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If you haven’t seen #ThatDietitianWithABeard on social media yet, let me introduce you to the man himself, Zach Coen, RD, LD. With a few simple kitchen staples, a lot of education, and a mound of real-life experience, he’s showing millions of people across the world – literally! – how to make healthy eating possible.
Coen didn’t start out with a career in nutrition, and that’s perhaps one of the most fascinating parts of his rise to TikTok fame. He’s a military veteran who spent most of his adult life overseas, serving 11 years between active duty and as a contractor. After battling cancer in 2007, he decided it was time for a career change and focused on his passion for fitness and living a healthy lifestyle. Coen started on the road to become a registered dietitian (RD). Though he has been in remission since 2009, his love for health continues, and since becoming a registered dietitian in 2019, he’s continued to help others be the healthiest versions of themselves.
As a fellow registered dietitian, I love seeing my colleagues rise to the top and become change agents in what seems at times like a sea of misinformation presented by health influencers on social media. Coen is without question the tide that’s raising all ships and elevating what science-backed information is all about!
I had the opportunity to interview Coen on his social media success and let me just say, he’s one of the most humble, down to earth dudes I’ve met. Check out what he had to say about his rise to TikTok stardom in under a year while taking note of his three top tips to make meal prep easier for you, too!
Zach, what inspired you to start your TikTok account?
I got so tired of seeing so much misinformation being spread on social media. It made me wonder if there was a place for a registered dietitian on TikTok, someone with the credentials and education to back up the science that is available. I wanted to help individuals understand that being happy and healthy isn’t as complicated as many people make it seem. I am an introvert by nature, and I reluctantly took the plunge and started my TikTok in early 2021. I never expected it to turn out the way it has.
That’s incredible Zach, all in under a year! What keeps you logging into social media day in and day out?
My followers. 100 percent! No questions asked. My TikTok followers are everything to me. I love reading their comments, their stories, and getting to know them on a personal level. Some videos may not get as many views as others, but knowing that it helps just one person is enough for me. They keep me motivated more than they know!
I couldn’t agree more! Now, there are a ton of “health influencers” online sharing a lot of misinformation not backed by science. Can you describe how you differentiate yourself from these others?
It’s honestly very frustrating to see so much nutrition misinformation on social media. I try not to let it get to me too much, and just focus on helping people. I tell my followers all the time, I’m just a regular guy that wants to help people find answers to their questions and let science lead the way.
So humble, Zach! And, may I add, just a regular guy with a beard! On that note, how does it feel to hit 1 million followers?
Wow, 1 million followers. Sometimes I still have a hard time believing it. While it seems like a huge number, I have no intention of slowing down. I plan on growing and helping others for as long as possible.
And that you are! Now, for someone struggling with meal prep, what are your top tips to keep them going?
First, eat the foods you enjoy and fit them into your individual goals! You’re more likely to stick to a plan that incorporates the foods you enjoy. Not everybody wants to eat bland chicken, brown rice, and broccoli seven days a week.
Second, don’t overcomplicate it. There are a lot of great chefs and cooks that share their recipes and knowledge online. Seeing some of their recipes can be overwhelming. Meal prep doesn’t have to be a gourmet meal with a Gordon Ramsay stamp of approval. If you’re just starting out, something as simple as a bento box style lunch can be a great option. As with all things, start small and build on that foundation.
Third, invest in a crockpot. This is one of my personal favorite ways to cook. Nothing beats being able to throw all of your ingredients in a crockpot and walking away for hours. When you come back, you’re done!
Is there anything else you’d like the readers to know?
I turn 40 years young next year, and I am truly the happiest I have ever been. Going to bed at night knowing that my content is helping others on their journey to better health is truly satisfying. One of my favorite motivational speakers is Eric Thomas. He once said, “You’ll never be successful until I don’t have to give you a dime to do what you do.” I can honestly say, for the first time in my life, I feel successful.
If you want to get more advice from #ThatDietitianWithABeard, then be sure to find him on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and Patreon. For those new to Patreon, it’s a unique platform where for a small investment (like $3 a month), followers have access to exclusive content such as more meal prep tips and menus, downloadable PDFs, educational material, and more.