Jul 27, 2018
Necessary Intervention
Jessica Bennett

A marathon runner recently came to see me at the urging of her boyfriend. He believed her training and diet plan was causing unhappiness in their relationship.

One of the main issues centered on the runner being so focused on healthy eating that she no longer wanted to eat out. Her boyfriend felt they used to enjoy going out to dinner and ate healthy overall but splurged on enjoyable food items from time to time. Now, the runner wanted to pack all meals, even when traveling to a different state for a race. Further, she was inflexible about where she would grocery shop.

I had her make a list of foods she had cut out of her diet because she did not feel they were healthy. After some coaxing, we came up with some ways she could add those foods back into her eating plan.

When asked about her boyfriend’s concerns, the runner expressed she thought he was just jealous of her diet. She had lost a bit of weight but did not consider it a problem and still had a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI). In her mind, there was no issue with her eating habits.

At our session, we discussed what it was like to go out to eat with her boyfriend. We made a pro/con chart of the experience, and the runner was able to recall some of the positive elements, such as laughing over dinner together.

I also had her make a list of foods she had cut out of her diet because she did not feel they were healthy. After some coaxing, we came up with some ways she could add those foods back into her eating plan when she felt comfortable doing so.

Because the runner’s weight was in a normal range, she did not need specific intervention to address her weight loss. However, I did mention that she would face an increased risk for stress fracture if she dropped below the healthy BMI threshold.

Finally, I brought up the idea of attending counseling to work on developing a healthy relationship with food. Although the runner was not interested in this solution, she did consider couples’ counseling to work on the issues with her boyfriend.


Jessica Bennett, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, is a Registered Dietitian for Vanderbilt University athletics. In addition, she serves as a General Nutritionist for the Vanderbilt Student Health Clinic, the Vanderbilt Nutrition Clinic, and the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. She can be reached at: [email protected]


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