Interview with Marta Rahm

IAAND Italy Country Representative
By Lisa Dorfman, MS, RD, CSSD, LMHC, FAND, Country Representative Chair

La bella vita—“the good life” is what Italian CR Marta Rahm has lived, lives and how she continues to live life—to its fullest! Marta’s energy is contagious, speaking with her rebooted my energy levels the day we spoke, inspired me to fly to Rome to experience a day in the ”life of Marta Rahm” and learn more about her and her amazing career!

Meet Marta Rahm, A media specialist for The American School of Rome, Marta does much more than your average dietitian. A “Jacklyn” of all trades, Marta has a Bachelors in Science in Clinical Nutrition. M.Ed. Information Technology, educated and trained in the United States at University of Texas Southwest Medical Center at Dallas, and has been practicing dietetics for 15 years.
After a 7 am 15K bicycle ride to work, you can find Marta working non-stop at the school library, media center, teaching classes, tending the school’s edible garden she helped launch, organizing a Master Chef Competition for youth on sustainable ways to cook, and even culinary immersions for Syracuse University students (Summers,’09-’11).
After a full day at work, this mom of one grown son (Sage, who is a neuroscience medical student at Sidney Kimmel Medical College, Pennsylvania), bicycles 15K back to her home or to an evening acting classes-her “therapy” & release which empowers her body and mind.
Her jam packed day often concludes with friends over a glass of wine, delicious meal and/or preparing for a full day ahead mentoring, educating and guiding the next generation of eaters, dietitians.

Country Health Issues Impacted by Nutrition
Rome is a “blessed” city but has sadly been impacted from changing diets since the 60s. Impacted by the ill effects of fast food choices and eating on the run seen in Westernized diet cultures, childhood obesity is growing, adult onset diabetes, heart disease and cancer are all prevalent. Thyroid disease, goiter and a genetic form of celiac disease are also common.

What are the opportunities for dietitians in Italy?
The Italian Dietetic Association is home for 1000 members. In Italy, college degrees are earned by taking a certain number of exams which earn the student credits and for Dietitians the last college exam is habilitating to the profession. However, there is no equivalent of a CDR here and registration and licensure is not part of the deal. Dietitians need to take 150 CPUs within 3 years but there is no penalty for those who do not comply since a RD or licensure credential cannot be stripped from the dietitian. There are plans to enforce compliance by creating an Italian CDR in the future.

As far as nutritionists go, they do have an equivalent of a CDR. Once they obtain their biology degree, they can sit for an examination to become nutritionists-biologists and be accredited by the ABNI (again, a sort of CDR). ABNI stands for Associazione Biologi Nutrizionisti Italiani basically translates into Italian association of nutritionists-biologists.

For students interested in practicing in internships related to sustainable cooking, here is a link to the Internship at the prestigious American Academy of Rome RSFP Internship Program | American Academy in Rome

What are the most important nutritional aspects of the Italian food culture that can benefit everyone?
There are a few things I love about Italian food culture. 1-Italians love eating with others, enjoying each other’s company around food. Solo dining is not common, as food is to be shared and enjoyed with others 2-Cooking with others, family, friends is a way to spend quality time with one another 3-Fresh is best! Italy is famous for starting the Slow Food movement, one that encourages locally sourced, seasonal dishes enjoyed by all and embracing sustainable practices.

What inspired you to become involved with IAAND?
Marta is inspired by the energy, collaboration, and passion that our diverse group brings to the table. Since a U.S. degree is not valid in Italy and dietitians here have less of an autonomous role when compared to the U.S. system, IAAND offers Marta the opportunity to engage with credentialed professionals worldwide.
Most of all, anything Marta can experience from her colleagues, mentors and dietitian friends, add to her smorgasbord of educational options to offer youngsters, high school age and those young at “nutritional” heart—Marta wants to influence the next generation of eaters with delicious nutritious thoughts and lessons related to sustainability and edible education.
Some of her favorite Italian inspired, food related reading resources include:

Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life by Thich Nhat Hanh
Slow Food: The Case for Taste by Carlo Petrini, Foreword by Alice Waters
Slow Food: Collected Thoughts on Taste, Tradition, and the Honest Pleasures of Food by Carlo Petrini, Deborah Madison (Foreword by)
Terra Madre: Forging a New Global Network of Sustainable Food Communities by Carlo Petrini, Alice Waters (Foreword by)
Slow: Life in a Tuscan Town by Douglas Gayeton, Carlo Petrini (Preface), Alice Waters (Introduction)

**********************************************

For more information about Marta’s sustainable garden program, you can visit the garden at: http://www.aosr.org/student-life/the-edible-garden.