Athlete Turned Dietitian: Neil White

Growing up, all Neil White knew was sports and physical activities. Having the opportunity to play soccer, baseball, and run cross country and track, it’s not surprising that he grew up to take an interest in dietetics and is on his way to becoming a certified dietician.

White was born in China and was then adopted by a loving family at the age of seven and moved to the U.S. Since his adoption, athleticism and living a healthy lifestyle has been a top priority for him and his family. His parents got him and his four siblings active in sports early on, and they’ve all had the opportunity to travel to different states and compete on high levels, even in gymnastics.

“The thing about our family is, we don’t play just one or two sports,” said White. “We’re just an all-around active family.”

Not only that, but White doesn’t let anything stop him. White was born with one hand, and while others may think that would be a hindrance to an athlete, it pushed him even more to be a hard-working individual, pushing past those that have underestimated him.

Baseball was the first serious sport for him to play and he was pretty popular for being able to play due to his own uniqueness. White has never had a problem with adjusting to get the job done.

“A kid with one hand being able to play baseball, and not only play but be good at it,” said White. “For someone to catch a ball and at the same time swap out and throw the ball with the same hand he caught it with . . . is pretty impressive. You don’t ever see that around.”

White has always allowed his work to speak for itself, as an athlete and as a college student working towards becoming a dietician. Having a background in fitness, he soon learned what he wanted to do in life: “Live happier, live healthier and live longer” – a motto he lives by and he is accomplished by a person’s diet. The better you eat, the better you feel for everyday activities and can perform.

White recently graduated with his bachelor’s in dietetics from the University of Georgia. He is now at Valdosta State University to receive his verification statement. 

Due to COVID-19, he was unable to complete the last classes needed, but will complete this year. There are several paths a dietician can take, but White would like to either be a sports nutritionist or a clinical nutritionist. 

Because of his athletic background, White knows firsthand how important an athlete’s diet can be to their career. With clinical nutrition, he would be able to work at hospitals with everyday people who may have to go on certain diets for surgeries. 

“Sports nutrition is a little higher than the hospital, but I wouldn’t mind being both,” said White. “Those are the two I have my eye set on right now.” 

Being a runner for many years, he is focused on Olympic sports, if he does decide to go the sports nutrition route. 

Although every person is different, White suggests that each person has the necessary food groups: fruits, grains, vegetables, protein, and a side of dairy. He recommends using the website and app, MyPlate—a great source to keep up with food intake. 

“If you know you need to eat healthy for a certain thing, then you should have a goal,” said White. “That’s what helped me. All my accomplishments, I set a goal.” 

White suggests working out or eating healthy with someone, so that you can have a great support system.

“Stay motivated, be consistent, and hold yourself accountable,” White said. 

White says one shouldn’t live life with regrets. 

“You only live once,” he said. “It sounds cliché, but it’s true though.”

One day, White hopes to accomplish another goal by revisiting his birth place in China after he completes his final classes and starts his career.

Written by: Tyrah Walker

Photography by: Brandon Pham

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