American Society For Nutrition

Interview with Chris Sovey, ASN Blogger

Interview with Chris Sovey, ASN Blogger

Excellence in Nutrition Research and Practice
A Conversation With HealthyConsumer.com Founder and ASN Blogger Chris Sovey, RN

Social media is becoming an increasingly important tool for conversation between nutrition experts, their patients, consumers, and each other. The American Society for Nutrition (ASN) often uses social media to communicate with our members via our Facebook page, Twitter account, YouTube and LinkedIn. We also have a great community of members who post on our blog. One such student blogger is Chris Sovey, RN BSN, founder of his own web site, HealthyConsumer.com, which he designed to help patients take an integrative approach to their health that includes nutrition, exercise, research, physical and occupational therapy, behavioral therapy, pharmacology, traditional medicines, and alternative healing methods.

In addition to his ASN blogging duties and his work with Healthy Consumer, Chris is working on his Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Andrews University. He obtained his Bachelor's of Science in Nursing at Michigan State University. He also has an extensive background in natural treatments and is conducting research into the use of diet and lifestyle changes to treat chronic depressive disorders. It was this background that led Chris to create a consumer-friendly web site with accurate, well-supported information on a variety of integrative approaches to health and wellness. Chris recently spoke with us about his work with social media, his experience with ASN, and the importance of nutrition education for nursing professionals.

Interviewer:  How did you first become interested in nutrition? What made you decide to pursue a career in the field?

Chris: I first became interested in nutrition when a close friend of mine developed amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  He had a very interesting approach to healing that I had never seen before, using a raw food diet.  I saw him slowing or even reversing some of the symptoms of the disease, which is largely unheard of in medical literature.  For me, that was an important lesson about the power of food and nutrition.  

Interviewer: When and why did you join ASN?

Chris: Prior to launching Healthy Consumer, I did a lot of research in peer-reviewed journals.  Of course, I kept coming across ASN's journals—The Journal of Nutrition and The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  As I began writing for Healthy Consumer, I noticed I was citing these journals more and more.  That really motivated for me to become a member and get more involved.

Interviewer: What aspects of ASN membership do you find most helpful to your professional career?

Chris:  In addition to the journals, which provide the most accurate, up-to-date information, ASN has also offered me access to different vibrant communities that share my interests (Research Interest Sections and the Student Interest Group).  

Interviewer: What factors motivated your decision to become a student blogger?

Chris: One of my big motivations for joining ASN was to reach out to different communities who are interested in integrative approaches to healing.  Becoming a student blogger is one of the best ways I've seen to do that because it helps me become part of the conversations that are important to members. I also wanted to become a student blogger to get clinicians' perspectives on nutrition research.

Interviewer: How do you feel social media impacts the healthcare field?

Chris: I think that social media provides a unique opportunity for healthcare professionals to discuss their opinions on relevant issues, which is particularly important with all of the changes currently affecting the field. For example, in California right now, they're considering potential regulations and consequences for the sale of genetically altered food.  Because of social media, that issue was able to get attention and make it on the ballot.  Social media has become so powerful; it really is a tool for change. Consumers and nutrition experts alike are already using it to question government policies on food safety and other regulations that protect us.  It's also a great way to get information—some of which is accurate and some of which is not.  The challenge is to be able to sift through. That's why blogging from reputable organizations like ASN is so essential, because they are based on scholarly information. That is certainly what we've tried to emulate at Healthy Consumer.

Interviewer: How is nutrition of particular importance to nursing?

Chris: I actually just recently wrote a blog post on this exact issue.  It should be posted on the ASN blog very soon.  Nutrition is such a critical part of the healing process, particularly for patients going through the acute stages of healing.  Nurses, many times, are educators for our patients and we need to be able to articulate the magnitude of the impact food can have on health and wellness.

Interviewer: Do you think nutrition education recognizes this importance? If not, what strategies could help improve the situation?

Chris: When I was leaving nursing school, I had a lot of questions about nutrition that I felt were unanswered.  Although we took basic nutrition courses, it really is not enough.  Ideally, it would be wonderful to see a class that focuses on the clinical value of nutrition.  As a current physical therapy student, I have learned so much about the importance of diet for proper healing, a subject that is missing from education for many nurses.  It is difficult though because nurses are often not empowered to change patient diets, other than to make very basic suggestions.  So I think the first step before better training would be to widen the scope of practice for nurses.

Interviewer: What are your future career plans?

Chris: After I finish my doctorate I will be working as a physical therapist for at least five years.  In the meantime, I'm focusing on several of my research interests, including nutritional interventions for clinical depression and other chronic diseases.

September 2012