Jennifer House

Jennifer House, MSc, RD (Registered Dietitian), is a registered dietitian and owner of First Step Nutrition in Alberta, Canada. She has three children and has been running her business for 15 years.

Her mission is to help make feeding families easier! She wants to decrease dinner time battles for families and help parents raise children who have a healthy relationship with food and their bodies.

What were your initial years of growing up like?

I’ve always been interested in food and enjoyed cooking. My mom didn’t keep a lot of processed food in the house and I (eventually!) grew to appreciate that. Although I also have fond memories of processed cheese & white bread sandwiches at Grandma’s house too – balance is important. 

I’m the eldest of three girls at home, and always studied hard and knew I wanted to go to university. I went right into dietetics from high school and knew that nutrition would always be practical knowledge to have for me and my family, at every stage. 

Tell us about your life before you decided to move ahead towards your passion/dream [also talk about your ambition, interests, role model].

After graduating, I worked for just a few months casually in a rural hospital. before heading back to school for a MSc in Human Nutrition. There weren’t many dietitian jobs at that time, and clinical work in a rural hospital is difficult – you need to know all areas! Plus, I really enjoy being a student and continuing to learn. 

After graduating I worked at a Children’s Hospital and for Healthy Babies, working on projects. I realized when working in these areas that there was not a lot of support for nutrition and pregnant women or families in our city. And I didn’t especially enjoy the regular 9-5 schedule and having a boss! 

Tell us about that turning point that changed your life? Please tell us the backstory about it, if any. 

After having my first son 15 years ago, I decided I wanted a flexible schedule and creativity to run my own business. I was able to transfer my past work experience and current life experience of having a baby, to start First Step Nutrition. At the time, there was only one other private practice dietitian in my city that I knew of.

Since then, I have had 2 more children and it’s been so nice to have a business to keep my mind active while I still have the flexibility of being mostly at home to nurse babies or volunteer in their schools!

Tell us something about your initiative/ or current role. What is it about and What impact are you trying to bring?

My main focus now is working with parents as well as health professionals to help them manage picky eaters. So many family dinners are full of stress and tears. When really, the table is the best place for a family to connect every day and should be a nice experience for everyone!

I am trying to take the fight away from family dinners when picky eaters are present. And to help children (and families) create a healthy relationship with food, which will last them a lifetime.

What were the challenges faced? Are there any now? How were the last 2 years for you [pandemic phase]?

Challenges for dietitians in general include misinformation about what a dietitian is, and nutrition in general. Many people believe everything they see on social media (which is scary!).

During the pandemic, my main struggle was my husband working from home booted me out of the home office! And the kids at home when school was cancelled and the struggles of homeschooling. It wasn’t an ideal environment for anyone around the globe, particularly for women who are generally the main childcare provider of the family.

What have been your remarkable achievements/accomplishments?

I’m proud to be the author of “The Parents’ Guide to Baby-led Weaning” and “Baby food in an Instant Pot”.

I’m also proud of the “International Picky Eating Network for Healthcare Professionals” that I run with a fellow dietitian. We have over 120 members in 7 countries and it’s been so fun to train healthcare professionals!

What change would you like to bring in the world, if given an opportunity?

I’m passionate about helping families connect around the table and helping parents establish a healthy feeding relationship with their child – which will positively affect the child for their whole life!

How do you look at failure, from your experience and perspective?

I am stubborn and always try again!

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your life?

Don’t focus on making others happy or fear what they will think of you. 

Your personal motto in life?

Everything in moderation (so boring, I know- but true!)

Give a motivational message for the audience/women who are reading this.

Be persistent and believe in yourself, even when nobody else does.

What are your thoughts about women leadership today?

Women in leadership who have the opportunity to support and benefit other women should do so.