March is National Nutrition Month®--a month sanctioned by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) to promote “good” nutrition far and wide and encourage the public to “eat right.” Our team chooses to celebrate nutrition this month, but we do it differently. We believe it’s important for each person to author their own definition of health, and as providers we’re just here to support you. For some folks, the definition of health that keeps them thriving may include physical activity, for some it’s spirituality, family, striving for work/life balance, or many other factors that may (or may not) include nutrition. As nutritionists, that last part can be hard for us to acknowledge, but we must remember that it’s your journey--not ours.
We know that healthful eating, and the pursuit of health in general--is not a moral obligation. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to have a body, and we understand the struggle that often comes with trying to nourish our bodies in a world that tells us differently. We also acknowledge that many factors impact our access to healthful foods, so health goes far beyond individual behaviors. Economic status, geography, race, ability, age, and trauma history are a few of the many factors that impact one’s access to safety as well as adequate food. Any approach to promoting nourishment needs to acknowledge and explore these factors with people on the individual level (personalized care) as well as take steps to challenge systems on larger levels--institutional, governmental, global, that are impeding safety and access to basic needs. Only after acknowledging and exploring the above mentioned factors should a provider dive into nutrition interventions.
This month we’re promoting nutrition through access. You’ll see us out and about this month delivering meals to women, teens, and children in shelter. We’re providing access to food--because we know that enough is more important than any specific nutrient profile. We know that ready access to enough can be part of the process of healing from trauma, which may have robbed us of feelings of control or agency of our own bodies or lives. We’re providing access to us---we are available to these brave women to answer any questions they have about nourishing their own bodies or the bodies of their littles; we’re available to talk about the miracle of the human body, and the worth of each individual person.
RanDee Anshutz is a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Massage Therapist practicing in Bend, Oregon. As a Health at Every Size (HAES) provider she strives to help EVERYONE in EVERY BODY achieve optimal health.