I have a love/hate relationship with social media and the internet in general. I love that I can keep in touch with friends and relatives who literally live a thousand miles away from us. However, I very much dislike the lack of transparency in people’s lives. When we go to post to social media, we tend to post things that we want to “brag” about. We use cute captions and filters. Real life doesn’t have filters. Real life definitely is not as perfect as some people make it seem on social media. So in an attempt to be transparent, I want to share a little bit with you of my personal story and struggles with food because, believe it or not, dietitians struggle too.
Let’s face it, many dietitians didn’t grow up in families that ate quinoa and kale for dinner every single night . Many dietitians started studying nutrition because they wanted to learn the science behind nutrition and to learn what a healthy diet truly does look like.
Generally speaking, people cook and eat the way they learned to cook and eat from childhood. Food habits are developed at a very young age. And habits of any kind are so hard to break.
In the Midwest, where I grew up, many people live on the meat and potatoes diet. Every meal is some form of meat and potatoes. However, I do remember my mom cooking more of a variety of foods than that. She always had a vegetable (besides potatoes) of some kind like green beans, corn, carrots or salad.
My struggle with food really began in high school. Anyone who has gone through their adolescent years already knows that it’s an emotional rollercoaster. I think sometime near the end of my sophomore year of high school, I really began to start emotionally eating.
Food made me feel happy (for the moment). Especially “snack” type foods. When I was feeling depressed or upset, I was coming home and eating chips, donuts, candy, etc. I can still distinctly remember my mom telling me that I needed to stop that habit of eating just because i was upset. But at that time, hearing that from my mom only made me want to eat my feelings even more.
This unhealthy food habit was not my motivation for choosing to study nutrition. Honestly, I didn’t really know for sure what I wanted to do when I got to Purdue. I had considered photography and nursing, but I actually applied and was accepted into the agricultural communications program. Once I got to Purdue, I learned about the nutrition program. It intrigued me because growing up, I had seen several different family members try all the fad diets. Admittedly, I think I even tried some different fad diets in high school. So at the end of my freshman year I decided that I wanted to learn the truth about nutrition and switched my major to dietetics.
My emotional eating continued throughout college. And I even picked up some other bad habits because now I was at a point in my life where I had to grocery shop and cook for myself. Hello convenience foods! (Convenience foods are fine in moderation but probably should not make up the bulk of your diet).
Even though I was learning the science behind food and nutrition and what a healthy diet and healthy relationship with food looks like, it was still very hard to work on breaking my own bad food habits.
Being a dietitian, knowing what I know now, I have continued to work on my emotional eating. I am trying to eat a balanced diet and live a healthy lifestyle but it is still challenging.
I think the biggest breakthrough I’ve had was when I became pregnant and had my little boy. It’s amazing the progress you can make when you find the proper motivation.
While I do still find myself wanting to reach for those snacks again when I am feeling stressed or upset, I am working harder to fight those impulses. Not only do I want to be healthy so that I can be around for my kid, but I also want to teach him to be an intuitive eater and have a healthy relationship with food.
So what’s the point in this blog post? My point is that no one is perfect. Even dietitians struggle too. I find that my struggles help me to be a better dietitian. It’s easier to help people when you can have empathy and can relate to what they are going through.
Below are some links of blog posts from other dietitians who have also decided to open up and be more transparent about their lives and struggles with food.
If you are a dietitian reading this story then I encourage you to share your journey as well on social media and use #dietitiansstruggletoo