SO Why Nutrition
Hi (again). My name is Tatum and I’m an aspiring dietitian, focused on holistic, real-food nutrition. We know that much. Don’t get me wrong: the science of micronutrients- their benefits at the cellular level and their mechanisms within the body- is absolutely fascinating; the power that these minute compounds have on the body, the systemic impact so the body can ACTUALLY heal itself, is profound. But THIS IS NOT WHY I GOT IN TO NUTRITION. THIS IS NOT WHY I AM PURSUING IT. So let’s rewind: why Nutrition?
I grew up in the small(ish) town of Huntington Beach, California. Spending most of my free time at the beach, I was pretty much always doing something. Like any kid though, I liked my sweets and McDonald’s. It was in my elementary years, the years I was picked on for my size, that I began to feel out of place. My family, despite their hubris and confidence, had their own hang-ups over body image: not being picture perfect, “trying” to fit the script- insecurities etched since childhood. I became aware of how unclean most of my food choices were in my early teen years, so I decided to focus on the healthier options. Then near my senior year of college, I found MyFitnessPal, a gracious start to my path of Nutrition but the start of the unleashing of a beast. When MyFitnessPal and I met, it was like I had met a new best friend. We did everything thing together. Every. Single. Thing. Every bite I took, I tracked. Again, MFP was the spark to my interest in Nutrition. I would spend hours reading research on macronutrients (proteins, carbs, fats) and they were each metabolized uniquely, their roles in the body, and their own weight on the body (Fact: fat is 9 cal/g, while protein and carbs are 4 cal/g, meaning that fats contain more caloric energy). As I learned more, I applied more. As I applied more, I saw more changes. Changes that made me feel proud, enough, and worthy. Changes that made up for all those mean comments- I had finally achieved THE image: Lean, fit, right.
Good Habits Die Hard
Granted MFP got me to a good place physically (at the time), mentally I was a wreck. A Prologue: I was diagnosed with PTSD my sophomore year of college and had been working to learn to coexist with this condition throughout my college years- all is good and well now, but it wasn’t at this point. So Senior Year rolls around quite fast. I graduated with my bachelors early, worked full-time, took 21 units, que the rocky beginning to the eventual end of my relationship (more on that in another post), and the end of my own parents’ relationship- all while being 100 miles away from home. Thank god for all that MFP taught me: get tough when the going gets tough. For me, tracking became the one certainty, the only controllable aspect, in my life. It also kept me on my toes: a challenge. A challenge to keep me engaged. Every green number a carrot to take it further. I kept lowering the amount of calories while keeping similar ratios of macros, subconsciously and knowingly all at once. A perpetual cycle I did not want to stop. Stopping it would mean a loss of control and comfort, a loss of validation I was doing okay. And it’s not like what I was filling my body, the little amount I was giving to nourish and fuel it, was high quality. Low-carb yogurts? Sandwich Slims? Not quite the realest food. It was just eating what the internet told me was best to keep up this “health” charade. I look back at pictures now and see nothing but sunken eyes, skin grayer than your grandma’s hair, shoulder joints that were always present, and fingers that looked more fragile than porcelain. I remember loading up the barbell for squats with 115 as my max, thinking I was a big power lifter. At one point, it HURT to run for more than a mile- not because of soreness, because it was so much impact on just my mere bones. I missed out on a lot that semester: self, love, life, friends, freedom- TRUE health. The price to pay for… I don’t even know.
Moving back home that winter, I was determined to make a change: to get the weight, energy, vitality back, but was not about the “dirty bulk”. TADAH: Paleo. Paleo was my knight in shining armor, sweeping me off my nimble feet. Adopting a Paleo lifestyle reintroduced foods I had been so afraid to eat before: potatoes of all kinds, honey, avocados, olive oil- foods with nutrient density. I was eating TONS more and feeling more alive everyday. I got behind the whole, real food thing and haven’t left since. Now, as I reintroduce not-so-“Paleo-approved”-foods, I have a deeper understanding and appreciation for what the Paleo lifestyle truly encompasses: natural food at it’s core essence, nourishing every aspect of our well-being- how people were intended to eat. This means honoring traditional nutrition and the holistic balance. With that all being said, let’s revisit: why? I didn’t get into Nutrition JUST because of the healing powers of food- real food that is. This passion flourished because of genuine interest in the effects it has on our outlook of our bodies and our mental health. As rewarding as it is to be currently working with clients, seeing their progress in their daily moods and blood sugar levels, I feel that clinical consultations and prescriptions are not my calling. No, within Nutrition, I want to make a difference. I want to instill the values of choosing the food that nature provides, without the processing, to those who need it most: children. Having this vital information introduced to me at a young age may have totally sided my run-in with food and body insecurity, avoiding the MFP scandal and disordered eating patterns. Being educated on real food resources would have saved me a hell of a lot of heart and body ache- though necessary to have this conviction and mission. Becoming a Registered Dietician would allow me to step into the space to promote balance and wellness through food to our youth, cultivating good habits that will stay with them throughout their lifetime, fueling their own path to make their impact, and maybe even redirecting those who feel lost in their own anxieties about image and food.
So there you have it. Hi. I’m Tatum, an aspiring dietitian, focused on holistic, real-food nutrition… geared towards easier accessibility for our youth and providing an avenue of change to the at-risk.