Even as Dr. Crayton was the Academy’s president in 2015 and 2016, she felt inconsistent with her other executives. “I heard they called me an angry black woman behind my back for asking questions,” she said. Her nominations from black dietitians for leadership roles, she added, have often been turned down.
The Academy replied to their comments: “We were not aware of this until now, and we are very sad to hear that Evelyn has been exposed to these inexcusable statements. They do not reflect the core values of the Academy and we are making swift efforts to investigate this matter. “
The exclusivity of the profession goes beyond the race. Kai Iguchi, 28, a nutritionist who works at Rogers Behavioral Health in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, felt uncomfortable coming out non-binary to classmates at graduate schools. “When the program itself as a culture is very cisgender, thin, white, and feminine,” they said, “it’s hard to be different and to be successful.”
Mx. Iguchi said what they learned in school did little to solve the unique problems transgender and non-binary clients face – being abused by their dietitians and family members, or interacting with overtly feminine people Feeling uncomfortable with images on health materials. Transgender adults are at high risk of developing eating disorders, according to a 2019 study by Stanford University School of Medicine.
Even some dietitians who teach the standard curriculum find it flawed. “I’ve reached my limits with my textbook,” said Maya Feller, an associate professor of nutrition at New York University, adding that it doesn’t take into account social factors that often explain why people of color are disproportionately affected by health problems.
She said she was also unhappy with educational resources like MyPlate, which recommend meals like salmon, brown rice, and broccoli, but not the curry chana and doubles served by her mother, who grew up in Trinidad. (After her interview for this article, Ms. Feller was hired as a consultant to make MyPlate more inclusive.)
“If I saw this plate and then looked at my doubles, I would say, ‘Well, my food is not good.'”
Instead, Ms. Feller, 43, seeks to promote “continuous and consistent education about cultural humility” – by not telling patients what they cannot eat, but by taking into account the foods they have access to and not their cultural preferences stigmatized.