RDN Spotlight: Samina Qureshi, RD, LD, IFNCP
What is your ethnicity/race? Does your family have any customs related to food?
My parents are from Pakistan and I was born and raised in Texas. Growing up we ate a combination of American and Pakistani cuisine. My mom was always cooking up the most delicious meals for our family and we were fortunate to have a fresh hot meal at home for dinner each night. One thing my parents always encouraged was trying new fruits and vegetables. My dad always said, "You can't knock it ‘till you try it," and I'd almost always love the food I tried. He'd describe his memories of enjoying a variety of foods back home and encouraged me to be adventurous with my food choices.
What does a typical work day/week look like for you?
I work in corporate wellness and have my own virtual nutrition counseling practice called Wholesome Start. I work in an office setting from 9am-5pm for my corporate wellness job and am able to see my own virtual clients on evenings and weekends. In my corporate setting I develop and implement wellness initiatives and do one-on-one wellness coaching to help people make healthier lifestyle choices to improve their health. At Wholesome Start I help people make food work with them in managing their health. My clients work with me virtually to ditch rigid diets for good, develop a healthier relationship with food and body image, and reclaim their health.
Where did you go to school and complete your dietetic internship?
I went to the University of Texas at Austin for both my undergraduate degree and my dietetic internship.
Why did you decide to choose nutrition and dietetics as a career?
From a young age I developed a love for all types of food and flavors. I learned how big a role food played in our lives and I knew I wanted my career to revolve around helping families nourish their bodies with food they love without fear, stress, or guilt.
What was the biggest challenge for you in becoming a dietitian and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge was not seeing people who look like me in leadership roles. The internship directors and most of my preceptors were not from minority groups and couldn't relate to my culture or life experiences. I still don't see many people of color in leadership roles but now that I am a preceptor for dietetic internship programs in Texas I am able to enhance cultural awareness and competencies within dietetics. I also started my own private practice, Wholesome Start, to serve people in my community.
Why do you think diversifying the field of nutrition is important?
It's important for dietetics to be more inclusive of people from different backgrounds so that we can better serve our communities. If we really want to make a difference in people's lives we need to understand their lifestyles and culture and offer practical solutions to meet their needs.
What advice would you give a student of color interested in entering this profession?
Don't change who you are! You are exactly what this field needs!
Fun food question: What is your favorite meal and why?
Any traditional Pakistani meal my mom makes! It could something super simple like daal and rice but the flavors bring back memories of our family enjoying our time together.