Cheryl Strachan, RD, MBA | Registered Dietitian
Prior to becoming a cardiac rehabilitation dietitian, I was on a path to needing one.
While my first degree (biology) and job (pharmaceutical sales) focused on human health, my post-university lifestyle did not. Frequent travel and client meetings meant too much restaurant food and too little movement. A move to headquarters to work on a sales software tool meant even more sitting and travelling.
After four years, I decided to get an MBA and was thrilled to be accepted by UC Berkeley in California. It was 1998, at the dawn of the Internet gold rush, in San Francisco, a city of serious foodies. Wining, dining, and long working days were the norm.
By the end of the first year, I was 20 pounds heavier than when I left university six years earlier. I decided it was time to focus on my health.
I started learning about nutrition and keeping a food and exercise diary. I bought a bike and signed up for a 30-mile charity ride with a friend. Then 60. Then 100. I finished dead last, but it didn’t matter. Those rides sparked a passion for seeing the world from the bike that continues to this day.
Over the years, I’ve helped thousands of people on their journey to heart healthier eating. My specialty is addressing nutrition-related heart disease risk factors, including high blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol, while honouring your need to enjoy food and live your life.
On the professional front, meanwhile, I was still in a high-stress job (now a software product manager), with little time to do what I most enjoyed, helping customers solve problems. After three years, it was clear that software was not my passion. Food, nutrition, and healthy living were.
After months of soul-searching and research, I decided to follow my heart and quit my “real job” to formally study nutrition. (My family thought I was crazy!) I loved it, from my first class at San Francisco State University to my internship through the UC Berkeley School of Public Health.
Thanks to my previous degrees, I was able to become a registered dietitian in just two years, first in the US, and then back home in Canada, in 2005. After a short stint at Calgary’s Rockyview General Hospital, I landed my dream job, helping people with heart disease learn to enjoy healthy eating and active living, just as I had.
I worked for nearly nine years with Calgary’s cardiac rehabilitation program. Over 1700 people with heart disease go through the program every year, most of them counting their lucky stars after surviving a heart attack. It’s an incredible place, home to some of Canada’s leading cardiologists, cardiac nurses, and exercise specialists.
I enjoyed working with those heroes, but I wanted to do more, to provide a level of support not possible within the busy public health system. And I wanted to help prevent heart problems in the first place. I’ve been in private practice since 2014 and loving it.
Why should you trust me?
Nutrition information is everywhere. On the Internet, on your TV, coming from well-meaning friends and family. And often one expert conflicts with another. So why work with me?
In addition to my cardiac experience, I’m a registered dietitian. That means that unlike the sea of health coaches, nutrition consultants, and other pseudo-health professionals out there, I’m a regulated health professional. National guidelines for management of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease recommend working with a registered dietitian.
Dietitians have met strict education requirements and are governed by professional standards, including:
- Providing only evidence-based guidance
- Practicing ethically
- Participating in professional education every single year, to ensure our knowledge is up to date.
Only registered dietitians and registered nutritionists are regulated in this way, similar to registered nurses, pharmacists, and physicians.
We don’t have all the answers. Nutrition is still an evolving science. But I’ll help you focus on the fundamentals upon which experts agree, and let go of the distractions that make eating seem so complicated.
Let’s keep it real
I’m definitely not perfect, and I don’t want you to be either. Put a bowl of potato chips in front of me at a party, and I’ll nibble. Strict rules are a recipe for disaster. Once you break them, now where do you go? Usually off the rails in a big way, for most people.
I know that most of what I eat supports my health, so I don’t lose any sleep over food chosen more for pleasure. And you shouldn’t either. Same goes for convenience foods and eating out. We’re all busy, and sometimes life happens.
The good news is, delicious, time-saving, affordable food that also supports your health exists. And that’s what I call the sweet spot.
I’m here to help you find your sweet spot. Because you deserve to love the food you eat as well as be there for the people and the life you love.