I feel somewhat guilty for what has happened to our diet culture. This diet obsessed, calorie-counting culture that we live in has gotten out of control.
In school as a dietetic student, we learn about how our body works and how our body needs and metabolizes food. We memorize the Krebs cycle (at least 10 times) and learn all kinds of equations that calculate our resting metabolic rate, percentage of macronutrients we need, and more (so much math, so many dang equations). We learn how to calculate the amount of calories someone needs to survive, to lose weight, and for some to gain weight. We are taught to use our own professional judgment based on each patient or client to give the best possible answer because every patient is different. We are taught all different diets specific to each diagnosis and how we can help people manage with the appropriate medical nutrition therapy. We are prepared to make meal plans and provide our diet education. We are prepared to give answers of how to fix people with nutrition.
We enter the real world ready to throw out all the nutrition knowledge that we know, provide a meal plan, and solve everyone’s problems, if they just follow our advice. We become the food police because we tell you what to do and get frustrated and cast judgment when you don’t do it.
We told you that you needed to be a certain weight to be healthy. We told you to count your calories. We told you to do more of “this” and do less of “that”. We confused you. We frustrated you. We made you feel like you couldn’t succeed at losing weight or reaching your goals.
I’M SORRY. I am sorry that we made you feel this way. I am sorry that we threw diet information at you and a meal plan and forgot to listen. WE DIDN’T LISTEN. We didn’t hear you. We saw an overweight body, a diet intake journal, and a need for weight loss and we did the best we could to help you understand what you needed to change to see results. I am sorry that we made it seem like we had a perfect answer, that we could solve all your problems.
The truth is…..there is no perfect answer. There is no one size fits all. There is no perfect body. Everyone is different and no one person can be treated the same when it comes to nutrition. Some people that struggle with their weight have underlying issues that they have not dealt with and instead of throwing a meal plan at you, we should be helping you figure out where these struggles are rooted from.
Our job is to educate, but it is also to listen. We are dietitians and nutrition “therapists” and if we never take the time to listen to what is causing such behaviors, then we may never see anything different.
Luckily our culture is slowly taking a turn. Dietitians are finally coming to find out that diets just don’t work. NOPE, they just don’t. They are also coming to find out that health should not be measured by your weight.
I am not writing this blog to say that we as dietitians have been terrible people. We are the experts when it comes to food and our job is to educate people and dismantle all the “1200 calorie diet plan” bull crap and give you the right information.
We aren’t perfect and we are still figuring it all out. Have patience with us. If we tell you not to be so concerned about your weight and tell you that diets do more harm than good, don’t roll your eyes or think that we don’t know what we are talking about. Health is about more than your weight, so we may try and break through some other barriers before we focus on anything weight related.
I want to do my part to break the calorie counting, weight focused cycle. I want to teach you that self-love and body kindness wins above all. I want to encourage you to nourish your body properly, practice mindful eating, and let your weight fall where it may naturally. You may not see quick results or a number on the scale that you are waiting for, but you will definitely see changes in your health that can last a lifetime (and that’s more than any quick fix diet can say).