You might know EDRD Pro member Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, CDN, CSCS (she/her) as the author of Unapologetic Eating or as @alissarumseyrd on Instagram, where she supports people in rediscovering the joy of eating and saying goodbye to dieting once and for all. Whether you’re new to Alissa’s incredible work or not, we are certain you’ll enjoy learning more about her as this week’s featured member!
What’s your favorite meal?
Any type of pasta dish, but I especially love a really well-made Cacio e Pepe.
What’s saving your life right now?
Schitt’s Creek is my favorite wind-down tv show. Also, my partner making me 3 meals a day when I have a back-to-back client or meeting days (or, let’s be real, him doing that for me most days!).
If you could choose anyone as a mentor, who would it be, and why?
I’ve got two: Fiona Sutherland, who I consider a mentor and feel super lucky to be able to do so! She’s so wise and embodies this work with such grace and compassion. I always say I want to be like Fiona when I grow up😊
Also, McKensie Mack, who has this incredible way of being direct and explicit while providing a respectful, supportive, compassionate environment for people to challenge and explore their biases. They also embody the type of energy that I want to bring to this work.
What’s something you’ve learned recently?
The importance of rest and of taking plenty of time “off” (including off social media), as well as how capitalism and our productivity culture make this really challenging to do!
What would you say is one of the most valuable skills you’ve developed in your career?
Being able to take critical feedback and call-ins without getting defensive or turning away. The times where I felt most uncomfortable or defensive are the moments in which I have grown and evolved the most. The ability to listen, learn, be ok with not being “right”, and with being corrected and willing to take feedback is so important.
What words of encouragement or advice would you tell your younger self?
I actually just did this for a journaling prompt a few weeks ago. Here’s what I wrote:
Dear Alissa, don’t forget to play! And don’t worry about what you look like or what you’re wearing or what others are thinking about what you look like. Just be yourself.
If you didn’t do what you do professionally, what other job or field would you have pursued, and why?
It’s hard to know what I would have been interested in back in my teens and early 20’s, as I was so caught up in diet culture, and so much of my life revolved around food and exercise. But at various points, I’ve thought that being a travel food guide would be fun, and now I love the idea of being a barista in a local coffee shop (which I actually did for a summer during college!). I love a good latte, and I love the community that can form in local businesses.
What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
That I can be really silly. It is a side of me that has come out a lot over the last few years with my current partner, but that I don’t remember feeling or embracing much since middle or high school. So it’s been really fun to get back in touch with that silly side and start to be comfortable showing other people that side of me too.
Where do you work?
I am the founder of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness, a weight-inclusive practice that offers virtual counseling, group programs, and online trainings to support people in breaking free – both individually and collectively – from body-based oppression.
My team and I work with folks who struggle with chronic dieting, disordered eating, and eating disorders. We work to help people liberate themselves from dieting, cultivate a peaceful relationship to food and their bodies, and live a more authentic, connected life.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I love seeing people’s lives change in ways they never could have imagined, in ways that have nothing to do with food. It starts with food, but what I love most is when people start to trust themselves in all areas of their life. Whether that means setting boundaries, saying “no” more often (and not feeling guilty), no longer apologizing for things that don’t require an apology, feeling more accepting with the aging process, trying new sports that they never would have done before, and so much more. Watching as people connect more with themselves and their values and pursue this incredibly challenging – but life-changing – work of liberation is so beautiful.
Why eating disorders treatment? What drives you?
One of my mentors, Kelly Diels, talks about how we all have to find our “spot on the wall” where we can individually – and thus collectively – chip away at the systems of oppression and injustice that exist in our culture. My spot on the wall, at least for the time being, involves helping women and folks with marginalized identities live outside of the constraints of who they are told they should be (or how they are told they should eat or look like), and instead just be who they are. The world needs more folks with varying identities who unapologetically own themselves and embrace their power – this is what drives me.
Who are your favorite social media influencers in the non-diet, recovery, body liberation space?
Oh, there are so many, it’s hard to just name a few! Folks I’ve been learning from lately include:
What books or resources have made a difference in the way you work?
- The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor
- Fearing the Black Body by Sabrina Strings
- Body Respect by Lindo Bacon and Lucy Aphramor
- Pleasure Activism by adrienne maree brown
- How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell
How did you find the non-diet, Intuitive Eating, and Health at Every Size® approaches, and what inspired you to adopt these frameworks?
I had been a dietitian for almost a decade when I stumbled upon Evelyn Tribole’s Intuitive Eating training course and, thinking it was similar to mindful eating – which I was very into at the time – I signed up. Needless to say, I was in for a surprise (and a huge business and life shift).
From day one of the course, learning about weight science, HAES, and Intuitive Eating, I was shook. How had I been a clinician for so long and never learned this? How had I been a human and never seen this? It made so much sense both from research/science perspective, but also in thinking about my client’s lived experience with weight/weight loss and how much shame was underneath their struggle with their weight.
As I later learned, me not “seeing this” until that point was in large part due to my privilege as a white, thin, cisgender woman. While I, like most of us, grew up in a culture of injustice and had internalized many of these oppressive beliefs, I had never faced systemic oppression. But once I began to learn about the racist, colonialist, sexist roots of diet culture and our society’s obsession with weight, I knew I couldn’t go back to the way I was practicing nutrition (or to who I was) before.
For me, it began a process of unlearning, questioning, and re-learning, including examining my own bias and societal privileges, and the impacts of cultural and medical weight-based oppression, and the impacts of all the various systems of oppression. I am now committed to reframing what is possible in practicing as a dietitian.
What is one non-diet, Intuitive Eating, and/or Health at Every Size® pearl of wisdom you’d like to share?
Standing for justice is hard. Examining and confronting our biases is hard. Acknowledging that we’ve messed up or done harm is hard. Doing our own work is really, really hard. But at the end of the day, it comes down to: what do we believe in for our fellow human beings? What kind of world do we want to live in? This is liberatory work for our clients, as well as for us as clinicians (and humans). And, luckily, there is an incredible community of folks who are committed to weight-inclusive care and anti-oppression work.
What projects, products, or services do you offer that you want to share with our audience?
My team and I offer virtual one-on-one nutrition therapy and body image healing work at www.alissarumsey.com/nutrition-coaching.
This fall, I’m launching a new group-coaching program, The Liberated Body. It is a nine-month food and body liberation group coaching program for people who are ready to come home to themselves, build self-trust, reconnect to their intuition, and reclaim their body and their inherent self-worth. We’ll do this work collectively, in community. Learn more at www.alissarumsey.com.
For dietitian and nutrition entrepreneurs, I offer the Dietitian Entrepreneur Foundation Course – a self-paced course that walks you through the steps to take to set up and confidently launch your business.