1 Way to Use Joy in Your Nutrition Counseling

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“Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about your joys.” — Anonymous

One year ago, I read the quote above and it really resonated with me. As RDNs, we are trying to nourish our clients with reliable science-based nutrition education and healthy food. We help them work through their problems, both emotional and physical. How many times have you worked with a client and the majority of the session is negative talk, using the words “can’t” and “won’t”?

I think this emphasis on the negative misses something. Instead, let’s start talking about joy: both of the clients and of ourselves.

As registered dietitian nutritionists, we give a lot of ourselves to our clients because we really, truly care about them. We want them to be healthy and happy. We want them to meet their goals and find the perfect wellness balance in their lives. When it does not happen, we take it personally and burden ourselves with the negative results or inadequacy of our expertise. Their problems become our problems. I certainly have experienced this.

“Jar of Joy”

So last year, I started a little experiment to break the habit. I started a “Jar of Joy.” At the end of each day, I dated a small piece of paper, wrote down at least one thing that brought me joy and placed it in the jar.

Then, at the end of the year, I emptied my jar and read 365 papers full of perfectly wonderful joys.

When taking a longer view, I realized the things that can feel negative in the moment can equally be seen as “beautiful chaos” Tweet this and provide inspiration and goodness. After writing my daily joy, it was easy to forget the problems of the day or things I was struggling with. If this simple task could do this much for me, I knew it would do amazing things for my clients.

I’m now in year two of my “Jar of Joy.” I am continuing to write my own daily joys. I’m even encouraging some of my clients do the same. When a client arrives for an appointment, we start with a written joy. It starts our session in a positive way, reminds them they are working toward their own personal greatness and recognizing the good in their life.

I keep each paper they bring me and when they are finished working with me, we read them together. It not only is a celebration of their wellness success, but also reminds them of how they responded to everyday life by experiencing joy and in turn became healthier along the way.

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Anne Cundiff
Anne Elizabeth Cundiff, RD, LD, FAND, is a retail dietitian in Iowa, author of "I’m a Registered Dietitian ... Now What?" and host of Conversations with Anne Elizabeth podcast. Read her blog, Nutritional Noshes, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram