How a Dietitian Changes Lives

sheena gregg holding an award for her work as a dietitianSheena Gregg, the registered dietitian in the office of Health Promotion and Wellness (HPW), has quite the history with The University of Alabama and Student Life! Her human nutrition major during her undergraduate years allowed her to intern with HPW and she served as the graduate assistant in Tutwiler to help pay for graduate school. After earning her bachelor’s in 2007 and her master’s in 2008, Sheena began work as a full-time registered dietitian with HPW in 2009. Sheena has dutifully served Student Life and the student body for over 10 years, but her dietetic origins stretch back to high school.

When Sheena applied to UA as a high school senior, she was initially interested in journalism or communication studies as a major; but, a conversation with a friend quickly changed her mind. She loved the idea of working in an “out-of-the-box” health care profession that allowed her to help individuals before they need to visit the doctor’s office. That epiphany surely paid off, because now Sheena is changing lives and spreading positivity every single day by helping students maintain their health and wellness before it becomes a problem. “I’m able to work with individuals in that proactive stage of their health, versus the reactive stage. It’s almost like preventative medicine,” she explained.

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Her work as a dietitian has evolved during her time at the Capstone. In her early days with HPW, wellness-culture was largely centered around dieting and weight-loss as the best ways to maintain health. Society at-large has moved on from this mindset over the years and now Sheena and other dietitians educate clients on intuitive eating and other ways that individuals can safely and effectively maintain their nutrition and wellness. Looking back, Sheena remembers how different students’ attitudes towards nutrition used to be. “Students’ perception has changed so much. When I first started here, it was all about avoiding weight-gain or losing weight. Now instead, it’s more-so about intuitive eating and having a healthy relationship with food and body image. They know their own body and its needs and give themselves a lot more grace.” Sheena gave a simple phrase that summarizes many points she imparts to clients: “Do what works best for you in this season of life, and that’s going to look different for every student.”

Sheena has worked with dozens of different students on their health, wellness and nutrition over the years; her impact on students is extraordinary. In fact, her work is so exemplary that the Alabama Dietetic Association awarded her the Outstanding Dietitian of the Year award for 2022-2023! This award is bestowed to one member of each state affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and recognizes dietitians who have made distinguished contributions to advancing the profession. It demonstrates Sheena’s outstanding leadership and service and exemplifies the ideals of the nutrition and dietetics community. Reflecting on the award, Sheena said, “It’s been such a rewarding opportunity. It’s humbling to be recognized for my work.”

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Sheena’s time at UA has been invaluable to the campus community as she educates the student population on proven, effective techniques, programs and methods that students can utilize to maintain their health and wellness. As she diligently assists clients of all types, she wants everyone she meets to know one thing: “Eating healthy and having a healthy relationship with food is different for everyone. Comparison is the thief of joy.”

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