Bariatric Dietitian, Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.
As a bariatric dietitian, Nancy Restuccia counsels patients undergoing weight-loss surgery, offering specific nutrition plans and behavioral support. As Marc Bessler, MD, Director of the Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery, explains, “Nancy has worked with me for 12-plus years. She is dedicated to excellence for our patients and program.”
Q: What are your responsibilities at the Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery?
I see patients most of the day, from 9 to 3, both before and after their surgery. We follow up for life. I try to teach them to eat in such a way that they can be as successful as possible. Then I return phone calls and emails, edit charts, run support groups.
Q: You have worked at the Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery for 12 years. What are you most proud of?
My biggest satisfaction is that patients are happy and successful. Some of them, who met in the support groups I run, have married and had kids. I was at their weddings—I was so proud!
Q. What are the biggest challenges in your job?
The biggest challenge is making sure that patients take care of themselves, get their questions answered, and their needs met.
Time stands in the way; a half hour per patient is not nearly enough. There’s a lot of work to be done here, and we’re short-staffed, but we do the best we can.
Q: What makes The Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery unique?
What makes our center unique is the caliber of all the people who work here. The surgeons are fabulous. We all work so well together. The students who shadow me are amazed at how much we joke around. We communicate well with one another, which translates in to better patient care.
Q. How did you become a dietitian?
I started out as a market researcher. I loved math, but a part of me missed working with people. I tried becoming a recruiter, thinking I could help people.
Then, when my mother was sick with advanced breast cancer, I became interested in nutrition. I also got my first dog, a Pomeranian, and I wanted to be sure she had the best possible diet. I took a summer course at Lehman College, and kept going from there.
Q: Is there anything you would especially like readers to know?
The most important thing people can do for their weight and health is to eat out less. When you eat out, you consume more fat, sugar, and sodium. Also get moving, even if you cannot get to the gym.
If people need weight loss surgery, they should come and see us. And if you’re not prepared to have surgery—or for our patients who are regaining weight—we have a weight control center down the hall.
Q: How is your own diet?
(She laughs.) Well, I drink a protein shake for breakfast, sometimes in the car on the way to work. I’ve also been a vegetarian for 25 years.
Q. What do you do to relax?
I teach a weight management course to grad students!