This month we had the fortune of interviewing Jackie Silver as our featured RD. Although she is new to the dietitian world (a recent graduate), she is ready to make some major impact. Get to know Jackie below!
Tell us a little about yourself, how did you get started as a dietitian and what do you do today?
I have been a dietitian for just over a year now so I am quite new to the profession! I graduated from Ryerson University in Toronto with a Masters of Health Science in Nutrition Communication which included a dietetic internship.
I finished my last internship placement 3 weeks before the pandemic started! I’ve always wanted to run my own business but I assumed I’d start my career off as an employee and entrepreneurship would happen down the road. But then the pandemic hit and I had the entrepreneurial itch so I decided to take a risk and start my business.
I launched my business, Jackie Silver Nutrition, in December 2020 where I work with clients 1:1 in my virtual private practice and I do consulting work for organizations and brands. I also run my blog where I post recipes and educational posts tailored to my niche audience of people with disabilities.
What is your mission as a dietitian?
My mission is to empower people with disabilities to live healthier lifestyles, manage their conditions, and prevent long-term complications through nutrition. As a wheelchair user myself, this is something I am very passionate about.
Over the past several years, I barely saw any nutrition or health-related social media content tailored to disabled people, so I am on a mission to fill that gap myself through my Instagram page, @accessiblewellness, blog, and private practice.
What do you look for when choosing new products to buy or recommend?
I look for products that are affordable, nutritious (whether that be high in fiber, protein, or calcium) for the health needs of people with disabilities, easy grab-and-go options, or helpful for meal prepping.
What is the value of working with brands to both you and your clients and audience?
There is great potential for brands to market their products to people with disabilities, which is a hugely untapped market. In the US, 1 in 4 (26%) people have some kind of a disability and they are at higher risk for chronic diseases.
In the US, disabled people have about $544 billion in disposable income which means they are looking for products to purchase yet they are being ignored by mainstream businesses. This presents a huge opportunity for health and wellness brands to market their products to over 80 million new people who are looking for products that will benefit their needs!
What was your first brand partnership?
My first brand partnership was with a supplement company where I wrote two blog posts for their website and created 6 Instagram reels for their account. It’s a funny story how this came to be – my dad sent me an article about the company’s CEO. I then reached out on LinkedIn and we got chatting which led to a zoom meeting and then a partnership!
What are some of the more unique ways in which you’ve partnered or would like to partner with brands?
I am still newer to the world of working with brands but I would love to partner with brands by creating recipes, blog posts, or social media content talking about why their products are beneficial to the health needs of people with disabilities.
This could mean creating content for a protein bar or protein powder company about the role protein plays in wound healing (many disabled people are at increased risk for pressure wounds) or communicating the benefits of calcium-fortified non-dairy beverages in supporting bone health (disabled people are at higher risk for osteoporosis).
I’d also love to support brands in creating a marketing strategy that is inclusive to people with disabilities or how to make their products more accessible for this community.
How can brands start being more inclusive to the disability population?
Brands can start by including images of people with a variety of disabilities in their social media content, ads, and website. When was the last time you saw a wheelchair user in a food ad? Probably never.
When disabled people see images of people who look similar to them in brand’s ads, it makes them feel seen and included.
What types of foods or brands benefit your clientele the most?
The types of brands or foods that benefit my audience the most are ones that are affordable and high in fibre, protein, or calcium. Disabled people are at higher risk for pressure wounds and protein plays a big role in the wound healing process. They are also at higher risk for osteoporosis from spending more time sitting so products fortified with calcium and/or vitamin D are excellent for them. Further, digestive issues are a big concern in this population so high fibre products are key in helping regulate bowel movements.
Products such as pre-made healthy snacks, healthy prepared meals or frozen meals are ideal for disabled people because cooking may take up more time and energy so having healthy options available is very helpful.
Any products that support meal prep are crucial as well (such as meal prep containers, cooking ware, frozen fruits and vegetables, etc). My clientele may be living with chronic pain or fatigue and cooking takes up more energy. When people have chronic pain, the last thing they want to do is cook. I always recommend that my clients prep healthy meals and snacks on days when they feel their best and store them in the freezer to have on hand for the days they don’t have the energy to cook. That way they will have healthy items they can heat up in a pinch and won’t need to rely as much on take out or less nutritious options.
Cooking or eating equipment that supports folks with limited hand function or dysphagia are highly beneficial. Insulated water bottles or mugs that have straws or handles are great for people with weakness in their hands or arms who have difficulty holding a mug without a handles.
Just for fun, what is your favorite kitchen tool?
My blender – I use it to make smoothies, protein nice cream, and sauces all the time.