Dear Dietitian Sisters (and Brothers, but lets be honest, it’s mostly sisters : – P),
I have been writing this website for 1 week shy of 10 years. Which means I’ve been a dietitian for almost 13 years. I have done hundreds of presentations, written articles, and one-on-one consultations with cancer clients both in person and via email.
This does not make me immune to doubts regarding whether I know what I’m talking about!
I wanted to write this as a simple note of encouragement to you. There are days when you just need to be reminded that you are doing a good job and YES you know what you’re talking about!
When someone questions your evidence based and common sense approach to healthy eating, be kind and confident in knowing you are the expert.
Here are a few pieces of advice that I have learned over the years that helps me keep my cool when being questioned:
- It’s not your job to convince the person that you are right. In any conflict, you have to be able to hold loosely to the idea that you will agree with the person. For your own mental health, remember that being able to articulately state your point is good enough. This is especially difficult when being confronted online via comment thread or social media.
- Know when to stop engaging in the conversation. Once you have said your points, you don’t need to continue the back and forth conversation. You can simply allow them to speak and allow your silence to indicate that you have nothing else to say. I know this can be really hard when you don’t agree. Sometimes what the person needs most is to just be heard.
- Have an exit strategy. If you feel the conversation has run it’s course and you no longer have the energy, or interest, in discussing it further, have a plan in mind on how to end the conversation, or change the subject! If it’s a friend, family member or client that you will see again, ask if they’ve tried any good recipes lately. If it’s someone you’re unlikely to need to see or talk to again, you can say “We obviously see things a little different, and I don’t think we’re likely to agree, but it’s been nice to talk with you about it.”
- LET IT GO! Cue Elsa. LOL! Seriously though, it can really cause me distress, anger and sometimes elevated blood pressure, to deal with the crazy questions and things that people want to believe about food and nutrition. Have a strategy for letting it go. It might require talking to another dietitian, journaling about it, going for a long walk, or taking your mind off of if by watching a funny show or engaging in your favorite activity (cooking or crafting anyone??).
The fact that everyone seems to think they’re in expert in nutrition is one of our “occupational hazards”! Nutrition is an amazing field to be working in right now, and also can be frustrating.
Don’t let the frustrating conversations take away from all the amazing work you are doing. Our training is comprehensive, and we rely on good, solid evidence. Remind yourself of that!
When clients thank you for all you’ve done for them, write the comments down, keep them in a book so you can go back to it when you need a boost.
Keep up all the good work!