published Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Dietician works people toward better eating habits

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    Registered dietitian Indi Maharaj prepares roast beef and asparagus rollups at the Chattanooga Lifestyle Center.
    Staff Photo by Tim Barber

* Name: Indi Maharaj

* Title: Registered dietician

* Location: Erlanger Hospital

* First job: Middle school science teacher in Trinidad

* Best part of the job: "My favorite part is seeing people improve their health and lifestyle from following some instructions that I give them, and see them improve the quality of their life."

* Worst part of the job: Maharaj said the most challenging part of her job is dealing with resistance to make a change. "Sometimes I give (patients) a healthy diet and they always try to negotiate in the bad stuff, the fast food or fatty stuff. Sometimes it gets me exasperated ... but generally, I try to meet them halfway." Recently, she said, she negotiated with a client to replace his daily chicken patty sandwich with a healthier selection on wheat bread three days a week and only have the fast food two days, for now.

* On food: "Eating is not only a physical act that we do, it's based on emotions, culture, tradition, socio-economics, it's so many different things you have to deal with."

* What she's learned: "There is no quick fix to changing diet because there are so many different aspects of diet. I don't believe in giving people a (predetermined) diet plan, but in listening to what they do and how they eat, and trying to make adjustments."

* How to make a career of it: Get a degree in nutrition, then do an internship at an accredited facility for practical experience. Following that, you take a national exam which will allow you to become registered. A dietician is different, she pointed out, than a nutritionist.

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about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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