Today is Registered Dietitian day, which always falls right in the middle of Nutrition Month. Last night, while I was thinking about this impending day to honor everyone in this profession and all we do, I started thinking about what it means to me to be a dietitian. I came to this conclusion: dietitians have so many different roles, I don’t think they can be any one thing.
What we are however, are food experts. This can take the form of many things: it may be to help acutely ill patients in a hospital get the nutrients they need to get stronger. It could be to help patients with chronic health conditions meet their health goals. It could be developing programs to help community members get better access to safe and healthy food. It could be helping elite athletes meet their training goals. It could even be sharing that knowledge to help the public become more confident with preparing meals.
When I was working as a dietitian in outpatient care, I would ask my patients what their expectations were for the visit. Almost every time, they would say “You’ll tell me what to eat so I can reduce my weight/blood pressure/cholesterol/blood sugar/etc”. Nope. Although I think some of my patients would have preferred that method, my job was to empower the patients by giving them the information they needed to make their own food decisions.
Now, I’m doing the same thing: sharing my knowledge of food to help you made decisions about food, except now there is less of a medical focus. Some of the posts I write will have some nutrition tidbits worked in to them, like about the benefits of meatless meals on the Sweet Potato Skins recipe. All of the recipes I post will have nutrition info posted, which I analyze myself (you can analyze your own recipes for free at the Dietitians of Canada Recipe Analyzer site). I do this, because not all the recipes I post are what some would call “healthy”, and the nutrition information allows you to make decisions about whether or when you want to include these items into your diet.
Here’s a secret: dietitians don’t just eat organic vegetables and fruits, eat whole grains and legumes all the time. I choose to live by the 80/20 rule, which means making healthy choices 80% of the time, and indulging in treats 20% of the time.
If you are a dietitian, I invite you to share what it means to you to be a dietitian. If you are not, has an encounter with a dietitian impacted you in any way?
Happy Registered Dietitian Day!