First, let me start off by saying, this is downright scary! Using my voice, putting it out there for all to read is incredibly scary, especially when expressing myself in words on paper don’t come all that easily to me. The other thing that’s scary is expectations. Most people, in my experience, expect some sort of diet advice and usually it has to do with weight. If you can’t tell, from the title of this blog post, there’s a twist…I’m not your typical Dietitian. So, putting myself out there while knowing full well my philosophy is progressive and not yet ingrained in societal norms can be a very scary!
So now that I have your attention, you’re probably saying, ok what is this philosophy she speaks of? Ah, do I have a half hour of your time???? No? That’s ok, I thought not so I’ll do my best to keep this short and sweet. This philosophy isn’t something I was taught in school or really even spoken about amongst other Dietitians until the last few years. I started to form my philosophy about 10 years ago when I saw my patients and clients getting frustrated, discouraged, and shamed in Dietitians offices, including mine. The biggest observation was that clients started to blame themselves for not following through, giving up, or not losing weight/gaining weight/plateau. They thought it was all their fault that they couldn’t follow rigid rules that most likely didn’t fit in their lifestyle. There was an obvious common theme going on here and it bothered me. This led me to start questioning my own methods when advising people.
Ditch the Diet and let’s focus on rebuilding a healthy relationship with food and self!
The main thing I observed all those years ago was that I was becoming a diet to people. I was acting just like a diet—telling people what to eat, what to do, how much to eat, when to eat, etc. All those years ago, I did not consider their human story and their “why.” The other issue was I was operating on an assumption; relying solely on numbers and letting numbers (weight, BMI, measurements, calories) tell the whole story. Here’s a thought: If you see someone who is thin would you automatically consider them “healthy?” Or the reverse. If you see someone who is overweight (labeled this way by the BMI charts) would you consider them “unhealthy?” and automatically assume weight loss? These are somewhat loaded questions and require a more in depth look versus assumptions.
There’s so much more to how I came to this philosophy. It’s not just from my professional experiences and observations but personal, too. I’m going to keep this short and sweet and if you have more questions, I always invite comments and emails! I’m an open book. So here is the abbreviated personal version: I lived with an eating disorder in high school and college; jumped from diet to diet, to starving, to bingeing, to purging, and to more restricting; moved into over exercising compulsion which was linked to my eating disorder and disordered patterns; gain a lot of weight in a short amount of time; worked with an awesome therapist and was introduced to a fabulous book called Intuitive Eating. This last part was LIFE CHANGING personally and professionally! And thanks to Intuitive Eating I have been able to fully define my professional philosophy.
Nutrition is not a one-size fits all approach. If we treat it as such we miss connecting on a human level and understanding one’s lifestyles, motivations, desires, and fears. Nutrition and food can get very complex to work with because it’s not just about nutrition and food; we often use food (a basic need and one that is unavoidable) as reward, punishment, for emotional reasons, in social situations, and so much more. I want to be clear. Yes, this is my philosophy, but I believe in meeting my clients where they are. We work towards developing healthy relationships with food. We work towards implementing intuitive eating. We work to understanding the why behind why and how we eat.
This is the most rewarding job I have ever had. I love what I do, and I love connecting with people. Most of all, I love bringing people back to enjoyment of food.
Thank you for taking the time to read! It’s scary putting myself out to the world, to our community, when I feel like I’m different than what people expect out of a Dietitian. Thankfully, I do believe times are changing and I’m not the only RD having this realization. There is now a large group of Dietitians that are specializing in Eating Disorders (one of my big goals is to become a Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian) as well as many more Dietitians that call themselves “non-diet dietitians” or “weight-neutral” dietitians. We are changing the way we connect to our clients’, so they feel empowered to make the changes they wish to make to their diet, their relationships with themselves, and to their bodies.
To healthy relationships- feeding mind, body, and spirit!