The "Today" show's Joy Bauer. (Credit: Dave Sanders)

Joy Bauer is a busy woman. Aside from running a two-office nutrition practice with 12 registered dieticians, she is a successful author and the nutrition expert on the “Today” show. But Bauer, who’s in her mid-40s, has certainly paid her dues to get to where she is now. We spoke to her about the field for which she feels very passionate.

What made you become interested in nutrition?
It was sort of by accident. I was an athlete my whole life. I actually thought I’d go to medical school and go to into pediatrics. But I decided to go to NYU grad school and get a masters in nutrition. It made perfect sense for me, because I had a passion for sports and I love working with people. I also love food, too, and love to cook.

How did you get your start?
After grad school, I was director of nutrition for pediatric cardiology at Mount Sinai. I ran the Heart Smart Kids program in Harlem, which was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.

I started dabbling in private practice and was pitching articles for magazines.

I did not wake up overnight making a living. I volunteered all over the place, and even taught exercise classes.

The articles started happening and hospitals were giving referrals to me. My first book came out, and “The View” called.

Once I appeared regularly on “The View,” my private practice really began to grow.

What are some of the most rewarding elements of the job?
Being able to help someone increase the quality of their life. To watch someone start out depressed, heavy, unhealthy and lethargic and help them lose weight and start to date and smile. It’s an incredible feeling.

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What are some challenges?
Getting into school, because it’s incredibly competitive. And when you get out of school its also completely competitive.

What’s the first thing to should do if I’m interested in nutrition?
I would sit down with a counselor at a school that offers a graduate degree. Have someone lay out what classes you need. And then decide if it’s worth it. I push people to get their RD, rather than just nutritionist certification. It’s so competitive, so why not be the best? NYU and Columbia are two of the most competitive, best programs in the world.

What would you suggest once you’re starting out?
Your best bet is to focus on something specialized. Don’t strive for a private practice full-time out of the gate, but you could certainly do that part-time, while you have a full-time job.

In hospitals, the benefits are great. They’ll also often pay for continued classes.

Also, volunteer with organizations like March of Dimes and the American Heart Association.

What kind of person is best suited for the job?
All types, because there are so many different things you can do. You don’t have to be a people person to work in research or writing. If you’re a real people person, you could be a good counselor, and a good lecturer. If you like cooking, you can be an RD health cook. The bottom line is to be passionate and driven. Being good with science helps a lot.

What does your daily workout schedule look like?
I aim to walk on the treadmill for an hour at some point each day. I walk fast enough so that I’m sweating, but not so fast that I can’t use my blackberry. I strength train two to three times a week.

Fun facts about Joy:

 

Not always healthy: In highschool, Bauer designed her first diet. She had heard that carbs were bad and veggies were good. “Ritz crackers were the carb and mayo-heavy coleslaw was my vegetable.”

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Favorite healthy foods:
1. 100 percent pure canned pumkin. “It has fiber and betacarotine and is great for skin and energy. It’s also versatile and cheap. You can mix it with turkey meat and make tacos or mix it with yogurt,” said Bauer.

2. Spinach. “It’s loaded with antioxidants and has betacarotine, lutein for your eyes and Vitamin C. It works cooked or raw,” she said.

Her indulgences: Without skipping a beat, Bauer said “really good, melty vanilla ice cream and hard, crunchy sugar cookies.”


 

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