#DietitianProblems

National Nutrition Month is in full swing and while it may seem dorky, I’m feeling more passionate than ever to do the work that I do. I truly enjoy helping people live their healthiest and happiest lives, although my approach and philosophy have definitely changed over the years. Alexis from Hummusapien recently shared an amazing blog post on the need to change our approach as dietitians. It resonated with me so much and I definitely feel that the tide is turning in terms of how we work with clients and represent ourselves in social media.

Being a dietitian is rewarding, exciting and fun, but sometimes it is just plain hard. I can’t think of another occupation where the professional and personal lines can get so blurred. It’s not as simple as being a dietitian by day, then turning it all off on evenings and weekends, especially for those in the entrepreneurial and social media world. Diet culture exists all around us and food is such a big part of most social experiences, so even when we’re not “working”, the messages are everywhere.  

For dietitians who can relate…Hi, I see you out there doing your thing and making a difference through the struggle.  Keep on keeping on! And for my readers who aren’t dietitians or may find yourself chatting up an RD at a family or social function, I hope this offers you a little insight. Here are some everyday #dietitianproblems:

It’s hard to explain exactly what it is that we do.

Every dietitian has their own opinions and philosophy on nutrition and a unique approach to working with clients.  Just because the word “diet” is in our title does not mean we are going to put you on one. We’re also not interested in giving you a “meal plan”.  I think the days of dietitians calorie counting and monitoring whether you were “good” or “bad” are numbered. THANK GOODNESS. But in the public eye, that expectation still hangs around and is confusing to our potential clients. As Kelly, my RD pal from Eat Real Live Well, puts it:

“Too much of my time is spent explaining why I don’t recommend meal plans, whether to the potential clients and clients themselves, or to their trainers and coaches. With sports nutrition, active individuals and athletes think one of two things. Some think they need and expect an overly detailed meal plan from me and are shocked when I say that’s not what I do. Others don’t want to meet with me because they assume a strict plan is what I’ll give them, and they don’t want it.”

There are a lot of (unrealistic) expectations

I personally have struggled a lot with not fitting the stereotypical “look” of a dietitian. There is a “joke” surrounding the idea that no one would want to work with a “fat” dietitian and I totally fell victim to self-doubt with that. Who am I to provide nutrition advice if I don’t weigh xxx number of pounds? Can I really be a good dietitian if I enjoy ice cream and cookies?  My response to those negative thoughts now is: I’m someone who worked really hard for my degree in nutrition. I completed an intense internship program, gained a lot of experience in the field and have had a lot of success with my clients.  I’m actually a better dietitian because I enjoy ice cream and cookies. 

The Health at Every Size movement is finally gaining some momentum (yay!), but there are still misconceptions that people (and definitely dietitians) have to fit certain standards of health and beauty to be considered credible or worthy.

Some great insight from my Real Talk RD friend Heather Caplan:

“It feels like both clients and consumers expect dietitians to have and maintain an ideal body type—thin and toned, glowing skin, etc. There’s no room in this public expectation for the Health at Every Size mentality. Rather, if we don’t fit the “mold” we stand to lose all credibility.”

There is also an expectation that we eat healthy 100% of the time. Or maybe the expectation that healthy means never having desserts, “junk” food or anything that is not a vegetable.  I love how Jess puts it:

“Yes, I’m a Registered Dietitian, yes I eat a healthy diet, yes I enjoy healthy food, but that does not mean my diet is perfect or that I only eat healthy foods. I enjoy ice cream and dessert as much as the next person (if not more). I would never completely deprive myself of the foods I love and enjoy and I would never tell anyone else to do that.”

we aren’t YOUr dietitian (unless you’re paying us to be)

Besides the fact that I’m naturally an introvert, I absolutely dread being asked what I do for a living.  Even now I’m cringing thinking about some of the interactions I’ve had. When someone asks about my job and I say I’m a dietitian, the responses look something like this:

“Oh, I could really use your help.”

“I should totally have you put me on a meal plan.”

“Oh, please don’t look at what I’m eating!”

“Can you help me lose xxx pounds?”

“I’ve heard that gluten/dairy/sugar/etc is bad. I should stop eating it, right?”

It’s just so awkward.  If I said I was a dentist, would you ask me to quickly check out your teeth? No! I don’t care what you’re eating, I don’t want your commentary on what I’m eating and unless you’re paying me, I don’t really even want to talk about nutrition. This isn’t to say I don’t want to help or give advice, but it is next to impossible for me to answer any questions without having a better understanding of you as a person. I don’t know your lifestyle, your food preferences, your history with dieting, your exercise routine or your goals/motivations.  I’d love to know all of those things and help you reach your goals–but it’s how I make a living, so unless we’re working together, I’m not your dietitian.

We spend a lot of time debunking nonsense 

Instead of spending valuable time and energy learning about the research, tools and techniques that might actually benefit clients, a lot of time is spent looking into and debunking the latest nonsense diet or trendy food on the market. Most of us dietitians wish we could just roll our eyes and get back to work when we see or hear about people slurping down apple cider vinegar for weight loss, but instead we have to put together articles, posts and quotes for the media about why it doesn’t stand up to the science. I get really fired up about companies and products that offer quick fixes and take advantage of people who are desperate to find true health. Sometimes it feels like we’re fighting a losing battle with diet culture when what we really want to focus on is providing clients the guidance and support they truly need.

sometimes we care too much

It’s hard not to get worked up about the nonsense I mentioned above or frustrated by the people we see struggling and not getting the help that they need. I usually roll my eyes when someone tells me about their sugar detox or juice cleanse, but the truth is I feel angry and sad about it. It’s a constant practice to remind myself that everyone is on their own journey and I can’t help anyone who isn’t asking for my help.

All that said, I am extremely excited about the work that I do and proud of the dietitians I work with in this field…even more so as I move toward a more intuitive eating and body positive approach. To find more dietitians blogging during National Nutrition Month, check out this blogroll and don’t forget to click through my roundup from fellow non-diet RDs in celebration of RDN Day

2016 Holiday Gift Guide for the Health Nut

This post does contains affiliate links, which help me support this blog, however all opinions are my own.  I stand behind the products I recommend and greatly appreciate your support!

Whether shopping for the health nut in your life or looking to add some new items to your own holiday wish list, this guide has some great ideas for health and wellness gifts!

christmas gift guideI know what you’re thinking…it can’t be time for gift guides! Or the holidays! What happened to October?  Or November for that matter!? That’s kind of how I feel too, but each year the holiday season–and therefore, shopping—seems to start earlier and earlier.  While many people (myself included) love to complain about the Christmas lights and Santa decor hitting store shelves at the end of October, the reality is most of us like to get a head start on holiday shopping.  Also, Thanksgiving is just a few days away and after that it’ll be okay to talk holidays gifts. Right?

As someone who despises Black Friday and all it entails–crowds, rude people, waiting in line–I’m all about getting shopping done ahead of time, whether that be online or from small local shops.  This year, I put together a list of some of my favorite health and wellness items, as well as some thingsI’m putting on my own wish list.  So without further ado…

  • Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Water Bottle ($25.95+)  I received one of these on the Clif Bar trip this year and I use it almost everyday.  It keeps cold water cold and hot water hot for a LONG time.  Other awesome bottle options: S’well bottle and Klean Kanteen.  
  • HydroFlaskLe Creuset Cast-Iron Dutch Oven ($120+) I received a Cuisinart brand dutch oven last Christmas and it is easily one of my favorite gifts ever.  I love using it for soups and it’s a bright beautiful addition to my kitchen when it’s not in use!
  • Cuisinart“I Eat” Shirt from Nicole at Body Over Mind Nutrition ($29)  Nicole is an awesome RD who promotes body positivity and is all about finding balance/freeing yourself from food restriction.  I’ve had my eye on her tanks for awhile now and would love to sport the I Eat message!

I Eat

  • You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero ($9.99) This book has changed my world, y’all. It’s a self-help book without all the woo-woo BS that makes you roll your eyes.  Basically, it’s a guide to getting out of your own way!
  • Massage Gift Card/Membership (Varies). Who doesn’t want/need a massage? I personally have a monthly membership to Hand and Stone, because it’s conveniently located close to home, but many massage places offer packages.  It’s a great way to gift self-care!
  • Essential Oil Diffuser Jewelry from The Curated Carrot ($24+). These stylish handmade pieces are perfect for bringing your favorite essential oil around with you all day.  I have several tassel necklaces, but also love the locket and lava versions and think they’re so unique!
  • Curated Carrot DiffuserSubscription to HelloFresh ($69+) There are a ton of meal prep and delivery services out there, but HelloFresh is one of the only with a team of RDs on staff.  I love the idea of gifting fresh, healthy new meal ideas. It’s something even the healthiest, best cooks out there can appreciate.  Also, if you’d like to sign up yourself, you can use code FRESHFANSRD35 to get $35 off your first box!

 

  •  Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender ($35) I received an immersion blender for my birthday this year and truly can’t believe I’ve lived this long without it.  You can use it for dressings, sauces, soups, smoothies and more! It eliminates so much mess from transferring things to blenders and food processors.  

Other bonus ideas: Adult Coloring Books, a Stitch Fix gift card, a fitness class or race entry fee, this Jade Yoga Mat (my favorite).

Your turn. Tell me what’s on your holiday wish list! Black Friday–love it or hate it?