“There isn’t a day I don’t feel excited, blessed and privileged to work with MGHers – they make me better.”

Debbie Krivitsky, RD, LDN, is a clinical dietitian in the MGH Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Center. She spends her days teaching groups and individual patients how to select and prepare heart-healthy foods and providing them with current, evidence- based nutrition education. In addition to helping her patients meet their dietary goals, she finds joy in learning from her colleagues at the hospital.

“I learn something new from them every day,” Krivitsky says. “The people who work at Mass General are so smart and able, and the lessons I learn from watching and talking with them are invaluable. We work hard, but we do it because we want to lift each other up and be the best we can be for our patients. We each have unique skillsets that allow us to provide this comprehensive care.”

Krivitsky started her journey as an MGHer in 1981 when she became the first student accepted into the MGH Institute of Health Professions’ clinical nutrition graduate program. About 16 years ago, she returned to Mass General to work as a dietitian and is now proud to be known as the hospital’s cardiac dietitian.

“I help people who want to prevent heart events and those who have already had heart events,” she says. “Some of my patients have complex medical issues, so I partner with them to create healthy and sustainable habits.”

Krivitsky says there is a strong connection between eating and emotions, and for many of her patients, this made managing healthy habits difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stress and isolation became significant factors in their food selection and led to worsening eating habits.

There were, however, silver linings for Krivitsky during the pandemic as she began doing more telehealth and virtual visits – her patients didn’t need to worry about the stress of parking and driving in Boston, and it was helpful for her to be “in” their homes and personal kitchens through Zoom.

“If I needed to look at a nutrition label or brand, the patient could grab it out of their pantry and we could read the label together,” Krivitsky says. “It allowed me to make things personal and tailored to them.”

The pandemic also gave Krivitsky the opportunity to reach a larger audience on her YouTube channel, “Dishin’ with the Dietitian.” Knowing many restaurants were struggling early on, she began to feature several locations in the North End on her livestreams if they introduced a heart-healthy dish to their menu.

“You can now get a heart-healthy pizza in the North End,” Krivitsky says. “The chefs there can cook anything, so why not make something heart healthy?”

Krivitsky says she hopes her weekly livestreams gave patients and viewers a sense of connection and consistency in the height of the pandemic.

“The pandemic made everyone feel a little isolated,” she says. “People really had to face themselves, and that made it hard to stay motivated and on track sometimes. During that time, it was important for me to remind people about healthy habits and for them to know someone was there to support and check in on them.”