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Meet the Experts Behind Diabetes Food Hub
The Diabetes Food Hub Team Answers by The Diabetes Food Hub Team

Meet the Experts Behind Diabetes Food Hub

In honor of National Nutrition Month, we are highlighting the nutrition experts behind Diabetes Food Hub! Learn more about the dietitians at the American Diabetes Association and what they're doing to help people living with diabetes thrive.


Sacha Uelmen, RDN, CDE

Managing Director, Diabetes Education & Nutrition

What do you do at ADA?

I am a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and managing director of nutrition & diabetes education. One of the best parts of my job is getting to meet and work with so many dedicated volunteers across the country to better understand the diverse needs of the people that we serve. My current role allows me to focus ADA’s efforts where we can make the most impact to improve the lives of people living with diabetes.

Education

After graduating with a degree in Sociology from the University of Michigan, I explored a variety of career paths including social work, IT, and hospital administration before finally deciding to resume my education and become a registered dietitian.  While working full time as an administrative assistant on the research side of endocrinology at the University of Michigan, I worked toward my 2nd bachelor’s degree at Eastern Michigan University in Nutrition & Dietetics where I took classes online and completed the required internships to become a registered dietitian. 

Background

I always new that prevention was my true passion, so early on I focused on jobs in outpatient settings providing medical nutrition therapy (MNT). I worked as an outpatient dietitian for many years beginning with dialysis prevention and counseling for special meal plans related to kidney failure before working in a weight management clinic in the Detroit metro area.  I then worked for a few years in research designing meal plans for weight management studies before finding my true passion, diabetes self management education where I worked for over 10 years before coming to ADA in 2016.  

Why did you become a dietitian?

I’m sure this goes back to about the age of 3 when my father  opened a small market in Flint, MI selling fresh pita bread and authentic Lebanese foods.  When I was about 11 years old, my dad had a heart attack, and the dietitian told him that he could live a long healthy life if he made sure to eat healthy and stay fit.  I instantly became my dad’s healthy eating and fitness drill sergeant by reading labels, checking restaurant menus to find the healthiest options, and going to the mall with him to walk laps after his rehab. Fortunately, my dad had a very positive attitude and willingly accepted the unsolicited advice of an 11-year-old.   Later after finishing college and working on the administrative side of the health system, I realized I wanted to have a more direct impact on people’s lives. Combining my love of diversity of culture and food with nutrition science is something can carry with me in my career and in my life. 

What is one of your food-related challenges/struggles?

Temptations and indulgences!  Celebrations, family, friends and social gatherings—the best parts of life can pose the hardest food choices and can sometimes lead to feeling bad or guilty when we overindulge.  My temptations are all in the form of chocolate, whether it’s candy, baked goods, or ice cream –  if it’s chocolate, I like it.  There are 3 key things that I have found to help me when challenged with my favorite temptations:

  1. I keep temptations out of reach.  If I have to actually go out and get something sweet, I’m much less likely to do so.  Plus, the extra effort to walk or bike to a place with sweet treats helps burn off a few of those extra calories. And when I do indulge, I keep the portions small, eat slowly and really savor the experience.  

  2. If I know I’m going to get dessert when dining out, I make different choices at the meal.  I’m not usually a salad eater, but this is a time I’ll choose a lighter salad to make room for dessert.

  3. When I inevitably overindulge at times, I avoid negative self-talk and guilt. I try to quickly assess what choices I could have made differently and then move on. Doing something good for myself, like stretching or going for a walk also helps me get past the self blame spiral that many of us struggle with. 

What is your favorite vegetable?

My favorite veggie of all are little trees (AKA broccoli). I definitely prefer my veggies hot—I like broccoli steamed but it must have a little crunch.  Here’s a yummy go to cold broccoli salad recipe that I love. This is a great side dish or healthy snack.



Shamera Robinson, MPH, RDN

Associate Director of Nutrition

What do you do at ADA?

I am a registered dietitian and associate director of nutrition for the American Diabetes Association. I’ve always been passionate about improving the lives of people affected by diabetes, but this role allows me to extend my reach beyond direct care by developing content, supporting professional networks, and promoting useful tools – like Diabetes Food Hub!

Education

I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a minor in Public Health from Spelman College. I then ventured to UNC- Chapel Hill where I spent 2.5 years earning my Master of Public Health (MPH) in Nutrition and completing the 1200 supervised practice hours needed to sit for the registration examination for dietitians.

Background

I worked in a hospital setting before joining the ADA team. As an outpatient dietitian, I spent years using a patient-centered approach to provide counseling, education, and medical nutrition therapy to help people reach their individualized health goals. While I was privileged to work with many different people with varying nutrition needs, I most enjoyed connecting and partnering with people working to live well with diabetes.

Why did you become a dietitian?

I watched my dear granny struggle with managing her diabetes for years. The complications led to many hospital visits, and the doctor would always tell her she needed to start “eating different” before every discharge. What did that mean? As a woman born and raised in rural Mississippi, she didn’t know what “eating different” looked like and would go back to making familiar food choices. I decided if her doctor wouldn’t help her understand how food impacts her body, then I’d be the one to do it. I’ve always had a love for food, but watching my granny battle complications was what pushed me to become a dietitian.

What is one of your food-related challenges/struggles?

Breakfast! Are there any morning people out there? Well, I admire you because it takes me so long to get out of the bed each morning. A slow start to the day often leaves me scrambling with little time, which means even less time for breakfast. Because I don’t leave myself with enough time to make a meal in the morning, I am always looking for breakfast ideas that I can prepare ahead of time and grab on my way out the door. These mini veggie frittatas are my go-to breakfast for meal prep!

What is your favorite vegetable?

Brussels sprouts are definitely my favorite veggie. I know most people either love them or hate them, but I can never say no to crispy, roasted sprouts.

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