It’s day 2 of Dietitian’s week and today I am chatting with Eating Disorders Specialist RD Beth! I was lucky enough to connect with Beth through twitter and am super excited to give you guys an insight into her working life, views on nutrition myths and borderline obsession with grapes ;)
Take it away Beth!
1. Why Did you decide to become a Registered Dietitian?
Firstly, the Eating disorder module in my undergraduate Psychology degree really interested me. Secondly, during my studies, I worked as a support worker at a child and adolescent inpatient unit. Seeing how important the Dietitian’s role was in this setting sparked my desire to become a Dietitian. I enjoy running and learning how to eat properly to improve my running performance also appealed to me!
2. What’s your current role & what does it involve?
I am a specialist eating disorders Dietitian. I work at a child an adolescent inpatient unit in Scotland. I work therapeutically with patients, helping them to develop normal eating patterns and behaviours and to establish a regular and balanced dietary intake as they move towards a healthy body weight. I work with patients on the Autism spectrum and help tailor food plans according to their specific sensitivities. I also work with patients on antipsychotic medications who are struggling to control their food intake. I run psycho-educational groups to help educate and correct distorted thinking around food.
3. What is your favourite part of your job?
When my patients become motivated to get better for themselves and I can begin to see that their eating disorder is not ruling them anymore. They start to return to a life worth living and food becomes less of a focus in their lives slowly but surely.
4. What are the challenges or the most difficult parts?
Working with patients who are not on board with the nutritional goals we had previously agreed. It can be so heart breaking and frustrating working with patients who cannot make the choice to recover.
5. Do you think you need any particular traits or skills to work as an RD?
I think it is essential that you have a genuine interest in food since you need to talk about it all day and then be surrounded by it in your home life as well. Friends often talk to me about food because of my job and ask me questions about the latest diet or asking if certain foods are healthy or not. You also need to be willing to do favours and give advice- people regularly request a weight loss meal plans and expect me to pluck one out of the sky without a consultation!
Patience is important too. People take time to make dietary changes, so results take time, but getting results for your patients is worth the wait.
6. What is the most common assumption people have made about you because you are a dietitian? Was it right?!
People assume I never touch chocolate or pizza! I do eat healthily most of the time, but when I eat goodies I don’t hold back! I run enough to maintain a healthy weight so indulging doesn’t worry me.
Recently my own brother in law asked me ‘why do people need a dietitian when they could just download a meal plan from the internet’ It is frustrating that people assume meal plans are a key element of the job when that is such a small part of it.
7. If you could give just one piece of nutrition advice to the public, what would it be?
It will sound cliché… but I would advise ‘all in moderation’. I stay slim because of my marathon running, but also because I don’t choose to eat treats on a regular basis. If you dip into the chocolate box or biscuit tin most days (yes even if it is ‘just one or two’) then you will gradually gain weight. Eating right for a healthy body is about eating right consistently, not being ‘good’ for one week now and then.
8. What’s the most annoying ‘nutrition myth’ or false claim you have seen out there in the public domain?
Juice diets for weight loss. Of COURSE you shed weight and at a fast rate too when you’re only having blended fruits and vegetables, but none of the fashion and diet magazines talk about the long term effects of cutting out food groups such as the rebound weight gain they will suffer following a lowered basal metabolic rate from the restricted intake. Not to mention the likelihood of overeating energy dense foods once the resolve of sticking to a juice diet is lost, further cancelling out any recent weight loss.
We need to forget ‘diets’ –whether people are looking to gain weight lose weight or maintain their weight, then any changes that people make need to be long term- changes that they can stick to for the rest of their lives. I always reply to questions about fad diets with ‘could you eat like that for the rest of your life?’ If the answer is no, then forget it!
9. Do you have any advice for people hoping to pursue a career in Nutrition or Dietetics?
It’s a brilliant career with so many possible avenues and different paths, so if you have an interest in it, then go for it! No two days are ever the same and there is so much to learn even years after qualifying. Go and shadow dietitians working in different areas of dietetics and see whether you can envisage yourself doing their job.
10. What food could you not live without?
Grapes-I love them so much I had to give them up for lent which was such a struggle. They give you that sweet fix without the fat and calories of actual sweets. For a more satisfying snack, I freeze them. It’s a great thing to tide me over when I get in from work and feel ravenous.If you want to hear more from Beth, you can follow her on twitter ——> @dietitianbeth