had a “side gig” with writing, sports nutrition, and eventually seeing clients one on one. My last job was part of a small, scrappy and creative team at a health-related start-up. When that folded, I went full-time on my own in 2017 and that’s what I do today. I have a virtual private practice, my podcast (RD Real Talk), and I host a non-diet RD Supervision Group for fellow practitioners doing counseling in this space. I also founded Weight Inclusive Nutrition and Dietetics (WIND), which has a free Facebook community and I host at least two continuing education events per year through WIND. (Virtual for now! But hopefully in-person again soon.)
What is your mission as a dietitian?
The core of my work has always been to help folx explore their relationship to food, health, and exercise in a way that helps them figure out what “wellness” means to them. Now, I would add that my mission, as a dietitian who supports other dietitians, is to create spaces for us to learn non-diet, weight-inclusive practices and spaces to have conversations that help us grow as practitioners and humans.
What do you look for when choosing new products to buy or recommend to clients?
I’ll often recommend things I’ve tried and that I genuinely like and/or have found helpful. Next, I think about what makes sense for the client and their needs, preferences, and values. And as often as possible, I try to consider who is behind the brand, and how the brand/company shows up for issues that matter to my communities.
What is the value of working with brands to both you and your customers/clients/audience?
To be honest, I had a rocky relationship to the “brand partnership” aspect of owning a business for a long time. As a non-diet dietitian, these feel like tricky waters to navigate. But once I started hosting continuing education events, I realized how essential partnerships are to the process of creating accessible resources! And as I’m now in my fourth year of hosting a free podcast (that is not free to produce!), I value both and am so appreciative of brands who support this work and help make this resource possible, too. I’ve realized that this isn’t a black-or-white business thing; I’ve learned how to get creative to support brands and have them support my work, while staying aligned with non-diet values. It’s very doable! It takes a little extra creativity and honest conversations, but that’s true of a lot of things.
How did you start working with brands? (or what was your first brand partnership?)
I think one of my first brand partnerships was with 88 Acres; a dietitian I know well was on their team, and they were supportive of some early business ventures! They were also just getting some programs off the ground to connect with dietitians, and I was happy to help bridge that gap in any small way. I started with some social media campaigns, as many folx do. Then I branched into event sponsorship relationships, and podcast partnerships. That’s most of what I do now, since I’m not much of a “food poster” and definitely not a recipe developer! I’ve also done some freelance writing and consulting for brands who want to better understand non-diet work and messaging.
What are some of the more unique ways in which you’ve partnered with brands?
The primary ways I’ve partnered with brands are through podcast partnerships and event partnerships. I’ve had brands sponsor coffee meet-ups at big conferences for WIND, podcast episodes, a podcast panel that we hosted live at FNCE in 2019, and partner with us to provide snacks and/or meals for in-person WIND events (when those could happen!).
What advice do you have for other RDs who want to connect with brands?
Some things that have been true for me, when it comes to brand partnerships but also overall business relationships:
- Be patient and let them develop over time. Hardly any pitch was a “YES” from the beginning, but over time (a few years, for me) I’ve developed really solid and mutually beneficial relationships with a variety of companies that have been supportive of WIND and the podcast.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need and what works for your business. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing.
- Get creative with how you partner with brands! I didn’t reach out to brands or companies for a while because I wasn’t sure my “following” was big enough and I didn’t want to do recipe development. 🙂 But there are so many ways to partner with brands and companies, there’s a lot of room for creativity!
Do you have any advice for brands who want to connect with RDs?
Remember that not every RD wants to develop recipes, and RDs practice nutrition in a variety of ways.
Just for fun, what is your go-to healthy snack?
A few of my go-to satisfying snacks these days are yogurt and granola with chocolate chips and/or fruits, snack bars (easy on-the-go with kiddos!), and trail mix.