by Elizabeth Magee, LRD, RD
Another National Registered Dietitian (RD) Day has come and gone with little acknowledgement from anyone other than dietitians. Not surprising. I wouldn’t even say we need a day, but here we are getting our time in March, which is also National Nutrition Month. These two things have me thinking how excited I get about nutrition (and eating). I think it is fascinating. I don’t know why, it’s apparently my passion. I’m very aware it’s not such a passion for many. That’s okay, you all can have that other stuff! I’m happy to take this on.
My full-time job consists of not just nutrition – though I work it in every time I can – but all aspects of wellness from community to professional well-being. I love all aspects of wellness and trying to help people become the best versions of themselves. It helps me do the same.
I have a side gig at a clinic working with patients in need of a dietitian. I LOVE this. Connecting with people and trying to help them in what is sometimes a super vulnerable state. Talking about your eating habits with someone can be scary, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. You must trust that person and be honest with them if you want their help. So many feelings are associated with how we eat and so many times people feel shame which is a painful emotion with so much tied to it.
I don’t judge people sitting in my office. It took a lot for the patient to get there most of the time. No one wants to talk about why they are overweight, what they need to change and how to change. That takes a high level of rapport with your provider. You are already probably filling your head with negative thoughts; you don’t need someone to tell you how much you suck. You need someone to have empathy and understand where you’re coming from. Personally, I feel like this is my strong suit. I’m very much an empath, maybe even to a fault. It is helpful when I’m trying to connect with a patient and build that much needed relationship. It’s easier to be honest when you trust someone and feel like they get you, or what you’re going through. I can do that. I’m not perfect, I’ve had my own struggles – in life and with eating. I get it on some level, maybe not exactly yours, but I sure try to do my best to understand.
If a patient isn’t honest with me or themselves when it comes to eating patterns and choices, it’s nearly impossible to figure out what the issue is. If you are giving me a fake recall of what you typically eat, it will hide what the actual issue is.
Take a leap and trust your dietitian. If you don’t, find one you do. It could be the difference in making a change. And remember, I went into this field because I truly love helping people and I want to do that. Most dietitians want to be helpful. We didn’t go into this field to judge or to be the food police. We are the helpers who just enjoy food and how it can bring joy and nourishment to our lives.
Elizabeth Magee is a licensed registered dietitian. Her posts appear monthly on OYT.
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