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. 

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If you regain weight after losing it, it’s not your fault…

When you regain weight after losing weight, it’s common to blame yourself for shortcomings.

FACT: If you regain weight after losing it, it’s not your fault…

It’s because our bodies are carefully designed to defend against weight loss. For most people, intentional weight loss involves a self imposed famine. Meaning, if you’re not giving your body enough food energy, it goes into famine mode, just as it would were there an actual famine.

Famine mode is designed to keep us alive when food is scarce.

Famine mode results into the brain going into hyperdrive thinking about food; food looks better, smells better, tastes better and you can’t help but think about food a lot of the time. Sound familiar?

Famine mode slows down our metabolism so we don’t need to eat much food to keep our bodies functioning.

Famine mode messes with our appetite hormones where your hunger and fullness hormones respond differently to when you’re adequately fed. You may not feel very hungry until you eat, and then you feel ravenous and want to eat everything. Your fullness hormone may then be slow to kick in allowing you to eat more food then usual.


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Famine mode is a key reason people regain weight and NOT because:

  • You stopped the diet
  • You ate too much or the wrong food
  • You didn’t have enough willpower
  • You didn’t exercise hard enough
  • Your routine changed
  • You went on holiday and never “got back into it”
  • You started a new relationship and food was a big part
  • You didn’t try hard enough

For an alternative to pursuing weight loss and the way to avoid famine mode, click here. For more of the research on why diets and pursuing weight loss doesn’t work long-term, click here.


Do you have a healthy relationship with food? – take our free quiz to find out

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

Click the banner to grab your copy today!

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Stop restricting and you may find you eat less

It is not uncommon for people to misinterpret the concept of unrestricted eating, as a free for all with food; just eat as much sweets as you want without any regard to nutrition or health. In fact, once people have true full permission to eat, as with the non-diet approach, the opposite tends to happen.

Many have the belief that “if I allowed myself to eat that food, I’d want to eat it all the time.” However, what people start to realise, is having full permission to eat a food, can mean they start to want it less. 

In the traditional weight loss (weight cycling) and/or “healthy eating” world, a common aim is to reduce intake of particular foods, especially more highly processed sweet foods. Let’s use the humble sweet biscuit as an example.

When you are focused on weight loss or “health”, choosing to eat less sweet biscuits usually revolves around reducing calories and sugar and being disciplined or “good”. Ironically, this type of approach leaves most people eating more sweet biscuits (and therefore more calories and sugar) and feeling “bad”.

Why does this happen?

Each time you’re faced with the prospect of a sweet biscuit, you think “I shouldn’t eat that” and for a while you may be able to resist the urge – but how long does this last? Have you ever been able to completely cut a food from your diet long-term (and I’m not including food allergies/intolerances here)? I know some people can do this, but the fact is, most people can’t. When finally that urge gets the better of you, what tends to happen? You go nuts for the food and eat more than you would normally, or you might find yourself bingeing. This type of approach is responsible for the following phenomena:

  • The “what the hell” effect – “What the hell, I’ve blown it now, may as well go the whole hog!”
  • The “last supper” effect – eating all the food now as tomorrow you’re never going to eat it again
  • The “I’ll get while I can” effect – eating more now as tomorrow you’ll be “good” (or start again on Monday)
  • The “I’ll just finish this packet/container so it’s not in the house and I’ll never buy them again” effect

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With non-diet approach, the choice* to not eat the sweet biscuit is simply because you’re not hungry for it, or don’t feel like eating one in that moment. A key difference with this approach, is that when you do actually feel like having the sweet biscuit, you have the opportunity to enjoy it without any sense of doing “the wrong thing”. You may feel like having more than one, but you don’t go nuts and over-eat because you know you can enjoy another one tomorrow or the next day or the next day…

So while the non-diet approach doesn’t restrict any food, it allows you to avoid all the above mentioned effects. When you don’t fall into these diet traps, your eating and nutrition can take on a new look, one that actually promotes healthy behaviours and benefits your health.

*Please note: reaching this point can take time, if you’ve been dieting or restricting food or struggle with how you feel about your body, you will likely need to go through a process of unlearning what you’ve been lead to believe is the best way to manage your diet, health and weight. Non-diet dietitians can help you do this.

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Do you have a healthy relationship with food? – take our free quiz to find out

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

Click the banner to grab your copy today!

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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.

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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 need to stop confusing eating well and being active as a weight loss tool, because weight loss tools don’t work.

When it comes to health, we need to stop talking about weight loss and instead talk about health behaviours.

Being active and eating well are just two of many factors that influence health.

I am writing this after reading this quote in an article…

“Of course there are risks associated with weight loss but there are massive risks associated with not being physically active and healthy eating.”

It’s not difficult to construe this message as being active and eating well equates to weight loss. Even if you argue that’s not at all what is implied, if eating well and being active are part of what improves health, why do we even need to mention weight loss?

While the article makes it clear that diets for weight loss do not work long-term for most people, it does mention that there are some “success” stories of longterm weight loss – wait for it, drum roll – 10,000 Americans have successfully keep weight off (at least 14kg) for more than 5 years. 10,000 Americans is 0.00003% of the population!! Of course not every one is trying to lose weight, but even if we just counted the estimated 25-50% of Americans who are dieting at any one time, this is still only 0.0001% of the population. The fact that American stats are being quoted in an Australian article is that there is no record of longterm successful weight loss in this country.

The article also reports that “even a long-term weight loss of five per cent had health benefits”, while this may be true, in my almost 14 years of practice, I have not met anyone with a high body weight who is happy to just lose 5% of their weight. I’m pretty confident that the overwhelming majority of dietitians, doctors or other health professionals would attest to this.

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Of course there are many reasons why most people would not settle for a 5% weight loss, including (but not exhaustive);

  • Continued use of the (unhelpful) BMI scale
  • The media constantly pushing the “obesity = death” message; losing 5% of body weight is not going change most people’s BMI category.
  • New diets appearing all the time that promise they hold the key to weight loss
  • The multi billion dollar diet industry selling the weight loss dream
  • The media publicising the latest weight loss research and diets that go along with the new research, often from doctors or well known health experts.
  • The incessant advertising of weight loss programs and products on TV
  • The multi billion dollar pharmaceutical industry and its proliferation of weight loss surgery and drugs that promise (but often don’t deliver) signifiant weight loss.
  • A culture that equates thinness with worthiness, happiness, attractiveness, success and health.

As long as we talk about weight loss along side eating and activity behaviours, we continue to support the idea that changing these behaviours is about weight loss when it should be about health.

The non-diet approach is a paradigm that enables people to pursue health through changing behaviours without focusing on weight loss. The approach is not anti-weight loss, just anti the pursuit of weight loss through dieting; some people may lose weight as a side-effect, but some people may not. The non-diet approach is part of the Health At Every Size 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.

Click the banner to grab your copy today for $9.95

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The last supper effect

Have you ever found yourself having constant thoughts about, or strong cravings, for certain food just before you start your next diet, or in the days leading up to an appointment with the dietitian?

If you said yes, you’re not alone. This is called ‘the last supper effect’ and almost all my clients experience this before coming to see me – even though they’ve read on my website that no food will be restricted. They do this because the normal human response to the thought of deprivation or scarcity, is to stock up. I had one gentleman recently tell me he considered a glass of wine at 11am in the morning (his appointment was 1.30pm) as he thought I would tell him to stop drinking!

Another client today mentioned how every time he planned for his next diet in his head, that day on the way home from work he would stop by the supermarket and buy all sorts of foods, many he never even usually ate, and eat all the food that evening. One of the things he realised recently, was how often he did this and never even went on the diet.

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One of the most ironic aspects of dieting or restricting food in the name of health is that planning to diet or restrict your food often leads to behaviours that are not great for your health. Even if you don’t experience the last supper effect, dieting or restricting food very often leads to over-eating or going nuts around food at some point in time. Rather than blame the restriction of food, you blame yourself for lack of will power of self control, you do this because that’s what our diet culture has taught you. However, if you truly want to escape the cycle of feast or famine, of restriction followed by bingeing, you need to stop restricting food. A non-diet approach and intuitive eating can help you do this.

If you take a moment to reflect, are there any foods that you allow yourself to eat freely, with no sense you shouldn’t be eating it, that you feel you can’t enjoy in moderation? If so, please leave a comment on Facebook as I’d be curious to know.

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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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