Interview with RD Entrepreneur Allison Little
Allison Little is a registered dietitian (RD) in Kingston, ON starting her own private practice. Being a fellow RD entrepreneur, Ryan invited Allison to be interviewed for the blog to share her experience finding her niche in dietetics and turning her passion into a business. Allison is the first RD I have interviewed and it was such a pleasure meeting her and learning about her journey, as she was once a nutrition student like myself. It's great to meet successful and passionate RDs like Ryan and Allison who inspire me and allow me to gain insight into the many opportunities there are for dietitians in private practice.
How would you describe what you do as a private practice RD?
I help moms feed their kids with confidence, from starting solids with baby led weaning, and I provide practical parenting and mealtime solutions for moms of picky eaters.
Who inspired you to become a RD?
My mom inspired me to pursue a career as a dietitian. Healthy eating, making home cooked meals for our family and cooking together was always very important to her. Now, as a dietitian and a mom of two kids, these things are very important to me.
What has been your career path as a RD?
I started my career as a community health dietitian at West Elgin Community Health Centre in 2003 then juggled three casual and part time positions as a clinical dietitian at Trillium Health Centre, a public health dietitian at Peel Public Health and a community dietitian at Four Villages Community Health Centre in Toronto. After having my first son and working as a full time dietitian at Peel Public Health we moved to Kingston where I continued on as a public health dietitian at KFL&A Public Health. Since 2013 I have worked full time at a family health team in Kingston and, in addition, have recently started my own business, Allison Little Nutrition, as a private practice dietitian.
What inspired you to work in the area of picky eating?
I have a picky eater myself, my 8-year old, so I know first-hand the struggles and stress that moms go through when their kids are picky eaters. I also know that there are lots of moms struggling to help their kids be less picky eaters through the referrals I receive and what I hear through social media. I know that some moms of picky eaters may not have access to a dietitian so I really wanted to offer a service that would bridge that gap.
What are some of the biggest challenges to building your private practice?
The biggest one would be finding the time to build my practice while working full-time and raising a family for sure, and also figuring out everything there is to know about starting a business, all the decisions to make and which business tools to use. It can be very overwhelming!
What is it about working with moms of picky eaters that has made it your passion?
I love working with motivated people and I find that many moms are super motivated and really want to do whatever they can to help their kids eat well. As a dietitian and mom of a picky eater myself, I've learned how to teach kids to be less picky and eat better overall. I want other moms to know that mealtimes don’t have to be a battle, such as kids refusing or spitting out foods, and they don’t have to feel like they need to be a short-order cook for their kids at meal times. Seeing moms that feel relieved after they’ve made some positive changes to their kids' mealtime routines and patterns is really rewarding.
Are there any people in your life that have helped you to build your private practice?
My family for sure, my husband has always been so supportive and my kids understand that I'm doing something new. From helping me design my business cards to hosting and being involved in my brand story session photoshoot, my family has been so amazing. And my photographer, Lyn Ismael-Bennett, helped to translate my personal brand into images so I can share who I am, what I offer and what I stand for. I also work with two incredible dietitian coaches, Orly Wachter and Stephanie Clairmont. Orly has helped me become clear on my niche, and how to grow my business, and I’m taking Stephanie’s Create Online Courses Program to help me develop an online course on picky eating. I’m also a member of Jessica Coll’s Baby Led Weaning Network for RDs which has supported me in teaching my baby led weaning workshops to parents in Kingston.
What are some things people don't realize about picky eating?
I find a lot of parents of picky eaters do a lot of pressuring to get their kids to eat, say for example, their veggies. Pressuring can show up in different ways like bribing kids with dessert if they eat their veggies or pretending a fork full of carrots is an airplane. By dropping the pressure both parents and kids may find meal times to be so much more relaxing.
What is a good first step to helping a picky eater?
Work on taking the pressure away at meal times. Also take the focus off what your kids are eating or not eating during mealtimes and talk about other things, like their favourite toy or who's coming to their birthday. Not focusing on the meal so much will help kids be more relaxed and they may be more open to trying new foods.
Is there someone in your life that inspires you to work toward your goals?
Both of my boys. They are my WHY.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice when you were a student aspiring to become a dietitian, what would you want to say?
Be open to different areas in dietetics and if you do want to go into private practice, seek out the expertise of dietitian entrepreneurs that coach RDs in this area. There is so much to learn and I would definitely say don't do it alone. I never thought that I would have my own private practice but here I am!
What is your favourite food?
Perogies! My grandmother taught me and my boys how to make them. We all love them in my family, except my youngest, but he loves rolling the dough and pinching them!
To learn more about Allison check out her website: allisonlittlenutrition.com