“Hope drives me. And making a difference, even if it’s a small one.” Our member spotlight this week is the person behind this beautiful statement, Samantha Lewandowski, owner of Big Picture Nutrition. She’s an RD based in Columbia, Maryland. This private practice RDN is a certified eating disorder specialist who loves helping her clients dive deeper in to their eating behaviors ranging from anyone who has dieted on and off and is ready for a shift, to individuals transitioning from a higher level of care to an outpatient treatment setting. Follow her @bigpictureRD on Instagram!

If you didn’t do what you do professionally, what other job or field would you have pursued, and why?

It’s fun to think about other possibilities, and I’m guessing it would be something else related to science and helping others. Before discovering dietetics I was interested in pharmacy. I’ve also thought that physical therapy would be a dynamic and fun field.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

The highlight is meeting amazing people and having their trust. It is absolutely a privilege to be even a small part of the incredible work that people do during recovery and healing. I’m pleased to say I’ve met so many dynamic, interesting, caring, insightful, funny people and had the pleasure to walk alongside them for some of their journey. Clients teach me so much! When I hear the words “thank you” or “this is so helpful” it is so satisfying and meaningful to me. From a more practical standpoint, I really enjoy creating my own schedule and establishing my own systems based on how I like to work.

Why eating disorders treatment? What drives you?

Hope drives me. And making a difference, even if it’s a small one. There is always room for hope in the recovery process, in healing, and in striving towards being well. I’m also driven by the strength and resilience of the people I have the privilege to work with on a regular basis. I have often felt that this work found me, and is the ultimate combination of what I enjoy in terms of skills and the ability to connect with others – clients, other professionals, and community members.

Who are your favorite social media influencers in the non-diet, recovery, body liberation space? 

There are so many! In terms of other RDs, I have great respect for Marci Evans, Christy Harrison, Julie Duffy Dillon, Aaron Flores, Fiona Sutherland, and Rebecca Scritchfield and the work they are doing to make non-diet waves within the dietetics community and beyond. I’m such a fan of Megan from Bodyposipanda. I appreciate her unapologetic voice, and fun spirit that comes through in her posts and photos. She seems like she’d be so much fun to talk to. I also like, and have learned from Melissa Toler, Beauty Redefined, Jennifer Rollin, Maria Paredes, Regan Chastain, and Be Nourished.

What is/are your favorite book/s or resource that have made a difference in the way you work?

 I’ve learned an enormous amount from my colleagues, especially those who are also doing this work. Connecting and collaborating with them is a gift, and teaches me so much.  Ellyn Satter’s work is what first shifted my journey and solidified my thinking about approaching nutrition in a different way (and one that made more sense to me). This soon lead to Intuitive Eating, which I know is a favorite of many of us in this field.  I recommend both resources with high frequency. Over the years I have also appreciated the insights from Molly Kellogg and her expertise in Motivational Interviewing, as I believe developing those counseling skills are critical, and are relevant to many areas of the field, not only eating disorder treatment. First discovering the ASDAH blog, reading Linda Bacon’s weight science article, and then hearing her speak were all powerful keys to opening the door to HAES ®.

What is one non-diet, Intuitive Eating, or Health at Every Size® pearl of wisdom you’d like to share?

 Learning is a journey, and if we allow it to, it will change us. Much of the work in this non-diet, and body liberation space is about learning, and making room for learning, through being open, listening, and empathizing. I highly recommend diving in!