I wasn’t looking for a job. I’m not the type to actually read LinkedIn messages. (I spend as little time as possible on that website. It needs ALL THE UX HALP.) But there was the message, on LinkedIn, and there I was, reading it. It arrived about one month after I went part-time at my corporate wellness job—one month into thinking maybe I could start a “real” side-hustle (not the fake kind I had for a few years). The message and job description caught my attention, at just the right time.
I was one month into wondering if maybe, I don’t want to be a dietitian anymore.
Last week, my analytics told me the top Google search for this website (that day) read “I don’t want to be a dietitian anymore”. And I was like, “Yo, I’ve BEEN THERE.” Hear me out.
If you’re in job searching mode, looking for how to navigate that nontraditional RD career path, register to watch the RD Real Talk Round Table discussion on this topic!
I couldn’t talk to another client about their BMI and how it didn’t really indicate much, even though it alarmed them. I couldn’t keep spending my days on the phone, talking to people who weren’t very interested in talking to me. I couldn’t keep writing blog posts about recipes that weren’t that great, just because other RDs posted recipes (most of which are MUCH better). I couldn’t keep reading about how everyone clearly needs to lose weight and what a dire state we are in here in AMERICA. I couldn’t keep thinking and talking about food all the time. I couldn’t keep looking at humans through diet-focused glasses. None of it felt exciting or challenging or right or fun anymore.
I couldn’t stay in a profession that constantly reminded me of the disordered eating patterns I had spent years to work myself out of.
I couldn’t stand to be surrounded by the triggers and the diet messages and the constant weight obsession. I couldn’t see how I could thrive, as my healthier self, and coexist with this dietitian identity.
Then there was this message about this job.
There was this startup in San Francisco looking for a dietitian. Just one. Just me. Someone to write about nutrition, and design classes, and help people out. But, being the only dietitian, no one was there to give me rules about how to do it.
No one said, “Does the Academy approve this message?” No one asked if the Affordable Care Act regulations were going to come back to kick us in the ass. No one cared what I said, as long as it was fact-based and it resonated with their vibe. I certainly resonated with their vibe, so, it was a good fit.
So, I kept being a dietitian.
I even went to FNCE for the first time! And hosted an event! And got to stand in front of a table of fellow dietitians and say, “I think we should stop calling food “healthy” in our recipes and posts, so we don’t do that at this company.” I wasn’t shunned. I was learning a new language—one focused on our body’s intuition, how it knows what it needs, and how we have to learn how to listen to and respect this body of ours. This group of RDs at this breakfast at my first FNCE? They already got it. They were in. I found my people.
Real talk: This job, that I wasn’t looking for but couldn’t turn down? It’s why I’m still a dietitian.
Through that job I met and worked with dietitians who were into teaching mindful eating, and we gave them a platform to teach it. I learned about mindful eating through their courses, and it changed things for me.
I got to design my own nutrition course, with my own set of guidelines to teach people how to UN-complicate food. (One might call it “ditch the diet mentality” now that one knows a little more.) Through that job I worked with editors who challenged me to be opinionated, to improve my writing, and to stand behind my philosophies.
My business–this project I’ve now spent almost one year working on and nurturing–wouldn’t exist as it does without that job. The “RD” letters after my name might not exist anymore, either. But they’re still there. And I’m so damn proud of those letters, and the group they represent.
So, dear “I don’t want to be a dietitian anymore”,
I hope you hold that thought. Explore it. Think about why this profession (or any profession) isn’t feeling right to you. Think about what’s disagreeing with the core of what you need.
Related: Register to watch the Job Searching, Networking, and Navigating Your Nontraditional Nutrition Career Round Table Event webinar
If you decide to stick around, remember that there are PLENTY of nontraditional nutrition careers out there for you.
There are RDs with an MBA who help businesses or start them. There are RDs who specialize in marketing and PR, helping food companies and industries hone their message and get it RIGHT. There are RDs who work with low-income communities and food deserts. There are RDs who go full media and bring the world beautiful food photos to remind us that eating should be pleasurable and food should be appetizing. There are RDs who work in tech, policy, communications, and consulting. There are careers in hospitality, clinical, or even public health that may be more satisfying and challenging than you assume.
There are OPTIONS. And depending on what’s pulling at you, there are resources to help.
I’m all ears, if you have specific questions.
(In fact, if you’re a newsletter subscriber, you’ll be the first to know about an upcoming coaching program that I’m opening to RDs (and non-RDs) just like you, who wonder, “Is intuitive eating, or a non-diet approach to food, really right for me? Does it actually work?”)
And if, at the end of the day, you really know you don’t want to be a dietitian (or insert-your-profession-of-current-choice) anymore, that’s OK too.
You know you best. Trust that.