By Lisa Dorfman, MS, RD, CSSD, LMHC, FAND, CR Chairperson

Little did Liyan know as an undergraduate library science student at Nankai University in Tianjin, China, that a move to California for her husband’s graduate school would change her career trajectory and life forever.  When she discovered there was an entire world of nutrition with credentialed programs in the US to become a dietitian, a new career was born.

Meet Liyan Lin

As a newlywed, Liyan knew she wanted more than a library science degree and profession. She studied chemistry and biology and was introduced to the field of dietetics, something not previously available until recently in China (circa 2013). Five years ago she attended San Diego FNCE conference and fell in love with the field, pursued an internship and joined AODA where she would meet like-minded dietitians from all over the world.

While Liyan currently works in rehabilitation and long term care, her passion is for prenatal nutrition, children feeding and gestational diabetes, She became most interested while she was pregnant and became diabetic with her 2 ½ year old son (Nickname: Kuankuan), the joy of her life which she feels in part was triggered by genetics and the stress of moving, internship and her new life in the US. Without resources she could relate, no Chinese materials available, Liyan mastered her own plan, approach and practical day to day strategies which she shares in her book 《只有营养师知道:孕期健康这样吃》 published in Chinese with resources available in English. She shares her advice on social media and on her blog at and twitter @conscious_eat,, and in her New York based practice ConsciousEat Nutrition Consulting Group.

Opportunities & Challenges in China Dietetics

The opportunities in China are coming to fruition after decades of intermittent dietetics programs coming and going. Initially offered only to medical students and allied health professionals, this left dietitian bound students without formal training and internships and in transition. Last year in Shanghai, the first credential type testing of dietitian students showed a passing rate of less than 50%, evidence that more work, programs and internships need to be offered. As new programs are launched in public health and clinical practice areas, an RD exam will be offered in 2017. The Chinese Nutrition Society also holds an annual meeting, with regional meetings offered in various provinces. More info at

Country Health Issues Impacted by Nutrition

The Chinese are in need of the same medical nutrition therapy as the West as they deal with most of the chronic diseases Western cultures suffer from including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and lung cancer from polluted air and smoking,

What are some beliefs, trends, changes you have seen in Chinese nutritional therapy that impact the delivery of nutritional services in China?

One thing you need to know about working with Chinese clients is that food is the center of family, social, and professional life. Celebrations, gatherings and business deals usually include a meal. And according to Liyan, don’t serve just any meal to a Chinese colleague or friend because delicious food is #1 top priority to the Chinese. If dietitians want to work with traditional Chinese clients they need to understand the Eastern belief system called Ying Yang or hot/cold approach to treating diseases. Also, Liyan says to never recommend or serve a stinky cheese to a Chinese individual, also pork for Chinese Muslims. Preparing hot dishes to cold dishes for your Chinese guests is also preferred.

What inspired you to become involved with AODA?

In 2011, Liyan attended the AODA reception at the San Diego FNCE conference and immediately felt like she came home to international dietitians from all over the world. She knew she wanted to join the group and become more involved as she grows into the field she feels was her destiny personally and professionally for life.

Keep up with Liyan at her social media outlets at and twitter @conscious_eat