Wondering what it’s like to intern with a weight neutral, eating disorder dietitian? Here’s what two interns had to say.
March 15th, 2018 by Sara Upson
This blog is written by two interns in the coordinated program at Stephen F. Austin State University. To become a dietitian you must complete a 1200 hour supervised internship and both interns spent two weeks with me fulfilling hours towards that time. At the end of their rotation I asked them to write a blog describing their experience and what they learned. You’ll notice similarities and differences in what they wrote about and each part reflects their personal values, thoughts and experiences. Other than changing the eating disorder clinic to My Signature Nutrition I have not edited or changed their writing. Thank you to the interns for the work you completed while here and your willingness to learn more about eating disorders, intuitive eating, and health at every size ®. Thank you also to all the clients who allow these interns to sit in on your appointments, they truly learn so much! And, if you’re a client who doesn’t feel comfortable with an intern observing your appointment, that’s completely okay too! Thank you for using your voice to ask for what you need.
Trigger Warning: parts of this blog emphasize weight and use the words overweight, obese, and “normal body weight” to describe different body sizes.
An Enlightening Eating Disorder Rotation
by Sujatha (Suja) Vegiraju
My two weeks rotation at My Signature Nutrition has been very informative and different from my previous rotation at CHI St. Luke’s Memorial Hospital in Lufkin. The role of a dietitian in the hospital setting is to do a nutritional assessment of the patient based on his/her body weight, taking into account any pertinent medical conditions that are present, and to provide the necessary nutritional intervention as part of the
treatment. On the contrary, nutritional counseling at My Signature Nutrition does not consider weight as an important part of treatment and is therefore weight neutral. It took me some time to understand the concept of Body Kindness, which offers a structure for cultivating habits that improve your health without emphasis on weight loss, even if you are overweight or obese. I thought that as a dietitian, encouraging patients/clients to stay within normal body weight was very important in promoting the health of the individual, but surprisingly, that concept is not highlighted at My Signature Nutrition. Sara Upson introduced me to the concept of Intuitive Eating, which focuses on physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision on when to start and stop eating, regardless of your body weight. Moreover, Intuitive Eating sees satisfaction as a focal point in eating, and emphasizes respect for your body, regardless of how you feel about its size or shape, while rejecting the diet mentality. In addition, I was also intrigued by the idea of “Health at Every Size,” which encourages body acceptance and self-confidence, again rejecting the concept of dieting. At the end of this rotation, I think that my former conception of eating disorders has been changed and I am more informed on the different challenges associated with them. Furthermore, I started applying Intuitive Eating daily, by practicing mindful eating and respecting my body for what it is. I am very thankful to Sara for her teaching and giving me the opportunity to watch her counsel her clients and attend her group sessions. This experience has truly been very valuable!
My Experience with Sara Upson
by Mara Ingersoll
I came into my rotation with Mrs. Upson not knowing what exactly to expect, but eager to learn. When I first decided to go the RD route in college, I wanted to work with those that suffered from eating disorders. After watching Mrs. Upson counsel her clients, I realized that it was so much more than I thought it would be. There were many times I found myself holding back tears as I listened to clients discuss their lows, and tears of joy as I listened to them discuss their victories. Sara Upson truly cares about each and every one of her clients’ relationship with food and more importantly, her clients themselves.
Sara Upson is a huge advocate for throwing away the “diet culture” and investing in intuitive eating, which I appreciate. As someone who has tried countless diet approaches in high school and early college years (with zero success might I add) I learned about intuitive eating during undergrad at Stephen F. Austin State University, and I fell in love with the concept of it. Since learning about it in school I have further explored tips for intuitive eating and how to build a healthy relationship with food. I took great appreciation in how one of the first questions Mrs. Upson asks everybody upon meeting them, including myself during a pre-internship survey, is how their relationship with food is. Asking this question opens the door for so many answers and responses I would never expect, while also leaving room for contemplation and inquisition. This question was usually followed by “how do you want your relationship with food to be?” which I found intriguing. During my dietetic internship, this rotation is the only time I have heard the dietitian ask the client what their relationship with food was like and how they wanted it to be like. Mrs. Upson recognizes that everybody is different, and they have different needs based on who they are and what they may be going through regarding disordered eating or eating disorder thoughts, something can often be misinterpreted. She has a series of questions upon initial assessment that allow her to truly get to know her client and develop the best plan of action according to the client’s specific needs at that time.
I can not praise Sara Upson enough for the work that she does. She is a dietitian who is compassionate about intuitive eating, food neutrality, and depleting the “diet culture” mindset. She is a dietitian I look up to, who will inspire anyone she speaks to. I cannot wait to become a dietitian and instill in my clients the hope, positivity, and success that she does to hers.
You can also read about other dietetic intern