I’ve started a blog, imagine that. Doing so was one of those things that I always thought “other people” did, but not myself. I had no real reason for that sentiment, other than feeling my social media skills were inadequate, or that I didn’t have time to update a site regularly. But I’ve reached a point where my musings need an outlet; 140 character posts just weren’t cutting it anymore. In my personal life, I’m at a point where I’ve been feeling the need for a change, something new, and quite frankly a distraction. So here goes nothing.
Though I will undoubtedly talk about food, nutrition, nutrition-pseudoscience, and the like frequently, I don’t intend to focus on those topics. There are lots of fabulous dietitians (or RDs) out there who do a wonderful job blogging about nutrition and how to improve your health, and who post beautiful photos of their latest culinary creations. I salute these talented people in their work, but that is not me, nor my goal here.
I love what I do professionally, but there are a lot of things that drive me crazy about living as a “nutrition expert” in our current society:
1. Everyone’s a nutrition expert. Daily I meet clients, other health professionals, and passersby who “know way more” than me about health and nutrition. I certainly don’t know everything (not even close), and the longer I practice, the more I feel like I don’t know enough. I love engaging with people who know more on this subject than me (despite the initial surge of jealousy). But often, I’m faced with people who really don’t know much, or whose claims are flat out wrong. Look, I don’t tell the person installing my internet he/she’s doing it wrong because I saw some life-hack video on facebook, so please don’t tell me I’m doing nutrition wrong because you saw some documentary or Dr. Oz said some nonsense on yesterday’s episode.
2. My diet is constantly scrutinized. I’m expected to eat perfectly 100% of the time, and if I don’t, I’m either a hypocrite or condoning excessive consumption of foods that are typically seen as off limits. Spoiler alert, I don’t eat “perfectly” all the time, or lately it seems, most of the time. I try, like the rest of us. I have the advantage of in depth nutrition knowledge and decent cooking skills, but I fall victim to limited time, food advertising, and loving all baked goods that grace the face of the earth just like the rest of us. And frankly, I don’t WANT to eat perfectly all the time. I was recently in New York City with my best girlfriend and we lived it up, including bagels with soooooo much cream cheese for breakfast, pizza for lunch, and a few too many drinks with dinner, and late night cheesecake after a show. Do I eat that way all the time? No, nor would I want to. But did I enjoy it? Without a doubt. I like to experience my world through food, so to me, it’s worth it.
3. Everyone thinks I’m judging them or will give them free advice and meal plans. So, I can’t fully turn my dietitian brain off. I absolutely DO notice what you’re putting in your cart at the grocery store, or what you ordered at the restaurant. But I DON’T judge your worth as a person based on those choices. Don’t hide what you would normally do just because the dietitian’s around; I’m not the food police people. (It’s surprising how often this kind of thing happens with my own family members). Just enjoy your KFC double down. If you do want to have a serious discussion about your diet and you truly want my advice, we can do that, but… it won’t be free. Of course I dispense bits of (requested) nutrition advice here and there to friends and family, but anything more than that will cost you. I have to make a living too, and unfortunately I chose a profession that is underfunded and underappreciated. Us RDs have to work hard to be fairly compensated for our work.
4. It’s my job to come up with your meals. No, it’s not. I get this all the time at work: “I don’t know what to cook anymore, can you give me recipes?”. I do have some interesting recipes on hand and I’m always expanding my library of resources. But fixing your what-to-make-for-dinner problem isn’t just that easy. What if you don’t like the types of foods I suggest? What if they’re not appropriate for your family’s needs/timeline/budget? What if you’ve already tried them all. Now, some dietitians are way better at offering these resources than me. You want to know what I do when I don’t know what to make for supper? I start googling recipes, or recipes with the ingredients I have on hand. That’s it, no magic tricks. And the rest of the world can do this too. Want to know how nutritious this new recipe is? Now THAT’S something I can help you with.
Let me reiterate that I love being a dietitian. Like any job, there’s good and bad. At the end of the day, I still want to teach people about food and healthy living every day. So that’s something.