Hi friends! I'm kicking off a fun few posts about how HAES fits into clinical nutrition/dietetics education and wanted to start the week on a lighter note by talking about how it played into my education. I found Robyn's blog probably my sophomore or junior year of college and it opened me up to the idea of how "normal" nutrition can be, but I'm not sure I was 100% in a place to live that while still pretty new to dietetics.
During my internship, I had rotations that protected me from weight talk, in a way - I spent 20+ weeks in pediatrics and aside from 4 days of weight management where I struggled with having to uphold my values while in a diet-y zone, it was pretty well protected. Traditional medicine seems to be pretty agreeable to the idea that children should never lose weight, so often if we talked about weight it was in terms of how we could use nutrition to promote growth. I also rotated at WIC, and while weight did come up more frequently, the talk still revolved around adequate gain during pregnancy and infancy so there was a lot of space to talk about natural body changes and work through that with mamas. For foodservice, I elected to do a school nutrition rotation so I didn't have to be immersed in the calorie/nutrient conversation of hospital kitchens. I still helped with menu planning so there was still some calorie talk, but I also did a lot of quality improvement/food safety work and my preceptor was informed about intuitive eating so it was pretty emotionally peaceful for me.
One of my biggest obstacles with embodying throughout my internship was at a free clinic run by students. We volunteered on diabetes clinic nights and as I shared in this post, diabetes can be especially stigmatizing for patients because it's traditionally viewed as weight-related and weight is viewed as controllable. So those experiences were very refining in terms of how I approached conversations with patients who had been previously led to believe that weight loss was their only option.
I'm currently finishing my MS Nutrition via a distance program after earning about 50% of it through classes during my internship, so I'm still experiencing the climate of dietetics education. I choose HAES or weight-neutral topics for discussions and papers and bring up in our virtual classes and it's honestly been very well-received. I had classmates in a nutrigenomics class that also practice with this framework, so we'd chime in with each other. I think having all my classes online is helpful in protecting me from the casual weight conversations that get through around in nutrition classes and that's nice. I'm opting to write my non-thesis capstone on weight stigma, so I know that I'm inviting a lot of questions during my project defense but I'm actually more excited than nervous for those!
I wanted to share a quick summary of my experience before getting into some of the questions I've been sent by students/interns so that y'all know where I'm coming from! I find it helpful to get some perspective on others' lived experiences and I want to hear about yours, too! Send me questions using the link below and I'll answer them in a future post.
Email me your questions here or at firstname.lastname@example.org!