Our latest Distinguished Dietitian is Kristina DeMuth, RD, MPH.
Learn more about Kristina and her work below.
RD Since: 2012
Area(s) of Practice:
- Public Health, Research
- Vegetarian/Vegan Nutrition
- Hunger and Environmental Nutrition
- International/ Global Nutrition
Websites/social media links:
Brief professional bio:
Kristina DeMuth, RD, MPH graduated Summa Cum Lade and with distinction in both Psychology and Nutrition from The College of Saint Benedict in 2011.
Throughout college, Kristina was a volunteer Research and Outreach Director with a non-profit, grassroots, eating disorder organization called The Joy Project. With the organization, Kristina assisted in a variety of community activities, and conducted her honors thesis project on “The Characteristics of Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified.” In the spring of 2011, Kristina was awarded the Minnesota Dietetic Student of the Year from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
During her senior year of college, Kristina took her first trip to Haiti with a non-profit organization called Healing Haiti. While in Haiti, Kristina witnessed, firsthand, poverty like she had never seen before. She played with children that had gaunt faces and yellow eyes, were covered in disease, and had extended bellies from parasites and/or malnutrition. These nutrition-related symptoms were things she had only seen in textbooks and lectures at school.
After returning home from Haiti, Kristina came across a diary entry she had written when she was younger about going to developing countries to give people the tools to help themselves overcome poverty, disease, and hunger. It was at that moment that she knew her life’s mission was to dive deep into the poorest countries of the world to improve the quality of life of many through good dietary intake.
After completing her yearlong dietetic internship and passing her board’s exam in 2012, Kristina returned back to Haiti to purse her passion by making Haiti her second home for the year. During the initial stages of her volunteer work, Kristina spent much of her time focusing on the growth patterns and dietary intake of undernourished children at an orphanage.
Over the course of her time living in Haiti, her role as a dietitian greatly transformed as she started to realize the many social and political influences on the foods being served at the feeding center. Kristina started asking questions, talking to local people, and researching the politics around imported white rice, food sovereignty, and the nutrition transition. Highly processed foods (candy bars, chips, sweetened beverages, high sodium seasoned packages called “Maggi”), refined carbohydrates, fried food, and processed meats and animal products were displacing the rich, plant-based native Haitian cuisine. Kristina was determined to help the Haitian people preserve their health with their beneficial resources.
In 2013, Kristina returned to her life in Minnesota to attend graduate school for public health, where she has learned about social injustices and health disparities here in America and abroad. She has written a nutrition chapter for “In the Pursuit of Orphan Excellence” by Phil Darke and Keith McFarland, and she is currently in the process of planning a trip to Uganda to conduct her Masters research project, a qualitative research study exploring the use of the Moringa tree for children’s nutrition.
What does ‘professional integrity’ mean to you?
Witnessing, firsthand, the devastating consequences of politics (human suffering, poverty, hunger), I have taken the stance of choosing to continually work on doing the best that I can to make my personal and professional life choices consistent with the compassion I feel for human dignity and human health.
Integrity, to me, means doing on one hand what you do on the other. In other words, living a life of transparency, honesty, and doing the best you can to be a steward to people, communities, and the Earth. There are no boundaries between my personal and professional integrity. How I represent myself everyday is exactly how I should represent myself in my profession, and vice-versa. I can’t serve the poor in my personal life, and then go work for a company that exploits the poor in my professional life.
I must always recognizing that there is another life on the other end of every decisions I make from what I choose to buy, how I choose to eat, and the professional activities I engage in. Recognizing that my personal and professional decisions have vast implications, I seek to do my best to respond in a way that has the best interest of all people, and not solely my own. When you feel a deep compassion for human dignity, human health, and social responsibility, you have no other choice but to take these into consideration in every decision that you make.
As a health profession, we must reexamine the core values of our mission in order to exemplify professional integrity. If our core value is human health, then we must recognize the social determinants and injustices in our system that fraudulently exploit the health and wellbeing of minority groups, lower socioeconomic communities, and our global neighbors. Partnerships with industry groups that continue to exploit the disenfranchised in our nation, as well as our greater global community, through unfair marketing tactics, land-grabs, and human slavery are a toxic threat to the core values of our profession and overall mission. We have a social responsibility to ensure that all life has equal accesses to health and a higher quality of life, and this should be represented in all that we do as a professional organization.
What words of encouragement do you have for RDs-to-be looking to make a significant contribution to our profession?
Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions, challenge the “norms”, and to do what is right. Listening, the ACTIVE form of hearing, and learning are two of the most valuable skills you can carry with you throughout your profession. If you never stop to listen, you may miss the key message of the bigger picture, the global context of the problem.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and I really couldn’t have said it better myself. “Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles; Cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances. Courage breeds creativity; Cowardice represses fear and is mastered by it. Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency ask the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But conscience asks the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”
Again, we extend our congratulations to Kristina and thank her for her important work and for representing the RD credential in such a positive light.