Disclaimer: This is a bit of a rant, I love my future profession and all that comes with it but there’s always a few niggly things about our jobs that sometimes we all like to have a little whinge about!
(1) “What’s the best piece of diet advice you can give me?”
*Sigh* Dietitians are trained to create individualised sustainable dietary changes for people. If you ask me this, you’re probably not going to get a surprising answer because my answer has to be something safe for most people (usually eat 2 pieces of fruit and more non-starchy vegetables every day). Even then, if you take blood thinners or have kidney disease then it’s potentially a problem! If you want specialised advice, book in and see an APD to get personalised advice that suits you best for your goals.
(2) “I know I shouldn’t have this biscuit/cake/chocolate”
Oh good grief, dietitians are not the food police! We really do not care what you’re eating if you’re not our patient and even then we don’t judge. I’m usually the first person to jump on board the chocolate or biscuits in the kitchen because surprisingly all we do is think and talk about food – we really love food! Even the “junk food”.
(3) “You ate pizza on Friday night?! But you’re a dietitian”
Yes. Yes, I did and it was delicious, thank you for your judgment. It’s frustrating that whilst I don’t judge other people’s food choices that all of mine get judged because of my future career. The other day, I was sitting in a cafe eating one of my all-time favourite Greek sweets, and I had been eyeing it off ALL week and as a Friday treat, I decided to get it. And it just so happened that day the lady working in the cafe asked me what I do for work with my mouth full of pastry and custard I responded “student dietitian”. And I could see a little glimmer of judgment there. I often say I should tell people I’m a scientist or work in “allied health” when they ask to avoid the awkward “but why are you eating that?” This can be applied to anyone, don’t judge people’s food choices because you don’t know if that’s their everyday choice or just a one-off for them.
On the other hand, it is important to be a good role model, however, I am only human and enjoy the sweeter things in life just as much as the next person! My diet is certainly not perfect and nor should it be, because that would be awfully boring.
(4) “Is XYZ good or bad for you?”
Well that all depends on how much of it you eat/drink and how often? Like I keep harping on about, we need to stop demonising foods, placing a food into the taboo category often makes us want it more – it’s simply human nature. Instead, if we just focus on, what will make me feel satisfied and will nourish me when choosing foods this can lead to a more healthy perspective around food. And yes sometimes that will be “junk food” but sometimes that’s just good for your sanity. If you want to know about the foods you can ADD into the diet that will automatically improve it, see this previous post on my blog.
(5) “Why didn’t you just become a doctor?”
Massive shout-out to all the medical professionals who do an excellent job of taking care of very vulnerable and sick people day in and day out. To all those who ask me or other dietitians/future dietitians, if they hope to become a doctor one day here’s my very honest response. If I wanted to become a doctor, I probably would’ve applied for that course but I didn’t because I’ve always been interested in the power of food in the body and in health and disease. Also, dietitians just like other allied health professionals are an important part of the clinical team that participates in improving patient care. Plus dietitians can work outside clinical areas like in food industry, communities or public health organisations. They’re simply different professions with different demands and put simply I was never driven or felt a passion for pursuing medicine in my studies. And nobody would like a doctor who didn’t feel passionate about medicine!
Food over blood and guts any day of the week!