Meet the Team: Elaina Efird and Erin McDonnell

BY: Sarah Leck

DATE: July 28, 2016

We want you to get to know the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders team! Last week you met Kate Kirby, the outpatient dietitian for CEED. This week we’re introducing Elaina Efird, RD, LDN and Erin McDonnell, MS, RD, LDN, who are also dietitians here at the Center.


Explain your roles at CEED. What is a typical day like for you?

Erin: I am a Registered Dietitian primarily in the Partial Hospitalization Program of CEED. A typical day for me consists of meeting and checking in with patients, menu planning and conducting educational nutrition groups on various topics.

Elaina: I am the Registered Dietitian for the Inpatient Eating Disorders Unit. I work closely with the patients and their parents to develop a meal plan that best suits the patients’ nutritional needs during the refeeding process. We work together on challenge foods, pass-planning and appropriate meal patterns throughout their hospital stay. We have nutrition group twice a week where we either play a nutrition game or do education on current nutrition trends and topics.

What was your dream job when you were younger?

Erin: My dream job was to coach a college/university level swim team. I swam competitively when I was younger and always dreamed of becoming a coach one day.

Elaina: Photographer for National Geographic. Very specific, I know. I love to travel and always thought it would be cool to have my job send me to exotic locations! I still do travel every chance I get!

What was your favorite class that you took in college?

Erin: I attended East Carolina University for my undergraduate degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. If I had to pick one favorite class, I would have to say Food Science class. In this class we learned the science behind ingredients and foods. We got to cook and observe the function of each ingredient in several different recipes.

Elaina: I went to Virginia Tech (GO HOKIES!). Have I mentioned that I love Virginia Tech with all of my heart? Anyways, favorite class was The Science of Food. It was a lab where we got to cook tons of different foods and learn about the actual chemical reactions taking place in the food to get it to the desired taste/consistency. It was really cool and actually peaked my interest in cooking which I do all the time now!

What are your favorite ways to practice self-care?

Erin: My favorite way to practice self-care is through exercise. My favorite form of exercise is running but I have recently taken up Pure Barre which I can’t seem to get enough of! It is not your typical workout but allows me time to relax and take a break from everyday stress.

Elaina: Travel. Also, hiking and exploring with my husband and German Shepherd, Freyja. I also love a good outdoor festival of any sort.

Finish this sentence: “I bet you didn’t know I could…” 

Erin: I bet you didn’t know I could swim 1.5 laps of a pool holding my breath underwater!

Elaina: I bet you didn’t know I could cook. I did just tell you that in the previous question but I love to cook! I love to make elaborate dishes when I can but my go-to dishes are buffalo chicken burgers, chicken fried rice and most recently a rosemary garlic focaccia bread.