Cake is healthy

Context is everything, but social media grabs and headlines are generally not interested in the detail, it’s all about what gets the most clicks and likes.

The Context:

Having some sugar in your diet in the context of a nutritionally adequate diet is unlikely to be an issue. If health issues do arise, genetics, stress, activity levels and a myriad of other factors need to be considered, not just a person’s sugar intake or even their overall diet for that matter. In fact, even if a person was eating copious amounts of sugary foods at the expense of nutrition, you still need to consider the myriad of other factors. Quitting sugar is unlikely to provide the self-care one might need to consider in managing their health and almost certainly will not address the underlying reasons a person is having excess sugar.

 

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With regard to advice to lose weight, aside from the fact we don’t know how to help people do this and keep the weight of long-term, the reasons people gain weight are usually much more complex than just dietary. Just focusing on diet (or exercise) does not address the myriad of other factors that affect weight, some of which are out of a person’s control and some of which can be attributed to behaviour. Even with those that may be attributed to behaviour, the things that drive human behaviour are complex and we over-simplify behaviour change with black and white, generic, dietary advice such as cut out sugar, reduce portions, eat less etc.  While there are some people for whom such changes appear straight forward and maintainable, this is not true for most people and can lead to disordered eating behaviours, a messed up relationship with food, psychological and physical stress along with increased shame, anxiety and depression, all of which adversely impact health independent of diet or body weight. In fact, many of the things people do in an attempt to lose weight do not qualify as self-care. For example; crash diets, detox diets, going too long without food or not eating enough food (and putting the body into starvation mode), no longer taking pleasure from food and eating, not socialising as much for fear of eating the “wrong” food, exercising too intensely or too often and the list goes on.

So how can you manage your health (practise self-care) without quitting sugar, restricting food you enjoy or focusing on weight loss? It is very possible with a non-diet/HAES approach.

Health is complex and involves much more than a person’s diet or fitness level.

Please note: Saying cake is healthy, is not the same as saying just eat as much cake as you want without any regard to nutrition and the myriad of other factors that contribute to health.

I actually prefer to say that cake is neither healthy nor unhealthy, it is just cake. I stated “cake is healthy” to do exactly what media tries to do, get people’s attention. Absolutely cake can be part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.

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10 things you need to be healthy

Good news! You don’t need to consume charcoal, love kale, enter a hardcore fitness challenge or deny yourself yummy food…

10 things you need to be healthy

    • Access to adequate food and water
    • Basic food preparation and cooking skills and facilities
    • And place to live or that provides adequate shelter and clothing
    • A safe environment
    • Adequate sleep, rest and relaxation
    • A sense of belonging and acceptance
    • Meaningful relationships with other people
    • To feel valued in your community and/or workplace
    • To move in ways you enjoy
    • A sense of purpose

 

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10 things you don’t need…

  • To follow a special diet promoted by a “wellness guru”
  • To look like a “wellness guru”
  • A lean, toned or thin body
  • A 30 day to 12 week challenge of any sort
  • To train for an extreme fitness challenge, event or marathon
  • To track “macros”, calories or your food using an app or other device
  • A NutriBullet or other “health” food kitchen appliance
  • To restrict carbs or to eat kale
  • A food or body “detox”

Of course you could partake in any of these if that’s what feels right for you and they truly align with your values in life. I’m not saying it’s wrong to do these things, but rather if they’re not for you, you don’t have to partake!

Also, if the pursuit of any these goals leaves you feeling not good enough, inadequate or with a sense of failure, then the shame you experience with this is actually damaging to both your psychological and physical health. Lastly, if pursuing these goals interferes with any of the 10 necessary things, then there’s a very good chance they are not making you healthier or happier.

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Do you have a healthy relationship with food? – take our free quiz to find out
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Want to learn how to nourish your body without dieting or restricting food?
Learn about intuitive eating with our ebook Nourish.

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Are you trying to learn to eat intuitively, but struggling?

Intuitive Eating is becoming more and more popular with more health and fitness professionals using the concepts of intuitive eating with their clients.
 
While this should be a wonderful thing, unfortunately it is not always being used effectively. This happens when there is a promise of weight loss or changing how your body looks. If you are unhappy with your body and you try intuitive eating as a way to change your body, you will likely end up thinking – “Intuitive eating didn’t work for me.”
 

As one of my clients expressed beautifully, when you focus on weight loss or changing your body, your eating will continue to be driven by body worries rather than instincts.

 

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Given the culture we live in, it is completely understandable and ok to want your body to change. The trick is being able to pop these desires on hold while you move through the intuitive eating process. This is one of the toughest aspects of the process and something an experienced dietitian/nutritionist will need to help you with. This is a key part of the work we do, click here if you would like help from one of our dietitians.

 

Intuitive eating is about learning to trust your body’s cues (instincts) around appetite and food, it is about giving your body the fuel, nourishment and pleasure we all require from food to take care of our mental and physical health.

 

If your weight of body shape changes through this process, this is purely a side-effect of the process. If you make weight/fat loss the goal, you will struggle to ever trust your body’s natural cues and you will most likely feel intuitive eating didn’t work. It’s not that it didn’t work, you just didn’t give the process the freedom it needs to help you take better care of your health.

 

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Do you have a healthy relationship with food? – take our free quiz to find out
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Want to learn how to nourish your body without dieting or restricting food?
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A thinner person is not necessarily a healthy person just as a fatter person is not necessarily an unhealthy person.

We must stop lumping people into one homogenous group.

I have used the word fat purely as a descriptive word, just as we use thin, tall, short etc. I place no negative connotations on this word. If you feel uncomfortable by use of the word “fat” (I still do at times), this is totally understandable given we live in a culture where fat has become something seen as bad or shameful. There is a growing movement to reclaim the word ‘fat’ as a non-judgemental descriptor – just as thin, tall, short are.

There is an assumption in our society that fat people are not taking care of their health. Sure, some fat people engage in behaviours that adversely affect their health, but so do some thin people! Fat people vary just as much as thin people when it comes to the spectrum of health and what it means to be healthy. We cannot assess a person’s health simply from their body size and doing so does nothing to empower people to engage in healthier behaviours, in fact, it usually does quite the opposite.

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When government bodies and the media talk about the “obesity epidemic” or wage “war on obesity”, fat people are lumped into one homogenous group, a group regarded as a serious health risk and a problem that needs fixing. When news stations show images of “headless fatties” walking around town or eating something deemed “unhealthy” they are implying that if your body looks like this – YOU are a problem. Quite frankly these images are discriminatory and dehumanising.

Whatever your body size, imagine you are watching a news story that is talking about a significant problem within a group of people and next second, you see an image of yourself… how would this make you feel? Irate, unjustly portrayed, discriminated against? Would this lead you to suddenly change your behaviour? You might be thinking “but there’s nothing wrong with what I’m doing!” – well this is the case for many people in larger bodies. Many fat people are conscious of their eating and they are physically active. Not all are, but nor are all thin people and no one, whatever their size, benefits from being discriminated against.

If you work in an area of government, public health or media that is involved in “obesity” campaigns, or if you know someone who does, I implore you to please take a moment to consider the impact of these campaigns. Please also take a moment to look at this study which discusses how public health campaigns around obesity may actually serve to damage health.

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Do you have a healthy relationship with food? – take our free quiz to find out
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Want to learn how to nourish your body without dieting or restricting food?
Learn about intuitive eating with our ebook Nourish.

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Not only does the olive oil makes your veggies taste better, it makes them healthier!

So we all know vegetables are nutritious and I’m pretty sure we all know extra virgin olive oil (evoo) has health benefits…
 

But did you know that cooking your vegetables in extra virgin olive oil increase the health properties of the olive oil?

Cooking in evoo conserves and increases the phenolic compounds of vegetables. Cooking veggies in fat also increases absorption of some of other compounds important to health.

If you’re anything like me and find steamed veggies a bit boring, then this is a win win win!

Not only does the olive oil makes your veggies taste better, it makes them healthier!

 

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My tips for cooking your veg in extra virgin olive oil…
 
Oven baking – chop up veggies into bite size pieces, add generous amount of evoo (at least 4 tbls for 2 people, but you can use more), some spices (cinnamon, paprika, cayenne pepper work well), a little salt and if you have them, fresh herbs such as oregano, rosemary and thyme.
 
These veggies work well in the oven: Cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, pumpkin, carrot, sweet potato, potato, corn, beetroot, asparagus, whole cloves of garlic, onion.
 
Pan frying – chop up veggies into bite size pieces, add generous amount of evoo (at least 4 tbls for 2 people, you can use more), a little salt and any herbs or spices to your liking.
 

These veggies work well in the frying pan: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green beans, asparagus, corn, onion, spinach, capsicum, mushrooms, snow peas, zucchini, eggplant, tomato and just about any other veg (maybe not cucumber…)

Fried broccoli and oven baked cauliflower are my favs, what will yours be?

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Do you have a healthy relationship with food? – take our free quiz to find out
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Want to learn how to nourish your body without dieting or restricting food?
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It’s ok to choose not to include certain food in your diet

As a non-diet dietitian, I don’t often post about the choice not to eat certain food, or to follow particular style of eating.

When it comes to nutrition and how we eat, nothing is black and white. There is no one right way of eating and no one wrong way of eating.

Unless you have a food allergy or intolerance, no one food type will cause you ill health and no one food type will give you health.

Just as it’s ok to eat whatever you feel like, it’s also ok to choose not to eat a certain food or type of food if that’s what feels right for you.

Having a highly nutritious diet does not make you immune from health issues and having a less nutritious diet doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll suffer from a diet related disease.

Because we can’t be black and white, we can’t say that following a particular style of eating is wrong, even if we don’t agree with it.

However you choose to eat and whatever label you might put on it, such as low carb, paleo, vegan, sugar free, as long as you are making this choice because it’s what feels right for you, and it doesn’t cause any distress, then this is not going against non-diet or intuitive eating.

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Recently I had dinner with a friend who has chosen a low carb way of eating. We were able to share a delicious meal and she simply chose not to eat a couple of things. This caused her no distress and she didn’t feel she was missing out in any way. However, the difference between my friend’s experience with eating and most of my clients, is my clients have often had a life-time of struggling with their eating and body image, without the dietary changes yielding the results they had hoped for.

As nutrition professionals, we need to respect other people’s decision with how to eat, if that’s what they’re comfortable with and especially if they haven’t asked for our opinion. As nutrition professionals, if people look to us for guidance, then we have the right to advise as we see fit and in a fashion that holds up to our clinical experience and to current evidence. As individuals, we all need to consider that what works for us, may not be what’s best for someone else, and we also need to respect other people’s decision with how to eat, if that’s what they’re comfortable with and if they haven’t asked for our opinion. Discussing nutrition with people you know well and perhaps giving some tips is most likely fine – however – unless you are a nutrition professional, you probably shouldn’t be giving specific nutrition advice to the general population, or people you don’t know well.

As a non-diet dietitian, I encourage my clients to lift any food restrictions or food rules and to start enjoying all foods. For people who have experienced distress with their eating and body weight/size for many years, this is an important first step. It is important because the restrictions or food rules have not brought about the desired changes, at least not long-term, and very often the person is trapped in a cycle of disordered eating and damaged psychological health. Breaking this cycle, requires healing one’s relationship with food and body and this requires lifting restrictions around food. However, once a person has healed their relationship with food and body, they may then find themselves in a place where they can manipulate their diet in a way that feels right for them. 

dietitian melbourne

 

 

 

Do you have a healthy relationship with food? – take our free quiz to find out
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Want to learn how to nourish your body without dieting or restricting food?
Learn about intuitive eating with our ebook Nourish.

Click the banner to grab your copy today!

non-diet dietitians Melbourne