How a dietitian learned to listen, and do the hard work of undoing diet culture

Lane 9 Project’s May 2018 Writing Prompt: It was supposed to be easy

Armed with a new approach to nutrition, my own LLC, and an empty notebook ready to be filled with client details, I was ready. I was SO ready to tell you about the non-diet approach, food freedom, and how you’ll never need to step on a scale again. I knew I had to pace myself, that you wouldn’t be ready for this message right away, but I had so much to share! I was ready to do right by you, instead of indulging in desires for meal plans, exact answers, and calorie counts. It was supposed to be easy to undo diet culture’s message, because I was ready.

I knew that you wanted a weight loss goal; I refused to give you a number. I refused to indulge the weight-centric narrative. I refused to do the math with you, or to promise the “results” you were looking for. My anti-diet armor was on; my intuitive eating brain was bursting with one-liners it was sure would change your mind; my pen was ready to write different goals for you to work on.

You wanted none of it. You weren’t ready to hear my message, and you didn’t ask for it. You felt uncomfortable in your skin. You didn’t trust a dietitian who wouldn’t help you diet. You wanted weight loss and you wanted it yesterday.

It was supposed to be easy to give you my new talking points! It was supposed to be easy to convince you that diets don’t work — isn’t it obvious? Would we have been in that room together, talking about weight loss, if diets did work? It was supposed to be fun and exciting and easy to bring you back to eating intuitively–actually, to reintroduce you to it for the first time in decades. It was supposed to be easy to pull you over to this other side of nutrition, and then to do the work together.

It wasn’t easy. You weren’t ready. I wasn’t listening to you. I hadn’t even finished reading the Intuitive Eating book yet, so I didn’t know that I was jumping too far ahead of you (and my own IE-counseling skill level at the time).

If I could do it again, I would give you more space to explore. I would meet you in the middle for as long as needed, to ease you into the world of notdieting, and to be there with you, supporting you in that space. I would know that we can’t jump right to hunger and fullness. You can’t just drop decades of dieting because I said so.

It’s a process. It’s not linear. It’s yours to have and mold and embrace on your time, with a little help from me.

Armed with my personal history and recovery, research done to further understand orthorexia, and my relatively new LLC, I was so excited to help you. You were my first “ideal” client — you were ready to change, interested in eating intuitively, and hopeful for recovery. It was supposed to be easy to guide you along that road.

We made some good changes; we had beautiful and honest conversations. You wanted to trust the process, but you just weren’t sure. There are so many unknowns. It’s not linear. There are only a few objective marks of progress, only one of which you can measure on your own. But I didn’t want you to weigh in too frequently. (It doesn’t guarantee anything.) You told me it was hard to keep going without knowing where the finish line might be. You wanted to sprint there, but didn’t know which direction would provide the fastest route.

It was supposed to be easy to help you get there, but you taught me that will never be the case. (And, now I know, it isn’t supposed to be easy, we just want it to be.) Every woman is unique. Every woman’s body reserves the right to decide when it’s ready for recovery. We set the right goals, we did the right things for you, and still, we waited. We marveled in the progress made and we remained hopeful.

Even with the knowledge, the know-how, the personal experience, and the “tools”, it isn’t easy to recover from disordered eating, or compulsive exercise, or diet culture. There isn’t a map from point A to point B or a list of things to check off, and it isn’t always what you want to hear. But recovery from chronic dieting, disordered eating, and amenorrhea IS possible. It is yours to have. It is a picture that you have yet to fill in, but once you see it put together, you’ll recognize it as yours, and yours alone.


May 2018 Lane 9 Project writing promptIt was supposed to be easy…

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