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
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
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
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
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