Très busy this week, so I’m just going to share something I’ve already written. Below is a draft of my personal statement for graduate school. Note: this draft has been deemed “too personal” by two profs. I’ve shown it to, so it’ll be hacked to pieces and rewritten before I send it off anywhere. Enjoy, though. I kind of like it.

My parents, bless their leftist souls, never kept any soda in the house. Likewise for potato chips, frozen French fries and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. You see, both Mom and Dad had caught the burgeoning health food bug of the seventies, and had vowed never to let a sugary Twinkie infiltrate our wholesome diet.

This plan worked wonderfully for a while, until my younger sister and I discovered the saccharine goodness of bubble gum, and of my great-grandmother’s buttery sugar cookies. Not to mention how delicious a slice of greasy pizza fresh from the neighborhood franchise could be.

Regardless, the missionary zeal with which Mom and Dad pressed broccoli and soy upon us did leave a lasting impression, and we clamored unselfconsciously for tofu triangles and thick slices of homemade whole-wheat bread.

My grandmother, an avid subscriber to Nutrition Action and Tufts’ Health and Nutrition Letter, was also an active player in the familial efforts to keep my sister and I as healthy as possible. It was she who had swapped lean chicken breast for fatty cuts of beef when my grandfather had triple-bypass surgery, silencing his complaints with growing portions of kale and arugula. And it was she who designed an 8 1/2 x 11 grid intended for adornment with a glossy sticker whenever my sister and I ate a serving of grains (6-11), dairy (2-3) and so on.

Grandma’s sticker chart too had a limited run, as Sesame Street reruns and children’s books eventually proved more interesting than the momentary elation of earning a Bugs Bunny sticker. Still, the seed had been planted, and my sister and I grew up with an understanding that attaining good nutrition and health was within our power.

Fast-forward eight years. I am a naïve and ambitious 16, months away from embarking on a yearlong study abroad program in the Netherlands. Skimming through the welcome manual for soon-to-be exchange students, I am drawn to one bit of information in particular. I should not be alarmed, the guide reads, if I am to gain 5-10 pounds throughout my year abroad. Such an insignificant and temporary gain is to be expected, the manual continues, as I try new foods and new ways of living.

Single-minded and cognizant as a woman of a body that needs to be contained and monitored, I decide with the utmost certainty that this will never happen. I will not, I promise myself, gain any weight while abroad, no matter how much buttered bread and fatty sausage is shoved upon me.

At orientation camp months later in what would become my home for the next 11 months, I relied on a narrow and selective understanding of nutrition when selecting food from the buffet. Butter and margarine were out, I had decided, but chocolate was not. Cheese was to be used in moderation, but I was free to indulge in all the vegetables and fruits I desired.

Although I was at the time of normal weight, an irrational fear of succeeding control of my weight and body followed me throughout that year, and would unfortunately for years to come. It would take alternating bouts of compulsive overeating and anorexia to find my way back to the sticker chart my grandmother had lovingly created for me, and to understand that the power to alter my eating habits for “the better” could easily go too far.

Despite the pain I experienced as I struggled with various incarnations of disordered eating and eating disorders, it is perhaps in part to their credit that I developed so great an appreciation for the power of food to help or to alternately harm. My own experience as a patient of a nutrition counselor also afforded me a glimpse into what exactly a career in clinical nutrition could look like.

My interests within the field of nutrition are varied, but it is only in the past year or so that I have decided to meld a lifelong passion for writing with nutrition itself. I began a website this past June entitled “Grub first” that discusses my speculations as to what “good nutrition” is, as well as more personal thoughts on the often-conflicted relationship between women and hunger.

I also began this past summer writing for Examiner.com, a site that hires freelance writers to write on a variety of subjects, from construction to health and fitness. As an “Examiner,” I have written on the subject of ever-compelling fad diets, nutritional philosophies like ayurveda and macrobiotics, as well as pieces examining public health approaches countries like Finland have used to reverse high obesity and heart disease mortality rates.

My writing for “Grub first” and for the Examiner is also informed by earlier work I have done for my college newspaper. As a Staff Writer, Assistant Features Editor and later Features Editor, I have frequently covered issues of health and nutrition simply because they are the topics that interest me most.

As for my professional aspirations, I have no doubt that I will use my writing skills to communicate on the subject of nutrition. I have dreams of working for a publication like Eating Well or Nutrition Action, both of which I am a longtime reader, but also of working for a company like Whole Foods within their communications team. With an understanding of clinical nutrition thanks to my R.D. credentials, I will serve as an invaluable asset to WF or a similar organization.

Tufts’ Nutrition Communications degree is the only one in the country to offer such a specific focus, and will provide me with what I believe is the best preparation for a career of making the often incomprehensible (what is vitamin B12? Why do we need it in our diet?) comprehensible.

As my grandmother taught me so many years ago, the gift of good health is one that is often within our individual control, and it is my goal to share that gift with others.

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