I Am Not an Anti-Diet Dietitian
I have sat and stared at this title for four days. This is the first time I have felt so strongly compelled to write a blog post, yet I still don’t know who I am writing it for.
I just feel the need to get this out into the world.
I am first and foremost writing this post for myself. For some reason, I feel stuck at a point in my career where I cannot possibly move forward without taking a moment to sigh a huge exhale of relief, and shed the person I feel like I have been portraying for the past two years.
I am second writing this for my dietitian colleagues whose judgement I fear the most. I feel like I have been portraying myself in my business as someone that I am entirely not, for fear of criticism and backlash among my peers online, and for the liking and acceptance I crave in what seems to be a very small community.
And I am third writing this post for my ideal reader, patient, customer, avatar – whoever YOU are out there. I am hoping this piece will give you more insight into the dietitian and person that I want to become in the future.
I Have Not Been Authentic
I first noticed there was a problem when I started to go on press trips with my peers (fun, sponsored travel trips to destinations like Maine to see the Wild Blueberry Barron’s or Georgia to see how peanuts were harvested).
Over and over again I would have a genuine connection with someone and they would say to me: “wow, you’re not anything like who I thought you were from online”.
The good news is, I’m pretty sure they liked me better in real life, but the fact remains – I am a very different person than I portray myself to be online.
I have taken some time off of work to disconnect from social media and to take time to be quiet with my thoughts and one word that keeps coming to mind over and over again is the word authenticity.
For people who are not working in the online space, it may not seem like a big deal, but my full-time income relies on my work through online platforms like my blog and social media accounts – what I do on those accounts matters and who I am perceived to be on those accounts matters.
So, like any millennial, I Googled what is authenticity: “authenticity is the degree to which an individual’s actions are congruent with their beliefs and desires, despite external pressures“.
And like a slap in the face I realized that I have not been authentic, not since the day I started my blog.
And not only have been inauthentic, but now I have found myself tangled up in the scary numbers game of Instagram and page views, where I feel that my worth as a person and as a business is based more on the number of likes and comments I receive, rather than the number of real people behind those screens who were actually positively impacted by my message.
What Has Been Inauthentic?
Since the day I started my blog nearly three years ago, I have written to please others. I have hidden my opinions. I have let the opinions of others dictate the content I have produced so that I could ‘fit in’ with what everyone else has been doing.
Nothing is more true than with the Intuitive Eating movement we are currently seeing in the dietitian community.
Now don’t get me wrong, I totally understand, embrace and love what Intuitive Eating stands for and does for the mental and emotional wellness of all. I spent nearly a year of my career immersed in all things Intuitive Eating, thinking it was a niche I could see myself settling into forever.
And then I started to see something I didn’t like, which was a rather strange community that preaches openness, acceptance, progressive thinking – and yet practices the opposite by adopting a black and white mentality of what is right and what is wrong – and then telling others how wrong they in fact are for having another opinion.
Over and over again in private Facebook groups I would I see a seemingly harmless question be derailed into this annoying intuitive eating, anti-diet tailspin of ridiculousness.
And soon I noticed myself censoring what I was saying – never daring to say the words calorie, fat, weight, weight loss, paleo, whole30, low carb, or god forbid the nastiest four letter word of them all – diet. Even if I didn’t feel right or believe that.
At the same time, about a year ago, my whole world was flipped upside down when I found myself sick for nearly two months, in and out of the hospital, due to an infection that led to me developing pelvic inflammatory disease a c diff colitis.
A year later, I have been reflecting back on that time in my life and how it has shaped me, my beliefs, and my desire to practice as a dietitian so I can help others who are experiencing the same thing that I did.
There Should Be Two Different Words for Diet
Diet by dictionary definition:
- the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats. Ex: “a vegetarian diet”
- a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons. Ex: “”I’m going on a diet”
Okay but come on – these really are two completely different things we are talking about and is really the reason I believe the dietitian community is so divided on so much of our core messaging or at least the delivery of our messages.
The truth is, I want to niche myself into an arena where I ‘help people develop an anti-inflammatory diet that is right for them’ (definition 1) and I don’t want to be called out my peers for encouraging DIETS (definition 2).
I no longer want to be scared to say the word DIET on my Instagram, Facebook page or in my blog.
There, I said it.
And more so, I don’t want to be judged for acting according to my own beliefs and values – aka becoming more of my true authentic self and helping people through a situation I went through myself.
Am I An Anti-Diet Dietitian?
I don’t feel that the term anti-diet dietitian aligns my core audience with what I want to help them with. I don’t think that my core audience knows what an anti-diet dietitian is. I feel like writing anti-diet dietitian in my Instagram bio is just what all the cool kids are doing these days.
Now I’ve been really open and honest about my struggle with disordered eating. I 1,000% understand the damage that our traditional diet culture inflicts on women and men every single day. But again, I’m hung up on that word diet.
You see, when I was sick, I was sick for so long without any answers from doctors, that I actually thought that I was crazy. I started to question if my mental thoughts were causing physical reactions, or if my physical reactions were not truly physical but a mental manifestation of my crazy thoughts.
I literally thought I was going crazy.
Turns out – I wasn’t. I just had shitty doctors who didn’t care enough about me to take me seriously or to take the time to figure out what my problem was.
It wasn’t until I found the right doctor, an Integrative and Functional Medicine Doctor who placed me on a special diet that I started to get better.
And to this day, I believe that a dairy-free, gluten-free diet along with a very specific gut restoration protocol and supplement regimen absoutley, unequivocally saved my life.
I’ve never said that out loud because I was scared of judgement from my peers that I would be promoting diets.
But in my quest to become a more authentic version of myself, and to serve those who have had experiences similar to mine, I have determined that I am indeed, not an anti-diet dietitian.
I am a dietitian that treats everyone individually. I am a dietitian who does not think that you are crazy or ignorant. I am a dietitian that understands the desire to lose weight from a personal perspective. I am a dietitian who will work to help you feel better mentally, emotionally, and physically – on your terms.
I Am Embracing the Gray
The one thing that has freaked me out the most about the Intuitive Eating community is the complete black and white way of looking at things. I don’t know how to explain it, but in so many conversations that I have secretly read from the comfort of my Facebook screen, I have been turned off by the black and white thinking of this movement.
I think Intuitive Eating is awesome, I also don’t think that it is the end all, be all solution for everyone.
I think it is amazing for those who are recovering from eating disorders, I think it is confusing for those who are recovering from other health disorders such as IBS, diabetes, or a continued mystery diagnosis.
I think some of the black and white mentality and ways of thinking is detrimental to those who are trying to improve their health, or simply so desperate that they will seek any solution as a relief to their problem.
I think that when I open up my private practice in 2019, I will be a better practitioner having an extensive knowledge of the principles of Intuitive Eating, and I know I will incorporate them often where appropriate, but I know it will not be the focus of my work.
But What About Weight Loss?
Funny thing about Intuitive Eating, it’s super easy to preach and then practice when you’re in your mid-twenties, have been a size four or smaller your entire life, are typically white, middle-class, well-educated and of course – without children.
Because that was me two years ago (except my son was 2 then). I was spoiled that my body went back to normal after having a baby, and it was easy for me to preach the Intuitive Eating message, because hey – it was working for me.
After I got sick last year, I got a real reality check when my weight fluctuated from 120-160lbs over the course of 6 months.
The combination of the pelvic inflammatory disease and the hormone disruption from all the reproductive issues I had brought me to the heaviest weight I have ever been.
Of course, I never weighed myself (and still don’t TBH), but I accidentally saw that 164 pounds on the doctors paper at one of my follow up appointments and it was literally soul crushing.
After living in a bigger body for quite some time, I can say that I have a more realistic perspective on someones desire for weight loss.
I know it is super easy as a practitioner to say not to focus on weight, but I understand as a patient that is a lot easier said than done (and also highly irritating coming from someone who has never stood in my shoes or wore my size 8 pants).
The Best of Both Worlds
Being a dietitian I am so, so thankful for my experiences as a practitioner and my understanding of Intuitive Eating to know that weight is truly irrelevant. I know that focusing on weight loss will not bring about positive health outcomes or behavior change, but rather that behavior change may potentially lead to weight loss, and if it doesn’t – that’s okay too because you will still reap the benefits of those positive health outcomes.
But as your dietitian, to my ideal reader, I can tell you that I understand what you’re going through and understand that it will take awhile to understand that weight is irrelevant and that there are better things to focus your time and energy on.
I will never weigh you or ask you to lose weight. I will hear you, and I will sympathize with you when you say you want to lose weight. I won’t tell you that you are wrong for wanting that.
It is my goal to simply help you discover what maters more than that.
Back to Authenticity
Circling back to authenticity. I no longer want to play the ant-diet dietitian role, and I no longer want to make decisions based on what the RD community finds ‘acceptable’ at the time.
I just want to help people like me discover what is causing their inflammatory problems and how I can help them to manage that. And yes, that will be through a customized anti-inflammatory DIET (and I already told myself that I won’t be afraid to say that word out loud).
I will also be embracing more of the woo. I’m a huge fan of the woo – the natural, the holistic, the alternative medicine. But – I have in-authentically shied away from that because dietitians must be “evidence-based”.
I care more about how I feel and how clients feel – anecdotal evidence – than what ‘science’ says. I am embracing the woo.
Will the Real Emily Kyle Please Stand Up
And last but not least, I want to bring some of the more real parts of my personality to my social media accounts – professionally and respectfully, of course.
In real life, I have STRONG opinions. I can’t even tell you how many times someone says to me “tell me how you really feel” sarcastically – because I already did.
In real life, I am the nicest, most polite person you have ever met.
I also swear like a sailor and don’t entertain a lot of bullshit from other people.
In real life, I share my opinions when asked and if others don’t like what I have to say – well that’s okay because I don’t really care.
And I need to transfer that personality to social media and become a more authentic, true version of myself.
So from now on, I will not be afraid of the opinions of others that are different than mine.
IT IS OKAY FOR US ALL TO HAVE DIFFERENT FEELING AND OPTIONS (that was for you RD’s).
Without the need to attack others (ahem, we all know who that is for).
There are 8 freaking billion people in this world, there are enough dietitians with different perspectives to help everyone in different ways.
I’ve been listening to a lot of Gary Vee lately and have realized that if I don’t do this MY OWN WAY and say fuck what everyone else is thinking, I won’t be able to do this for the rest of my life.
For me, for you, for us all. For authenticity’s sake.
And if you don’t like what I’m doing over here in my own lane – no worries, that is the beauty of the internet – you can simply unfollow me.
*But if you decide to say something mean to me, or troll me, just know that I will be secretly cursing you out under my breath while blocking you ASAP 😉
Join Me for The Live Discussion
Well, after the sheer amount of responses I got from this post, the real Emily Kyle did stand up, and this is what I had to say:
The Future of Emily Kyle Nutrition
If you are still reading this, please know what a very therapeutic experience it was to write this. And if you’re still with me, I am excited to share with you what is coming up next for Emily Kyle Nutrition.
As for recipes, here’s the thing. I think plants are AWESOME, but the truth is, I’m never going to be a vegan or vegetarian, and I will be more open and honest about discussing that.
I will be embracing more of the woo. I was nervous to post my first CBD article, but when I did got such positive feedback that I can’t wait to continue sharing more about this amazing supplement with you. I will also be talking about more natural and holistic remedies that I use myself and find interesting. I’ll let you know when there is science to back it up, when there is not, and my personal experience and then let you make the decision for yourself.
I will be officially opening my private practice in 2019! I am very excited about this one, and very excited to have my own office. And I will be offering LEAP MRT testing to help people discover their specific food sensitivities. More on that to come, but – I passed my LEAP exam and didn’t even say anything to anyone because I was scared! (Dumb!)
And finally, and most important to me, is that I have started my classes with the Holistic Cannabis Academy and am excited to become a certified Holistic Cannabis Practitioner in the next few months. This is something I am extremely passionate about and am very excited to add Cannabis Counselor to my resume in the coming months.
Thanks for Reading
A huge thank you if you read this entire thing because that means one of two things – you are totally connecting with something that I am saying, or that you are totally interested in what I will be sharing in the future.
I hope it’s both, and I hope this gives you a more clear vision of who I am and who I hope to become in the future. Thank you for being along with me on this journey and I can’t wait to embark on it with you.
Questions or concers? Feel free to email me (nicely) at firstname.lastname@example.org
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