Dietitian Laurel Aeberhardt’s menu for a greener future
Laurel Aeberhardt, a seasoned clinical dietitian, and Green+Leader, with a strong focus on sustainability, has dedicated her career to providing nutritional care to patients while advocating for a healthier planet. With over three decades of experience, primarily at St. Paul’s Hospital, she has played a vital role in ensuring patients receive appropriate nutrition and care during their hospital stays.
It is important to be environmentally conscious as dietitians because we have a golden opportunity to be ‘food influencers.’”
Having initially worked as an intensive care unit (ICU) dietitian, Laurel’s expertise in nutrition support allowed her to provide essential nourishment to critically ill patients. Since retiring in 2021, she remains committed to patient well-being, filling in for colleagues at St. Paul’s on a casual basis.
Laurel attributes her daughter’s influence in fostering her environmental consciousness. “We learn from our kids, and that is where I learned to be more environmentally conscious and aware of living more sustainably,” she notes. “At a very early age, this was important to my daughter. Her idol was Al Gore!”
To Laurel, sustainability is “meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” She emphasizes the necessity of making significant shifts in our food consumption habits to safeguard the environment for future generations.
We must make drastic changes, including a big shift to eating more plant-based foods, less animal protein, and wasting less food.”
In 2022, she joined Providence’s newly formed Environmental Sustainability Committee in an effort to work with food services to increase the plant-based food options on the hospital menu and help to reduce food waste. In fact, minimizing food waste is part of the clinical dietitian’s role — they tailor the meals of the patients they visit to reflect what they will actually eat, and discontinue unwanted food items.
“I also see a great opportunity for our profession to take more of a lead in the global food crisis,” says Laurel. She understands the vital role each individual plays in healing the planet, and that all staff members can foster the vital connection between nourishment, health, and the well-being of our planet.