December 2017 Member Spotlight

Erin Dunleavy is Working to Squash the Concept of “Good” and “Bad” Foods
By Michelle Algeo, RDN

Even as a child, Erin Dunleavy understood a key truth: eating well is about balance, not deprivation. She recalls how her mother worked hard to get home-cooked meals on the table as much as possible, whereas meals out and desserts were typically reserved for special occasions. As a result, she developed a view of eating that didn’t include any “good” or “bad” foods, but rather allowed for some indulgences in a mostly healthy diet. This mindset has served her well as a dietitian for Weis Markets.

After completing her undergraduate degree, master’s degree, and internship through the University of Pittsburgh’s coordinated master’s program, Erin went on to pursue a career as the dietitian for the Harrisburg-area Weis stores and now lives in Northumberland. In her current role, she wears many different hats. She leads educational tours for customers at the stores, provides nutrition counseling, hosts workshops, and occasionally appears on local TV or radio shows, among other responsibilities.

Despite her devotion to nutrition—which was born in high school, when she read an article about the disease-fighting effects of certain foods—Erin says, “As a supermarket dietitian, I have exposure to many media opportunities that I have grown to really enjoy. Although being a dietitian is my true passion, I would choose a job in marketing or media as my second choice.” Of course, she still has lots of work to do at Weis Markets.

She notes that the main issue she encounters with clients is that food fads and gimmicks are so prevalent. “We are constantly battling with food and nutrition headlines and theories that are often not from credible sources. I’d like to break through that barrier and have the public view us as the sole, reliable, and respected expert for food and nutrition advice.”

Erin is certainly working toward this goal both at work and as a member of the PAND, particularly as she networks and collaborates with other dietitians. “It is rewarding to work with other local dietitians to build up our profession. We all have something to learn from one another, and I enjoy working with others to think of new and creative ways to enhance our organization and profession.”

When Erin has some downtime, you might find her enjoying some fresh air or DIYing a new project at home. You could also find her at an Italian restaurant devouring a brick oven-baked pizza or a Caprese salad. But most of the time, she’s hard at work debunking the myth of “good” and “bad” foods and helping customers/clients live well-rounded, healthy lives.