I’m starting to agree with the low-carb advocates about dietitians. Why is it that any positive change in diet should consistently be met with condemnation from those in charge of improving diets?

All we ever hear is that X, Y, or Z new practice will cause an eating disorder so don’t do it. Every damn time. The low-carb advocates will say “It’s Big Food OMG”. Of course they are crazy. And yet…

What is it with dietitians being so consistently, apparently opposed to healthy eating? It’s bizarre. Dietitians will often claim this or that will cause an eating disorder. “This or that” being virtually every positive change to a person’s diet that a person could make.

My guess? The real eating disorders are in the profession. Just like many psychologists go into psychology to deal with their own demons, I suspect by how much dietitians talk about it that the same holds true for many dietitians. I’ve been told that by dietitians. So how about dietitians stop projecting their personal concerns onto everyone else. Public service is the goal, right? So we should be serving other people, not our own personal concerns, right?

I gotta say I love a good dietitian. I may be strong in nutrition, but a good dietitian is trained in ways, and with a base of knowledge, that I will never have. But this obsession with eating disorders is kind of crazy. Dieting practices don’t cause eating disorders. Pre-existing psychopathologies do. Full-stop.

Eating disorders don’t come out of nowhere. They happen because people are working through their problems using food. How about actually caring about people’s problems–instead of making it all about food (which itself seems to be kind of a disorder)?

We have an obesity epidemic. Dieting practices help many people. There is a real possibility they can be misused. I did that when I was younger. But if you’re so worried about eating disorders, how about teaching a “wise” orientation toward food (and life) while teaching about diet practices? They aren’t mutually exclusive.

It’s either one end of the spectrum or the other for many people.

Eating disorders and self-hatred
vs.
intuitive eating and self-love.

Newsflash: This is itself an extreme, disordered way of looking at life.

It is not a clear-cut dichotomy, and these things are not mutually exclusive. If social media is any indication, this disordered way of looking at life and food seems to be at the core of dietetics today.

That’s sad as hell. Mental characteristics and behavior like discipline, self-control, etc. are not incompatible with self-love, outcome independence, etc. It’s sort of a yin and yang thing. You really need both sides of the spectrum to thrive in life.

You need to push hard toward goals. Then, when you succeed, you can’t get too full of yourself. When you fail, you can’t beat the hell out of yourself. You let it go. You flow like water, sometimes vigorously, other times with self-compassion.

You need both sides.

This isn’t something that comes easy. You can’t just point to this or that concept or ideology to teach this. It’s a dynamic mental state that must be actively maintained. But it is the way to thrive in life.

How about teaching people about that? And not teaching people not to obsess about just one thing? That’d be a start, I think. Maybe dietitians would stop discrediting themselves in many people’s eyes who actually care about obesity, diet, and health.

UPDATE:

I’m not saying all dietitians are this way. There certainly seems to be a very vocal portion of the dietetics community on Twitter that is this way. Is it the majority? Not sure. But it seems to be a big and influential number of dietitians.

OK and, this was just sent to me by a dietitian:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28624376/

Nearly 50% of registered dietitian nutritionists at risk for orthorexia nervosa, 13% had an eating disorder, almost 10% in treatment for an eating disorder.

50%!!!

So again… Could the fixation of many dietitians on “intuitive eating” and against “restrictive” behaviors be a projection of many dietitians own psychological conflict with food, with HAES a “social justice” ideology that legitimates these psychological projections? In other words, is HAES a kind of identity politics on the part of those with eating disorders/fixations, rather than an identity politics advocating for the obese?

I guess it really could be BOTH, but the potential conflict–i.e. HAES advocates might be trying via activism to work through their own psychological conflict not shared by others–could undermine the claim of HAES people to really be speaking on behalf of people with obesity.



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