What inspired me to create an uncharted career path?
After teaching at OU for several years, I started working at (what was then) Presbyterian Hospital. I wanted to know if I was making a difference in the healthcare of the patients I saw.
I knew dietitians played a vital role in shortening patients’ time in the hospital, improving biomedical markers, and decreasing medications. However, I wasn’t sure that physicians and the public knew this.
In the hospital, an order for a nutrition consult frequently came only a few hours before the patient was to be dismissed. We called these “Suitcase” instructions (as in, patient sitting on their suitcase ready to leave the hospital). But no one’s behavior can be positively impacted with merely a limited discussion of “eat this, not that.”
My biggest frustration working as a hospital dietitian was that generally, I would see a patient only once or twice and never again. Not getting the opportunity to see patient outcomes, I assumed I wasn’t making a difference in their health. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to see positive outcomes.
In 1981, I began to pursue how I could make a difference in patients’ nutrition and healthcare. I knew it would require a different environment than the hospital setting. Physicians, counselors, and therapists see patients in their offices, so why not dietitians?
I also knew it would take multiple visits to support a patient in changing their relationship with food to improve their health. The solution: Nutrition therapy in a private practice setting instead of nutrition education in a one-visit hospital consult.
On September 15, 1981, I opened “Banister Nutrition LLC.”
The outcome has been forty years of fulfilling my passion – what could be better than that?
— 40 Years Ago—
– In 1981 there were no dietitians in private practice in Oklahoma.
– It took a year for me to get permission to lease space in Mercy Tower because I was not a physician.
– I was asked, “Why would a patient come to you for a nutrition consult when they can go to any hospital in the city and get the same service for free?” My response was “I don’t know, but they will.”
Through the years, in addition to one-on-one nutritional counseling, our work has included small hospital consulting, consulting for dialysis centers, corporate wellness classes, grocery store classes for adults and children, the “Restaurant Lite” weekly TV segment and a “Restaurant Lite” conference for chefs featuring Emeril Lagasse, TV interviews, weight loss classes, and eating disorder programs for families.
Memorable experiences in these 40 years have included:
– The 101 year old man who scheduled an appointment because he wanted to make sure he was eating a balanced diet. I had such genuine respect for this gentleman.
– Doing research to identify how to treat a young man referred to me with a very rare disorder known as fish odor syndrome- trimethylaminuria (TMAU).
– Feeling humble and honored when physicians and peer dietitians have come to me as patients.
– Working with a patient who had type 1 diabetes and dissociative identity disorder. This middle aged woman slipped into her young child personality as she was sitting in my office. WOW—this I will never forget. We had a happy ending, but I was worried for a few minutes.
– Being invited to attend the weddings of beautiful young women who were former eating disorder patients. There is so-o-o much HAPPY in these moments!
Our passion today is the same as it was 40 years ago: to
make a difference in the lives of our patients. We love the
opportunity to work with each patient’s unique set of health and
A reflection on our history would not be complete without reflecting
on the 200+ providers who make referrals to Banister Nutrition.
These forward-thinking providers who embrace nutrition as a vital
part of their patients’ healthcare have been the heart and soul of our
practice for 40 years, and we are extremely GRATEFUL!