I will begin this story by telling you that I chose my career as a nutritionist in the beginning for all the wrong reasons: pure vanity. I started dieting so young I can’t even remember the exact age. I grew up in Caracas, Venezuela (best city on earth) but also a city with high pressures on beauty and always looking “perfect”. There is a reason why Venezuela has won Miss Universe 6 times! So, naturally I grew up believing that my success in life was based on a “look”– small nose, flat abs, low weight, angular jaw line, extremely high cheekbones and flawless skin (yes, that includes no stretch marks). Sounds impossible, right? Well, it is!
I lived my high school & college years fighting my body with constant dieting. I had cosmetic surgery on my nose and years later on my breasts. No matter what I did or what my weight was it always felt like I needed to lose more. Nothing was enough. Some days, I even wondered if my decision to study nutrition was based on my intellectual curiosity or the thought that maybe by learning the science I could change my body to make it look “perfect”. This led me to do a little research and I found that a surprising number of dietetic students suffer from an eating disorder. Sounds crazy but the reasons behind are complicated, yet understandable.
Theories run from an obsessive overexposure to information about food and exercise to pressure within degrees to be an “ideal nutritionist”. I would say both make up a recipe for disaster because anything that is taken to an extreme or when you are chasing an “ideal” or “perfection”, can lead you to failure. Imagine going to see a nutritionist and her/him being fat? –Hello, extra pressure!
You see, as nutritionists we are continually exposed to conflicting ideas about food, weight, and the ideal of “health”. Therefor, we get shattered between what we learn is healthy and the beliefs that have been ingrained in us by the diet industry. In a culture where weight is still seen as a modifiable feature of our appearance, it can be difficult to let go of these ideals and not fall into the pressure despite our increased nutrition knowledge.
It is not surprising that throughout my journey to become a nutritionist, I ended with an eating disorder or you could say I had an eating disorder for years and became aware of it when I embarked this journey. Now, thanks to my wonderful family and friends – I had the courage to ask for help, got the support system I needed and completely recovered after a year and half of therapy accompanied with many highs and lows, but with a great courage to keep going and not give up on my dreams of becoming a nutritionist but also reaching a place where I am happy with how I look but most importantly who I am.
Today I’m a dietitian, health coach, and newlywed thriving on a plant-based diet. But as you can see my life wasn’t always as pretty as it may seem right now. After all the struggles, the highs and lows, all the books I’ve read, all the courses I’ve taken, I can attest to this lifestyle because it finally makes me feel good. When the pressure dropped – eating healthy became fun and easy. Also, my body started reacting better to food because I finally had peace of mind. I now accept my body and listen to it every single day. I don’t name what I am – I don’t give titles to how I eat. I’m just a real person that studied nutrition and is here to teach you not only the fundamentals of food and science but also the psychological means on how you see yourself when you stand in front of the mirror. I love this lifestyle for the simple fact that it makes me feel damn good every day and it keeps me from getting sick in the future. Sounds simple and IG sure has a way of portraying everything perfect but the reality is there is a way to design our relationship with food free from societal ideals, to feel confident about how we look and to set ourselves up to be the best versions of ourselves personally and professionally.