Outsiders and eccentrics.

I spent the weekend with a bunch of people who are dissatisfied in various ways with how dietetics is practiced and taught.

And I thought, this is a good bunch of people.

We talked about healthism, and expectations of dietitians’ bodies, and feminist theory, and critical theory, and disability, racism, exclusion, food systems, agriculture, hunger, food insecurity, activism, queer theory, poetry, the environment, and just…everything. We laughed, we ate, we commiserated, we congratulated, we drank beer. Some of us even cried a little.

And it reaffirmed my faith that I belong in nutrition, even when — maybe especially when — I feel like an outsider and eccentric.

Because we need outsiders and eccentrics, or we don’t make progress.

For one of the very few times in my life, and the first time in a group of other nutrition people, I was able to openly say that I believe in fat acceptance and health at every size. And people just nodded and said, “Cool.” No raised eyebrows. No clucking. Just genuine interest from allies of every stripe.

It felt like we could talk about anything, and it felt like something new was born, right there in front of me — a movement toward expanding nutrition outward from its compact singularity of vitamins and chemistry, into a vivid universe capable of encompassing the messy realities of human lives and human cultures. Critical dietetics. Radical dietetics.

I was lucky to be there. As one of the participants said in his talk, “I have found my people.”

And it turns out that my people are outsiders and eccentrics, like me.

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