I do what I do because I have seen first hand the damage that diet culture does to mind, body and spirit. I was never satisfied at uni, when we would put hypothetical patients on weight loss diets – what if they are hungry? Would this just be really miserable time for them? Why are we doing this.
Thank goodness that Fi Sutherland and Sarah Harry from Body Positive Australia swooped in and intervened. I was introduced to Health At Every Size ® and the non-diet approach, and the rest, well is history.
It can be difficult to wrap your head around what this means, as I’m not in the business of weight loss of meal plans so lets go over a few commonly asked questions.
Do you tell people to lose weight?
We have extremely good evidence that suggests that long term weight loss is next to impossible for most people.
We also have good evidence to suggest that weight cycling is just as, if not more damaging than staying weight stable.
The research is now showing that it is in fact health behaviors that determine health, rather than any one particular weight.
We also know a lot more about set point theory than we used to. We know that trying to manipulate someone’s natural set point through dieting only ends up making people heavier.
Dietitians are no more effective at helping people lose weight in the long term than fad diets.
It’s unethical to recommend weight loss to people.
Do you tell people to eat whatever they want?
There are a few caveats in there, however.
I am an advocate for mindful eating, which at its core is a Buddhist principal. I mix this with hunger and fullness awareness, to help people to build the skills they need to take care of themselves.
Mindful eating is essentially being present. It is non-judgmental way of observing what is going on, in any given moment. It is being in the present, without worrying about the past of future. This helps people figure out if what they are eating actually tastes good and whether they like it, and how much they need to eat in order to satisfy themselves.
Mindful eating doesn’t mean eating whatever, whenever without giving a thought to appetite, hunger or fullness.
The truth is, unless it is off, rotten or moldy, EVERY food has a place in the diet.
(thanks to my friend and fellow Dietitian, Caitilin Rabel for this quote)
Every. Single. Food.
Every single food has a place in the diet.
What I do when I work with people is to help them build the skills that they need to look after themselves from a nutritional standpoint. Part of this is helping people figure out what and how to eat so that they can feel good.
So stuffing your self silly (aka literally eating whatever, whenever without a regard for quantity) is not going to make you feel good. No one is going say that that is taking care of yourself. Me included.
You’re an incompetent dietitian, you advocate people consume _____
This blog isn’t going to appeal to everyone. This blog doesn’t give out information on IBS, diabetes, liver disease or food allergies because that is not the intended purpose of the blog.
This blog is a resource for people who have damaged relationships with their food and body. This blog is primarily for people who have disordered eating habits and eating disorders.
I don’t align with any of the diet tribes, because it is not within my philosophy to do so.
I help people get back in touch with their bodies, and I find that diets take this ability away. Diets require us to spend all of our time in our heads which creates a real disconnect with our bodies.
This isn’t to say that I don’t take people’s medical condition’s into account when I work with people. The non-diet approach works in beautifully with medical conditions.
The work I do in my clinics and what I post on here are two slightly different (although connected) things. It’s called defining your target market.
So if you come here reading my articles through your diet or a dieting lens, you are going to be disappointed. Angry even.
If you come here hoping to find something that agrees with your chosen fad diet, you’re going to be disappointed.
If you’re looking for information that disagrees with your food beliefs that you’ve stuck gold! There’s plenty on here that will upset the various dieting tribes. I advocate for everyday, easily accessible foods to be included in people’s diets, should they choose to eat them. Yup, that includes carbs and dairy #sorrynotsorry
I am sick to death of the scare tactics, fear mongering, bullying, and general negativity displayed by dieting companies, figureheads of diets, and increasingly, lynch mob facebook groups hell bend on destroying anyone who dares question their nutritional dogma.
Enough is enough. Fear does not make people healthy. If fear made people healthy, we’d all be in perfect health.
I see people that are 49kg and I see people who are 180kg who are both ashamed of their bodies, ashamed of their food choices and terrified of eating many, many foods. That’s no way to live!
In my experience, generally the more restrictive the diet, the less sustainable it is in the longer term and the more likely it is to lead to disordered eating behaviors, such as the binge/restrict cycle, preoccupation with food, obsessing about weight/calories/fat/carbs and social isolation.
I do help people nourish themselves, both from a medical and philosophical standpoint.
For example, if someone wishes to eat a vegan diet, it is my job to help people navigate this decision so that they can experience good health and stay true to their ethical values. We might talk about key nutrients that might be harder to get, the need for B12 supplements, the need to plan meals and how it might be harder to eat out. We also might talk about how it might be harder to source some foods.
These are important things to help people navigate. Maybe someone likes the idea of a vegan diet, but currently eats most of their meals out and relies heavily on convenience foods. It’s important that we discuss how this might change with a vegan diet so that person is aware of what it will take to eat vegan and to experience good health. It’s also critical we discuss these things, because I don’t want to inadvertently feed (heh) someone’s restrictive eating behaviors, which could develop into something more serious.
It is not my job to tell people what to do, but to help them navigate the pros and cons of each way of eating.
So if you’re interested in improving your health, but don’t want to go on yet another diet, stick around, there’s plenty on here that will help you.
PS I deliberately don’t put in references when I write, because I think it interrupts the flow of the article. Know that you can always contact me and request to see the references that I use on each of my articles.