My colleague who is a POC brought his lunch in. before he started eating he apologised to me to say he was going to eat with his hands. I asked him why are you apologising? He explained to me at his last placement when he ate his own cultural food with his hands the dietitians would look disgusted at him and ask him to use cutlery.
University of Saskatchewan BSc, ’21
Hi! My name is Ken (he/him). I’m transgender and queer. I’m also a nutrition student at the University of Saskatchewan, currently doing practicum!
I’ve never seen myself represented in dietetics. It took me years to build up the courage to come out and transition. I thought I had to choose between my trans/queer identity and being an RD. I often find myself thinking, “No one will hire me”, or “People like me can’t be Dietitians”. In practicum, I’ve chosen to be “stealth” sometimes to feel safe and have a normal student experience.
As I move forward, I’m seeing the importance of being out and visible. I want to pave the way for future trans & queer RDs.
My favourite areas of dietetics are community nutrition and private practice. I’m especially interested in food insecurity, eating disorders, food literacy, and trans and queer health! This journey of transition throughout my degree has been wild and challenging. But it’s my dream to have young trans students see me in my role and think “Wow, I can do that too”! Diversity in Dietetics is just around the corner.
Thanks for reading. Head over to my page and please reach out- I’d love to get to know you 🙂
I was talking to another dietitian about opportunities for students, and she said it was good for students to have experience working with people who are underprivileged. I asked for clarification since that word can mean many different things to different people, and she said, “oh, you know, like volunteering in Africa” as if the more than a billion people in dozens of countries are all the same and all equally underprivileged. She had no clue that saying that could be offensive to anyone.
RD, CDE Optifast Dietitian
Hi, I’m Kegomoditswe Thibedi, a Registered dietitian in South Africa . I obtained my bachelors degree in dietetics at the university of Pretoria.
I’m currently working for the government in Brits District hospital in the North west Province and I am based in the paediatric ward. I have a passion for breastfeeding and malnutrition, particularly severe acute malnutrition in children and I spend most of my days in the hospital educating moms on these topics. I also have a special interest for diabetes.
Working in a community whereby the majority of people are economically disadvantaged, has really taught me to be creative when it comes to giving practical nutrition advice to my patients because most of them can only afford the bare minimum, and some only depend on the supplements and donations handed out to them.
When I first told my family that I wanted to become a dietitian they were shocked, some even discouraged me because they believed that this degree is for white people and I wouldn’t fit in and prosper as a person of color. But they understood my love for health and nutrition, so they eventually supported me. So when I started university and the vast majority of our lecturers and fellow students were white, it really didn’t come as a shock. And sometimes as people of color we were invisible, other times we were too visible. There was never a balance. But with the years I am actually happy to see more people of color doing dietetics at the University of Pretoria.
I attended Model C schools all my life and I got to learn a lot about the modern world. And being born and bred from a small village, I completely understand the way of thinking, living and eating of my fellow black people and that is my greatest advantage because I can work well with, and deeply understand all my patients regardless of their ethnicity. That’s my superpower!
I believe that Food is more than just energy and nutrition. It is cultural, religious and social. Therefore, all accredited schools should have a compulsory ethnicity module so as to produce dietitians that truly understand and are able to properly cater for different groups of people.
I did my dietetic internship in the Midwest, 19 years ago. During my renal rotation, my preceptor told me she could not take me with her to visit a clinic in a rural town. She apologized but matter-of-factly said “The people there are old-fashioned and won’t accept you.” I’m Indian, and this was a year after 9/11, so I understood. That was the sad part. Though I was slightly upset, I “understood.” I was accustomed to this type of racism because I had experienced it my whole life without questioning it. I’ve always known that there are parts of this country where I will never be accepted.
Ryerson University, BASc ’23
Hi everyone! My name is Rukayyah Abdus-Samad and I was born and raised in Toronto. I have a Guyanese (West-Indian) background and I am identifiably a Muslim. I am currently a second year nutrition student at Ryerson University. I am completing a certificate in food security along with my degree. My goal is to become a registered dietician in the near future.
Exploring diversity has always been essential to me as it helps us better understand our peers. Understanding one another ultimately builds a secure community. Thankfully, growing up in Toronto has helped broaden my exposure and knowledge of different cultures. Being Guyanese also helped with the fact. Guyana homes many different ethnicities and we all collectively celebrate and adhere to each other’s culture. I am extremely passionate about nutrition and I love exploring new options and trying unique food. I believe food brings people together and is the key to community. There is definitely a lack of representation in regard to BIPOC individuals in the nutrition field, but hopefully in time the field will broaden its spectrum and diversify!
Our clinic ordered Indian takeout and I (Indian) was sitting with another RD (white). My plate was stacked high with butter chicken, samosas and naan. She turned to me and said how unhealthy and rich Indian food is, and how she doesn’t like it. I told her “not all Indian food is the same, and I didn’t grow up eating this type of food (pointing to my plate), which is why is why I’m enjoying it now.” But I still felt a lot of shame.
Coral Dabarera Edelson
Hi my name is Coral Dabarera Edelson, and I grew up just outside of Boston, MA, USA. I am a first generation American, and I am Black, and Sri Lankan. It was my parents’ dream for me to take advantage of the amazing educational opportunities that the US has to offer, and two degrees later I say their dream has come true! I completed my Masters in Nutrition, Healthspan, and Longevity at University of Southern California. I am proud of the diversity of my class, and the inclusiveness of my education. I love being a registered dietitian! My passion is using functional, holistic, and science-based nutrition to help black women. Functional nutrition and personalized care is cutting edge healthcare, and I believe more people need access to it. A big part of reaching that goal is diversifying dietetics, and I think creating more inclusive internship structures would be a huge part of this. I am so thankful for the work of accounts like @nutritiondiversified to bring BIPOC’s views and perspectives to the front!
I’d like to preface this by saying that I talked to this individual and explained why her actions are incredibly harmful but since then, no changes have been made. And in the age of the Internet, it’s your OWN responsibility to educate yourself and become a better ally.
I came across a dietitian that branded herself in her IG handle, her business, etc as “Indigenous”. After communicating with her, she revealed that she simply supported Indigenous people and wanted to bring awareness to different cultures as “the term isn’t technically specific to one population”. This dietitian was a white woman, branding herself as Indigenous with no statement expressing that she isn’t.
This isn’t ignorance anymore, I believe it’s blatant bigotry. As a white woman, she doesn’t experience any systemic or individual racism or oppression. She may present her intentions innocently, but the consequences are severe. You do not get to pick and choose identities that do not belong to you, just like BIPOC individuals simply can’t escape their oppression. Since communicating with her, she said she understood the repercussions of her actions and decided to create a disclaimer. It’s been a week. No changes have been made. What do you think this means?
TRIGGER WARNING: Sensitive Content
Hey, folx! I’m Nat, a queer white settler living in K’jipuktuk, part of the unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq.
Looking back on my journey to becoming a dietitian is difficult—while I see a lot of joy and learning, I also see a lot of trauma and naivety. It is now painfully clear to me that my drive to become a certified expert in nutrition was fueled by an insatiable desire for control over my own body, mind, and position in society. I wanted access to every trick possible to achieve “wellness”, which was code for maintaining my disordered eating, my thin privilege, my neurotypical status, and my image as a “good girl” from a “good nuclear family” who got a “good job” by following the rules of a white supremacist, capitalistic, cis-heteronormative society. As my time at McGill trickled along, my ability to control this facade started to crumble, and I started to act out some of my obsessive thoughts.
I binged after days of restriction, I kissed wxmen in secret, I wore baggy clothes to hide the parts of my body that were sexualized by society, I broke down from anxiety in exam rooms.
Needless to say, I took some time away from dietetics. I am slowly dipping my toes back in, in the form of health communication that respects all bodies, regardless of weight, race, gender, sexuality, ability, class, or age. I am asking myself what it means to be genderfluid, queer, and neurodivergent in this field and how I want to use my voice. If you want to join me in this, please follow me @edibleinquiry, where I teach science through something we all share, namely food and eating, and @justfoodforall, which is currently undergoing some renovations but will be back up and running soon enough. Thank you to @nutritiondiversified for highlighting 2SLGBTQIA+ health professionals and letting me be part of this conversation!