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Is a fat nutritionist acceptable?

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Is a fat nutritionist acceptable?

Postby Bri3626 » Wed May 23, 2007 3:16 pm

Hey everyone,

I just wanted to throw out a bit of controversy, start some discussion centered around the exercise/nutrition subject. So here is the query:

I'm a military family medicine PA (physician assistant/associate) whatever you would like to call it. I see and evaluate overweight active duty members on a regular basis. One of my duties is to refer the patient out to see a Nutritionist so they can get a proper perspective of how to eat properly.

We have a nutritionist that we refer to and since she sits right next door to me I hear her counselling daily. I believe she knows what she is talking about, however, she weighs about 250 lbs.

Do you think that would alter how you feel when she counsels you? Does it automatically make you biased to think she doesn't know what she is talking about?

I look at it like this. If I hired a personal trainer I would want someone who can not only prove they understand exercise science but are passionate enough about it that they carry that into their own lives. I don't necessarily need to see 22 inch guns but if they got Dunlop Disease I'm probably going somewhere else. In this case, for me, it would apply doubly so to a nutritionist.

What do you think?
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Postby volleyball_man » Thu May 24, 2007 1:36 am

I have had professors who were BRILLIANT in their subject area - but could not teach.

When it comes to medicine, I kinda think you should walk the walk and might have a comment about it if I was in your position. However, as a patient, I'd be more apt to care about the person's brain.
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Postby JoeBerne » Fri May 25, 2007 4:21 am

This one was a good question. Reminds me of the old fat doctor who smokes question.
My first instinct was to say that a fat nutritionist is unacceptable, just like an out of shape trainer. But I changed my mind.
I think that when you go to a nutritionist you go for information. When that person is fat you assume that they are missing something that they would need to be thinner. That thing they are missing might not be knowledge - it might be willpower. It's one thing to know what one should eat and another to eat that stuff and avoid all the Twinkies and things that you can find in the world. You might have a person with great knowledge but absolutely no willpower, someone who is more than capable of outlining a great eating plan for you but just can't stick to it themselves. And anyone out there who thinks that a great, healthy eating plan would be easy to follow just doesn't understand how good simple carbs taste to us fat people :)
One thing though - I would always be more skeptical about a fat nutritionist. I would have cause to wonder if maybe they're fat because they don't really know enough about nutrition - like maybe they're just relaying the old high carb/ low fat stuff that they were taught in school which just doesn't work for most of us. So you'd have to listen to the person and see what she's actually saying to clients to be sure.
Just my two cents.
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Postby magus269 » Fri May 25, 2007 4:53 am

I've actually had these same thoughts. On one hand I look at an overweight nutritionist like a mechanic whose car is always broken down. The thought being that "hey if you can't fix your car, why would I trust you with mine?"

On the other hand you can look at it sorta like they are a basketball or football coach who did not necessarily excel as a player. They may not be able to play the game like the greats or even mediocre talents but they really understand it and are able to help great players become even better and lead their team to a championship.

Ultimately, I would always prefer a nutritionist who is lean/healthy or a trainer who is in shape. However, irregardless, they may still have substantial knowledge on the subject. I think JoeBerne makes a good point about will power. Self-motivation is something a lot of people have problems with unfortunately.
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Postby Bri3626 » Fri May 25, 2007 5:17 am

Thats pretty much how I felt about it. At the same time I realized a couple things thinking about this.

One, I felt like a hypocrite judging her when I'm counselling my patients on diet and exercise and pretty much not doing jack for myself over the last few years. Good part is I can admit that and change the thinking and lifestyle. Which is partly why I'm doing this now heh.

Two, at the same time I want someone truly passionate about what they do and has the knowledge to back up that up.

Some years back my boss wanted me to do smoking cessation classes for our military members. I had a small problem with that as I was a 32 year tobacco user myself. But, in the military orders are orders. I would guess that out of 50 or so people we taught only one stopped. During that time frame I had pretty low motivation to do this class for obvious reasons. The addiction rules and I wasn't willing to give it up. My boss said, "If you do it long enough, maybe you will quit." Didn't really work at the time. Finally got tired of it and quit. I'll be four years tobacco free 14 Jun. :o

Here is the interesting part. I again taught smoking cessation classes (although I also had a phenominal Wellness Instructor on my team) and we had a much higher rate of smokers quitting. It was somewhere around 50% I think. I think it went better because I was more involved and passionate about helping these folks quit.
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Postby volleyball_man » Fri May 25, 2007 5:28 am

I think that being a living example definitely helps the "patient" trust you enough to enhance the motivation.

Why do recovering alcoholics and addicts pretty much make-up the staff at most rehab facilities?

If you are internally motivated enough (desparate) the condition of your facilitator won't matter - most aren't that motivated...
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Postby Admin » Fri May 25, 2007 6:26 am

A fat nutritionist would make me a little suspicious, but ultimately it is the same thing as a doc that smokes it is poor decision not a lack of intelligence or competence.

I think the nutritionist who I am most likely to trust is somebody who has had a weight problem and has been able to over come it.
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Postby Bri3626 » Fri May 25, 2007 1:15 pm

Yep you know one of the problems/issues I deal with as a medical officer is when I have an overweight member come to me and they are upset because their boss is bigger than they are. The way we measure there is a lot of bias towards certain body types. Because we do the tape measurement to determine bodyfat a guy with a big thick neck (usually from obesity) tends to show a much lower percentage than he really is.

So he comes to see me who is obviously not in the greatest shape, then he goes to see an overweight nutritionist, and has to consider why he may get discharged for being overweight. We all have to take personal responsibility for ourselves. I'm a big believer in that but I think it's hard to motivate people in this direction and anything we "the teachers" can do to help em we should do.
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Postby Cayenne » Sat May 26, 2007 11:12 am

My wife is a clinical nutritionist and a psychotherapist. She has told me, "there is a lot of psychology in nutrition, and a lot of nutrition in psychology".


More specifically, it takes a healthy emotional state to direct oneself and respect boundaries. ( Personal and those of others. So many folks try to undermine the healthy eating of others, this is a challenge to people who vary from the system that formerly supported their unhealthy eating, drinking, substance abuse, etc.)

At the same time, emotional/psychological health is dependent upon sound physiology, ie; brain chemistry, hormone levels, etc.


If one is seeking ONLY information, then the obese nutritionist is like a book. If any level of support is involved, personally, it would be too much of an obstacle, just wondering about this question. I'd rather avoid the issue and just find someone who "walks the talk". Yes, in some fields great coaches are not great performers. I don't think that applies to a lifestyle matter.

My wife looks great and on top of her multiple degrees, it reinforces a patient's belief that she lives what she teaches, and of what is possible.
( "Metaphysically", an obese nutritionist, IMHO, is sending a message of failure.)

JMO

All the best,

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Postby Admin » Sat May 26, 2007 11:24 am

Great points Eddie.
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Postby Cayenne » Sat May 26, 2007 4:56 pm

Thank you Kevin.

All the best,

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Postby JoeBerne » Tue May 29, 2007 8:18 am

I agree with the points made about motivation - if you're looking for a spark of that, then a fat nutritionist might not help.
I really like this point:

"I think the nutritionist who I am most likely to trust is somebody who has had a weight problem and has been able to over come it. "

A thin nutritionist might be just as ignorant as anybody but be one of those disgusting naturally thin types (I hate all of them, nothing personal). I totally agree -you want somebody who used to be fat and got thin. Just like in training - you don't necessarily want the best athlete, you want the guy/girl who was a terrible athlete and has since mastered your sport. Teh best performer might just be super-gifted genetically and unable to help you at all. The terrible athlete who got good has to know something valuable.
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Postby volleyball_man » Thu May 31, 2007 7:25 am

How about this scenario -

Would you - if you are overweight - trust the person who has always been fit and lean to give you advice on how to change your lifestyle from unhealthy to healthy?
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Postby Cayenne » Thu May 31, 2007 5:16 pm

Discernment is a critical life skill. One can learn from all. Knowing the weight to assign the various teachers and teachings is a major part of the learning journey.
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Postby fatnutritionist » Sun Sep 07, 2008 7:21 am

This is an old thread I would like to revive because I am a fat nutritionist. I have always had a weight problem and I have always had a dieting obsession. The reason I decided to study nutrition in University was to try to figure myself out but weight is much more than what you eat. One of the posters (I haven't figured out how to post a quote yet) mentioned that there is a lot of psychology in Nutrition and vice versa. This is so true.

For the last 12 years I have worked in the Natural Health industry and am one in a flock of black sheep. That being said, I am looked to often because I am very good at what I do. Nutrition and weight is a life long passion of mine and it shows in my knowledge base. My ultimate goal is to lose this weight once and for all and then spend my days helping others to do the same. I just started blogging my journey to lose 150 pounds so feel free to check it out (the address is in my info).
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