Happy (Canadian) National Dietitians Day!! (the US version was last week…why can’t these two great nations get on the same page??)
To all of the lovely ladies and gentlemen who practice as registered dietitians (RDs) in countless areas of public and private sectors….I wish you all the very best as you tirelessly work to provide accurate and valuable information and the finest, most innovative nutrition care to your patients and clients! On a side note…I also wish you the fortitude to endure (or continue enduring) the countless hours you spend “undoing” the misinformation, myths and voodoo that some believe to be sound nutrition advice (sorry, couldn’t help myself, hehe :)).
Now, some of you might think dietitians are nutrition nazis, always at the ready to snatch that chocolate chip cookie out of your hand, before it *gasp* makes it past your lips, but truly nothing could be further form the truth!! So I’ve rounded up some of the common folklore that persists to circulate amongst the general public with the hope of finally unearthing the truth about the fine women and men know as dietitians …
1) MYTH Dietitians cannot turn off their internal calorie counters…ever…they analyze each and every morsel of food that you and I ingest and are always ready to provide you with this information should you even show the teeniest hint of interest.
So not true. While always interested in the nutritional value of the foods people eat, dietitians understand that eating is about sooooo much more than just ingesting calories. True, the very nature of the title “dietitian” implies someone who might put you on a diet but in this field, diet refers to the foods and drinks you typically eat and NOT the act of restricting food. Food is about family and friends, about culture, about celebrations and pleasure. The aromas of food can evoke powerful memories…just think about how the smell of freshly baked cookies makes you feel and how it transports you instantaneously to your childhood. Food is the universal language, right? Or is that love? Isn’t it the same?
2) MYTH Dietitians are contractually obligated to attend a monthly weigh-in.
Yikes! Maybe I’m exaggerating this myth a bit but the idea that all dietitians must be “skinny” does persist and is preposterous. It is a well know fact among dietitians that bodies come in a variety of shapes and sizes…how boring would this world be if we all looked the same?? Physical appearance doesn’t always denote healthiness. What you put into your body along with your mindset about food and activity level is a much better indicator of that. While attaining a healthy weight may be a goal for some, the quest should never be at the expense of respecting yourself and being kind to the only body you have.
3) MYTH In order to even think about going to eat at a fast food restaurant, dietitians must carefully plan their disguise, drive to an unfamiliar neighbourhood and ONLY do so under very special circumstances.
It is true that eating at fast food restaurants frequently can be hazardous to your health (hope that doesn’t surprise anyone!). And that to attain health one should consider the type of fuel you feed your body with. But the idea that eating at a fast food restaurant now and then, even by a dietitian, is an indictable offence? Well that’s just silly. Dietitians understand that eating out is part and parcel of the crazy lives we live; between work and school and commuting and kids and soccer practice and dance lessons and the gym and shopping and the drycleaners…well you get the picture…it is perfectly okay to have someone else cook for you once in a while. A good dietitian will show you how to make better choices when you do eat out instead of condemning you for your delinquent ways.
4) MYTH Dietitians always have the will power to say no to dessert.
Umm have you ever been out to dinner with a group of dietitians? Talk of dessert begins even before the appetizers arrive. Dietitians recognize that having a delectable dessert, whether it be chocolate cake, apple pie or a colourful platter of fruit, is part of healthy eating. Could you imagine a world where birthdays were devoid of cake or summers without an ice cream cone to neutralize the scorching heat? Most dietitians can’t either. The idea of moderation is often thrown around when dessert is discussed so, while one should always enjoy dessert to the fullest, it’s not a bad idea to practice this concept at the same time.
5) MYTH At dinner parties dietitians eyeball your plate carefully, taking stock of what you are eating – based on this they decide if they befriend you. This goes for what you put in your grocery cart as well.
Never mind that if this were true dietitians would not make friends…ever…but the idea that dietitians are this preoccupied with what others are eating is nonsense. Dietitians enjoy eating. Period. They enjoy cooking and sharing recipes and sampling other peoples specialties. You get a group of dietitians together and you essentially have group of food enthusiasts on your hand! A passion for food characterizes many of the dietitians I know, they understand the joie de vivre (the joy of life) that food imparts and how nourishing a healthy relationship with food can be. All foods are part of a healthy diet (there’s that word again) but it certainly is important to learn how to feed your body in the best way possible. Along with an active lifestyle, healthy eating (that includes all food groups) is the real key to longevity and the proverbial fountain of youth.
So go ahead and hug a dietitian! They don’t bite!