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  • Writer's pictureChristina Overstreet Gonzalez

My Story- Becoming a Holistic, Eating Disorder Dietitian

CW: ED/other heavy shit

 

Just as I make space to honor my clients' backgrounds and histories, I wanted to create a space to honor mine as well. After all, I'm not JUST a dietitian; I'm a human, first. I hope this lends you, dear reader, some insight into who I am and how I came to be a holistic, trauma-informed dietitian.


I've been a foodie since day I was born; my parents like to giggle about how they couldn't get food in my mouth fast enough as a baby. As a toddler I could often be found sitting atop a counter stirring something or enjoying the leftover cake batter on the beaters. Food was a nourishing source of connection & joy within my family; whether it be a simple picnic with Gran under her apple trees, Gaga's walnut crescents at Christmas, or a Pocahontas cake at my birthday party thanks to Aunt Patsy.


Outside of food, I was a very active kid that had a hard time being quiet in class. My brain seemed to go a-mile-a-minute, and I enjoyed being around other kids- until around 2nd grade when I started being excluded from others' play & being picked on. I began feeling like I didn't fit in and that I wasn't "enough", which lasted along with the bullying until the end of high school. It wouldn't be until my late 20s after working through therapy, an ADHD diagnosis, and realizing that I may be autistic that I would realize that being different is what makes me, ME. And that I could love that about myself and share it with the world.


Back to food. Despite all of the joy & connection surrounding food, there was also shame & guilt ingrained in me from early on thanks to diet culture. Family members commenting on others' bodies, hating on their own bodies, and talking of dieting infiltrated my brain from a young age. Not to mention I was born in the 90s, when low-fat was all the rage. Then growing up in the 2000s when low-waisted jeans, "h*roin-chic", and low-carbohydrate were the trends. I remember first feeling unhappy with my body around 10 years old, when I told Gaga to stop buying me so many Little Debbie cakes, and restraining myself from having more than just 1 at a time. I remember the shame I felt that I wanted more, that something "must be wrong with me" for simply having hunger.


I grew up in a rural area and in a lower-income family, so there was a lot of repetition in our weekly dinners and many things I grew absolutely tired of eating (looking at you, teriyaki stir-fry). Not that I didn't appreciate having food to eat- I saw how hard my parents worked to put food on the table, and I wanted to give back. So with that, I decided to start really learning how to cook my freshman year of high school whilst sticking to our weekly grocery budget. Food network, specifically Rachael Ray, begun my intro to culinary arts.


Just before high school Gaga was diagnosed with cancer. I remember feeling certain that there had to be something holistic that could help, and turning to the power of dial-up internet (iykyk) to search for a cure. This was around the same time research was coming out about the benefits of green tea, and I remember bugging Gaga to make sure she drank her tea- which she reported she happily did as she enjoyed it (although Earl Grey was her favorite).


In high school I took my first nutrition course, and Gaga passed away- both of which perpetuated the restrict, binge, shame cycle I was experiencing. My body dissatisfaction was at an all-time high, which of course I thought was my own fault for not being "strict enough" in order to "reach my body goals". I had no idea I was experiencing an eating disorder as thoughts of my body & food consumed my life. (Reflecting back I can see that fixating on my body also took some of my attention away from the grief of losing Gaga).


After high school graduation I moved 3-ish hours away from my hometown to Charlotte, NC to pursue my passion for cooking at Johnson & Wales University. I didn't think it'd be so hard to be away from my family. Thankfully I ended up with the 2 best college roommates anyone could ask for (hey besties!!). However, even they couldn't save me from my inner critic after the devastating break-up I experienced- which sent the "not good enough" thought pattern and my body dysmorphia into overdrive.


Nutrition class + lab were a requirement for my degree, and my eating disorder loved running with all the information I received there to continue my restriction & plight to "achieve" flat abs. Just as I finished up my degree I became sous chef at a local restaurant, working 55-65 hours/week. Despite expending more energy than my body ever had before, I ate the least I'd ever eaten, even trying to hit the gym on my days off or before work. I felt fearful of "processed" foods, and drowned my hunger in constant caffeine through the day and 2-4 glasses of wine for dinner many nights. I was the unhappiest with my body I'd ever been despite being my smallest, and this lifestyle was hurting my relationship with my now-husband. I knew that staying in the kitchen would continue to take a toll on my health & relationship, so I decided to quit the chef life and go back to school to become a registered dietitian.


Already having interest in nutrition for prevention, I found University of Southern California's Master's program in Nutrition, Longevity, and Healthspan. I knew this was the program for me, and I made a really bold move and didn't apply anywhere else (eeeek! thankfully I got in after being waitlisted). It wasn't until we began learned about eating disorders that I realized I had binge eating disorder, realized I wasn't alone nor "crazy" for having this obsession over food + body, and began doing the work to heal. When I graduated, I envisioned my practice mainly focusing on integrative & functional nutrition.


Now I'm a holistic, trauma-informed, weight-inclusive, culturally-inclusive, LGBTQIA+ inclusive neurospicy eating disorder registered dietitian who's been in practice just over 3 years (as I write this). I no longer stress over food, and accept/respect my body with all the changes it has experienced. Longevity, wellbeing, and the integrative & functional approach is absolutely still a part of my practice- but I realize now that our relationship with food is just as impactful on our health as the food itself, and that nutrition is just 1 part of our health.


I acknowledge the fact that our society is not set up in a way that best cares for us as human beings who need adequate rest, nourishment, community, etc. I acknowledge that unrealistic beauty standards, the "moral obligation" to seek health, and discrimination towards larger-bodied folx are harmful. I acknowledge that the thin-ideal (and beauty standards) is rooted in systems of oppression- and that fighting back against diet-culture and these body/beauty standards are incredibly important from a social-justice lens.


So, there you have quite a bit of my journey to where I am today. If you're someone who is struggling with body image or food, or looking for a holistic approach to health- I would be honored to help! Your body holds intuitive wisdom about what it needs, and we uncover this as we un-layer all the conditioning and utilize mind-body techniques to get in tune with the body. After all, you ARE the expert in your body, and I promise you, you are worth investing the time & effort.


Some more things about me:

-I love the outdoors, esp. the beach, and am somewhat of a bird-watcher

-I'm a Scorpio Sun/Moon & Cap Rising, HD 2/4 Projector

-I enjoy rollerblading & tennis

-I LOVE animals (my mom replaced me with a toy fox terrier named Daisy and she's my twin)

-My favorite food is any kind of potato

-I like a wide variety of music, but Fall Out Boy will always hold a special place in my heart

-I've been happily married for 3 years and have an almost-teenage stepdaughter

-I'm fluent in Spanish (my husband is Chicano but no, he does not get credit lol)

-I have a bit of a sticker obsession

-My fave color is green


Thanks for being here!

-Chrissy


A girl in green dress walking on beach



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