The Real Me

Looks are deceiving. People look at me and assume different things about my habits and lifestyle. I’ve discovered people’s assumptions as they make interesting comments after learning that I’m a dietitian, peering into my shopping basket, or assessing my dinner order. I’m not sure why they feel so comfortable openly remarking on things that I consider very personal, but that’s another post!


Here are some of the many comments that amuse, amaze, or annoy me:

  • You’re a dietitian, so you must not eat dessert. I feel guilty for eating this (fill in the blank) in front of you.
  • You’re so lean. You must work out a lot and watch what you eat.
  • Wow! Are you really going to eat all of that? You must be REALLY hungry. There goes your figure.
  • Why are you eating? We’re going to have lunch in a few hours.
  • You must not like food very much. I love food, that’s why I’m overweight.
  • You’re so disciplined to eat like you do.

Ok, so the last one clearly is just my clear exasperation with all of this silliness!




Today I want to clear things up, at least about myself, not necessarily about other dietitians, women my size, or women with similar lifestyles.

I, Michaela Ballmann:

  • eat dessert. I love a REALLY good pastry, piece of chocolate, or (as I declared in a previous post) Berthillon ice cream. I do not deprive myself of yummy food. Sure, I’m more picky about what dessert I eat, but believe me: I eat it!
  • used to work out like a fiend, obsess about exercise, and all that jazz. Now, I do movement that I enjoy in amounts that make me feel good. No, I don’t exercise 7 days a week. Yes, sometimes I just walk. As far as “watching what I eat”, it is possible (though more challenging) to have all the knowledge from two degrees in nutrition and daily work in the field and not fall into a restrictive diet mentality. If you observe my plate, you may think I’m watching my weight, but I’m really just eating foods that I like and that make me feel good. There’s no mac n’ cheese because I truly don’t like it or the way it makes me feel. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had it in over 10 years and honestly don’t miss it or even think about it. The only thing I’m watching is my food go into my mouth.
  • eat a lot. To be honest, I can be quite self-conscious about how much I eat. Thinking back, I have always been able to eat a large quantity of food and can recall wide-eyed looks as well as “interesting” conversations where I felt the need to defend my appetite and intake. When eating with others, sometimes I am hungry afterwards because everyone finished eating so quickly and I don’t really enjoy eating by myself for a whole 15+ more minutes to finish.
  • eat when I’m hungry. It’s funny to me when someone will assume that all of our bodies function the same—that just because they aren’t hungry, or because they can’t eat a late breakfast and still be hungry in time for noontime lunch means that I shouldn’t be hungry or eating. I’m listening to my body, so all is well. Deep breaths!
  • love food. I don’t know where this idea came from that people who are “not fat” don’t like food or must be repressing cravings…or whatever. The French love food more than most people. I consider myself French (ask my husband, he knows I’m serious about this!) and love food too. I look forward to mealtime. I close my eyes to focus my attention on the tastes and sensations. I get giddy thinking about going out for a special meal or treat.
  • don’t do discipline. I don’t like the connotation of the word. It seems unnatural and implies that if I lost all control and willpower, I would eat an entirely different way. It’s just not true. I eat veggies (and lots of them) because I have a vegetable fetish. Yes, I can eat four heads of broccoli in one sitting. Don’t judge me. I am a broccoli aficionado. I have raw tofu for breakfast. No, it’s not diet food. I actually crave tofu. On and on we could go, but my eating, though quirky, is based on intuition and experience.


Whew! I want this to be more than a rant. I want you to understand a little more about me that you can’t from mere observation and assumption. I want you to know that it’s possible to reach a place where exercise is enjoyable and satisfying, where relaxed food decisions stem from your innate preferences, and where food is a serene pleasure.




Have you been on the receiving or giving end of these types of assumptions? What do you wish people knew about the real you?

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There are 5 comments

  1. Phoebe

    Love your podcast and blog – both have been important tools for me in developing a more healthy relationship with food. Especially your interviews with Dinneen Diette.
    I have been meaning to email you about the movie The Closet (Le placard) a 2001 French comedy. In addition to being a funny smart comedy there are some canteen/colleague restaurant scenes I thought you would enjoy.

  2. Amaris Feno, RD

    I thought that was a great post. As a fellow RD I often hear the same things, and I tell people all the time, “I LOVE FOOD” I love it so much, I got a degree in it (and subsequently why I call myself the “food nerd”). Another one I often hear is, “well, it must be so easy for you to eat healthy”. I tell them I am human just like them, I love a fresh-baked cookie. Just because we “know better” doesn’t make avoiding temptation any easier. It is refreshing to see another Dietitian who loves food and isn’t ashamed of it.

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