“Oh my God, what if she scolds me for my chocolate habit?”
” Wonder if she’s gonna believe what I have to say about how little I eat, after she sees me in person!”
“Do you think my food coach can tell if I cheated just just a wee little bit?”
There, there! Let me introduce you to my tribe. There are many different type of food professionals these days – registered dietitians, educators, coaches and so on. Generally speaking, any food related coaching has two components to it – one is the education pertaining to Nutrition, the second one being the behavioral aspect of it. A food professional is someone who helps you understand the science of Nutrition AND gives you the support required to translate that knowledge into behavior. That said, it is important that you have clarity about what this involves.
But even before we get to that –
Please understand that most food professionals have a deep appreciation for how slippery these food journeys can be. This means they are empathetic to your struggles and stories. They are your allies, they work on your side. Which means that you must bring your honest and real selves to the table – for your own success’s sake. Do you remember some of your best teachers? The kind that were gentle and firm at the same time?? These are very much like them – they are not so much for making you feel nice and fluffing you up over your goof-ups. But they are hugely invested in making you feel good and help you make some important distinctions with respect to food and eating. Nice versus good! But good doesn’t exclude gentleness and caring at all. I’ve seen, worked with and trained under many food and health professionals in my career. This description of my league is very true to what I’ve known and seen closely.
Now, getting back to what this post is all about –
1. YOU as a client are the one to decide what you will do.
Dietetics and food related counselling has moved away from the paternalistic I-tell-you-listen kinda approach, which was common when I started my practice in India in the mid 90 s. It is an autonomous position for both parties concerned in the current times.
By this I mean to say, no one as in NO ONE can persuade you against your choice to eat (or not eat) a certain way or eat (or not eat) a certain thing. A client completely owns and takes on the decision and practice parts.
For instance, I am a plant-based food professional. Those with an intention to eat plant-based or at least explore what it feels like to eat that way, seek my support. Then I get to educate them and offer support for them to incorporate the new learning into their lives. But I DON’T GET TO DECIDE FOR THEM OR EVEN PERSUADE THEM especially against their wishes. It would not be ethical to do so.
2. As a food professional, I am responsible for presenting and interpreting the science to people. With the clients, all the more so – to help them appreciate the merits and demerits of different approaches and help them grasp the technical aspect of Nutrition. Even more importantly, be of assistance in bridging the knowing and doing gap for the clients.
By this, you must realize the importance of client participation and how central it is to this whole thing. One has to come prepared to take on this responsibility without which, a professional has really not much to do at all with a client. It is for the clients to seek the knowledge and take action, experience the challenges and describe them to the professional – so that they can support.
If this post was of interest to you, I highly recommend that you sign up for the FREE course in Food Journalling on the home page. Your Food Journal is the most basic context for your work with a food professional.