My name is Dana Trotta and I am a renal dietitian and clinical educator for Vidafuel.
I was born and raised in Narragansett, Rhode Island, a small beach community by the sea and home to the best seafood! After graduating high school, I went on to attend college at the University of Connecticut and now hold a bachelors of science in dietetics and a masters of science in human nutrition from the University of Saint Joseph.
I have since moved back to Rhode Island with my husband and our black lab, where we welcomed our first baby this March! We are definitely what people would consider an ‘outdoor family’ — hiking, boating, swimming, you name it — and we cannot wait to continue doing all of these activities with our newborn!
What made you decide to enter the world of nutrition?
I always knew I wanted to work in the healthcare industry because I am passionate about health and really wanted a career that I knew would make a difference in people’s lives. It didn’t take me long to realize that dietetics was for me — my love of food combined with the fact that I am too squeamish to be a nurse is what really drove me to the field. Ha!
Describe the work you do as a dietitian
In my job as a renal (kidney) dietitian, I work with hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis patients, as well as chronic kidney disease patients stages II-IV. I absolutely love being able to educate and counsel patients on the renal diet and help them improve their nutritional status.
With Vidafuel, I get the chance to work in a dynamic setting and educate patients on our products, as well as act as a resource for dietitians who are interested in offering our products in their clinics. I also take the time to research up to date best practices and translate it into a real-world approach for clinicians and patients. I help the team with education development, recipes, blog writing, and research.
I love getting to wear many different hats as a dietitian!
Do you believe in diets, and if so, which are best?
I look at the word diet a little bit differently than you may read about in a magazine! To me, the word diet simply means the food that you eat.
So, do I believe in diets? Yes, but the high-quality nutrient kind.
Achieving a healthy body weight and following goals for things like fiber intake, sodium, fluids, etc. is all important for health, well-being, and disease prevention. There is no “one size fits all” for anyone — people have to learn what works for them and not be afraid to ask for help when they need it.
Dietitians make a fantastic resource to help you achieve your nutrition goals by developing a personalized nutrition plan.
Any food recommendations for those trying to eat well when dining out?
It depends on how often you are eating out. If you’re dining out and it’s a special occasion, I would recommend getting whatever it is that you’re craving! Everything in moderation can fit.
If eating out is something you do often, whether you aim for convenience or work on the road, try to fill your plate with veggies, lean protein, and whole grains. There are ways to do this while still including foods you enjoy eating. Try to be mindful of high-sodium and deep-fried foods if you dine out often.
For example, you can substitute french fries for veggies as a side dish, or ask for half of your meal to be boxed to prevent overeating when portion sizes are too large.
What should people look for when selecting a protein supplement?
This is such a common question and I can understand why. With so many products readily available on the market, this can be a source of confusion for many. Don’t just choose the product with the most protein per serving. Consider all other ingredients and additives, and make a choice based on the product as a whole.
Here are 3 things to keep in mind when choosing a protein supplement:
Sugar source: What is the sugar source? Artificial sweeteners are far more potent than regular sugar and can potentially change your taste perception and increase cravings. Try finding something with natural sweeteners such as fruit.
Protein source: Aim to have a varied diet to get multiple sources of protein (both animal and plant-based) in your body throughout the day.
- Serving size: How big is each serving size? For some people, getting a concentrated source of protein is necessary due to a fluid-restricted diet, which means a powder product that you have to mix with a lot of water does not work for everyone.
Find something that you are able to be consistent with and can incorporate into your diet and lifestyle as a way to meet your protein needs!