L9P Community Post: Samantha Thierry
The number one fear I find working with athletes is “the dietitian will pull me from my sport, I don’t want to talk to them.” I’m writing to the student athletes here, to let you know that it’s 100% okay to talk to a dietitian, or even another individual in athletics, about an eating disorder. There shouldn’t be any skepticism of how you will be portrayed to others for talking to a dietitian. We don’t bite and will not seal your fate as a collegiate athlete. Seeing a sports dietitian will help extend your athletic career, keep you healthy to maximize your performance, and achieve those goals you have for yourself.
Together, we figure out the issue.
As once a collegiate runner and now a sports dietitian working in collegiate athletics, I have the opportunity to be relatable. Talking to the dietitian doesn’t have to mean you are talking about nutrition. When it comes to my working relationship with the athletes, more than likely, we are catching up on life and hearing about their recent competition/events or the recent gossip over the weekend. This allows for a trusting environment and open communication. So much so that I’ve had individuals come straight to me and state, “I think I have an eating disorder.” Now wouldn’t everything be much easier if that was every case? But it isn’t. Sometimes it isn’t that easy and sometimes you may not know you have an eating disorder!
My number one goal is for someone to continue doing what they love to do, what keeps them sane, what drives them—with athletes, that is often their sport.
It is possible to manage disordered eating or eating disorders and still remain in your sport.
It’s more than likely this case if you are open and honest with your dietitian or health team (e.g. athletic trainers, sport psychologists, psychiatrists or even your coaching staff). The sooner you sense something is going on, and reach out for guidance, the sooner we can help and get you back to your athletics.
These issues can be helped.
The following are items that you may be experiencing, and may chalk up to natural side effects of your sport. When helped, your sport performance will more than likely increase.
Not getting your period? Tell us.
Stress fracture history, or current? Tell us.
Eliminating items (or entire food groups) out of your diet? Tell us.
Increasing your activity, but not increasing your energy intake or maybe even decreasing your energy intake? Tell us.
Starting to have negative thoughts about your body and the way you look/perform? Tell us.
Binging or purging? Tell us.
These are only a few signs that may indicate something is off. There may be simple solutions, or you may need a care team for full recovery. Either way, reach out to someone that can help. Start by booking an appointment with your school or team’s sports dietitian. (Don’t have one? Reach out to us at Lane 9! )
You will not be judged.
I, as a dietitian and someone who cares about you and your sport, will never look at you any differently for being open and honest, for seeking help. I WILL have mad respect that you were comfortable coming to me. I will encourage you along the way. Whether that is helping with my services or referring to other services of the health team, to provide you the best success in overcoming whatever barrier is trying to get in the way of your optimal performance as an athlete.
How do you find help at your university?
Talk to your coaches! If you are uncomfortable or if it doesn’t go the way you planned, then your athletic trainer, team physician, sports psychologist (if you have one,) or even someone in the athletic department that you trust. These are all people that can help you find the services needed for your success.
Remember: You never have to go through anything alone.
There are people who specialize in the help you may need, and we are more than ready to help you! So please, if you feel like you or someone you know is suffering from amenorrhea/disordered eating/eating disorder, reach out.
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If you want to share your story, get in touch with us through the form or by emailing Lane9Project@gmail.com.