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Life Lessons Part 2: Dietitians Are Not Perfect Eaters (and shouldn’t pretend to be)

Time to talk about the ‘health professional halo’. If I had a penny for every time I heard someone put a health professional down, example: “I can’t believe my doctor doesn’t exercise” or “how could that dietitian be overweight”—well I’d probably be sailing in a yacht in Monaco right now. Beyond hearsay, there is actually research that shows some individuals will trust health professionals less if they are overweight. This blows my mind! Now some people, including colleagues of mine, may completely disagree with me but as health professionals we should know better. Health is so multifaceted and complex. Furthermore, I’ve never seen any research that correlates being overweight with being less competent in your job. Full disclaimer: I do very much believe we should practice what we preach. As a dietitian I definitely try my best to eat an 80:20 balanced diet (80% healthy, wholesome, nutrient dense foods and 20% whatever the heck I want). The part people fail to recognize is that we are only human! We are full of flaws like any human being. There are times when my diet falls to more of a 60:40 pattern, and those are the moments I know (just like any other human being) I am fighting the battle for balance.

Many health professionals, like doctors, may work 16 hour days so judging them on their lack of time to exercise isn’t always fair. I have a sneaking suspicion that the Wall Street Broker who works 16 hour days (who may also not exercise) doesn’t get the same criticism as a doctor. Here’s what I think – most of us try our best, just like any busy professional, to find a balance between our careers, health, family, friends and social life. Break health down even further into healthy eating, fitness, mental health, and sleep (and making time for all of the activities associated with those) and all of a sudden you find prioritization is the only option.

I don’t want anyone to think I’m making excuses for people, including myself, by writing this blog. I hope my colleagues also read this note and take my advice when I say—cut yourself a break and give yourself a pat on the back for dedicating your life to helping others. You don’t have to appear perfect all the time. Just be real and try your best.

In Good Health,

Raman

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