Starving Dietitian

The 5 Dietitians You’ll Meet in Healthcare

In last weeks post you probably learned more than you ever wanted to learn about your body and certain, uh, involuntary processes. So this week I thought I’d keep things a little more lighthearted.

Whether you like to admit it or not there are reasons why stereotypes exist. I think it’s a natural part of how our brains compartmentalize and make rapid fight or flight decisions in a fraction of a second. Now that’s not to say stereotyping is good, but how we react to our judgmental thoughts is really the indication of “good” or “bad” stereotyping.

So, with that out of the way I’ve noticed something about Dietitians over the past few years, there’s distinct personalities they tend to fit into. I know, I know, we’re all unique butterflies…I realize that, but if you take a step back and view the group as a whole you start to see categories.

So here it goes:

The 5 Dietitians You’ll Meet in Healthcare.

1) The Mouse

mouse dietitian

I have worked or studied with a few hundred Dietitians at this point and almost without fail there is one or two of these in the group. Like a mouse they are usually quiet and unbelievably polite, the kind of person you’d think of as “book shy”. The one caveat to this warm glowing persona is the anxiousness that comes with it. The Mouse often second-guesses themselves or routinely asks for clarification to make sure they’re doing something right, a tie-in to their perfectionist personality. All in all great coworkers who are compassionate and friendly, once you get past the asterisks.

2) The Athlete

body builder vector

Much like a mechanic trying to tweak the last bit of performance from a machine, those who participate in sports often end up hyper-analyzing their diets. Sports nutrition is broken down into Pre-workout (day before), Pre-workout (hour before), During-workout, and Post-workout. Each of those times is a critical period of fueling the best foods and hydration for optimal performance. Given the ultra-precise nature of this eating, those who become good at it are often drawn towards becoming a Dietitian. They might not seem like your average RD, but these people are experts in every supplement you’ve heard of, and great at explaining the physiological side of your condition (whatever that may be).

3) The Business Person

business woman

Strangely, the mindset it requires to work in business or finance has significant parallels in nutrition. I mean, it takes a specific kind of person to want to count calories, measure out servings, spreadsheet weight changes. It’s that driven, exact, analytical mind that is so often seen on Wall Street, but in brief moments shows up in something entirely different like nutrition. These people also might not seem like the RDs you’re used to, but often end up in the management roles at schools, hospitals, or dialysis clinics. Don’t be worried if they seem distracted, they are usually good multi-taskers as well.

4) The Free Thinker

free_thinker_dietitian_female

To say nutrition attracts certain open-minded individuals would be putting the truth lightly. Peace, love, and nutrition seem to have this underlying theme that appeals to those who are strong proponents of the natural-organic worldview. Again, great people to work with, just remember that their beliefs tend to intertwine with proven fact and it can become difficult to tell the two apart. Of the 5, this mindset is the most likely to lead patients away from trusting Dietitians, as they can come across a bit extremist as well as confident. The one thing I can guarantee is that they are most likely to be familiar with the strange new trends like oil-pulling and should be able to give you reasons why it is or isn’t a useful thing to do.

5) The Know-It-All

dietitian know it all

Ah last but not least. I’m sure you all know one or two of these people, the ones who always pull up obscure facts seemingly out of nowhere. On paper nutrition is full of tasty little tidbits of information that really suits this kind of person. This Dietitian is very book-smart but can at times be awkward or unsure of themselves in person. They might not have had the easiest time transitioning from nutrition courses to actual clinical practice because nutrition on paper is quite different from what gets boiled down to explain to the patient. Although not always the best in face to face counseling, you can be sure they have hundreds of useful facts backing up your plan of care. Go ahead and give them your trust.


Obviously there’s many more, and there’s no real gender specificity to the categories so don’t take that impression from the photos.

Next time you run into a Dietitian, try and guess which one they might fall into. You might be surprised just how closely some of them match up. Or, if you’re an RD yourself, which one do you think you are? Leave you guess in the comments!

Be good to each other.

– Joshua Iufer, RD

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