10 things I’ve learned as a dietitian + nutritionist

I graduated as a dietitian in 2011. Since then, I’ve learned plenty about being healthy. Here are 10 things I’d love you to know. 

  1. Most people know what they ‘should’ eat to be healthy.

Dietitians and nutritionists have been advising people to eat 5+ serves of vegetables a day since… well, forever. But only 7% of Australian’s hit that daily target!

2. But it’s really become so confusing.

One week it seems carbs are good, then they are bad again. It’s hard to keep up. My advice? Don’t bother. There’ll always be a new, exotic, overpriced superfood.

But the real superfoods are fruit and veg. They’re not super trendy, but they’re super good-for-you. Forget superfoods. Eat more fruit and veg, not acai berries. It’s that simple. 

The basics never change.

  • Cook more.

  • Eat plenty of fruit, veg, whole grains, legumes and healthy fats.

  • Move your body daily, in a way you enjoy.

3. It’s a dietitian and nutritionists job to make people healthier – not thinner.

It’s easy to get confused about the real job at hand. It’s easy to confuse being thin for health but they aren’t the same thing. 

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To my dear nutrition colleagues. Your clients and patients will come to you desperate to be made thinner – imagining that their lives will be infinitely better if they just weigh less. . . At times like this, remember: It's not your job to make people the thinnest version of themselves. You can do SO much more for them. . Hear them (with bucketloads of empathy) when they tell you how they hate their soft tummy that's never quite flat – or how they've spent years trying to weigh less. . . Then when they're ready, gently explain the beautiful, awesome truth that is: Their body has their back!! And if they simply redirect their energy away from focusing on their weight – and put that glorious energy into adopting truly healthy habits bit by bit – their body will naturally find it's sweet spot. . . Remind them their body wants them to be a healthy weight for them – wherever that healthy weight is. Remind them that real health takes time. And let them know that it’s time to finally stop fighting their body – and instead, learn to sit back and listen 🙌. . . Give them permission to know it's time to stop recording everything they eat in an app (as though it can measure their worth when it sure as hell can't). Tell them it’s OK – and beneficial – to stop counting macros and cutting out whole food groups. And help them (one healthy habit at a time) become the healthiest, best, happiest versions of themselves. Always remember that THIS is the real work that you're here to do. #nutritionist #nutrition #dietitian #rd #apd #hcp #fitnessprofressional #realhealth #healthyweight #bodygoals #realtalk #nutritiongoals #dietitiansofinstagram #dietitiansunite

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4. You gotta make veggies taste good.

Don’t skip salad dressing. It makes veggies taste yummy (and helps you absorb nutrients)! Let’s keep it real. ‘Too much salad dressing’ is not the reason we have an ‘obesity epidemic’. 

Back to Basics helps show you how to make veggies taste really good! (amongst many other things). 

5. Sugary/fatty junk food (not carbs) make you gain weight. 

Like Shakira’s hips, the statistics don’t lie. Ask yourself:  Do I eat treat food every day or do I save it for ‘sometimes’ (like 1-2/wk). Junk food like pizza, chips, chocolate, ice-cream, dessert and alcohol makes you gain weight – not carbs. Most of us could eat far less. My tip? Start small

6. Carbohydrates are not fattening. 

Aussie’s are eating fewer grains than ever and still gaining weight (see the graph above)… Carbs are not the problem. Unprocessed carbs are satiating, affordable and really healthy.

Read: The best way to lose weight.

7. Fruit is not fattening, either.

ALL fruit is good for you (even the tropical variety). Yes, fruit contains sugar but it’s slow burning and whole fruit is packaged full of disease-preventing antioxidants, fibre, micronutrients etc. Bottom line? Fruit is not fattening

8. Health is a feeling. Not a size.

I’ve met very slim people with very unhealthy habits. And I’ve met plenty of larger people who live a truly balanced, healthy life. Forget the number, BMI and scales. Lead a healthy life and your weight will find it’s happy pace. 

9. There are many ways to be healthy.

There is no one diet that is perfect for everybody. Any ‘expert’ who pretends there is only one, magical way is probably just a health blogger (or celebrity) without any qualifications. What’s healthy for me may not feel right for you.

10. You are the expert on your body. 

Accredited nutritionists and dietitians may be the experts on nutrition but you are the expert on your body. Research is emerging but it’s a work in progress.

We don’t have all the answers yet. So get help from an accredited professional who can help you eat the foods that make you feel energetic, alive and well. 

 

Want to eat healthier without dieting? 

Back to Basics helps show you how to make veggies taste really good! (amongst many other things). It’s perfect if you don’t want to have work out what to make for dinner every night – but you also don’t want to diet.

 

More no-nonsense blog posts you might love: 

 

LYNDI COHEN’S QUALIFICATIONS: I’m an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist having graduated with a Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Newcastle in 2011.