I’ve been a Registered Nutritionist for many years and I really love my job! However, there are many misconceptions that the public have about nutritionists and dietitians – most revolve around our reputation as ‘the fun police’. So I thought I’d share with you the questions and comments I experience most frequently when people find out I’m a nutritionist and also tell you what I really think!
“Oooh don’t judge me!” (while eating cake, biscuit, crisps etc.)
There is really only one response to people guiltily hiding what they are eating and drinking in front of me: I’M NOT JUDGING YOU! Seriously, unless you specifically ask my advice, I have no problem with you eating a second slice of cake if that’s what you’d like to do! There are many ways to be healthy and enjoyment of food is so important. A life without treats is very dull and even if you indulge more often than you should, I will never judge you. Of course, if you’re paying for my advice then I might recommend against 10 pints a night and daily doses of pizza…
You must be a vegetarian?
Errr why? Why is meat inherently bad and vegetarian diets guaranteed to be healthy? While meat free, vegetarian and vegan diets can be really healthy and balanced, they can also lack certain nutrients if they’re not well planned. Diets containing meat and fish can also be healthy and environmentally sustainable if done correctly. I adopt a flexitarian, plant-based approach to eating, so I base my diet around plenty of vegetables and fruit, with wholegrains, pulses and dairy foods alongside smaller amounts of meat or fish. This suits me and my lifestyle as well as meaning my husband and I can enjoy the same meals (he’s a committed carnivore but I’m converting him to a more plant-based approach!)
Are you really healthy all the time?
No way! I eat chocolate most days (one or two squares, mind), I drink small amounts of alcohol at the weekend (wine, prosecco and gin are currently my tipples of choice) and if I want to eat steak and chips, I will damn right eat steak and chips. Of course the key here is moderation. There is nothing I won’t eat. Apart from porridge. I loathe porridge. Oats are fine in all sorts of guises but the texture of porridge takes me back to my school days experiencing lumpy mashed potato, custard and rice pudding. No wonder I never ate baby food…
Anyway, my point is, I enjoy food immensely and I’m not going to deny myself anything. I just make sure that I don’t indulge all the time by practising the 80-20 rule. Most of the week, I’m healthy, while still eating tasty food and then at the weekend, I can relax a bit and opt for something more indulgent. By eating mindfully and intuitively, I find I naturally become attuned to my appetite and I take care to avoid eating if I’m simply bored or tired. I’m also pretty active.
Do you only order salad in restaurants?
I very rarely order a salad! If I’m in a restaurant, I’m much more likely to want to treat myself so I might go for a really delicious steak or burger because I’d very rarely eat that at home. The only exception is if I’m out mid-week with friends or if it’s a work trip then I will try to order a healthier option like fish and vegetables so I can stay on track. That doesn’t always happen though!
What do you think of this juice cleanse / alkaline diet / pink food trend?
If you want to make me curl up into a ball and start rocking uncontrollably then knock yourself out and ask me about your latest fad diet! Seriously, fad diets are just pseudoscientific nonsense. No diet is fun, no diet works and here’s the punchline – weight loss might even be bad for you, especially if you’ve weight cycled all your life. I am all about sensible but enjoyable eating patterns that you can sustain for the long haul. I’m also all about health at any size.
So that’s it! Please go ahead and eat what you like in front of me. Even porridge. Just don’t make me eat it.