Last week I met with a Registered Dietician for the first time. I had little background on the differences between nutritionists and dietitians other than one used health insurance and one was direct payment. I decided to dive into learning about them in the past month as I’ve been adjusting my dietary needs to better fit my body’s medical needs. With my insurance, I was lucky that sessions are covered to a certain extent, so that has made it very affordable as an option and now I highly recommend finding one who works with your insurance if you are able to.
I struggled quite a bit with food during ultra training and I think that’s why I ended up burning out way too soon. I have worked with a sports nutritionist in the past, but he had no interest in listening to me when I said high protein and low carb was not working for me. He was very much into the Paleo/Crossfit concept, which while I wanted to try it out, I succumbed to the sunk cost fallacy and tried to stick with him for a time period I had paid for. I did lose 20lbs, but I felt awful during that time period and I knew it wasn’t going to work for me long term. I wanted a lifestyle change, not a diet, and that one wasn’t going to be it.
I was super nervous to meet with the RD. I went in knowing I had absolutely no desire to count calories or weigh/measure every morsel of food. I wanted to relearn how to eat for my body’s needs without having to focus on numbers; as that’s not a long term lifestyle I wanted to lead. In addition, I had some issues with restriction in college due to calorie counting + over exercising and I wanted to avoid going back down that road; as I did counting macros which proved just as nefarious with the nutritionist.
The RD was absolutely wonderful. She was so understanding, she knew how best to help me and gave me simple ideas to make it work for my lifestyle and my family. I have a focus for each meal, and I was told I needed to EAT MORE! I was given permission to fill myself with vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, plant proteins and grains.
Permission to eat granted, wahoo! And permission if I really wanted a not-the-best-snack. Where do I sign?
I hadn’t realized how far I was sucked into diet culture since I’ve had children and had desperately tried to lose the baby weight. I had a former friend of over a decade who was always going on no-sugar diets or other trends all.the.time. and to be honest, it was draining and hard to try to talk about true small lifestyle changes with a fad dieter. I realize that so much more now that I’m over a year from removing myself from that friendship.
I had forgotten the “lifestyle” I led before children which was pretty much what I’m returning to today. A few great tips that are working for me are eating every 3 hours and making sure each meal/snack is balanced with a protein, veg/fruit, and some grain. Every time I plan or prep a meal or snack, I just ask myself where is my protein, veg/fruit, and grain coming from.
In addition, I’m eating so much I’m not hungry mid-afternoon or grabbing for sweets in the evenings. I finally feel full and not guilty about it. I am enjoying my meals. Food is no longer constantly on my mind all day. It’s become joyful to eat again. Relaxing almost.
Here’s what I was eating before our meeting:
- breakfast: plant protein shake, banana and spinach and flax
- am snack: 1/4 cup nuts or sprouts
- lunch: sometimes leftovers, sometimes nothing
- pm snack: caramels, chocolates, or a processed snack with the kids during homework
- workout 30-60 minutes (trying to keep up with an ultra training plan)
- dinner: gf cauliflower crust pizza with spinach and veg cheese
- evening snack: oatmilk ice cream, chocolates, or chips
Here’s what I’m eating now:
- 6:15 am breakfast: gluten free oats, flax or chia or a nut butter as protein, a full banana (yay!) and nut milk or water
- 9:30 am snack: chickpeas, cucumbers, and bragg’s apple cider vinegar dressing
- 12:30 pm snack: pistachios and a sliced pear
- 2:30-3pm lunch: veggie burger, toast, side salad or leftovers w/veggies
- workout 30-60 minutes (walk, cycle, strength; no formal long term training plan at present)
- 5:30-6pm dinner: pasta, sauce, plant meatballs or taco rice, beans, salsa w/salad
- …usually have been satiated I’m not in the mood for evening chips or sugar…
- water throughout the day, using my Waterminder App to remind me regularly to drink 😀
The sheer volume of food I’m consuming has increased, but I feel lighter and more energized. I am taking it easy with any workout plans, just trying to walk or stretch every day. I even managed to get in some walks on days I normally would’ve just given up on; when I had to work at 5pm from home and it was 4pm already after all the midday errands were done. I made time for myself with a 30 minute walk to watch a show on the treadmill, shower and relaxed more during my shift.
The second list of eating is how I ate years ago. Nothing of this is “new” to me, in the sense of the basics and how to care for one’s body. What was helpful was having someone understand my dietary autoimmune conditions, accept them, work with them, and help me formulate a plan and some simple focuses to provide that much needed support I had been missing all of these years. It’s one thing to have friends to talk to, but another to have someone truly support your health needs and not only listen, but have great ideas to help you get on a better path.
If anything from this experience has come to light is that I wished I did this many years ago. I was nervous about the whole health insurance billing and costs associated with RDs for the longest time and I didn’t want to be put on a “special diet,” but this proved to be completely different than I had expected. Megan has been great and knew of all the great local places and really made me feel confident we can work together to get me to a good place overall. No food plans, no calories, no special products or pills to buy. Just fresh, tasty meals and lots of them!