I think there are so many misconceptions out there about how dietitians eat (thank you, internet). Here are a few, that I can say with certainty, are false.

Myth #1: Dietitians only eat health food.

I like all food. I choose mostly vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean proteins, etc. because they give me energy and make my body and mind feel at its best. I don’t choose them because they are “healthy” or because a diet book told me to. I listen to my body and give it what it needs, when it needs it.

That being said, no food is off limits. I have never been known to pass up a good scoop of ice cream. In fact, making ice cream at home with my kids is one of my favorite ways to get them in the kitchen. We make the good stuff – real cream, real milk, real sugar, and plenty fun add-ins that my kids concoct. We eat the real stuff, but we don’t overindulge either. A small bowl is all we need to feel satisfied.

Myth #2: Every night dietitians cook gourmet meals that their families happily sit at the table and eat together.

Before I had kids I was cooking new and fun recipes all the time, and then . . . babies. Learning to cook with kids is a skill all in it’s own. It took me well over a year after having each of my kids before I really felt like I was back to cooking normally again. Now my youngest is almost 3 and I feel fairly capable of getting a meal on the table. But, now we have entered the world of kids’ sports and activities.

Currently, we have at least 2 nights of practices during our normal dinnertime each week, and this will likely only increase in the coming years. I meal plan every week in order to figure out how I’m going to get dinner on the table with the time constraints I have each day. Sometimes that means we have to eat at different times. Sometimes that means I’m prepping an “assembly” meal, like loaded baked potatoes or a sheet pan meal, like this quinoa bowl. And after the victory of just getting food on the table, there is always a complaint from someone (or everyone) about how they don’t like this or that. It can feel like nails on a chalkboard after a stressful evening of trying to cook dinner with 8 million interruptions.

Despite my internal frustrations, my kids always hear the same thing – “You don’t have to eat it. Just eat what you like.” There’s always something  on the plate that everyone likes and the exposure to new foods is the most important thing at their ages. They are growing, learning to eat a wide variety of food, and creating a healthy relationship with food at the same time . . . if only they would stop getting out of their chairs.

Myth #3: If it’s healthy, a dietitian must eat it.

I hate bananas. Seriously, they are gross. I can sneak frozen ones in a smoothie or hide tiny slivers in a peanut butter sandwich, but the texture of biting into a whole banana gives me the willies every time. They are GREAT for you, but just not for me. Everyone has foods that they don’t like – kids and adults alike. And that is perfectly okay. I don’t force myself to eat something I don’t like just because it’s healthy.

In the same way, I don’t force my kids to eat something they don’t like just because it’s healthy. I encourage my kids to try foods that they say they don’t like, just like I have tried bananas many times over. But, forcing (i.e., “you can’t get up from the table unless you eat…”) does more harm than good in the long run.    

What about you, friends? How do you and your families eat?

Mary Wissmann

Mary Wissmann is our weight management and family nutrition guru. As a Registered Dietitian for over 11 years, she has worked with individual clients, conducted research, taught community nutrition and health programs, and led many community health initiatives. She spent 7 years as a university faculty member, which provided her with extensive experience reading and interpreting the latest nutrition and health research. If you are interested in working with Mary, please visit our contact page.