“Dietitian…that means you make meal plans, right?” (Said by someone I encountered at my one job). If you are a fellow Dietitian (or Nutrition major), you have probably heard that phrase, or something like it, before. If you haven’t, just wait and see 🙂
Here are my top 10 things I hear and chuckle at (I’ve gotten over being annoyed) that are complete misconceptions (at least for me)!
#1 Do you only eat salad?
Nope. I eat meat, veggies, fruit, etc. I do enjoy a salad and I will often eat from the salad bar at work. And by salad I mean a small amount of lettuce with a crazy amount of toppings (mushrooms, broccoli, croutons, chicken, chickpeas, etc). But again, I don’t just eat it because I am a RD, I actually like it.
#2 I am not judging what you eat.
People will literally say to me, “Oh, I know what I am eating is bad for me, I was just really hungry.” I could care less what you eat! I just came into the room to make phone calls for work. Along with me not judging what you eat, you can refrain from hiding your food from me. One day at work, I was walking down the hall and a lady with a bag of fast food literally put it behind her back when I walked by. After I said hello, she looked genuinely embarrassed and hurried off. TRUE STORY.
#3 Please stop judging what I eat.
I love the occasional ice cream (with my Lactase pills of course) or chips. Who doesn’t?! I really don’t like when people see me eating something “unhealthy” and say, “Wow, you’re eating chips?” Yes, I am human and do enjoy these pleasures once in a while.
#4 Now that you are a RD, can you write me a meal plan?
Much to what people think, I don’t just write meal plans. Actually, I rarely write out a meal plan for someone. I generally like to give people the tools to be able to choose foods that fit their dietary needs. Plus, if I told you what to eat for each meal, chances are that would become very boring. I also don’t like putting people on “diets” or talking about them for that matter. I am all about healthy lifestyle changes, which do not fall in line with a meal plan.
#5 So, you are not going to tell me to cut out my favorite foods?
This goes along with my whole no-diet-thing. Generally, when you cut foods out, you tend to miss them. This can lead to binge-eating and “going off the diet” wagon. In my experience, with both counseling and my own life, it is better to keep in your favorite foods and just eat them in small portions.
#6 Yes, I did go through 4 years of school, an unpaid internship, and a final exam.
A lot of people I talk to think that I became a RD once I graduated. I wish! After getting my bachelors, I had to apply to internships, get accepted, pay large amounts of money, and then sell my soul for 9 months (not counting the lack of life for the 2 months I spent studying to take my exam). Dramatic enough for you? But seriously, becoming an RD is not easy and props to anyone who is embarking on the journey.
#7 Dietitian and Nutritionist are not the same.
Nutritionist is not a licensed term, at least in PA. Basically, anyone could call themselves a Nutritionist. A Certified Nutritionist has more credentials than a regular Nutritionist; however, Registered Dietitian trumps all 🙂
#8 I don’t know everything and I am not afraid to say it.
It surprised me how people are shocked that I don’t know something specific about a food. Example: “What are baby romanesco good for?” First of all, I have never even seen one until now. Second, I don’t know all the nutrients in every fruit and vegetable. Yes, green leafy veggies have Vitamin K and red/orange veggies have Vitamin A; however, I mainly just tell people to eat fruits and vegetables. You don’t really need to focus on eating specific ones for specific nutrients. That is so complicated! Make it simple and just choose a variety. In the words of many RDs, “Color your plate.”
#9 Every counseling session should be standardized to cover the same thing.
I don’t know where people got that idea from; however, none of my counseling sessions are ever the same. You don’t talk to a 60-year-old the same way you talk to a 12-year-old. You can standardize the process (aka you have the same introduction of yourself, similar forms, same waiver, etc); however, what is covered in a session is completed client-centered. I not only learned that in school; however, leading counseling sessions has taught me to be super flexible. I might want to cover protein with someone (seeing as they don’t eat enough), but they get into their binge eating habits. That last bit of information is more important to cover first. Counseling is all about getting to know your client and helping them to reach the goals they want to set.
#10 “You don’t need to see a Dietitian because you are not fat.”
Just because you are thin does not mean you are healthy. As a Dietitian, I help people gain weight (if they are underweight or looking to gain muscle), lose weight, and maintain their weight. People come see me for all different reasons. Plus, a skinny person might have horrible eating habits that lead them to become Diabetic or deficient in certain nutrients. Again, I am here to help the client reach their goals. I never judge by body size because it is such a horrible indicator of actual health.
These 10 items are all things I have encountered between my jobs, friends, family, community, etc. You may have more to add to this list or things to change (depending on your situation).
Hope you enjoyed the read. Stay tuned for my next blog “10 Tips for Conducting a Recipe Demo.”
PS: This is a Baby Romanesco. Tastes and looks like a cross between broccoli and cauliflower!