Spotlight On: Jessica Fishman Levinson
Aug 24, 2015
Although Jessica and I have yet to meet in person (we have plans to do so at FNCE in Nashville this year), I feel like I already know her and like her. As a nutrition communications consultant with a focus on culinary nutrition and the founder of Nutritioulicious, Jessica has a phenomenal brand and social media presence. I love the work she’s doing to promote dietitians and credible nutrition information to the public. I’m excited to share my interview with her and hope you enjoy reading it.
MELISSA: Jessica, how did you become interested in a career in food and nutrition and what is your food/nutrition philosophy?
JESSICA: As a kid I was a fairly picky eater and ate a lot of junk. I had good genes on my side, but by the time I went off to college I really didn’t know how to eat in a healthy, moderate way. I either overdid it on sweets and felt guilty after, or I limited myself to only the healthiest food items and felt deprived. I majored in psychology and was really interested in the connection between food and emotions.
My food philosophy is: food should be nutritious and delicious, which stems from everything in moderation. It sounds cliché, but I have found in my work with others, and for myself, that deprivation and restriction don’t work. And food is such an important part of our day to day lives that it should be enjoyed, which a lot of people lose sight of.
MELISSA: I love it. What inspired you to start your blog and write your book? What are you working on right now?
JESSICA: I started my blog after working as a nutrition editor for an online health website and realizing how much I loved writing and spreading nutrition messages to a larger audience. I enjoyed my work counseling clients, but I didn’t feel like I was making as big of an impact as I could on improving people’s health. I was also disturbed by the nutrition misinformation on morning shows and in magazines and a very “all or nothing” philosophy that was being communicated to the public. That’s when I decided I wanted to focus on nutrition communications and media work.
My cookbook, We Can Cook: Introduce Your Child to the Joy of Cooking with 75 Simple Recipes and Activities, came about by pure chance and luck and long before I had my own children. It was a great learning experience and made me realize how much I loved cooking and showing people how to make Nutritioulicious meals. Since having kids it’s an even greater passion of mine to help parents get healthy meals that their kids will enjoy on the table, especially during the week when time is limited.
I currently focus on all types of nutrition communications for food and beverage companies, as well as recipe development and growing my own personal blog. I spend a lot of time in my kitchen, especially cooking for my 3 1/2 year old twin girls!
MELISSA: I’m sure that keeps you busy! What types of food/nutrition communications are you engaged in?
JESSICA: These days I spend most of my time on social media communications and writing. You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google +, Linked In
I also enjoy getting in front of the camera for on-air interviews, cooking demonstrations, or how-to videos.
MELISSA: Excellent! What comes naturally for you and what does not when it comes to food/nutrition communications?
JESSICA: I never thought I would be doing work on camera! I was never into acting or being in school plays or talent shows. But it turns out that I really enjoy the rush of being on TV, especially when it’s live!
MELISSA: That’s great to hear – we need more dietitians in front of the camera!
Please share your top 1-3 tips that you think would help other RDs who want to improve their communication skills.
JESSICA: I’m lucky that in the course of my work with some PR companies I’ve received media training, and that really taught me a lot for this kind of work. Here are 3 tips that have been invaluable to me over the years:
1) Smile! No matter how much you think you’re smiling, do it more, make it bigger, and keep it up! I used to think I was smiling so much, but when I saw myself on camera I looked nervous. The more I smiled, the more confident I looked and felt!
2) Stick to your message. There’s a saying I learned that 3 x 3 = 1 in the world of media. If you limit yourself to 3 messages and you repeat them 3 times during the course of the interview, people will walk away remembering one thing you said. That stuck with me since early on in my career and it’s so true. Interviewers will try to trip you up, but always come back to one of your 3 core messages!
3) Be concise. If the interviewer doesn’t understand something or has follow up questions, he/she will ask you. Don’t feel like you have to fill every silence. I still struggle with this one – it’s not easy!
MELISSA: I totally agree that media training is important, and I understand many dietitians don’t have the opportunity to get training through their jobs – that’s the main reason I started offering my own media trainings for dietitians! I really love your tips – thank you for sharing them.
I know you’re a busy mom of twin girls – tell me about them and what kinds of foods they like.
JESSICA: My 3 1/2 year old fraternal twin girls are Charlotte and Sabrina. They are known amongst family and close friends for eating everything and anything! We had a really great run with their eating for three years – it’s been amazing to see 3 year olds going to town on smoked salmon, quinoa, beets with goat cheese….you name it, they ate it! They have recently begun to express more food preferences as they have been eating with other children and are attending more parties and events. It’s a little disheartening to hear them say “yucky” when they never said that before or turn down a meal I made that they used to love. My hope is that they continue to try new foods and learn from my husband and me about the joy of eating. We both love to cook and eat out at the newest restaurants, and when we travel, food and wine is at the top of our list of what to explore.
EPILOGUE: Thank you to Jessica for sharing her story, but most of all, for all of the outstanding work she’s doing in nutrition communications!
Like what you read here? Hear what other nutrition experts have to say about careers, communication and chasing their dreams. Visit the Directory of Dietitian Interviews and be inspired!
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I’m the Guilt-Free RD® – “Because food shouldn’t make you feel bad!™”. So, on my Food for Thought blog I’m exploring the secret ingredients needed to enjoy your food with health in mind. I’m also a “Dietitian Enthusiast” so I’m showcasing interviews with dietitians. My “How To” Series shares practical advice to help boost communication skills and gain more visibility, influence and success.
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