How to support the LGBTQ+ community as nutrition professionals
🏳️🌈 June is Pride Month 🏳️🌈 and I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn and share about the queer community and their experience in the nutrition and healthcare industry.
As nutrition professionals or students entering the industry, it's important to be actively inclusive and practice allyship for potential clients, customers or service users from all walks of life.
Certain health issues (whilst not exclusive to) disproportionately affect the LGBTQ+ community and as nutritionists these are something to be aware of.
Eating disorders is one of those issues.
Check out these alarming statistics from the NEDA Pride campaign:
❗️It's estimated that 40-70% of non-binary and transgender folk struggle with eating disorders.
❗️Gay men are 7x more likely to reported binge eating and 12x more likely to report purging that straight men.
I'm by no means an expert or spokesperson but these are, in my opinion, a few ways to support the queer community in our industry.
Being an inclusive practitioner is an active process. You need to make conscious effort and changes to be an ally to a diverse client base or your professional network.
Easy changes to start become more a more inclusive nutritionist to the LGBTQ+ community include:
Have multiple options on your client intake forms for gender / sex
Ask clients what their preferred pronouns are
State on your website that your services are inclusive for anyone regardless of gender or sexuality
Have a clear diversity statement when hiring, welcoming people from all walks of life to apply
There are some health issues which disproportionately affect the LGBTQ+ community which we should be aware of as nutrition professional. In some cases this may mean referring on to or working alongside other health care or medical professionals so knowing where the boundaries of your scope are is important.
Eating disorders & disordered eating
Body image issues & body dysmorphia
Non-affirming medical care
Trauma, discrimination, chronic stress
Hormone treatment or gender-affirming surgery can alter nutrient requirements
Hold a Safe Space
Provide a safe non-judgmental space for your clients to share their individual experience with you and how it has affected them. Employing your active listening and reflection skills during consultations to create this space.
This helps people feel seen, heard and taken seriously by their healthcare professional, which may be something they have not always received in the past.
Try Not To Make Assumptions
It's easy to chat on autopilot when getting to know someone but this runs the risk of us making assumptions.
Try not to assume pronouns, gender identity or home situation.
If you're unsure of what language to use, opt for inclusive gender neutral terms e.g.
- 'partner' instead of 'boyfriend/wife'
- 'their' or the person's name instead of 'his/hers'
Hold Up Queer Professionals
If something is outside of your scope or knowledge, refer on to a professional with expertise or lived experience.
Be an active ally in promoting services of nutritionists and dietitians who also belong to the LGBTQ+ community.
Thank you for reading this blog!
Hopefully you enjoyed it and learned something valuable you can take in to your own nutrition practice.
Nutrition Upon Tyne x