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Dietitian-Nutritionist Barbara Spalding
Starts ‘Second Act’ at MCCC
Spalding to Offer Continuing Studies Course in Nutrition at MCCC in September


West Windsor, N.J. – When Barbara Spalding '09 (Culinary Arts), MA, MS, RDN, decided she wanted a career makeover, she focused in on food. 

“I love cooking, healthy eating and exercise.  I decided to go back to school at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) for its culinary program,” she said, adding that her initial goal was a career as a chef, restaurant manager or caterer.

"Mercer was a wonderful place to start,” said Spalding, a resident of Princeton.  “The culinary facilities are so good and the faculty is so strong.  I got theory and practice combined.”

While studying at MCCC, Spalding attended several food science and nutrition seminars that piqued her interest.  “They were taught by a dietitian and I was really drawn to the field, which combines my interests in good food and good health,” she recalls.

With a previous career as a health insurance broker and consultant, Spalding recognized she had none of the science background necessary for a future as a dietitian. She looked into the curriculum for the dietitian program at Rutgers University and found out what courses she would need for transfer.

Spalding decided to remain at Mercer and take the required science courses.  Once again, she found faculty members who were top notch.

Barbara Spalding '09

“Mercer got me started and taught me how to study science,” she said.  Spalding took all the basics -- Introductory Biology, Introductory Chemistry and several math courses including Calculus -- plus two semesters of Organic Chemistry.

Spalding says she couldn’t have asked for a better institution to jump back in and essentially start over.  “The faculty was supportive and encouraging. Everyone was very welcoming.”

As an adult student, Spalding was highly motivated.  “I knew why I was in school.  I saw a beginning, middle and end.”  She notes her interactions with younger students enriched her experience.  “We all worked together.  Everyone made it work.  Sometimes they would look at me and figure if I could learn it, so could they,” she recalls with a smile.

When Spalding transferred, RU accepted all of her Mercer credits.  While at RU, she gained experience in nutrition by working part-time at Bayonne Medical Center and later completed a 1200-hour internship through UMDNJ (now Rutgers’ Biomedical and Health Sciences Campus). She earned her B.S. in Nutrition Sciences in 2011 and then continued at Rutgers to earn her M.S. in Nutritional Sciences.

After briefly working at a rehabilitation hospital and at daycare centers where she helped the staff improve their nutrition and physical activity standards, Spalding decided to set up her own practice. These days, she offers individualized nutritional counseling from her office in the East Windsor Medical Complex. 

She also has a blog, which offers nutrition advice and recipes: www.secondactkitchen.com.  She takes all the food photos featured on her site.

Her new job is clearly one she relishes. “There are so many fad diets and so much information available on the Internet, not all of it good,” Spalding says.  “Not all approaches to eating are appropriate at every life stage.  I tend to work with people in mid-life or older.  How you eat in your 20s may be different than how you should be eating later in life. I help my clients find answers that work for them with a goal towards healthier eating and a healthier lifestyle.”

This fall, Spalding will return to MCCC to share some of her extensive knowledge in a two-session course offered through the Center for Continuing Studies. In “Nutrition Buzz – Myth and Reality” on Sept. 15 and 29 from 7 to 9 p.m., Spalding will discuss the foundations of a healthy diet, how to decipher the “nutrition buzz” that bombards the American public, and how to make smart, science-based food choices that will improve eating patterns and lifestyle.  She will share reputable sources of nutrition information and tips on how to judge the validity of information in the media and on social media, along with current USDA Dietary Guidelines.

For more information or to register for “Nutrition Buzz,” call 609-570-3311 or email ComEd@mccc.edu

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