What kind of nutritionist am I?6 January 2017
I was recently inspired by fellow nutritionist Sarah B.’s instagram post on who she wanted to be as a practitioner. It really resonated with me – because up until last year, this was something I was conflicted with myself.
When I graduated, I felt like I needed to be a certain way to be a good nutritionist. I thought I need to be more strict with myself, more skinny, more into cleanses and protein powders and quick weight loss tricks. I thought I should probably be avoiding something. Every nutritionist seemed to cut out meat or dairy or grains…something. I thought there had to be a type of diet I was aligned with or a rule I religiously followed.
I did naturally gravitate towards whole foods and filled my plate with lots of veggies, because they made me feel better than always eating burgers. But did I still eat burgers? Sure – if I felt like it. I would never even think twice, until I started wondering if that is what a nutritionist was supposed to do. Maybe I should have had no bun, or organic ketchup or have said no in the first place. What would my clients think? I was feeling balanced emotional and physically, but without putting enough restriction on myself, somehow inadequate in my profession.
A side note: ironically during this time the clients I was most myself with were the ones that were seeing the best results. When I acted as though I thought I should consulting, those were the clients I did not help – but maybe even made their situation worse. I remember handing over a program that I believed in theory would get rid at all my clients symptoms, something they taught us in school. No gluten, dairy, sugar, soy, fried foods, processed foods, coffee, alcohol, etc, etc. She looked up and me and burst into tears. I never saw her again. I had pushed away my intuition that told me to work slowly with her, and had ended up making a big mistake.
Fast forward to this spring when I decided to go back to IHN for a continuing education course on Eating Disorders that Kyla Fox was teaching. In the first class, maybe within in the first few moments, I realized had taken for granted my positive relationship with food. I quickly learned how many people are suffering in the presence of food, including most of the smart, interesting, talented and beautiful women in my class. I learned that despite the fact that I was not “cleansing” or “detoxing”, I was eating when I was hungry, stopping when I was full (something, I became aware, does not come easily to everyone). I ate kale and spinach, but pizza and fries, too. I ate this way because I loved myself. I was able to stay balanced because of this love – not caught in a binge, restrict, binge, restrict cycle of self confusion and hatred. It became clear that this thing I thought made me an inferior nutritionist, actually made me a really good one.
It was in that class that something really clicked for me. What I knew deep down all along, what I had been practicing in my own life for years, was ok. It was more than ok. I did not have to teach people how to have the “perfect” diet”. I could just be me and still inspire wellness. Kyla’s words felt right. They were inclusive, positive and calming. They were the opposite of the ones in some of the courses in my first training that centred around exclusion, avoidance and fear. One of my favourite sentences Kyla said, a quote I will never forget was: “A healthy relationship with food includes all foods.” (I understand that there are individuals that this may not apply to for obvious allergy or ethical reasons. You can most certainly avoid those foods.) But this means your favourite foods, anytime, without guilt. I wholeheartedly believe this.
As Sarah put it so perfectly in her post, “only love leads to love”. You can not hate and torture your body into perfection. When we love ourselves we want to nourish – not punish, our bodies. We want to eat veggies, exercise, sleep, mediate, take time for self-care – we want to feel good. We also want to eat cake and ice cream and go for dinner with friends and pick what we feel like on the menu without question, because that also feels good. You can not have a stream of negative self talk and then expect positive results. Life does not start once you’ve reached a certain size, eat a certain number of calories or completely avoid ___ food. You won’t be smarter, funnier, more likeable or happier. Your life can start now, when you begin to let go. Let go of the hate for yourself and the expectations you (or others) have decided you need to meet in order to be ok.
So to answer my question: I am an open and understanding nutritionist. I am a nutritionist that is still learning about my own body as I try and help you get to know yours. I am the type of nutritionist that may recommend you do some stuff less and some others a bit more in order to see how it makes your body feel. I am a nutritionist who will to guide you towards improving your health by teaching you to listen to, respect and love the body you are in.