Meet the Expert: Jill Castle

My area of expertise is in childhood nutrition and feeding. I think it’s a special area because all kids need great nutrition to have optimal growth and a healthy future.
— Jill Castle MS, RD, LDN

We're very excited to be featuring Jill Castle MS, RD, LDN! Jill has been proclaimed as a childhood nutrition expert with more than 25 years of experience as an RD, nutrition counselor for children, and childhood nutrition consultant to other organizations. Not only is Jill a practicing RD, but she has also written three books including "Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School" and "Eat like a Champion: Performance Nutrition for Your Young Athlete." Needless to say, Jill has really made waves in the nutrition world with her advice on how to feed kids to keep them healthy. Join us to learn more about Jill's story and advice for other dietitians!

Healthy Bytes: Hi Jill- we're so excited to talk to you today! To start us off, can you talk about why you got started in nutrition? 

Jill Castle: I always liked healthcare/medicine and at one point wanted to be a doctor. My dad suggested that "nutrition was the wave of the future of healthcare” (back in 1985!) and suggested I take a course. I did and loved it. Health-based, yet practical to every day life!

That's great that you found your own path in the healthcare world. What is your niche area of practice and what would you say makes your focus special? 

My area of expertise is in childhood nutrition and feeding. I think it’s a special area because all kids need great nutrition to have optimal growth and a healthy future. My early experiences in pediatric nutrition were with very ill children—oncology/BMT, cardiac surgery, and GI of all age groups and in the hospital setting. Over the last 10 years, I have been working in private practice with overweight/obesity, eating disorders, picky eating, food allergies and other conditions, while also becoming an author (2 books), an international speaker, and a corporate consultant.

Childhood nutrition is such an important area of health! How did you come to focus in this area? 

I was initially introduced to pediatric nutrition during my internship and immediately felt challenged and charged. I love kids and working with their nutritional needs in illness and in health. Kids are a bit more complicated (because of growth) to me than the adult population, which probably directed my interest. I love a challenge!

You’re in private practice and you don’t accept insurance. What are some tips/tricks for smart billing practices that you can provide?

I do it the old fashioned way, mostly because I am only open one day/week; my advice would be to bill and collect the day of the appointment, and tie up loose ends before leaving the office. It helps to keep you ahead in case the inevitable unexpected changes in schedule or last minute requests that can come up and take time away from your business.

Nutrition is still constantly changing, what change do you hope to see in the field of nutrition and dietetics? 

I think we need to be more proactive with educating parents on the job of nourishing and feeding their children. To that end, I’ve created an online course to help parents understand the full picture—what it really takes—to raise a healthy child, called The Kids Healthy Weight Project.

After gaining a lot of experience as a dietitian, what advice would you give a new RDN?

Soak up as much research and practical advice from a nutrition practitioner as possible! And network!!

What’s your favorite piece of advice you have received?

No matter what you decide to do, it will be work… and it’s the hard work that expands your growth and development as a person and a professional. Never be afraid to keep your head down and work hard. (I give this advice, too!)

Great advice! What's the most fascinating thing you’ve learned as an RDN?

I think the feeding research that has emerged over the years has changed the way I think about childhood nutrition and practice. I am passionate, as a result, to convey forward-thinking ways to engage with childhood nutrition and help kids be as healthy as possible. 

What’s your favorite success story with a client?

I once worked with a 20 year old young woman with anorexia. I typically don’t take on new clients who are over 18 years, but I took on this gal because she had been through many dietitians and treatment centers before me, and I was basically her last option. I worked with her for 3 1/2 years, sent her back into treatment twice, and over time managed to help her fully recover. I feel very proud of that, because I know on some level, I was instrumental in saving her life.

Thanks Jill!

Parts of this interview have been altered and shortened.