Healthy Appetite

A nutritionist teaches people how to make healthy food choices.
By Alice Knisley-Matthias
Krieger operates a food processor in the kitchen.
Krieger prepares a meal in the Food Network kitchen.

“Want fries with that?”

You might be asked this question when ordering food in a restaurant. A nutritionist can help you with the answer. 

Ellie Krieger is a nationally known nutritionist. Her job is to teach people how to make healthy food choices. She believes healthy eating can manage disease and promote overall good health. With her cookbooks, television programs, and podcast, Krieger also teaches people how to follow recipes and prepare delicious food.

Krieger became interested in the science of nutrition while she was studying pre-medicine at Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in clinical nutrition, and went on to earn a graduate degree in nutrition education from Teachers College, Columbia University, in New York City. Her studies focused on educating people in what she calls “eating healthy in a realistic and delicious way.” Food can taste good—and be good for you, she says.

A healthy approach includes having fun in the kitchen. “I get to ‘play’ with my food when I’m testing and making a recipe,” Krieger says. “It’s part of my job, and it never gets old.” She tries to impart this sense of fun to her TV and podcast audiences. “It’s a great feeling, to know my work is helping people live healthier lives,” she says. “I feel like I am making a difference in the world.”

Changing the Culture

A nutritionist’s work goes beyond affecting individuals. It can shape public health, by changing the way society views food, health, and nutrition. Nutritionists like Krieger teach people how to read menus and food labels, and how food is grown and finds its way to the plate. Nutritionists do this work in schools, hospitals, and long-term care facilities.

For Krieger, food is a way to learn about other people and understand different cultures. This is an idea she imparts to kids and parents. “The school cafeteria is a classroom,” she says, “and so is the family dinner table.”

It was because of that commitment to family nutrition that Krieger became a partner in First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, an effort to address the problem of childhood obesity. In 2009, Krieger went to the White House and took part in the First Lady’s Healthy Kids Fair, to promote healthy eating. She’s been part of the School Nutrition Association, and has testified before the House Committee on Agriculture about nutrition and the childhood-obesity epidemic. She even helped plan the lunch menu at her daughter’s public school, in New York City.

Krieger’s career shows how a nutritionist’s work can go beyond the hospital or doctor’s office.

“We work in all different arenas,” she says. “We work in the media, in schools, at farmers markets, with sports teams, in restaurants, in private practice, in government organizations, at food companies, and more!”