Sarah Williams’ love for nutrition began in high school. Like a lot of young women, Sarah had restricted her diet out of concern for her appearance. When she was diagnosed with long QT Syndrome (a heart condition) in her sophomore year, she was motivated to learn proper nutrition to help manage her condition.
“With long QT, you have to be on beta blockers or get a defibrillator – I’m on both, because mine is pretty serious. I realized I couldn’t keep up my unhealthy habits anymore or there would be long-term detrimental effects on my heart. I started reading and researching and learning all sorts of information about nutrition,” she said.
Even though she’s from Tennessee, Sarah was born and raised a Bama fan. “My first words might have been ‘Roll Tide,’” she said. “We would go to T-Town for A-Day games. Some of my best memories are in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.” UA held her attention, and as her interest in nutrition grew, she knew she wanted to become a registered dietitian through studying at UA. However, after high school, she fell in love with an Air Force man and her flight plan was changed.
“We were engaged by seven months. Some people say military relationships move fast, but when you know, you know. I knew Justin was worth adjusting my plans.”
While they were engaged, Sarah worked toward her associate degree. Right after she finished it in 2017, she and Justin were married, and she moved to Rapid City, South Dakota, to be with him.
With no premier dietetics programs nearby, Sarah was “bummed for an entire semester.” But then one night, the thought of an online nutrition program popped into her head, so she Googled it. “I saw Alabama’s Bama By Distance, and I could not believe it! I told myself, ‘There’s no way this is an accredited program. It’s too good to be true!’” However, after she did her research, she realized UA’s online bachelor’s in Food and Nutrition was not only accredited, but top-ranked and highly regarded in the field. “I applied that day! I was accepted and it’s been a blessing in my life ever since.”
Sarah began taking UA’s online classes in Fall 2018. She said the coursework has given her an academic foundation critical for understanding nutrition. “Everyone consults Dr. Google when it comes to health and nutrition, but the dietetics program has taken my knowledge so much further. It’s been amazing at breaking down nutrition for me on the cellular level.” Her favorite classes have been Nutritional Biochemistry and Nutrition at the Cellular Level. “Sometimes people talk about some fad diet and I can tell they’ve viewed misinformation online left and right. Now I’m able to point them to evidence-based research, because anything other than that is just a hypothesis with no backing at all.”
During Fall 2020, her final semester in the program, Sarah has been shadowing a registered dietitian in a clinical setting, and it’s given her exposure to her intended field. “I conduct nutritional assessments under his supervision. It’s really cool to execute the knowledge I have and utilize it in a professional setting. It has solidified my interest in clinical nutrition.”
If you’re on TikTok and have an interest in nutrition, you may have seen one of Sarah’s videos sharing nutrition tips or recipes. “One night I made a recipe video – just for fun! And everybody hopes when they hit ‘Submit’ that people will see it and share it, but one of my recipes really took off, and then another, so I’ve been updating it with more recipe videos a couple times a week. People see the recipes and follow me, and I’m thankful for every single follower.” A catchphrase she has coined in her recipe videos is “Measure with your heart,” and one of these followers even sent her a personalized shirt and coffee mug.
The success of her online presence opened her eyes to monetizing social media and using it as a platform for professional nutrition or opening a private practice, but she said she’d rather focus on clinical practice now and potentially consider the social media route later in life. “Clinical nutrition is my heart. Feeding is the basic form of showing affection to someone, and I have a heart for helping vulnerable people regardless of why they’re in the hospital.”
Sarah is on track to graduate in December 2020 and plans to return to her nostalgic T-Town for commencement.
“It’s become my heart – no pun intended – to help educate people with the information they need to treat and manage their health issues.”
Published: November 17th, 2020