When I tell people I’m a Registered Dietitian there are a few common responses I hear…
“Can you make me a meal plan?”
“I definitely should come and see you, I need to lose some weight!”
Or my personal favourite….
“What’s a Dietitian?”
Sometimes they’ll also turn to my partner Dan and ask him how militant I am about keeping all junk food out of the house!
Unlike becoming a Doctor, a Lawyer, or a Teacher, a Dietitian is a career choice that still has a lot of people saying ‘huh?’ Dietitians are the go-to expert when it comes to nutrition, but there are many misconceptions out there about who we are and what we do!
I once had a client who told me during an appointment that she had thought Dietitians were only for old people! I was glad I could change her mind!
So, in honor of Nutrition Month and Dietitian’s Day, here are 5 things you may not know about Dietitians!
1. We aren’t the food police
Dietitians are often seen by the public as finger-wagging nags who’s sole purpose in life is to take away all of the delicious things you love to eat. Some people think of Dietitians as food-shaming snobs who want to ban ALL junk food and only eat celery. But the opposite is actually true! If there’s one thing you should definitely know about Dietitians, it’s that we LOVE food! Talking about food, developing recipes, sharing cooking tips, grocery shopping, the whole nine yards. We love to make healthy eating exciting and delicious and help our clients discover that same joy, no finger-wagging necessary!
You’ll never see a group of people get more excited about a meal than a bunch of Dietitians.
Dietitians are real people just like you, who often struggle with the same healthy eating barriers like lack of time, going to a lot of social events, or having to eat on the go. The good thing is, we’re experts in managing those types of situations. We’re always thrilled to pass along some of our tips and tricks for making those barriers not seem so daunting. Rather than food-shame our clients into making changes, we help you find simple ways to make the healthy choice the easy choice.
2. We don’t just help people lose weight
A common misconception about Dietitians is that we’re just here to put people on a diet. That we only make meal plans, tell clients what to eat, how much to eat. That we make them step on the scale every time they come to our office to track their “progress.” With plenty of finger wagging, food shaming, and nagging to go along with it!
To be honest I don’t know a single Dietitian who routinely weighs their clients. Being healthy is so much more than the number on the scale and Dietitians understand that forming healthy habits and establishing a positive relationship with food goes a lot further than a “diet plan”. Dietitians can help you balance your meals, manage a chronic disease, grocery shop smarter, rely less on processed foods and cook more at home. They even get you thinking about emotional eating patterns that might have very little to do with food at all. We’re here to help our clients eat better and feel better about their food skills/choices. Without a focus on weight.
Some Dietitians don’t work directly with clients at all! There are Dietitians who work in management, communications, media, product development, research, the list goes on! If a job has anything to do with food, you’ll probably find a Dietitian nearby!
Dietitians know that being healthy goes far beyond the number on the scale.
3. We don’t just teach clients how to follow Canada’s Food Guide
Rumour has it that Dietitians only know how to teach people to follow Canada’s Food Guide.
Trust me. I did NOT go to University for 4 years, complete a full-time 10-month internship program, and write a national certification exam just to hand out copies of the food guide.
Don’t get me wrong, Canada’s food guide can be a very handy resource for those looking for general nutrition advice (and I’m especially proud to talk to people about our NEW food guide released earlier this year, find it here). But it isn’t for everyone or appropriate in every situation. My skills and knowledge as a Dietitian allow me to personalize the advice I give my clients way beyond what the food guide can do.
Canada’s Food Guide offers general healthy eating guidelines, but Dietitians have the skills to give personalized advice tailored to your specific health goals.
Want to read more about my thoughts on the new food guide? Click here!
4. We are up to date on the most cutting edge research
Fad Diet advocates love to call out Dietitians, claiming we don’t really know our stuff and give advice based on outdated science. This couldn’t be further from the truth!
Dietitians have significantly better access to research articles, conferences, and knowledge-sharing opportunities. Such as, Clinical Grand Rounds and Professional Webinars rather than your Facebook friend who’s selling weight loss shakes or trying out the latest diet craze. Where are these supplement pushers getting their information from? Directly from the company who’s purpose is to sell more product. Talk about a conflict of interest!
Dietitians on the other hand have front row seats to first hand information being shared from the top minds in a given field. Often, the very scientists responsible for conducting these studies too. We’re getting the latest evidence directly from the source and know to be on the lookout for potential biases or conflicts of interest. We are able to actually read original research studies and determine if they stand up to scrutiny.
But it’s tough to be an expert in every single one of the health conditions that a Dietitian might encounter. Nutrition science is rapidly evolving and keeping up to date on the latest in every single specialty area wouldn’t leave us time for much else in a day. SO, if you’re seeking advice from a Dietitian, choose one who specializes in what your health concerns are. That way you’ll be sure that you’re getting the most up-to-date information on how to manage any health conditions you may have and accomplish your goals.
If you’re looking for a Dietitian, choose one who specializes in managing your specific health concerns!
5. Dietitians eat healthy….most of the time
You might assume that Dietitians never eat sugar, fried foods, or drink alcohol. Maybe some don’t, but believe me when I say that all of the dietitians I know definitely enjoy treats just as much as everyone else! We know how to have dessert or a glass of wine without feeling guilty; or like we have to restrict our calories at other times to make up for these small indulgences. Life is all about finding balance, and Dietitians can help you figure out how to find that same peace when it comes to food!
Want to find balance in your diet that allows for healthy foods AND fun foods? Talk to a Dietitian!
At the end of the day, I absolutely love what I do. I’m so proud to be an RD and part of such a passionate, food-loving community of amazing people. If you have nutrition-related health concerns, want to have a better relationship with food, or just want to chat about optimizing health with good nutrition; don’t hesitate to talk to a Dietitian!
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