This week, we're excited to highlight our expert Kim Iles, MS, RD, LDN! Kim has been the co-owner of the nutrition counseling practice Healthy Diets, based in North Carolina, since 2011, and is currently serving as the President-elect for the North Carolina Dietetic Association. We love Kim's no-fear attitude when it comes to finding the best nutrition and exercise interventions, and are curious about what she has to say. Join us to learn more about Kim!
Healthy Bytes: Hi Kim- we're very excited to be chatting with you today! To start us off, will you tell us how you got into the field of nutrition?
Kim Iles: I didn't grow up in a home where nutrition was discussed at all. It wasn't until I was a sophomore in college that I even really knew the intricacies of calories, fat, carbohydrates, and proteins - how they all interacted together and the role they each played in our health. I was interning at a primary care practice where they had a phenomenal nutritionist on staff. I really saw the difference she made in people's lives and health. That's where I began learning about how food can be healing or hurtful to our bodies. After interning there for 6 months, I knew that I loved her job and I wanted to help people feel better through food.
Is there any advice that you would give to new or future RDs?
Don't be afraid to stray from the pack. Do your own research regarding guidelines and nutrition recommendations for your patients. Remember, AND's guidelines may not be the most up-to-date for every condition you encounter, so really look at what the research says before treating blindly.
You're one of our most established experts who takes insurance! Can you talk a little bit about how accepting insurance has benefited your practice?
Our payer mix is about 96% insurance to 4% cash pay. RDs in NC have wonderful insurance benefits, and being on so many insurance panels really drives our business. Doctors love that we take insurance, and feel good about referring their patients to my practice. Patients also love that they can use their insurance benefits to improve their care.
It's great that doctors love referring patients to you because you take insurance! What has surprised you the most about being a provider?
How thankful our patients have been that 1) we take insurance and that 2) we do a complete benefit detail verification before they come to their appointment.
Taking insurance has really made your practice stand out! What else would you say makes your practice special?
Having RDs who specialize in one area of nutrition. I have a CDE, CLT, and CEDRDs all on staff. They primarily see patients who fit within their specialties. Having our dietitians specialize in one areas allows them to provide better care, stay up-to-date on the latest research in their area, and really be able to effectively communicate with the physicians in their fields such as gastroenterologists and endocrinologists.
As a dietitian with a very specific focus, what is one of the most fascinating things you have learned?
The most fascinating that I've learned is how much the bacteria in our gut really can dictate our health. The gut microbiota is fascinating, and I'm so happy it's finally getting the attention and research it deserves.
What change do you hope to see, or are you excited about in the field of nutrition and dietetics?
I would really like to see RDs collaborating more with other nutrition professionals like Certified Nutrition Specialists. These nutrition professionals have master's degrees and often PhDs. They work a lot in the research and academic settings, so it would be wonderful to see RDs collaborating with them more as they often have another perspective on nutrition due to the slight difference in their training.
Your focus is on patients with IBS, what would you say is one of your favorite success stories with a patient?
A few years ago, I had a patient referred to me for IBS, fructose malabsorption, and SIBO. She had been misdiagnosed for a really long time prior to seeing her new GI doc and as a result, she was severely underweight. Her main goal was to restore her health so she could successfully get pregnant and have a baby. Her insurance covered 12 visits to an RD each year. We had bi-weekly visits initially and with dietary management of her IBS and fructose malabsorption, she was able to restore her weight in 6 months to a healthy BMI and become pregnant. I still check in with her from time to time, and she's really thriving now.
Parts of this interview have been edited and shortened.