When I tell people what I do for a living – study, practice and teach nutrition – I am met with one of two reactions:
“Really?! Let me tell you about this diet I’m on….”
“Oh no. Please don’t judge what I’m eating.”
The reality is, most dietitians don’t want to judge your plate. The term “food police” has unfortunately run rampant for years, but I have yet to meet a dietitian who appreciates the moniker. Well we embrace our role as food assessors, maybe even diet connoisseurs, there is one title that I find myself returning to when I consider myself as a dietitian: role model. The irony is, for every instance I have been asked to ignore a colleague’s lunch tray, I have never had someone ask, “What are you getting for lunch?” No one thinks to study the dietitian’s meal choices or analyze what landed in her lunch box. And I often wonder why.
If one were to explore the dietitian’s meal selections, I think he would be quite surprised! (Most) dietitians will openly proclaim their love for all things supposedly on the “no” list when it comes to food: Artisanal cheese! Coffee! Wine! Anything mixed with dark chocolate! Sure, we can claim it’s the antioxidants we’re after, but as scientists we know the benefits of these foods lie within their gustatory assets.
So if as dietitians we know that the key to health, longevity and mortality is a diet of plants, whole grains, sparing lean meats and even less low-fat dairy – why exactly does every nutrition blog feature a delicious array of the cheese/coffee/wine/chocolate conundrum I mentioned above? Because dietitians love food. And we recognize that in order to live, breath, and teach nutrition, we have to have a true love for all food – from a dark chocolate bar to a kale leaf. That isn’t to say that dietitians can’t be picky eaters or don’t have certain foods they abstain from; you certainly won’t find me in line at KFC anytime soon. But I would never judge someone for the individual food choices they make, because food is surely about more than nutrition. It is about beauty, love, fuel, taste, and family.
And if you don’t believe that, you’ve clearly never tasted my garlic roasted kale.