As the President of the California Dietetics Association in Orange County,Jennifer Montellanohas also been teaching Fundamentals of nutrition here at Saddleback College for one semester. She currently works at UCI Medical Center, where she is a dietitian in the Burn Intensive Care Unit. Above all, she teaches the fire science department in Santa Ana College.
“I teach a nutrition class for the students applying for the fire academy,” Montellano said. “It is primarily a sports nutrition class, designed to make them aware ofthe areas of nutrition thatwill help them on the job.”
Another one of her many jobs as a nutritionist, is for the Orange County Fire Department. Here she helps the fitness testing for the firemen in Orange County.
“The firemen are tested a few times a year on different components of fitness. It is a three day test,” Montellano said. “After the test, they are educated on the results. This includes a nutrition education”
She talks to them about cholesterol, weight gain, weight loss and other ways to improve their performance.
“Athletics is a big part of this career, so nutrition plays a big part,” Montello said. “I really like this job it is neat to work with a group that is really interested in nutrition. It makes my job more fun.”
Montellanobecame interested in nutrition during her undergraduate studies at the University of Arizona. Where she was a vegetarian and ran for the track team, in her second year of college she became anemic, but wasn’t exactly sure what it meant, and what it was doing to her health. All she knew was that she was unable to focus in her classes; she was becoming tired constantly and unable to finish any of her workouts.
“When I had a blood test, my iron was low,” Montellano said. “It was amazing how changing my diet also changed my workouts. I became really interested in how diet can affect athletics.”
Montellano believes that obesity in young children and the youth is an area that really needs some work. She also believes there are many different reasons that contribute to obesity in America’s youth. She believes education is one big way to make an impact on this issue.
“Many times weight gain can be attributed to ignorance,” Montellano said. “If parents are not aware of the food guide pyramid, the importance of family meals, fruits and vegetables, exercise, or even how to read a food label, then they are unable to teach these foundations to children.”
Just like obesity and overweight issues anorexia and bulimia are diseases that need more then nutritional education, according to Montellano.
“There are other things that contribute to anorexia or bulimia. These include society, stress, fear of fat, perfectionism, control,” Montellano said. “In most cases, nutrition is important, but you also have to treat the underlying problem.”
“I didn’t think I would want to teach until after I finished graduate school,” Montellano continued. “During that time, I had the opportunity to teach a heart healthy class for a thesis project, and I really enjoyed it”.
She enjoys many parts of nutrition but her passion for nutrition is still the athletic area.Montellano graduated from the University of Arizona. She also went to graduate school at Cal Poly.