For the fifth edition of our Clinician Spotlight series, we would like to introduce you to Lauren Wenderoth, LDN, RD. Lauren works with toddlers, teens and adults with a range of eating issues, selective eating, eating disorders, and poor body image.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and what fueled your interest in nutrition?
After 15 years in the Bay Area of California, I recently moved back to my home town of Albuquerque, New Mexico and am happily eating red and green chile again on a daily basis! I live with my husband, our two daughters, and our rescue dog Sadie.
I’ll admit I got into nutrition for all the wrong reasons. As a former ballet dancer, I wanted to know how to eat “healthfully for optimal performance”, and underneath that, I also hoped I’d learn to eat in a way that helped me look the part. My formal education for nutrition taught me a good deal about sports science. The more I learned the more it became obvious that it was impossible to simultaneously shrink myself into a body size or shape I wasn’t born to inhabit while also fueling myself for athletic success. When I moved on from ballet and began to form my identity in other ways, it became much easier to know intuitively how to feed myself. As I started working with clients and learning about their own relationships and struggles with eating, my interests shifted to exploring how our unique identities intersect with and inform our eating and body image. My younger dietitian self thought that after I “got it right” with nutrition, I’d help others do the same (cringe!). A decade’s worth of experience has taught me that I don’t hold the answers, but that I can empathically walk alongside clients as they navigate their way toward a peaceful and fulfilling relationship with food.
Chocolate covered pretzels, or chocolate covered raisins, or chocolate covered anything for that matter!
What is one piece of advice that you would give someone who is struggling with their eating or body image?
Struggling with eating or body image is not evidence that you are broken or that your body is wrong. From a very young age, most of us are conditioned to distrust and dislike our bodies if they differ from what society currently upholds as the “norm”. Attempting to conform to that norm is understandable, and for some, it’s survival. And yet it turns our struggle inward and often creates disordered eating and body shame. The antidote to this begins with learning to treat ourselves with respect, compassion, and love, even when we feel unhappy with our body. If that feels very foreign, reaching out for support from a dietitian and/or therapist is a great way to start.
Fun fact about you?
I was born on Thanksgiving and have always been called a ‘turkey baby’. But I’ll take pumpkin pie over turkey any day.
Do you see a shift happening in public perceptions of nutrition?
While diet culture still reigns, I’m optimistic it is weakening as more and more people recognize the harm that dieting and weight stigma cause. I’m really excited by the shifts I see in younger generations. Teens are hearing about intuitive eating, Health at Every Size (HAES), and body positivity. Some are also aware of thin privilege and the toxicity of fatphobia and the ‘thin ideal’. I was not encouraged to think critically about these constructs when I was a teen, but I certainly knew about Weight Watchers and SlimFast! I’m immensely impressed and energized by young people who are rebelling against the internalization of diet culture. Our whole society benefits from people of all ages working to eradicate weight bias, on both individual and sociopolitical levels. Only when this happens can the public perception of “nutrition” really shift, from one that promotes thinness to one that is simply about: 1) all people having access to adequate amounts of food, and 2) folx feeding themselves without judgment in the ways that work best for their unique selves.
What’s your favorite quote or mantra you can’t live without?
— Sonya Renee Taylor
To read Lauren's formal education and work bio click here.