Joan Guthrie Medlen, MEd, RD, LD
Principal, Nutrition Counseling
I became my own version of a “foodie” when I was four or five years old – with the gift of an Easy Bake Oven.
I chose to become a registered dietitian 25 years ago. When I started college, I didn’t know the degree existed. I get to play with food, connect with people, and make a difference.
I became involved in issues related to people with Down syndrome and related disabilities 22 years ago with the birth of my son. As we all know, parents of kids with disabilities are involved in the big picture immediately – like it or not! I chose to work in the field of nutrition/health promotion for people with Down syndrome 16 years ago. It’s a choice I’ve not regretted.
Today, I focus my work on coaching all individuals and their families to create quality lives, and quality health with a community vision. Including, but not limited to families of and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Here’s a snapshot of my academic and professional experiences that have led me to launch. I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Dietetics from Kansas State University. In 1995, I became the editor of Disability Solutions: A Resource for Families and Others Interested in Down Syndrome and Related Disabilities. It changed my life professionally and personally. I began researching and implementing nutrition practices that incorporated the best practices published in Disability Solutions through workshops and individual experiences with people with Down syndrome. These experiences led me to focus on evidence-based best practices based in a way that is easy-to-understand and put to use.
This work led to my writing, The Down Syndrome Nutrition Handbook: A Guide to Healthy Lifestyles. (2002, 2006), available here available here. And then on to publish Cooking by Color: Recipes for Independence (2011) along with a wide variety of other tools. In fact, I’m still creating today. My goal is to create those tools that would make life manageable and promoting independence real for all of us as parents and professionals.
My coaching programs are person and family centered in the truest form. I do not, and will not, attempt to ask people to fit into a set program. Parents of children with disabilities will tell you right away, asking people to conform to a set program or system does not create lasting results. My programs do include a cadre of proven, practical tools that promote good health and wellness – for you. The program description describes how we will communicate, products available, and time agreements involved in Walking the Wellness Walk. The direction and speed of your wellness walk is yours to choose. My job is to be your walking partner – or Sherpa – carrying the tools you need.