Brittaney Berendsen RD, PHEc, began her professional education at Brescia University College at Western University in London Ontario where she graduated with a BSc in Nutrition. She then went on to complete a Dietetic Internship at Grand River Hospital in Kitchener Ontario. After earning her RD Designation, Brittaney is now working as an Administrative Dietitian in the Nutrition Services Department at the University Health Network (UHN) in Toronto Ontario.
Having worked in Healthcare Foodservice for five years prior to beginning her role as an Administrative RD, Brittaney has always enjoyed the organizational aspects of Nutrition Services and is dedicated to improving food in healthcare. Brittaney is also a self-proclaimed foodie and amateur food stylist. She loves to express her creativity in the kitchen through recipe development and is extremely passionate about cooking delicious food that nourishes.
Tell us something interesting about yourself!
I am an avid gardener and a proud plant mom! Since a young age I have been interested in food and where our food comes from. My mother grew up on a dairy farm so she made sure to educate me on how food was produced and how it made its way to the grocery store. As a kid, I developed a green thumb, growing vegetables and other plants in my backyard under my mother’s guidance.
I’ve continued with my green thumb hobby over the years and am now a bit of a plant fanatic haha. I mainly collect tropical plants and succulents, including a rapidly growing banana tree. I was concerned about not being able to garden when I moved to the concrete jungle that is downtown Toronto but I was able to join an urban gardening committee that produces herbs and vegetables for locals and I also volunteer at some of the municipal gardens.
How long have you been an OHEA member and why did you decide to join?
Shortly after completing my undergraduate degree, I joined the OHEA in the fall of 2016. After taking the human ecology philosophy course taught by fellow PHEc and RD, Dr. June Matthews I knew that becoming an OHEA member and acquiring the PHEc designation was something that I wanted to pursue.
I have always felt close to the Home Economics field (despite not knowing its formal name until learning it in university) as cooking and baking with my mother and grandmother is what initially sparked my interest in food. Both of these influential women in my life valued food skills and believed in the importance of having basic skills for everyday life. Once I learned more about the OHEA I really appreciated how the association represented and promoted skill development for the everyday elements of life and further realized the impact that they have on health and wellbeing.
How do you feel that being an OHEA member and a PHEc has benefited your professional life and career?
Being a PHEc has opened me up to ideas and opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise considered. I am interested in exploring an entrepreneurial route with my professional skillset and just seeing what other PHEc’s have been able to accomplish or have been involved in is really inspiring.
How does being a PHEc tie into your everyday life?
A large part of my role as a Dietitian in Nutrition Services is reviewing and testing food items. I regularly conduct nutritional analysis of products and determine their appropriateness for clinical conditions. Moreover, I frequently share my analysis and results with manufactures in order to provide feedback and advocate for healthcare product improvements.
I also am dedicated to healthy recipe development, credible nutrition information dissemination and promotion of food skills through social media. While it is not a formal role, I am passionate about advocating for Dietitians as the trusted nutrition experts.
Where do you see the profession going in the next 5-10 years?
The present and incoming generations are notably lacking basic skills for everyday life and are increasingly reliant on convenience items. Not surprisingly, this is resulting in a number of consequences including debt, chronic disease etc. With the problems currently facing the population, I can only expect that the profession will continue to grow and evolve. Given that the Home Economics profession focuses on upstream approaches to systemic/chronic issues and on teaching practical skills as opposed to just theories, I think the diverse skillsets of PHEc’s will be imperative when formulating solutions for lasting change.
What advice do you have for new, or aspiring PHEcs?
Take every opportunity that presents itself, especially if it means stepping way out of your comfort zone. Even if you don’t expect to like it, or may think you won’t get much out of it, I promise that you will learn something whether it be about the experience or yourself.