HEATHER THOMAS, RD, MSc, PhD
Registered Dietitian
HEATHER THOMAS, RD, MSc, PhD

Education

PhD in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (Health Promotion), The University of WesternOntario

MSc in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (Health Promotion), The University of Western Ontario

BSc in Home Economics (Community Nutrition), Brescia University College

Professional Certifications/Memberships in Good Standing

College of Dietitians of Ontario
Dietitians of Canada

Ontario Society of Nutrition Professionals in Public Health(Advocacy Committee, Food Literacy Working Group, Nutrition and Edible)

Co-Lead, Locally Driven Collaborative Project – Healthy Eating(Food Literacy Measurement Tool)

Publications

What is a healthy bodyweight: Perspectives of overweight and obese youth

Food choices in recreation facilities: Operators' and patrons' perspectives

Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Challenges and Opportunities in After-School Program: Providers' Perspectives

Cook it up!: Formative evaluation of a community-based cooking program for at-risk youth in London, ON

Using photovoice with at-risk youth in a community-based cooking program

How it Started

Heather knew that she wanted to go into a science-related field out of high school. She perused the entire UWO course calendar until she discovered the Brescia program, which offered a nutrition program and fields such as community nutrition.

At the time, there were only six dietetic internship programs across the entire country that offered a community nutrition internship and, despite being strongly discouraged from staying in that field, Heather persevered and was awarded one of the six coveted spots.

Community nutrition interested Heather because it focuses on the well individual in their community setting where they live, work, and learn.

Heather’s Career

Heather has transferred this philosophy to rehabilitative nutrition because she is working with well individuals who have to find different ways to manage their lives given the consequences of a motor vehicle crash. She provides therapy through nutrition as part of the overall rehabilitation process.

A Registered Dietitian with extensive experience in the public health sector, Heather also specializes in food literacy and high-risk youth.

Influential Moment

Heather was working with a client in search of independence from their family who were providing significant care for them. They wanted to learn how to make something easy for dinner so they could also contribute to family meals.

To start, Heather spent some time building their food literacy and helping them gain confidence in their ability to prepare a simple meal that would be nutritious, tasty, and economical. Keeping their food likes and dislikes in mind, Heather was able to prepare some dinners that were very enjoyable to both the client and their family! The best part about this simple plan was seeing the pride and confidence that her client had when they were successful creating a nutritious meal that not only met their nutritional needs, but also fed their spirit!

As a dietitian, Heather knows that you have to be creative to help clients reach their goals. Sometimes it takes a long time to see any difference, but even making one small change to positively impact their overall health and wellbeing is worth the effort.

Heather’s approach is non-diet. She defines health in a much more inclusive way by removing the weight stigma and respecting size diversity. By focusing on her philosophy of health at every size, she hopes to improve access to healthcare for everyone.

Why Nutritional Rehabilitation?

Heather has been practicing as a Registered Dietitian for 27 years. She always wanted to keep her clinical skills sharp while integrating her abilities in community nutrition, and Nutritional Rehabilitation has given Heather this opportunity. She is able to enhance her clinical skills, learn more about acquired brain injury, and enhance practice in a different area of dietetics.

At Nutritional Rehabilitation, Heather strives to build rapport and trust with clients upon meeting them. To her, this is the foundation of the relationship between therapist and client and one that needs to be fostered over the course of the time they spend together.

On Heather’s off days…

Outside of her work at Nutritional Rehabilitation, Heather finds a work-life balance with her two sons, who are both in post-secondary school, and her love of their copious pets! The busy work and family balance is challenging, but it is what keeps her laughing and living her life to the fullest. One of Heather’s favourite sayings is “if you leap, a net will appear”, which to her means taking a chance on yourself. This approach got her through grad school when her children were quite young, and is now what her adult sons think about when they decide to venture outside of their comfort zones!