We need to stop focusing so much on nutrition when it comes to food.

Food is meant to nourish both our body and our soul.

It is a source of love, joy and pleasure.

It is a key source of human connection – the most valuable ingredient to true wellbeing or “wellness” – and a healthy relationship with food is necessary to provide this.

Thinking too much about food in terms of nutrients, calories or basing choices on how the food may or may not effect your weight, can really interfere with your relationship with food.

Yes nutrition is important, but it’s importance is being overplayed and for many, it’s sucking the joy and pleasure out of eating and turning eating well into a chore, something you “should” or “have to” do. When you don’t enjoy something, you’re much less likely to keep it up and you’re much more likely to abandon the task and just do the thing – or eat the food – that’s more enjoyable. Usually this food is the food our culture deems as “less healthy” – you know, the food with extra cheese, that’s deep fried, has a creamy sauce or a side of ice-cream. It’s not that these foods are unhealthy, they’re not, but if always choosing such foods limits variety, there is chance nutrition may be compromised.

One might argue we all have to do things we don’t enjoy, such as housecleaning, but we still do it – or at least somebody does. However, the difference here is you can choose to not clean or have someone else do the job . You can’t choose to not eat or have someone else eat for you. Everyday we need to make hundreds of decisions around food and if that decision making feels like a chore or has no joy, at some point you’re going to find yourself thinking “stuff it, I’m just gonna have…”. This can often lead to getting mad at yourself for eating something you thought you shouldn’t, only spiralling you into further shame and misery around managing your eating and/or health.

HAES dietitian Melbourne

So rather than making food choices purely on their nutritional value or “goodness”, what if we considered these questions…?

  • What am I hungry for?
  • What do I feel like eating?
  • How is the food going to taste?
  • Will it leave me feeling satisfied?
  • Will it leave me feeling energised?

These are the type of questions we explore with the intuitive eating process. There will be people reading this who will struggle to answer these questions, and that’s ok, it takes time and practise to learn to trust your body with what you’re hungry for and what food truly satisfies you and leaves you feeling energised. If this is you, or if you are struggling with, or have had, an eating disorder, I encourage you to seek help from a non-diet dietitian. Ensure they are aligned with the HAES paradigm.

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Want to learn how to nourish your body without having to restrict food? Learn about intuitive eating with our ebook Nourish.

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Intuitive eating is not a state of perfection

Intuitive eating is not a state of perfection where everything you do around food is as it “should” be.

If you have a few days where you don’t eat much fresh fruit or veg or fruit, this doesn’t mean you’re failing at eating intuitively, it just means you didn’t eat much fruit or veg.

Likewise, if you happen to eat lots of fresh fruit and veggies the past few days this doesn’t mean you’ve perfected eating intuitively, you just ate more fruit and veg.

If you find yourself over-eating at a meal this doesn’t mean you’re not listening to your appetite cues, quite the contrary as you’re aware of your fullness. This also doesn’t mean you’re failing at intuitive eating, it just means you ate past comfortable fullness.

Recognising you’re full and stopping doesn’t mean you’re being good, it just means you wanted to stop eating.

Suddenly finding yourself starving to realise you missed a meal doesn’t mean you’ve stuffed up with eating intuitively – you simply had other things on your mind, or more pressing issues and you didn’t get a chance to eat.

None of the above examples are right or wrong or good or bad, they are just examples of how our eating can vary depending on your current situation, environment, weather, mood etc.

HAES dietitian

You can be an intuitive eater and experience all of these scenarios. In fact intuitive eating is a very fluid state, it can change day to day or it can look very similar, often it sits somewhere in between.

The difference between the intuitive eating mentality and the diet mentality is the intuitive eater doesn’t judge the eating experience as good or bad, or right or wrong. Without the judgement, shame doesn’t arise which makes it easier to stay attuned and trust your body around food.

Judgement creates shame and shame can disconnect you from listening to, and trusting, your body with food. When this happens, eating intuitively can feel impossible. If you’re struggling with self judgement and shame (feeling bad), please look for a non-diet approach dietitian who identifies as a HAES (Health At Every Size) practitioner.

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Want to learn how to nourish your body without having to restrict food? Learn about intuitive eating with our ebook Nourish.

Click the banner to grab your copy today for $9.95

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We must stop pathologising people in bigger bodies.

Not everybody in a larger body is unhealthy and calling people “obese” does nothing to help people care for their health.

For example, a few weeks back on the radio, the headline “Obese men have worse sperm quality” was read out by one of the presenters.

When (many) people hear the word “obese”, they hear unacceptable, bad, undesirable, disgraceful or serious problem. Having a high BMI does not mean you are any of these things.

People can be classified “obese” as per the BMI scale and have perfectly good health and for men, good sperm quality.

In fact there is not one health issue that only larger people get. Thin people can suffer all the same health issues, including low sperm count, but we don’t pathologise all thin people – we don’t even have a word equivalent to “obese” for thinner people. Or if thin is the antonym, it doesn’t carry the stigma that the word “obese” does.

Yes there are people in larger bodies who have behaviours that may adversely influence their health, but there are thinner people who fit this bill too.

How do we know these men with low sperm quality have low quality sperm because of their weight and not because of a lifestyle factor such as diet or activity levels? We don’t.

If we, as a population, really care about helping people live healthy lives, we need to stop making people in larger bodies feel awful about themselves (weight stigma). How does making people feel shame about their body and terrible about themselves motivate people to change? It doesn’t. In fact, this study published in the American Journal of Public Health, shows how the public health implications of weight stigma are widely ignored and how this adversely affects health.

Obesity Stigma: Important Considerations for Public Health – www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2866597/

Tackling weight stigma is one of the tenets of the Health At Every Size (HAES) Movement. You can learn more about HAES and other resources that back up why we must stop with the “war on obesity” here
www.lovewhatyoueat.com.au/the-non-diet-approach-research/

dietitian melbourne

 

 

Want to learn how to nourish your body without having to restrict food? Learn about intuitive eating with our ebook Nourish.

Click the banner to grab your copy today for $9.95

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When the people close to you think this intuitive eating thing, or your dietitian, is just bananas!

Making the decision to stop dieting and stop pursuing weight loss is tough. It’s tough for many reasons including, but not limited too:

  • We are constantly being told this is what we should be doing to look better and feel better
  • It’s (almost) impossible to get through the day without seeing an ad, post, article, blog that mentions some dietary fix or cleanse or some kind of body transformation
  • Many of your friends and work colleagues are talking about it
  • If you have a health issue, the advice is often lose weight, even though there’s no evidence losing weight improves any health condition long term
  • People in fatter bodies are hardly ever represented as happy, healthy, successful or even normal, or even just represented!
  • Our culture’s extreme weight stigma and fat shaming
  • We are all conditioned to believe and feel that being thinner is better

Non-Diet Approach dietitians

I was compelled to write this after one of my clients mentioned yesterday how his partner just doesn’t get the non-diet process and how their comments around food make things that much tougher.

We talked about how it’s completely understandable that his partner doesn’t understand the process. After all, the common wisdom in our culture is change your diet and you’ll lose weight and if you’re paying a dietitian, then that’s what should be happening. Or that if you’re seeing a dietitian, or doing something to improve your health, you’ll eat a certain way. Therefore, the idea that you could choose to eat perceived “unhealthy” food and still be looking after your health, or doing the “right thing”, would seem completely absurd. 

So while my client has actually seen some significant progress in terms of his relationship with food, the ability to practise self compassion, finding new pleasure with cooking and discovering he’s not actually “addicted” to fast food; the partner voiced concern when my client bought some chips at the supermarket. As the chips were being scanned, the partner asked “so how are things going with the dietitian?”

Not for a second am I suggesting the partner was meaning harm by this, but the truth is that such a comment is harmful. My client felt a sense of shame and disappointment that his partner seemed more interested in how things were going with the dietitian, or that they weren’t producing the “results”, than how things going with him.

This reminded me of a something I heard on a podcast recently and that’s how small our conversations become when the focus is on food choices and numbers, be that calories or the scales. How much richer would our conversations be if we talked about how we can change our brains to change our thinking and how we relate to things, the power of self compassion and what it truly means to self-care? Woven into this conversation could be how taking pleasure from food enhances our quality of life.

An important step to navigating comments from others is to pause and and remember they simply don’t understand (yet) what they are saying. They are simply saying, or doing, all the things that our culture has conditioned them to say and do. I used to be that person too. I used to judge others for their food choices and make what I thought were helpful comments around food choices and weight. Being compassionate toward the person who is not understanding, or any judgement, can help you to not get as caught up in the dialogue.

dietitian melbourne

 

 

 

Want to learn how to nourish your body without having to restrict food? Learn about intuitive eating with our ebook Nourish.

Click the banner to grab your copy today for $9.95

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Why is our definition of attractive so narrow?

The construct of physical attractiveness sold to us, and that we are all deeply conditioned to believe is beautiful, is unattainable to most people.

I’ve often heard people say they need to be physically attracted to someone to find them a suitable mate. For many people this poses no issue and they find beauty and attraction in people not conventionally attractive. But for many, it severely limits their choices!

I’m reasonably confident everyone reading this knows attractiveness is more than just skin deep – cliches are cliches for a reason – so why then do we hold on to the idea of “good looking” (insert not fat, not bald, not old, flawless skin, tanned, good teeth etc) being so important? Because every day of our lives we are sold an idea of attractiveness that is none of these things, almost exclusively we see the construct of beauty every time we go online, watch TV, a movie, flip through a magazine, go shopping, drive on the freeway, sit through a presentation… I have been guilty of this (am still am at times) when I used to only use pictures of the current construct of beauty.

I could make the excuse that the images I used are all that was available with stock photos, but part of me knows that I chose those images as people would be more likely to look if it was a “conventionally” attractive person. You might have noticed Jodie and I don’t often include people in our pictures anymore. Now not for a second am I saying there is anything wrong with being conventionally attractive and yes it’s ok to post pictures of yourself when you think you look lovely! What I’m saying is we need to diversify what we see in the media and in our social media feeds.

dietitian Melbourne

Diversifying what we see in media will potentially never change unless there is a revolt where we stop…

    • Following the “ideal” image of beauty on social media – relatively easy to do, go on start doing it now by unfollowing anything or  anyone who makes you question or criticise your appearance 
    • Stop walking into shops that only have very thin mannequins or pictures of the “ideal” image of beauty painted on shop windows – harder to do, I know I struggle with this
    • Stop buying or reading magazines with “beautiful” people – relatively easy to do
    • Stop dieting to lose weight – it’s like everyone knows this doesn’t work, but virtually no one wants to accept this (completely understandable and beyond the scope of this piece, check these resources
    • Stop judging and start paying more attention to anyone who happens to enter your world – not difficult to do and I am guilty of not paying attention to some truly beautiful people simply because they didn’t match my (aka societies) standards… fuck, for much of my of life I was victim to the Western patriarchal capitalism construct of beauty. This is changing.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve all fallen victim, at least in some small way. This is nothing to feel shame about, as we are all conditioned – you might even say “carefully conditioned” – to aspire to the Western construct of beauty. Funny thing is, many of us don’t even realise this, we simply think what we want is a certain physical look because that is what we taught. I wonder what would happen if everywhere we started to see more human diversity in terms of body shape and size, age, skin colours and skin complexion (aka acne, wrinkles, pigmentation)? I’m pretty sure my struggle with acne scars and now skin discolouration (ironically from tanning to supposedly help my acne and not listening to my mum) would lessen. The more I immerse myself in this conversation, the better it gets, truly it does.

For my fellow Game of Thrones lovers, who doesn’t find Peter Dinklage one of the most compelling, and therefore attractive, characters in the series? Tyrion is obviously not a real person, but he has been made to be desirable through the power of media and many of us now desire to see him.

Way too many of us feel deeply unhappy with how we perceive we look and no amount of expensive products we buy will truly allow us to feel content within. So rather than buying more products for the body, or paying other people to change our bodies, we need to smash the perception of what we think we need to be. Even if you just do one of the 5 suggestions above, you’ll be on the right path.

dietitian melbourne

 

 

Want to learn how to nourish your body without having to restrict food? Learn about intuitive eating with our ebook Nourish.

Click the banner to grab your copy today for $9.95

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The 30 day Health Challenge where you get to eat all the food you love!

Health challenges don’t need to involve cutting food from your diet.

In fact, there are many different ways we can take care of our health. This challenge (although it doesn’t need to be a challenge as such), is wholistic in the way it encompasses aspects of physical, mental and emotional health.

 

Here are a bunch of things you can focus on that will boost your physical and mental health over the next 30 days.

Please note: you don’t have to do all of these things in order to care for your health and the ability to do most of these requires a level of privilege where we have a choice, access, freedom and financial capacity.

  • Practice listening to your appetite and aim to eat when you notice physical hunger*
  • Whatever you do choose to eat, practise eating with some mindful awareness of how the food looks, smells, tastes and feels in your body.
  • As often as possible, eat food you enjoy the taste of and that leaves you feeling satisfied.
  • Aim to include some fruit and vegetables in your diet each day
  • Sometimes eat food just because it tastes good without worrying about the nutritional value
  • Cook or prepare more of your own food from scratch
  • Enjoy meals with family or friends a few times per week
  • Eat regular meals or try not to go more than 5 waking hours without eating
  • Aim to get enough sleep most nights
  • Find something you can do daily that involves moving your body in ways you enjoy
  • Do something each day that makes you smile or laugh
  • Offer kindness to a stranger
  • Find at least one thing each day to be grateful for

After all, health is so much more complex than what we eat or our nutrition. Unfortunately, many people sacrifice their mental and emotional health in  the pursuit of physical health. Physical health means little without mental or emotional health.

*If you struggle with this, that’s ok and fairly normal if you’re been dieting, have (or had) and eating disorder, or just aren’t used to listening to your hunger and fullness cues. Learn more about this here.

Excuse the click baity title…

dietitian melbourne

 

 

Want to learn how to nourish your body without having to restrict food? Learn about intuitive eating with our ebook Nourish.

Click the banner to grab your copy today for $9.95

non-diet haes dietitians Melbourne