Dietitian 2020-02-21T11:48:01-04:00

Why choose a Registered Dietitian?

A Dietitian is a health professional who has a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree specializing in nutrition, as well as a period of practical training in a hospital and a community setting. Dietitians must also pass a qualifying exam before obtaining the credential. It takes at least four years of full-time study at a university to qualify as a Dietitian. Dietitians are the only qualified health professionals that specialize in assessing, diagnosing, and treating dietary and nutritional problems. 

The titles “Registered Dietitian” and “Dietitian” are protected by law so only practitioners who have met the required education and continuing education qualifications can use them. Dietitians are held accountable for their conduct and the care they provide through a professional commission and in most states by a state licensing board as well. All Registered Dietitians are bound to comply with the professional code of ethics and professional practice. However, this does not mean that all Registered Dietitians are the same in terms of their beliefs about nutrition and diet and how they work with their patients.  

Many people claim to be experts in nutrition yet may have very limited knowledge and ambiguous credentials. The term Nutritionist is not protected by law so people with different levels of training and knowledge can call themselves a “Nutritionist”. Choosing the right person for help and advice can be a confusing task. Dietitians use up-to-date scientific research on food, health, and disease to form practical guidance to enable people to make appropriate lifestyle and food choices. Choosing a dietitian for nutritional counselling ensures at least a baseline of education, ethics, and professionalism. 

Why choose Nate Kelly?

Registered Dietitian

Nate Kelly is a registered dietitian who obtained his Master of Public Health degree in nutrition from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has practiced as a clinical dietitian for over seven years in unique settings that have allowed him to gain valuable knowledge and experience in integrating nutrition and medicine. He has combined his professional experience as a dietitian with his continuous functional medicine study to offer patients a uniquely comprehensive and holistic base of knowledge and skills.

Nate has an extensive and lifelong background in medicine and nutrition. His mother was a dietitian as well and he learned to cook and began to form his nutrition philosophy from watching her. His father is a primary care physician and Nate was exposed to the healing arts and the clinical setting beginning at a very young age. He started working in administrative positions within the healthcare setting while in high school. As an undergraduate, he majored in biostatistics which gave him a strong background in research methods, analysis, and translation. He has found this knowledge indispensable in his everyday work as a dietitian, allowing him to interpret and utilize cutting-edge research in clinical practice. After obtaining his undergraduate degree, Nate continued his education by enrolling in a degree program for emergency medicine with the plan of becoming a paramedic. This education provided Nate with a great base of knowledge in anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology as well as experience in assessing and treating patients. It was during this time that Nate first began to work with Dr. Sharp at the first iteration of Plum Spring Clinic. He served as the laboratory director and provided phlebotomy services for the clinic as well as administering IV therapies. His work at the original Plum Spring Clinic exposed him to the exciting and rapidly growing world of alternative medicine and also gave him the opportunity to work collaboratively with highly skilled practitioners utilizing a variety of modalities. This experience was the most influential factor in his decision to return to school to obtain his masters degree and dietitian credential. During both his undergraduate and graduate studies Nate also worked within the food service industry both in restaurant and long-term clinical care settings. His experience as a cook, server, and manager within these settings offered another valuable perspective on nutrition and role in health and society.

While obtaining his masters degree in Nutrition, Nate distinguished himself as an excellent student winning an award for Outstanding Nutrition Student of the year. He founded an international nutrition student group and volunteered at a rural clinic that provided essential services to women and children. He also completed an internship at the Physical Activity and Nutrition Branch of the North Carolina Division of Public Health where he contributed to the branding guide for the statewide nutrition program Eat Smart, Move More. As a capstone to his education, he completed a masters thesis on the exciting and rapidly evolving field of nutrigenomics.

Nate’s experience as a clinical dietitian are diverse and extensive. His career as a clinical dietitian began with two internships at a research hospital where he gained experience working in advanced acute care settings including cancer, transplant, burn, and intensive care units. Afterwords, he worked within a family practice clinic where he gained valuable experience working closely with a general practitioners to manage chronic illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes. He has also worked within a dietitian-led outpatient clinic that worked closely with a bariatric and medical weight loss facility. During this time he earned an advanced certification in weight management and gained expertise in helping patients lose weight. In 2016 he reunited with Dr. Sharp and through his ongoing work with Plum Spring Clinic he has developed expertise in helping patients who suffer from digestive disorders including IBS, crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. His work at Plum Spring Clinic has also allowed him to integrate elements of functional medicine into his practice and become an expert in interpreting functional medicine testing as well as the use of dietary supplements to aid in the treatment of disease.

Nate’s extensive and unique work and life experiences have given him the ability to work collaboratively with patients suffering from a wide variety of issues and with other practitioners using a wide variety of treatment modalities. He has extensive experience treating diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, gastrointestinal disorders, and autoimmune diseases. However, his background in research allows him to quickly integrate new knowledge into practice, which enables him to help patients even with rare and unfamiliar conditions. He employs a unique blend of functional medicine, alternative medicine, lifestyle medicine, and medical nutrition therapy to create integrative and customized treatments for his patients. His work at Plum Spring Clinic with Dr. Micheal Sharp and health coach Kathleen Williams enables him to utilize a full range of diagnostic testing and non-dietitian based treatment modalities that are not available to nutrition professionals working in other settings.

Nate’s Nutrition Philosophy

While Nate believes that optimal health can never be achieved without optimal nutrition, he does not subscribe to any one dietary philosophy. In his experience, many types of diets can be used to achieve the same result. Though to be effective, he finds that a diet must conform to the individual’s psychological, social, societal, and cultural realities. He strives to offer solutions that meet these criteria so that they may be implemented permanently in order to fundamentally alter both the current health and long term trajectory of health for his patients.

Nate believes that when it comes to diet, the perfect is too often the enemy of the good. He aims to instill in his clients a flexible set of guidelines that results in the least restrictive diet and lifestyle that can meet a patient’s health goals. He believes in the following fundamental principles:

  • there are no inherently bad or good types of foods,
  • all optimal diets involve the copious consumption of plant foods,
  • body composition is dependent upon a complex equation of factors known as energy balance,
  • adequate hydration is a requirement for all healthy diets,
  • temporary changes in diet will create temporary changes in health,
  • many effects of a diet are only realized in the long-term,
  • a healthy diet is a varied diet,
  • the less restriction a diet has while achieving the desired result the better,
  • an optimal diet must take into account the role of environmental toxins,
  • the mind and body are one and the connection between the nervous system and gut is inexorable and profound,
  • and food is nourishment for the body AND mind.

While Nate utilizes many types of specialized diets he sees them as a means to an end, an opportunity to learn and facilitate lasting behavior change. The real key is finding a way into the vault of habits and to facilitate changes therein. Nate works closely with his patients to transform habitual unhealthy behaviors into an intentional and informed choice for health and longevity.

Read more about Nate’s practice:
Nutrition Counseling