By: Nikki Nies
I’m sure I’ve mentioned several times that whenever I’m introduced to someone new as studying nutrition or I share with someone what my degree’s in, they exclaim they have to talk to me as they could use my help!
I get a kick out of it because 9/10 they don’t follow up, yet I’m “waiting” to be able to help them. I want to share one encounter I had with a college student. We share a lot of the same friends and I’ve seen her a couple times, so I was more than willing to help her out (it’s not like if she was a stranger, I wouldn’t have helped her though!)
This young gal moved here from Africa to go to school. While she holds onto a lot of African traditions, she has quickly adjusted and assimilated to American culture. She wanted my help on what else she should be doing to lose weight. She mentioned when she gains weight, it’s in her stomach, which I told her is very normal and that classifies her as an apple shape.
As she was telling me her list of foods that she doesn’t eat, her dietary restrictions seemed longer than what she allows herself to eat. I was happy to hear that she doesn’t eat prepackaged foods or fast food, which can be a culprit of weight gain and can interfere when one’s trying to lose weight or maintain their weight. I was also glad to hear that she reads her food labels and I praised her for being a head of the curve.
Yet, she wanted “more” information. From what I heard from her, she was doing everything “right” nutritionally. The only thing I recommended was reminding her to eat a consistent amount of fruits and vegetables.
She kept pointing to the fact that she doesn’t like how her legs look or that her arms are flabby. I asked her about exercise,which she said she did very little of. I suggested doing more toning exercises, but I profusely admitted that exercise is out of my scope of practice. She kept asking me what the “go to” exercises are and I didn’t want to give her the wrong information, so I kept telling her that everyone’s body’s different, but a lot of it is trying different machines and exercise routines to find what makes her most comfortable and/or comfortable.
My point in sharing my interaction with this gal isn’t to criticize her restrictive eating, but to point out how it can backfire. I’m not sure where this thought process of “can’t have” started for her, but it’s definitely not the road to go down to be eating healthy and to feel good!
I wanted to help her, but I’m not sure how much I did. I didn’t give her the magic pill answer she was looking. She seems annoyed because she restricts so many types of foods from her diet. I asked her if she ever indulges herself and she said I know. I encouraged to indulge in chocolate once in a while, which she abstains from, just to treat herself. She recognizes the concept of complete restriction making you want more, but she doesn’t adhere to those concepts herself.
At this time, I’m not sure she’s ready to change her restrictive food patterns. Yes, sometimes we’re our own worst enemy in regards to fruitfullness and happiness. I hope she is able to recognize she can have her cake and a few bits of eating it too!