If you guys follow me on Instagram (if you don’t what’s up with that?!) you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been posting a lot of quotes on my feed. I’ve always been a quote person but I decided to get more regular with it a few months ago to keep me consistent and to give you content that was either light, funny, food related, OR super thought provoking.
This past week, I posted a quote that was far more thought provoking than I had imagined it would be. It struck a chord, and I’m so SO glad it did. If you missed it, or don’t know what I’m talking about here it is:
“Just because you eat, doesn’t mean you’re qualified to tell others how to eat.” said by yours truly. Feel free to share the quote with others (just give credit where credit’s due, ya know!?)
I figured since it struck such a nerve, that it was worth talking about again, this time on my blog in a longer format. It is worth saying again and again so I will continue to teach this and to preach it probably for the rest of my career.
Nutrition Expert Epidemic
I’ve written about the Nutrition Expert Epidemic before, so I won’t go too far down that rabbit hole. However, as a dietitian one of my main jobs is to help others learn how to eat appropriately for their health and their goals. This means that sometimes I have to help someone eat within a certain diet constraint that I, myself, may not follow. For example, I’ve had plenty of vegan clients that I have helped and I am not a vegan.
This is what happens when you are an expert and a professional, you put aside your own wants, desires, and beliefs to help others reach their goals and optimize their health. This is called a client-centric approach and is not learned overnight, it takes time, education, and a whole heck of a lot of experience. No online certification will do what experience as a professional will do.
Will my biased opinions come into play sometimes? Absolutely, I’m only human! However, I strive to make sure that I put the client’s needs first. It’s only fair to the client AND to their health. A lot of the time they ask what I do so I tell them, but with the caveat that it works for me and may not be best for them.
Just Because You Eat, Doesn’t Mean You are an Expert
Here’s where the lines get gray, crossed, & twisted. We all eat, or at least I hope we all eat. So, we feel as though in some way, shape or form we are an expert in food and what to eat. And for the most part you are your OWN expert in what to eat. That’s where the expertise stops, unless of course you are a professional in the field of nutrition.
What ends up happening is that we are so excited by the way that we eat and the benefits we have received by eating that way that we forget it may not be right for everyone. Many diets are ONE way to eat, they are not THE way to eat. We can actually sometimes do more harm by telling others how to eat even when we are innocently trying to help.
Share Your Story
I don’t want you to stop sharing your story of health & success. If you’ve had success eating a certain way, you should be allowed to share that story! Heck, if you haven’t had success and are frustrated, you should also be allowed to share that story.
Here’s where the sharing and the advice should stop.
Say someone asks how you achieved some health/fitness/aesthetic goal. You share your story and you tell them how you did it but you say “this is what I did, and what worked for me, if you want to make a change I’d suggest talking to a professional.”
Certainly they may pry for more information but that’s all you need to give them. Anymore and you could be entering territory where you don’t belong. You don’t know if that person has a medical history, is missing an organ or part of one, has a history of disordered eating or an eating disorder, has a family history (or genetic predisposition to something), and/or a digestive issue. Diet and dietary changes are FAR more complicated for most than what meets the eye. Do everyone a favor, tell your story but leave the rest to a professional, do no harm.
Stay in Your Lane
This is what I preach all the time. STAY IN YOUR LANE.
Have you ever yelled at someone while driving because they keep veering off into your lane?! Yeah, it’s frustrating!
That’s me when I see someone preaching advice in nutrition & diet when they have no education or experience to. I understand they are trying to help OR trying to promote themselves, but by veering out of your lane, you can do more harm than good and suddenly someone has followed you down a keto rabbit hole with a history of disordered eating and they are now afraid of all carbs, yea, not good.
Moral of the story?!
Just because you eat, does not mean you are qualified to tell others how to eat. Share your story but stay in your lane. That’s it! Happy to hear your thoughts on this.