Interview with Rafika Al Ghrawi, LD, RD, IAAND Lebanon Country Representative
By Lisa Dorfman, MS, RD, CSSD, LMHC, FAND, CR Chairperson
It is with pleasure that I introduce you to our Lebanon CR, Rafika Al Ghrawi, a role model for the next generation of dietitians. This young energetic woman is someone to watch in our profession, as I believe she will be a great future leader whether it is for IAAND or another Academy group.
Meet Rafika Al Ghrawi
Rafika was born in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and raised in Lebanon, educated at American University of Beirut (AUB) and has a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. In addition to being a Registered Dietitian, she holds several additional certifications: as a Licensed Dietitian in Lebanon and a certification from the Women Infants Children (WIC) Modules.
A member of both Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) & Lebanese Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (LAND), Rafika’s current position is clinical dietitian for the Nutrition & Diet Center where she provides medical nutritional therapy; develops nutritional recommendations as a consultancy for schools, public institutions, and consulting firms such as International College School and Booz Allen Hamilton; coordinates with universities and supervises interns; creates and implements education programs in community settings; conducts seminars on nutrition topics on an academic level; co-hosts a weekly radio show episode live about nutrition and healthy eating.
Health issues Impacting Lebanon
Lebanon is currently facing malnutrition in different forms. On one hand, food insecurity and undernutrition are prevalent among refugees in Lebanon; while on the other hand obesity rates are increasing among Lebanese citizens. Refugees are facing the burden of insecurity while they rely on donations from NGOs to support them. However, Lebanese citizens are having a shift in their eating habits from following a strict Mediterranean diet rich in beans, fish, olive oil, and nuts and are following a more westernized diet making them consume fast foods in greater amounts.
Opportunities in Lebanese Dietetics
With the health awareness that is currently spread in Lebanon and many esteemed universities. Expats can work in the food industry, NGOs, or educational positions However, to offer dietetic service through inpatient/ outpatient care the dietitian needs to get a work permit. However, with nutrition being a major offered in a broad range of universities around Lebanon, the number of dietitians working has significantly increased. This is causing many Lebanese dietitians to broaden their field of work or seek employment abroad.
Traditional Food & Recipe Traditions
Local foods include: Traditionally eaten for Breakfast: Manakish (A pizza like dough with thyme, cheese, or meat in them), foul (which basically beans), Msabha (chickpeas with sesame paste), Labneh, variety of white cheeses (Halloumi, Akkawi, Double creme)
Main foods like: Tabbouleh & Fattoush (types of salad), Shish Tawook (kind of chicken), Kafta, Shawerma, Arabic bread, hummus, mtabal (eggplant with sesame paste), different stews made from spinach, okra, chicory, peas… , Kibbeh (blend of meat with bulgur)
For more information on dietetics practice in Lebanon
Ministry of Health in Lebanon
The link for the universities with dietetic programs are:
American University of Beirut
Lebanese American University
Beirut Arab University
Lebanese International University
Saint Joseph University
Modern University of Beirut
Arts, Sciences, and Technology University
Notre Dam University
American University of Technology
The local dietetic association:
There is no official dietetic association in Lebanon (an order which has legal power); however, there is the:
Lebanese Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics
And a labor union:
The Syndicate of Dietitians in Lebanon
The agency for licensure name and link:
Ministry of Health in Lebanon
Rafika’s published articles:
Outlook newspaper for AUB:
Nutrition and dietetics program receives historic accreditation
Buying locally at the Back to School Souk
Protein shakes: the good, the bad, and the ugly
Debunking the myth of detox juices