Why I chose non-diet nutrition
(approx 4 min read)
Instagram - a vortex of negative body image?
I found my way to the non-diet area of nutrition before I became a nutritionist. I loved Instagram; the recipe ideas, the fitness inspo (things to do, not people to look like) but WOW was I fed up of the stuff that came with it.
I had been through my own exercise/macro journey and knew that restrictive life wasn’t sustainable for me long term (I usually lasted about 3 months before it started to fall apart, and then would cycle back into it). Not only that, but I’d witnessed the very negative effects that lifestyle was having on friends; the bullshit meal plans, diet types, macros and banned foods, so much food fear - they were totally. messed. up. Imbalanced relationships with food, hugely distorted body image - the entire reason for eating and exercising was for appearance, chasing a goal that would bring ‘happiness’ except, of course, it never did....
I was maxed out on feminine ideals and the heavy burden of aesthetics that is driven through media….and witnessing it cause so much anguish to nearly every woman I know made me pretty mad. There’s no shame in being caught up in it - it is UTTERLY understandable, but I found it disquieting that so many women were unhappy with themselves. What happened that we are so conditioned to value ourselves in this way when we have so much more to offer?
I knew I wanted offer an alternative narrative in nutrition. I knew it was possible to eat in a healthful way without unnecessary restriction, that it was possible to appreciate your body for what it could do for you without punishing it.
And then I found Intuitive Eating.
All of the things I felt were achievable, in an evidence-based framework. Plus, some things I hadn’t considered (we are all in it together, learning all the time). Evidence was a pretty important asset for me - I mentioned the bullshit on Instagram - the amount of troublingly wrong ‘advice’ is huge - and from unqualified people (who have no accountability to regulatory bodies). That’s why I wanted an AfN qualification, an evidence based, science MSc. It’s important (to me) that there is a science backing and there are many research studies into this area of nutrition, demonstrating positive outcomes and importantly, no harm.
Through my research of Intuitive Eating I found HAES - and the folx that forged ahead on this path I surely owe a debt of gratitude to. HAES is a social justice movement (not a diet) and it weaves into the framework of Intuitive Eating - the two go hand in hand in my opinion.
What is the goal of non-diet nutrition?
Ultimately my driving motivation is the belief that everyone deserves to be at peace with their body, and have a relationship with food that doesn’t cause them angst. That allows for all capabilities and necessary restrictions - there is space for all to exist.
It is possible to eat/live in a healthful way without weight-loss as a goal (or outcome, as it might or might not happen). It is possible to be offered care without it being seen through a weight centric lens. Some folx will benefit from investing in Intuitive Eating, some will benefit from a nudge in the right direction. Everyone deserves the right to autonomy over their bodies.
In my nutrition sessions we don’t focus on calories, or any particular type of ‘diet’. It’s about what makes you feel your best, incorporating the things you love as well as the things that you need. I don’t give out meal plans (boring, hard to stick to, wildly impersonal). You are the expert of your body, I use my knowledge to guide you and we work together so it’s actually something you can use forever, not just for now.