Blazing a New Trail to Health and Wellness

Blazing a New Trail to Health and Wellness

by Susan Neuhalfen

At a time when it was hard enough breaking into business as a woman (the early 70s), not only was Kathy taking on the world with her gender, she was breaking new ground as a self-employed dietitian, a brand new profession.

She went to high school in the Denver area and graduated from Colorado State University. She started her career working in hospitals helping patients to heal through nutrition. Then, in 1972, she ventured out to start one of the first nutrition private practices in the country with the goal of intervening earlier in the disease process to keep people healthy longer.

Her first challenge was that her business was completely dependent upon physician referrals. That meant visiting 7-8 different medical offices during the week while trying to build the business. After a year, she opened a small office in a medical complex.

“I joined a lot of organizations and spoke all the time,” said Kathy. “I talked about nutrition to anyone who would sit still–like church groups, schools, and corporate and women’s groups, educating them on what a dietitian does and how important nutrition is to our bodies.”

Kathy was one of the first dietitians to break new ground in sports nutrition as she began consulting to professional and amateur athletes and coaches. Finally, she was interviewed by the Denver Broncos football team and worked with its trainer for three years to help players eat better and keep their weight down during off season.

Kathy also became friends with Bill Coors of the Coors Brewing Company who was a big advocate of nutrition and wellness. She was hired at their corporate medical center to help employees find a better path to health through nutrition.

On top of counseling private patients, Kathy stayed busy, consulting to drug rehab centers, nursing homes, and Head Start. Local dietitians referred her to jobs and speaking engagements that either they didn’t want or weren’t qualified to take.  Still, it wasn’t easy breaking into such a new area of practice because none of the consultant jobs were more than a few hours per month.

It helped, however, that she lived in Colorado, which stays 10-15 years ahead of states of like Texas in terms of valuing nutrition and wellness.  She volunteered her services to the Colorado Dietetic Association and became a media liaison for the organization, which opened doors for media work the next 20 years. She was the NoonDay Nutritionist for 4 years on NBC TV in Denver and had her own radio talk show in Dallas for a year on Sunday mornings.

Kathy served as President of the Colorado Dietetic Association, National Chair of the Council on Practice for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), and on its Board of Directors. 

AND chose Kathy and a dietitian from Houston to embark on a seminar series teaching colleagues how to start into private practice. They are credited with being instrumental in creating this career avenue.

One thing that has never waned is Kathy’s passion for what she does.  She loves how her profession has grown over the years. She is particularly excited when teaching others about functional and integrative medical nutrition, which are emerging areas of medicine that believe in working with the function of the whole, interrelated body systems. Nutrition is one of the core therapies used when trying to restore or maintain health and avoid chronic disease.

Integrative medicine incorporates the best of nutrition and lifestyle choices with alternative therapies like meditation, massage, stress management and chiropractic and combines them with the best of western medicine. King has watched these therapies grow in popularity and acceptance over the years.

“It helps us to address the root causes of problems and stay ahead of chronic disease,” said Kathy.

The past 25 years, Kathy has owned Helm Publishing, Inc. where she creates and publishes continuing educational materials, which are open-book tests for dietitians, nurses, diabetes educators, health educators, and other health professionals. Many courses cover integrative topics in the hopes that the new research will help change practice for the benefit of the public.

Recently, Kathy is also working to better educate doctors around the world on the importance of nutrition through creating NutritionEdge on www.ReachMD.com/programs/NutritionEdge, an online continuing education site for physicians, health professionals, and the public.

“Nutrition has been such a godsend, I’ve really enjoyed learning the science of it with all its potential,” said Kathy. “I’m waiting for the day when it comes into its rightful place in our society. That keeps me going and excited.”


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