I’m a foodie first, dietitian second. I’m passionate about food and the pleasure of eating. The kitchen and farmer’s markets are my happy place; my sanctuary to feel inspired, experiment and express creativity. Food is how I connect and show love to those I care about. Though I have a positive relationship with food these days, it wasn’t always that way.
Let me share how I got to where I am today
From my late teen years to early twenties, I struggled with disordered eating. I fell into the trap of diet culture. As it does for so many, my interest in “healthy eating” grew from a place of innocence. I was genuinely interested in the impact of nutrition on wellbeing and health. This led me to seek a career in the field of nutrition and so my studies began as a dietetics major. At the start of my freshman year, I didn’t understand that my “interest” in healthy eating had turned into an unhealthy obsession.
I had become fanatical in managing my food intake and exercise regimen. Soon enough, my worth was tied to the number on the scale. Nothing would keep me from getting in my workouts or following my meal plan. I sacrificed social events with friends to prevent sabotaging my efforts. Any time I “slipped up” and ate a cookie, I vowed to “burn it off” the next day. At the time, I thought this was virtuous. I believed my discipline made me a better person. I was blind to the damage my disorder was inflicting on my mind and body.
With the new stresses and responsibilities that came along with being a college student, it became difficult to maintain my rigid behaviors. My body and brain were starved and I suddenly found myself bingeing on all my forbidden foods. I couldn’t understand why this was happening and I felt a tremendous amount of guilt and shame. Trapped in the binge/restrict cycle, my self-esteem was at an all time low.
I had officially hit diet rock bottom.
The Turning Point
After several nudges from my Mom and a close friend, I finally started seeing a therapist and Registered Dietitian to get help. They helped me identify the ways I was using my food rules to feel safe and “in control.” Both clinicians played an instrumental role in helping me make peace with food and my body.
Once I learned to separate my value and worth from my physical body, I felt free. My old patterns of controlling food and exercise kept me from participating in the life I wanted to live. I realized that by spending all my time plotting ways to shrink my body, I left no space to pursue other interests. In the throes of my disordered eating, I was oblivious to all the things I missed out on.
I know my own experience on the roller coaster ride of chronic dieting, followed by a recovery with the support of professionals has allowed me to better understand the struggles of the women I work with. There’s a way to honor health and nourish without punishment and restriction.
Believe me, life is better when you end the war with dieting. I’d be honored to show you the way.
Professional Bio: Claire Carlton, MS, RD, LDN
Claire earned her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. She then relocated to Boone, North Carolina to pursue a Master of Science in Nutrition at Appalachian State University and complete a 1200 hour dietetic internship with Carolinas Healthcare System in order to fulfill the requirements to become a registered dietitian. She has been practicing in the field of nutrition and dietetics for 5 years and continuously sharpens her knowledge with the latest evidence based research to better serve her patients and clients.
Throughout her career as a dietitian, Claire has completed additional training in the field of integrative and functional medicine nutrition, a rapidly growing field. She received her Certificate of Training in Integrative and Functional Nutrition through The Integrative and Functional Nutrition Academy. With these skills, she helps patients and clients understand the root cause of their health concerns and utilizes a holistic approach to help them on their path to lifelong wellness.
Intuitive Eating is another specialty area where Claire provides a unique approach that leads to sustainable behavior changes. Through this framework, she guides patients through a series of principles to regain their inner wisdom and confidence with eating, self-care, movement and body image. She is currently in the process of becoming a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor through the original Intuitive Eating Pros.