We’ve all been there: you’re given a task to complete with the assumption that you know what you’re doing. But the truth is…you have no idea!
There’s a funny story in my family about a situation like that, when my uncle went to visit my aunt while they were dating. If I’m remembering right, it was my uncle Mark’s his first visit to his future in-laws’ house. Here’s how the story goes, according to my aunt Jane:
“Dad [my Grandpa Harry] had been out hunting and walked into the house, greeting us with his typical greeting: “I’ve got a project for you two!” He then explained that we were to skin the two rabbits he had just shot so Lucy [my Grandma] could make rabbit stew for supper. We promptly explained that neither of us had any idea how to skin a rabbit, but he thought we should be able to figure it out (well before the days of Google) and he left us with the dead bunnies. I was mortified and I can only wonder why Mark did not pick up and run right then and there. Luckily [Uncle] Kenny came in and we somehow talked him into doing it for us. To top it off we had to eat rabbit stew for supper. 🤮 I’m sure rabbit stew can be tasty, but this was not!”
Why do I tell you that story? What’s the connection? I believe many of us are put into “skin-the-rabbit” situations in our life, and especially when it comes to our health. We are told to “Eat right!” and given a list of foods to eat or not to eat. We’re told to “be healthy” and “get exercise.” That’s like being handed the rabbit with the expectation of producing rabbit stew, when you really have no clue what to do.
Unfortunately, the diet culture is like my grandpa in this story. They only provide one piece of the puzzle and expect results from a one-size-fits-all program. But that’s not how I operate.
Here’s what I want to do for you as your dietitian:
Be a Teacher
The irony of the story I shared is that my Grandpa was a teacher at the local school. In theory, he could have sat down with my aunt and uncle and taught them how to process the rabbit. As a dietitian, I understand the importance of teaching and education as part of the path to health. I have undergone numerous hours of classroom education. My role is to pass that information on to my clients. With all the misinformation out there, it’s important for me to teach science and evidence based approaches, not fads and trends. I strive to take the complex principles of nutrition and human metabolism and break them down into easy to understand concepts.
In addition to giving education, I give practical resources to my clients. For example, I might provide a list of healthy foods to try, along with recipes that incorporate those foods. Other tools might be recommending credible websites and books, different apps to utilize or cookbooks. Without the right resources and tools, the education can be forgotten and never applied. Which leads to the next way I can help you.
In addition to my classroom education, I was required to attend labs and clinicals to practice the skills I was learning. We got into the kitchen to practice cooking and baking. We went to the local hospital and visited with real patients, practicing our medical nutrition therapy. I found that I remembered the concepts better when I put them into practice. I also got more comfortable and confident as I practiced.
In the same way, my goal is to encourage you to take the education and tools I provide and use them! Together we will come up with ways that you can practically apply that knowledge and use those tools. This is a step that can be tough. And you’ll likely need some help as you’re learning. This is where the final step comes in.
These days it’s easy to get information, tools and resources on the internet, many of them for free. But all of these resources won’t know your unique story and history. They can’t take your individual needs and situation into account. I believe nothing can replace person-to-person interaction. I strive to provide an individualized experience for each client I work with. We can work together to take the education and tools I’ve provided and apply them together. Through services like in-home visits, we can practice meal prep and cooking, working side-by-side in your kitchen. On grocery store tours we can practice picking healthy options for your family and discovering where new food items are located.
Ultimately, I want you to be able to learn and apply the information so well that I work myself out of job.
A dietitian’s role isn’t the food police (contrary to what some people might think) but that of a teacher. A good dietitian will figure out what you already know and what you want to learn. A good dietitian will be a coach and help you figure out your goals and how you’ll achieve them. I want to help you learn to prep that metaphorical rabbit, make stew, and have it taste good too!