Spotlight on: Melissa Quirk, RD
Exercise Specialist and Registered Dietitian - Canada Games Centre, Halifax
Melissa holds Bachelor’s degrees in Kinesiology (Dalhousie, 2011) and Applied Human Nutrition (Mount Saint Vincent University, 2016). Melissa has experience with chronic disease management (i.e. Diabetes, Arthritis, Heart Disease) and working with senior populations. Melissa helps her clients make lasting lifestyle changes by setting realistic and achievable goals while motivating others to break through their obstacles.
Melissa’s personal interests include spending time with family, being in nature, cooking, and reading. Melissa works with the Canada Games Centre in Halifax where she offers both Personal Training and Nutrition Counselling and Education.
What is your favourite place to find new recipes?
I am a recipe fanatic. I find recipes in magazines, cookbooks, newspapers, the internet, and through friends and family. When I do find a recipe I love, I keep it close and use it often. My favourite foods to make at home are homemade granola, nutritious muffins, and oatmeal pancakes.
What first sparked your interest in nutrition?
I have always loved food and eating. I knew that nutrition was a good fit for me when I started purchasing ‘strange’ vegetables like eggplants and artichokes and creating delicious recipes. I am committed to sharing the health benefits of food and exercise with others. I have seen people change their diet resulting in improvements in their cardiovascular health, and reduce their dose for hypertension and diabetes medication.
If you weren’t a dietitian, what would you be?
In addition to being a Dietitian, I am also a Certified Exercise Physiologist and Personal Trainer. I use both food and movement to help others prevent and manage chronic diseases like arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, osteoporosis, and depression, to name a few. If I wasn’t a Dietitian, I imagine I would have been in some other health profession. Perhaps a Doctor, a Nurse, or a Physiotherapist.
What have you learned the most from your current job?
Working in a Fitness Centre, many people come to me for weight loss counselling. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that it is not that people lack nutrition knowledge, but that people struggle with behavior change and putting their nutrition knowledge into practice. It is important as Dietitians that we educate ourselves in behavior change counselling strategies such as motivational interviewing and SMART goal setting. The Behaviour Change Institute, founded by Dr. Michael Vallis, has been a great resource for information in this area.
What is one tip you could share with future/current dietitians?
I would encourage all Dietitians to keep an open mind and to keep learning. The nutrition industry is an industry of misinformation resulting in confused, frustrated, and overwhelmed clients. It is better to understand both sides and formulate a professional opinion than to be stumped by client questions regarding new fad diets and disputed nutrition science. Science is always changing and we have a professional responsibility to keep up to date.