I haven’t always felt proud to be a dietitian. In my short eight years as a registered dietitian (RD), a few were heavy with the question, “Is this right for me?” I have taken breaks from blogging about nutrition. I have taken jobs that had little to do with nutrition. I have taken any opportunity to steer clear of conversations about “what I do.” I haven’t been a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics since 2011.
Real talk: I needed a break from the profession as it was, for me.
I needed a break from overanalyzing nutrition information to recover from my ED. An at times, I have felt insecure in my ability to be the right kind of RD. I’m not Type A. I don’t consistently seek out new research or re-memorize the enzymes and pathways of carbohydrate metabolism. I wasn’t sure that everyone needed to lose weight. I didn’t want to prescribe low-calorie or low-fat diets. I didn’t want to think about calorie counts anymore.
I internalized all the above and, to self-preserve, questioned the profession.
Then, I took at job as the Head of Nutrition at Spright and got to step back and rethink how we talked about nutrition. I started reading about non-diet RDs and intuitive eating. I reconnected with RDs in my area and felt so good about the work they’re doing. I stopped pretending and started being real with you.
Three months ago I made the decision to start a private practice in nutrition. Last weekend I attended the Virginia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (VAND) annual meeting. As I drove home, I listened to nutrition podcasts and thought about the information I can’t wait to use. I decided to renew my Academy membership.
This year’s VAND Keynote speaker was Joan Horbiak—a badass lady boss who knows how to get your attention and keep it. (She is also a Penn Stater!) She has done incredible work in the media and as a spokeswoman for our profession.
It was a two hour workshop titled Lead Out Loud, which she started with an image of birds flying in a V. “Why do they fly this way?” she asked. They draft off each other. They can fly farther, faster, by teaming up in this way. You may see the metaphor already—we aren’t as strong on our own. We need a tribe. As dietitians, if we really want to be the trusted and credible voice in nutrition, we have to do so together. Our message has to be consistent, our voices strong, our point of views heard, our education and credibility known.
RDs have degrees in science and nutrition. We completed intense internships. We passed a board certification exam. We know our shit.
In this session, we worked on our Personal Passion statements (fancy, and more practical, name for an elevator pitch), our handshake form, and our eye contact. We introduced ourselves to each other. We answered hard questions about our profession.
I also attended seminars on Sports Nutrition, and Eating Disorder diagnosis and treatment. I learned from some of the best in the fields. The timing couldn’t have been better. I needed some refreshers!
I felt so proud to be in that room, at the table, in the arena.
I’m proud of myself for putting my ego aside and coming back in. I’m proud of my clients for the hard work they’re doing. I’m proud of myself for teaching them that diets are not a sustainable way of life. I’m proud of our essay contributors on the Lane 9 Project publication, for being brave and finding recovery on their terms. I’m proud of my co-founders and myself for having these hard conversations. I’m proud of the RDs standing up for intuitive eating, working to reduce weight stigma, and focusing on true health.
I’m proud to chat with fellow RDs every week to learn about their work, their opinions, and their real talk moments. I learn from all of them. I learn from you.
I’m really proud to be a registered dietitian. We’re doing good work. Thank you for supporting us and giving us the space to teach, counsel, write, talk, and listen.
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