At Reasons, we believe food is medicine. Nutrition and dietetics play a critical role in effective eating disorder treatment and are essential tools on the path to eating disorder recovery. Reasons, and our patients, are fortunate to benefit from the passion and expertise of our dietary professionals every day. In the spirit of recognizing our nutritionist and dietitian community, we wanted to shine the spotlight on our very own Director of Clinical and Nutrition Services, Lisa Arroyas, RD, CEDRD-S.
Lisa is a registered dietitian who practices in many areas of dietetics – including eating disorders, chemical dependency, diabetes, and PCOS. She has extensive experience working with adolescents and adults of all genders. She also has a background as a personal trainer. This experience equips her with a unique perspective on individuals struggling with poor body image and disordered eating. Lisa’s focus is a non-diet approach that provides Reasons patients a more holistic, integrated view of nutrition and exercise. Lisa is extremely passionate and dedicated to helping individuals struggling with food and body issues, and we hope you’ll see that passion shine through in this Q&A.
Tell us a little about you. What drew you to the field?
I was doing body building when I started the dietetics program at Cal State Long Beach, so my plan was to pursue a career as a sports dietitian. I was looking for a part time job and saw a posting at school for a diet technician at an adolescent eating disorder facility. I knew nothing about eating disorders, but the schedule worked with being in school, so I interviewed and got the position. It changed my life and the career path I originally thought I wanted changed as well… so here I am!
What does nourishment mean to you?
Nourishment to me isn’t just about the foods you eat. It’s also a mindset of how you view and appreciate food, the relationship you have with it, and how it connects you to others.
Describe one of the most impactful moments you’ve experienced with a patient.
There are so many! The first thing that comes to mind is when I experienced a patient eat pizza for the first time in more than ten years. The combined fear, joy and appreciation she felt was intense. I will never forget that moment and the look on her face. I knew then just how special this field was and the impact I could make in helping another human being regain their life and enjoy food again.
If you could offer a single piece of advice for a new patient, what would it be?
It’s hard to list out one single piece of advice, so here is what comes to mind:
- Never give up even when you think you can’t handle anymore.
- Don’t wait until you feel ready and motivated for recovery. By doing the work, that readiness and motivation will follow.
- You are worth it. You deserve recovery.
- You are stronger than you think you are.
- Food is not the enemy.
If you could offer a single piece of advice for an aspiring dietitian, what would it be?
Working with eating disorders is extremely challenging. It will test your own emotions, but it is the most rewarding experience. Also, it’s normal to feel that you aren’t good enough when the patient you are working with doesn’t seem to be getting better. In these times, remember you are planting seeds. Everything you do matters – even if it’s just sitting with a patient in their suffering to let them know you are there and you are not going to give up on them.
How do your core values influence the way you show up for our patients?
My core values are independence, autonomy, resilience, and passion. I do not ask patients to do something I wouldn’t do myself. I am direct with my patients. My approach or message to them is to show up for yourself – because you are capable and you deserve to; you are resilient even when you feel broken; and chose a life you feel passion for, not what others chose for you.