Dietitian Fran Berkoff Cooks Up a Website

When dietitian Fran Berkoff retired from her full time staff position at a Toronto hospital after many decades, she wanted to develop her own part-time practice, focussing on boomer clients.

And to do that, she realized, she ought to have a website.

“I thought about it for three years,” she admits.

Even though she’d been a weekly columnist for the Toronto Sun newspaper for 25 years, a regular contributor to Canadian Living magazine, cookbook co-author, consultant to business and government and frequent guest on TV shows, she says, “I was a little uncomfortable about putting myself out there with a website. There’s something very personal about that.”

Still, she recognized that it was the ideal way “to present what I had to offer — my years of experience and the fact that I ‘get’ boomers.”

She found a web designer through word-of-mouth, settling on a young woman in Ottawa whom friends had found easy to work with and who “designed beautifully.”

Together, Berkoff and Janna Glenn determined how to generate traffic — although they never actually met in person. The cost for getting the site up and running was around $2,000, she says.

Berkoff’s role was deciding what content would draw people to the site and serve the demographic she wanted to attract.

“Boomers’ issues are different than those of younger people,” she says. “We put on weight as we get older and often have to deal with hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. Nutrition needs change after 50. You may need vitamin B12 or vitamin D. It’s important to know what you need and what you don’t need.

“It’s a good time for a nutrition tune-up,” she suggests.

“People wonder, ‘Am I eating okay? Are there supplements I should be taking? What about gluten? Should I go vegan?’ And what to make of all the contradictory information they’re bombarded with.”

Clients tell her, “I don’t know what’s right or wrong anymore and I needed to talk to somebody knowledgeable.”

She explains, “As we get older, we usually can’t eat the same rich foods we enjoyed when we were young.
Boomers also want flexibility.

“They don’t want rigid rules about what they can and can’t eat,” she says.

Practicing out of a shared office in mid-town Toronto, Berkoff typically tells people to “listen to your body. Become familiar with what works for you and fits your life.”

She counsels cutting back on processed foods, to savour what’s in season, and to make the most of the growing and harvest seasons to “get to know what really good food tastes like.”

Fruit, she advises, “is nature’s perfect convenience food. Simply eat it.”

Her own breakfast is usually fresh fruit and medium fat yogurt with whole grain cereal on top.

“I really enjoy eating,” she says, “and I really appreciate good food.”

More advice, tips and links are available at the brand new website Berkoff invented for herself: