I often joke that I became a dietitian to meet girls (much to my girlfriend’s dismay). The truth is, I became a dietitian because I love food and love how we can use it as medicine. I enjoy trialling new recipes, grocery shopping, reviewing the latest scientific papers and debunking common nutrition myths. For me, I get to talk about something I love all day and get paid for it. Talk about a winning formula. And I had no idea that I’d be a lone male.
But I have to admit that I often feel like the lone male in my profession. In fact, I was recently mistaken for the IT guy at a dietetic conference (suffice to say that I was the only fella in the room). Now, I’m certainly not complaining about my professional predicament because I think that it may actually work in my favour.
Being male in a female-dominated profession allows me to stand out. I was the only guy in my university course, and I’m often the only man in the room when I am with my peers. My gender is my point of difference. Some patients may find it easier to consult with a male, although the reverse is also true. Either way, being a male dietitian means giving a blokey spin on food and nutrition. I certainly found this to be the case recently when I met with several truckies from a large freight company. This is not to say that a female dietitian couldn’t also have provided helpful dietary advice to the drivers, but just that I may have been better able to relate to them.
Now it’s also true to say that diet can be a very sensitive topic for many. I, for one, am acutely aware of this. Growing up, I always struggled with my weight, and I certainly had an unhealthy relationship with food. So I realise that one of the most important things that I can offer my patients is a comfortable and non-judgmental setting. Regardless of my gender, the rapport that I create with the patient sitting across from me will determine whether or not I will be helpful for that person. It is challenging to have a successful session with someone, especially when generating change if you don’t establish a meaningful bond.
So, perhaps my gender isn’t so significant after all. It really is a minute detail in the scheme of things. And I have been able to forge ahead with my career as a media dietitian, nutrition writer and consultant irrespective of my gender.
Either way, I love my profession and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in food and health. Plus it’s a great way to meet girls.