Food for thought: and interview with dietitian Ken Mullock

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Can you pass the salt? Maddi Bazzocco via Unsplash

We all need to eat, so let’s talk food

I was doing work (by which I mean I was scrolling on Instagram) one evening and I noticed Ken Mullock, an old colleague of mine, was going to be doing a livestream cooking class with @urallkinected on Instagram. I love food, and I love talking with old colleagues, so I took this opportunity to watch the stream and hear about Mullock’s work, philosophies on food, and his upcoming goals.

First, I watched the livestream Mullock put on. The recipe was for a feta cheese and lentil quesadilla. When the ingredients were introduced, Mullock would explain the health benefits of the food. Along with the health benefits, Mullock explained that food should be enjoyable. He would give foods we could substitute in the recipe to make it to our own taste. “I am a fan of recipes, but also a fan of not following the recipe,” Mullock stated. When talking about kombucha, he said “people act like kombucha should be something you consume, but if you don’t like it, there are many other things that are good for your gut health.” Overall, it was a fun experience. My friends heard me in the practice hallway asking them to help me answer the questions Mullock asked during the chat. After the live stream, I talked to Mullock about his philosophies on food and health.         

My first question for Mullock was about his inspiration for becoming a dietitian in the first place. Mullock explained that he has always been intrigued by food: “everybody eats, and everybody needs nourishment, and we all get that in different ways.” He then went on to explain that he was inspired by his own journey of working with a dietitian when he was younger.

Food is also a way he can be creative: “I love to create things and use a fun approach, but I also really love science and health. What I like about being a dietitian is you can combine those things into a specialized career.” He explains every dietitian has a different approach, and being a dietitian is like teaching. Mullock also loves the education aspect of his social media, as he can teach people in an untraditional setting.

I then asked Mullock how being a dietitian has changed his philosophy on food. He explained that before he became a dietitian, he was excited for the nutrition aspect of food. He said, “I [thought I was] going to learn everything about nutrition, and what the healthiest foods are.” As he went through the dietitian program, he realized there is no one “healthiest food,” as everyone has different needs and food has different benefits depending on what it is. “Food has so many roles in our lives beyond the nutrition it provides,” Mullock stated. He then explained food holds traditions, culture, social aspects, and even enjoyment. Nutrients and all of these aspects are important. He said, “It is important to appreciate everything food can do for you.” For Mullock, he is excited that food brings people together. Food is something we all have in common. 

One of the things I noticed on Mullock’s Instagram is that he has the term “trans-health navigator” in his bio. Mullock explained, “I am a non-traditional and non-conventional dietitian. I do things that dietitians may not have traditionally done. One of those roles is a trans-health navigator.” As a trans-health navigator, Mullock helps transgender people find different health services. This will help people find hormone therapy or gender affirming surgeries. The position also means working with different medical fields to ensure that transgender people are getting the best care possible. Although this position is not focused on food, it focuses on general health. Mullock explained that in his training to be a dietitian, he learned a lot about health as a whole, and that we need to meet the patient where they are at for their needs to be met. 

Now that Mullock is officially a registered dietitian, I asked him if he has any goals moving forward. Mullock accepted a job as a clinical dietitian in hospitals. He said, “I am just loving where life is taking me as a dietitian. As I was going through school, I wasn’t sure what my career path would look like. I would think, ‘What if I don’t find a job,’ or don’t fall into something I love doing. Everything is working well, and I am loving the experiences I am having, and I love the way I get to help in so many different areas.” It is an exciting time to be a dietitian, as the world is starting to see food in different ways. When I mentioned to Mullock that I have noticed that fitness communities online are starting to see food as something to enjoy, he said “I’m a big fan of saying nobody should ever feel bad about anything they’re eating.” 

We talked a little near the end about our own relationships with food. Mullock and I were both vegan for a bit, and both struggled with the idea of starting to introduce animal products into our eating again due to the social guilt. Mullock said that he had to remember his philosophy on food, and if he said no one should feel bad, he had to follow that as well. People can get offended, but at the end of the day it is our own decisions. Being 100% vegan isn’t for everyone. Mullock’s philosophy is that we should eat foods that connect us to culture, family, and enjoyment.

Mullock gave us a lot of food for thought in this interview. As someone who has lived through seeing extreme diets online, it was nice to talk to a dietitian with such a holistic view on health, food, and culture. You can follow Ken Mullock on Instagram at Ken.Dietitian, and you can rewatch the recipe livestream on urallkinected. I hope this gives everyone a new perspective on food. Go out, find the foods you love, and eat the foods you enjoy.

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