What I’ve Learned in my First Year as a Dietitian

Exactly 1 year ago today, I passed the Registered Dietitian (RD) exam. Wooo!! For those of who you don’t know, the RD exam is the test that you take to officially become a dietitian. The exam was a culmination of 2+ years of taking prerequisites at random community colleges throughout Los Angeles (while working full-time), then moving to a state where I knew no one, and working really hard for 2 years to graduate with a masters in nutrition. It’s a pretty big deal, especially now that I look back on it. I was SO busy. And it was so very worth it.

I’ve said this before, but I really love the science behind nutrition. I like reading studies and learning about the new concepts that come out almost daily. Nutritional science is ever-evolving, and we have to keep up. But what I’ve learned in the past year didn’t involve the newest and greatest way to manipulate our diet.

I learned about intuitive eating and a movement called Health at Every Size. I learned about weight bias, and about the inequality that exists in healthcare for people in marginalized bodies. I’ve learned that everyone has something to offer, a story to tell, and something to educate me about. I’ve learned that there is a completely different way to approach health and wellness.

Rose Mattson RD

So – I’ve learned a lot. But here is what I want you to know:

1.That you don’t need to label foods “good” or “bad” and that all foods are neutral. Can you practice identifying when these thoughts arise?

2. Sleep is so important! Remember, health is not just about what you eat.

3. Move for fun and enjoyment.  Ask yourself – am I doing this out of body hatred, or because I truly like this activity?

4. I want you to be aware of social justice issues such as weight stigma, and fat shaming. This is a huge problem in our society. Take a look at your own biases, with a huge amount of compassion for yourself.

5. Please know that the messages that you tell your children, or say about yourself in the company of others, may stay with that person forever.

6. I want you to know that body image isn’t about how you look, but more about how you feel in your body.

7. Know that body acceptance isn’t so much about loving your body, but being accepting and respectful of ALL bodies.

8. That intuitive eating is for everyone, not just those with “food issues”. Not everyone may have an eating disorder, but on a spectrum, many people have developed unhealthy relationships with food, and their bodies.

9. Be aware of diet culture, and how subconscious messaging affects your choices. Can you identify diet culture & call it out?

10. To know how big of a role stress can play in your life, and take baby steps to reduce it every-single-day.

11. Make an effort to talk about things with your friends, family & loved ones that are unrelated to how you look, or how anyone else looks. Please shift your compliments away from weight to things that really matter.

12. Please know that health isn’t about how much you weigh.

13. And finally, know that we, as humans, are not meant to look the same. If we all ate and exercised in the exact same way, we would still look different. Sit with that for a moment.

In the past year, I have learned a lot. And I will continue to learn and to be open minded. Because this science is ever changing and evolving, it is so necessary to be open to new ideas. My goal is to never be closed off with my opinions, but to learn and grow with the times. I will be aware of the language that I use to try and make sure that I don’t contribute farther to body hatred and inequality in healthcare and in the world. I will probably mess up, but I am able to accept that when I do, I can handle it with humility and grace.

society's agenda doesn't have to look like yours
From Amber Rae

In the future, I hope to see healthcare that is aware of weight stigma and fat phobia and where all humans, regardless of size, shape, race, sex, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality etc. are treated with the same respect as a heterosexual, cisgender, thin, white male. I hope that there will be spaces built to accommodate people of all shapes and sizes. I hope to hear no more stories of women going into a doctors office and being told to lose weight rather than addressing the issue they originally came in for. And in the meantime, I will fight and stick up for marginalized groups and individuals. It’s appalling that this occurs, and as a health practitioner, I will not sit around and let this happen to my clients. We need to do better.

I hope this next year brings even more learning and growth. Not only in my occupation as a dietitian, but in my own life. I think Maya Angelo once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” (side note: the reason I know this is that my old yoga studio had this written on the bathroom wall, and I obsessively read everything I can while peeing – fun fact I know). I hope to help people feel at home in their bodies, and at peace with their self-care choices.

Please remember that health is multi-faced, that it looks different in everyone, and that people are not morally obligated to pursue health. Remember that everyone experiences differently than you, and to stay open to hearing their lived experiences. I want you to know that there is a way of approaching health that is compassionate, caring, and completely without judgement. And that is what I hope to provide here in this space.

Year 2 – let’s go.

Side note: I will be taking private practice clients at the end of the summer. If this is something that interests you, aaaand you read all the way down here, wooohoo! Shoot me a message here!

xoxooxoxox,

Rose

 

 

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