How shopping for a dietitian is like dating

My dietitian and I were together for just under a year, having recently broken up. She was the best dietitian I’ve ever had. We shared so much life, dark and scary moments as well as lots of victories. Everything was wonderful.

At first, Kristen and I had an arranged relationship when she was assigned to me for treatment; however, the first time I met Kristen was not for an appointment. I’ll never forget how she came bounding into our group room for my second ever snack at daytime treatment, as the staff person who was assigned to be there.

(Let me tell y’all about snack. Snack is AWKWARD. During the first snack, literally no one spoke. For the whole 15 minutes. We each had a granola (or something close to it) bar. Most of us took the whole 15 minutes to eat it. The staff person did not have a name, or if she did, she didn’t bother to introduce herself. She just dumped a basket of snack options on the table. Not knowing what to do since I’d only started treatment two hours prior, I watched as the other girls all pulled an item from the basket. We had our first break after Snack and I called JJ, crying that I wanted to walk out and never come back.)

Back to second Snack. Kristen bounces into the group room like Tigger, smiling broadly and asks, “Who’s ready for snack??” She introduces herself as Kristen, one of the dietitians, and immediately starts making hilarious jokes. The 15 minutes fly by as we talk, and at some point, each of us manages to down our granola-ish bar. I realize this is MY Kristen, the one I’m assigned to!

We tried the long distance thing when I moved across the country five months ago. Things were good enough, but we couldn’t do a lot of the things that most dietitians and clients can do like go grocery shopping together or on a meal outing. Eventually, I started to wonder if I might be happier with someone closer. Turns out that long distance relationships are really tough. I kept this to myself for a while but eventually told Kristen how I felt. As always, she was very understanding. While I was heartbroken to leave Kristen and scared of entering the dietitian dating game again, I decided it was best for my recovery to find someone local as my dietitian.

As with romantic partner dating, my standards were set by previous experiences. Thanks to Kristen, my standards were extraordinarily high. Now that I have found my second dietitian relationship, I wanted to impart my new wisdom to those of you still currently in the dietitian dating game.

Dating for a Dietitian:

Light web stalking. Google the mess out of them. Do they expect you to pay (insurance?)? Do they focus on themselves with their fancy degrees and achievements, or meeting their clients’ needs? How long have they been around? Any bad reviews? You want a dietitian who looks good on paper to start.

Know your needs and values. Where are you in your (recovery) life? I am in a completely different place now than I was when I met Kristen. I also have learned a lot about myself and what I want in a dietitian relationship. Make sure your new dietitian shares your beliefs about recovery and is knowledgeable about eating disorders.

Play the field – go out with several! It’s good to try out a few different people. I met with three dietitians this time, and one of them I even met with twice. It was like when you go out with someone and there wasn’t anything particularly bad or wrong, but it’s just meh so you give it a second chance. I am happy I got to know three different people with different approaches to find someone who I felt best suited me. In the past, I would just go on a first date with a new therapist/dietitian and stick with that person because there wasn’t anything wrong.

Debrief with friends – Just as you do after going on a date with someone, I definitely downloaded with JJ, BFF, and even Kristen (we have that kind of “ex” relationship) to sort through my feelings about each potential dietitian. There were pros & cons for each, and I could see myself in a relationship with any of them. Talking with the people who know me best helped to process.

Go with your gut – After playing the field and processing with my people, I knew in my heart who I felt was right for me. I just had my second date with my new dietitian and am feeling even more confident in my new relationship.

In conclusion…

Apply dating principles to finding a dietitian and you can’t go wrong!

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