Helping Myself as I Would Others

Asking for help should not be shameful. Doctors have their own PCPs to monitor their health.

Therapists often have their own therapists to help deal with the heavy work they have to do.

And so it’s okay if a dietitian needs help from another dietitian to choose some healthier habits.

We all need some help sometimes.

Yes I’m a dietitian. This doesn’t mean I am perfect when it comes to food, that wouldn’t be fun! My two favorite foods are probably carrots and peanut butter. I love oatmeal, but I also love pizza and burgers. I love when salads are in season but also can’t turn down truffle fries. Heck, I am pretty sure I just ate 8 ½ scones in 8 days while in Scotland. What I’m trying to say is that I love all foods.

I used to be strict about what I ate. I would decline dinner and drink plans to stay in because then I could control what I was eating and drinking. But where is the fun in that. Then my internship and the first year of working happened and I became a bit too relaxed with my nutrition. I would never pass up dinner or drinks often enjoying many desserts and drinks on my own at home as well. While there is nothing wrong with those foods in moderation, I had fallen out of moderation and those foods had become the norm.

So how do I help myself without being too strict and following a restrictive diet or meal plan? I don’t recommend counting calories or dieting to my patients so why would I recommend it for myself?

Here’s my thought process:

Step One: What is my long term goal that has nothing to do with weight or shape?

I want to feel more energized. All too often I get home from work where I’ve been sitting most of the day and I just want to lie down. This could be from any number of things (lack of sleep, dehydration, what I ate, stress, you name it). But ultimately my goal is to have more energy to enjoy life!

This isn’t exactly measurable but if I were to pick a measurable goal I would also like to decrease my cholesterol (it runs high in my family).

Step Two: What SMART goals can help me to get to that long term goal?

A SMART goal stands for a goal that is ...

Sustainable, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.

1. I will include 5 servings of fruit and vegetables the majority of days of the week. This requires knowing what a serving is: a medium piece of fruit, ¼ cup dried fruit, ½ cup berries, 2 cups leafy greens, ½ cup cooked vegetables, 1 cup raw vegetables, etc.

2. Make the majority of my lunch vegetables. I need to increase my fruit and vegetable intake. What that means is first buying more fruit and vegetables! I also plan to eat more salads at work to maximize my nutrition.

3. I will drink 4 water bottles (or about 1500 mL) per day. This can include seltzer water but no dehydrating beverages.

4. I will exercise 4-5 days per week for about 30-60 minutes. Notice I am not identifying what that exercise needs to be. Yes I joined Beach Body but if a run sounds more enjoyable then I plan to be a bit flexible. Although right now I’m enjoying the rigidity and just going with it.

5. I will think about my hunger before eating snacks especially after dinner. Often times I snack because I am bored or tired or stressed rather than actually physically hungry. This is okay every once and a while, but there are other things I can do to bring myself pleasure (reading a book, painting my nails, listening to music, calling a friend, journaling, cleaning, going for a walk, etc.) I want to be more present.

Pick one SMART goal to start.

The mistake many people make is to try to make a lot of changes at once. If I were to try to do all of those goals at one time that is setting myself up for failure. So, first I am going to pick 1-2 to start. If two is too much then I’ll back off or adjust the goal. It’s all about little victories to build our self esteem to move us towards that bigger goal.

I am going to start with goal #2 and #4. I want to do both of these goals because I think I can manage them both. I have been trying to be a bit more conscious of reasons why I eat while on this trip (most being “damn that scone looks good and I want to eat it” or “oh my god I’m so hungry I could eat haggis”. No, I never tried haggis.

And so I’m going to start my journey to feel more energized and improve my health as evidenced by my cholesterol levels and lipid profile. I’m only human too, don’t judge a dietitian by his/her title.