When my assistant Caroline asked to write a post, I of course said yes! She is a great writer, but even more important to me, she is passionate, fully recovered and committed to Attuned Eating, Gentle Nutrition and sharing the reality of what both the freedom and challenges that being on this path brings. Enjoy the richness of her story!
When I quit my full-time job as a news reporter to fulfill my passion for nutrition, I never thought about the RD label. I am not even a registered dietitian yet, and I already have it. Even some friends and family members assume, “Oh she is
going to be a RD, she MUST eat perfectly…. She must never eat dessert, or anything fried, or…. BREAD.”
God forbid I would ever eat bread! I say this completely as a joke of course, as bread is one of my favorite foods, especially when it’s homemade and full of whole grains. Yes, this may be considered the “healthier” bread,
but it is actually what my taste buds prefer too. And why wouldn’t I want to feed myself something full of energy-rich carbohydrates and an abundance of nutrients my body thrives on? Unfortunately, bread has a strangely
bad reputation, thanks to the “low-carb” diet fads and recent gluten bashing all over the Internet. In a book I am reading on female hormones
(written by a doctor), she even bashes carbs and says to stop eating your morning toast! My mom told my
dad to stop eating bread to help his weight and his heart. Sorry Doc. (and mom), you are wrong.
Food taboos are everywhere, and my goal everyday is to stay firmly rooted in my own body and beliefs
about what it desires and needs. As someone who struggled with disordered eating as a teenager, it took me
a long time to realize I could enjoy all kinds of foods, and truly trust my body to tell me what it needs. I had
to learn and endure significant pain before I could embrace the body God has given me, and to arrive at a place of acceptance. And trust me, I have my days when I forget all of that, and am not very nice to myself. I am
still on the journey and probably will be for the rest of my life.
Whether it’s restriction or excessiveness, going to extremes is detrimental to mental health, and it is also horrible for physical health. My Nutrition and Metabolism professor explained it well one day in laymen’s terms,
“Our bodies can handle anything, just not in extremes, on either end of the spectrum.” For example, the
pancreas does not naturally produce enough insulin to digest massive amounts of sugar. However, our
bodies certainly need an adequate amount of glucose (sugar) to function properly.
More than often, my body craves wholesome foods like avocados, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, milk, nuts
and quinoa. However, it also craves red meat, French fries, beer, cheese and chocolate. And let me tell you,
those “also” foods were once foods that I thought would instantly make me unhealthy. But throughout the
past 10 years, I have discovered my body wants and NEEDS it ALL. It doesn’t want any of it in mass amounts,
and it does not want to be deprived either.
Before I went back to school, I knew all of the science classes and the studying would be challenging, but I never even thought about how people’s actions and words towards me would change around the dinner table.
There are times when I actually have to tell my father I will not play his food police for him, after he frantically
asks me if he should be eating certain foods. My intention as a future RD is the opposite of playing the food police. On the contrary, I want to help people be more comfortable around food and with their relationship to their
bodies’ needs, while I continue to work on mine.
In a world of health bloggers and celebrity diet books saying eat this way or that way, it is increasingly hard to
stay grounded in one’s body. Personally, no matter how connected I become to my body and to its needs, I still
have days when those messages filter through into my brain. “Carbs. are bad,” “Sugar will kill you,” “You
should eat clean.” By the way, what does “eating clean” really mean? Does that mean those of us who are
not “eating clean,” are in fact eating… dirty? All of these ways of thinking are extreme and ironically unhealthy,
in my opinion.
But it is still a challenge to stay rooted in the midst of this chaos, especially when you have a
personality like mine that is intense, and at times, yes… extreme. For those of you who share in that personality
trait, we must consciously continue to remind ourselves who the best guide truly is and always will be- our very own bodies.
Well said Caroline! Thank you for your words of sanity in this world that chooses to love, hate and fear food. If you are reading this, you truly are on this path.