I am (not) that kind of dietitian

With a bite in hand, heading straight for the mouth, I asked, “How did you make this?” It wasn’t my first bite, and thankfully not my last. We had a dinner buffet of snacks, trying to clear out the fridge and avoid turning on the oven. In the mix: a spread of hummus, guacamole, and a chilled tuna fish dip; crackers, sliced cured meats, fresh tomatoes and carrots, New Zealand cheddar slices, and a baked egg thing that I was definitely going to go back for seconds of. It seemed like a one-dish wonder and I wanted to know more about that.

The first response to my question was, “Oh, the nutritionist doesn’t want to hear this…” proceeded by a simple description of how to cook this baked egg thing, which I will absolutely attempt to do soon. The first step was basically “pour all the oil in a pan.” I listened to the rest of the steps and wondered, What was it that I didn’t want to hear?

Meals with friends, old and new, are full of these diet-focused moments.

“The Nutritionist” hat isn’t one I don eagerly in food situations. In most cases I wish I had a printed version of an old post I could hand out to preemptively attack the assumption that I’m tallying up the calories, fat, or anything else on someone else’s plate. (I.e. I promise I do not care what you’re eating. Not even a little bit.)

Conversations with clients are initially full of hesitancy.

As soon as the conversation turns to food, there’s a different vibe. (Which can take some time! There are a lot of other things to talk about first.) Some people are quick to say they ate something “because it’s healthy,” as if that’s the most obvious thing about that food—not that it tasted good, or is a food they like, or just happened to be at the company luncheon. Then their voice might soften, or they may look in a different direction, or laugh nervously, as they mention a dessert, a drink, or a meal out that “wasn’t the norm!”

Cultural assumptions are that we should be on some kind of diet, always.

This isn’t saved for the dietitians and nutritionists of the world, though. It’s applied to everyone. It’s either a “healthy” diet that follows the rules and guidelines, or a trendy diet, or a sport-specific diet, or a gluten-free diet, or a vegan diet, or it’s the diet someone SHOULD be on because clearly, their health is in jeopardy.

If you’re an RD or RD2Be, save your seat at the Round Table discussion about the Anti-Diet Approach to nutrition. Early-bird pricing ends after today (9/22)!

diet culture reality rd real talk

If I could change the way you think about the word diet, I would do that first.

The simplest definition of diet is, “a way of eating.” But that’s not what most people think when they hear the word—we think meal plans, restrictive calorie rations, low-carb or low-fat, Whole-30 approved, or Paleo-friendly. I wouldn’t be surprised if a psychologist did a study to assess how people’s brain reacts to just hearing the word “Diet”. Maybe we’re even addicted to it, like some people think we are to sugar. (But, then there’s this.)

Real Talk: I followed a diet until about three or four years ago.

Being a dietitian, in and of itself, can feel like a diet-ruled lifestyle at times. The assumption that we eat perfectly spans social circles (including peers, I think). I didn’t have a specific set of rules. But until I discovered, and gradually embraced Intuitive Eating, a diet mentality strongly influenced the choices I made. (Unless you take a look at the many Sunday mornings-turned-afternoons I have spent at brunch in DC.)

Until I realized there is a group of dietitians who believe there is a way to exist in this profession and NOT believe in diets, I felt stuck. I take full responsibility for this; I didn’t live with a diet mentality because of my certification, I used my certification to justify it. Until I couldn’t anymore. Until I discovered that doesn’t have to be the only approach.

RD Real Talk Round Table, by dietitians for dietitians and RD2Be
Taking the Anti-Diet Approach – Save your seat!

I am not the kind of dietitian you might expect me to be.

I am not the nutritionist, or dietitian, who cares that you cook with “a lot of” oil.

I am not the dietitian who wants to scrutinize your caloric intake or macronutrient ratios.

I am not the dietitian who will tell you to lose weight before knowing anything else about your health.

I am not interested in your BMI.

I am not suggesting cutting out any foods or food groups.

I am not going to start a client session with an agenda; I don’t know what you need until you tell me.

I AM supportive of my dietetic peers who have career paths and philosophies that differ from mine. We’re all in this together. 

I am not assuming that my nutrition education taught me everything I need to know about food, health, diets, and nutrition science. I keep learning from you, myself, emerging science, reviews of existing science, and my peers.

I am proud to be a dietitian that focuses on things other than diets.

I AM posting food photos that aren’t styled (because that is just NOT a skill of mine) but that are a real look into what intuitive eating looks like for me.

I am going to sit back and listen to you describe your relationship with food, your needs, and your questions.

I am going to learn from you as we work through these experiences and tackle issues that feel most important to you.

I am going to write about my experiences, because that’s how I process things.

I am going to share my opinions, because that’s how I choose to feel less isolated in my approach, my thoughts, this dietitian culture.

I am going to keep it real with you.

I am doing my best to keep up with nutrition science, and to provide evidence-based recommendations.

I am going to do whatever I can to support and elevate fellow dietitians who do work that inspires me.

I am going to work on spreading the anti-diet approach to dietitians, because I believe it is a breath of fresh air in our profession. That’s my opinion, my approach, and my prerogative.

Interested in the Anti-Diet Approach? Save your seat at the first event in the RD Real Talk Round Table series! (Promotional package pricing ends after today (9/22)!)


  1. September 22, 2017

    Yes! To all of this! 🙂

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be made public.