You’re a Dietitian and You Eat What?!

As a dietitian people often ask me about my own ‘diet’. What I eat, what I don’t eat and what I think about a particular food or diet. I have come to accept it now as part and parcel of being a dietitian. And I certainly don’t blame people for asking either. I’m always intrigued to know what workouts PT’s do, what toothpaste dentists use and what skin products dermatologists use. But lately my responses have made some people question my credibility as a dietitian. It is usually when I say that I don’t actually follow a particular diet, or when I say that I eat grains, dairy, wheat and sugar everyday. And especially if I say I had a few drinks the night before (gasp!). ‘But you don’t advise that other people do the same…do you’? Well actually yes I do and I don’t apologise for it. I don’t apologise for what I eat and I don’t apologise for practicing what I preach. I’m not going to be made to question myself for encouraging people to:

Have a good relationship with food,

Not to feel guilty about eating,

Eat what they enjoy mindfully,

Explore what style of eating best suits them,

Eat foods from all food groups,

Eat wholesome, fresh foods and plenty of fruit and veggies,

Not to get caught up in the latest fad or dietary craze,

Not to be brainwashed about toxic this and that,

And to ensure their eating habits positively influence their physical, social and emotional health.

My 6 years of university education, years of practical experience plus my minimum 30 hours of professional development each year to maintain my status as an Accredited Practicing Dietitian makes me feel confident that I am a credible, reliable and a well educated dietitian. My advice and approach is based on evidence and takes into account all aspects of health. So if people are questioning me because my approach isn’t in line with the latest ‘health guru’ who has done a 12 month course in nutrition, it’s not going to keep me up at night. I am not going to change my practice, what I eat or what I teach to keep up with the latest trends, for self promotion, to be cool, hip or trendy. I am a dietitian. I eat cake (and you can too). And that’s not going to change anytime soon.

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Latest Comments

  1. Jo @ The Balanced Lunchbox says:

    Thanks Alex, a great post and a balanced view. Dietitians are rounded people as is our advice. Thanks.

    Like

  2. Lucinda says:

    Well said Alex! I am studying nutrition (so a far cry from a credited dietician!) and I am always getting asked about various diets and food (or anti-food fads). We aren’t meant to eat gluten. Sugar is evil. I’m sure you’ve heard it all.

    But what really makes my blood boil is when I hear people talking about the extremely restrictive diets they have put their children or infants on (eg a friends 1 year old not allowed gluten or dairy because the mother believes she is ‘intolerant’ so the baby must be too). How about we go back to the old adage that we eat mostly the ‘good’ stuff, allow ourselves small amounts of the not-so-good stuff, and assume our bodies can cope with everything unless we find out otherwise? Then seek a professionals advice rather than resorting to Dr Google?!

    A healthy relationship with food and all its food groups should be our priority rather than being so extreme or restrictive in what we will put in our mouths!

    Lucinda

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    • The Dietitian's Pantry says:

      I totally agree Lucinda! I’m all for moderation and all food groups!

      Some of the restrictive diets that parents put their children on can actually be quite harmful and unhealthy particularly during that time of growth and development.

      Great that you are studying nutrition. There are some brilliant nutritionists out there who aren’t dietitians. All the best with your studies! It sounds like you have a great approach and haven’t been sucked into any of the nutrition hype!!

      Like

    • Allison says:

      It’s inconsiderate comments like these that keep women from being able to support each other or to have intellectual conversations and learn from each other in this dynamic and crazy world of parenthood and motherhood. There’s so much more than blog posts and conspiracy theories on the dangers of gluten and and others foods and how it affects a developing child. We cut out dairy alone for the whole family (against the pediatrician’s recommendation, but by my gut feeling and self-education alone) when my daughters were 7yo and 6 months. No more sinus infections/allergy symptoms, no more ear infections, less colds, no more horrible horrible acid reflux and sleepless nights in my little baby who had been suffering for 3 months and was breastfeeding, and less stomach aches in my older one. A year after that (5 months ago), we did a 3-week gluten-free trial in the whole family. My oldest who had horrible sleep issues (took her up to 4 hours to get to sleep at least 3 nights/week saying her “brain won’t stop thinking”) was consistently falling asleep within 10 minutes after just one week of this trail. Her grades also went up in school because she could concentrate better in class. My 15 mo no longer faught sleep for 1-2 hours every night and slept soundly all night every night without a peep. On top of that, my oldest hasn’t gotten the flu all winter when every year past, she got it at least twice. So Lucinda, please don’t jump to the assumption that these parents don’t know what they’re doing and are somehow “endangering” their babies by not feeding them gluten just because they googled and read a few things. We’re all trying to do what’s best for our children, and sometimes what’s best is what comes from a mother’s intellect rather than a doctor or dietician’s education.

      Like

  3. k8heron says:

    It sounds so simple when you put it like that 🙂

    Like

  4. Chloe says:

    I love everything about this article.

    Like

  5. Liz says:

    glad to see you enjoy cake too!

    Like

  6. Ali says:

    Love this post! I always tell people “you become a dietitian because you love food”! Every food has it’s place 🙂

    Like

  7. Katherine says:

    I’m a fat dietitian. That really blows people’s minds!!! I often get told ‘no offence love, but it’s nice to see a dietitian that’s not skinny’. Erm…..

    Like

  8. Tara Breheny says:

    Fabulous article Alex!! Describes most of the dietitians I know perfectly! Such a refreshing read, keep it up 🙂

    Like

  9. Tina says:

    I appreciate the honestly but personally I feel this article is a scapegoat for lack of self-control. The importance of transparency is necessary. However, as a dietitian you should try to practice what you preach (cliche but true) and the evidence derived from research. Cake is not ok to eat everyday or 2-3 times a week especially if it is not from scratch cooking.

    In my experience if the client knows you have challenges to eating healthy they would venerate you and other dietitians (and the entire health care industry) more. To me it’s not about what’s trending but applying the same food principles in our lives as the client.

    Also, just because an individual is a dietitian doesn’t guarantee they will provide sound and heart-filled advice. I.e working for certain food companies, whose mission is primary to make money not offer nutritious foods.

    Like

    • The Dietitian's Pantry says:

      Hi Tina, thanks for your comment.

      Eating mindfully and in moderation is not lack of self control. Mindful eating is actually the opposite! People who eat mindfully are very much in control of their eating habits. They are in control of what they choose to eat, how much they eat and when they eat. It’s not a matter of just eating cake (or any food for that matter) whenever it is offered, its about thinking if you truly want it and then eating an amount till you are satisfied (perhaps a few mouthfuls or a slice). Eating mindfully and in moderation takes away food rules like ‘allowed’ and ‘forebidden’ foods and creates a positive relationship with all foods. According to the dictionary moderation is ‘the avoidance of excess or extremes, especially in one’s behaviour’ which sums up eating in moderation beautifully. In my experience clients really appreciate this approach as it is more realistic, sustainable and enjoyable.

      A lot of people don’t actually know what the role of a dietitian is within a food company and most of the time it is to help make the food more nutritious. For example many dietitians have helped reduce the sugar content in popular kids cereals, helped to reduce the sodium in bread and helped fast food restaurants develop some healthier choices. Dietitians working with food companies have helped remove plenty of sugar, sodium and fats from popular products which I feel is a step in the right direction in improving the nutrition of the population.

      Like

  10. Lindsey says:

    Great article! Fits me perfectly, too, as a dietitian! Love it! I couldn’t agree more!

    Like

  11. MarvellineMarvels says:

    Awesome. Well put! Your clients are lucky people 🙂

    Like

  12. Analee Matthews says:

    Hi Alexandra How are you? May we please republish this one in the upcomign YMCA mag? 🙂 Analee

    Like

  13. Nina says:

    I love your site! I’m a biomed student and I spend a lot of my spare time reading about nutrition. I know a lot of people who struggle with eating and maintaining a healthy weight and it frustrates me so much to see them turning to magic pills and fad diets and really restrictive eating. Fantastic articles, your clients are very lucky 🙂

    Like

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