5 steps to eating well – plus what you don’t actually need to do…

dietitian melbourne

Just as it seems dieting is becoming uncool, more and more people seem to be getting caught up in the dieting world. Rather than diets, people now talk about wellness plans, macros, sugar free, keto and in some cases, choosing veganism – all of which can end up being just another diet with only short-term results (if any) and long-term problematic eating behaviours (such as the restrict-binge-restrict cycle) and weight cycling.

I’ll pause here to stay choosing to eat vegan for reasons of animal welfare is a perfectly valid choice. However, as a dietitian, I am seeing and hearing about many people turning to veganism for their health, because it’s “cleaner” and although people may not say so explicitly – for weight loss or to enhance how their body looks.

While for some people, even this reason may be a valid choice, for many it is not and the result is getting caught up in the same diet cycle and pattern of disordered eating and body image mess that dieting creates.

If you are fed up struggling with your eating and feeling awful about your body, you have to get yourself out of the the dieting and body image mess our culture has created. You need to take a step back from much of the “wellness” industry and anyone who claims they have the answers you’re looking for through eating certain foods or through the right way to eat for your body. There is no one right or magic way to eat that is going to be your golden ticket. There are a gazillion different ways of eating well, just look at various cultures around the world and how variable their diets are.

In fact, loosening your grip on the food focus, and even on nutrition, may be exactly what you need to start feeling calmer around food and start being able to tune into what your body truly needs. Your body is amazing organism and can guide you with how look after yourself. But with so much external noise about how to eat, how to exercise and how your body should look and feel – it’s easy to lose touch with what your body is telling you. I urge to experiment with taking a step back from all the “health” messages and instead, turn your focus inwards and see what your body tells you.

Some people will be able to do this without too much difficultly, but some people will really struggle, especially if you’ve been caught in the diet cycle for some time or if you feel really bad about your body. If this is you, you might like to seek help from a health professional who works under the Health At Every Size and Non-Diet paradigm.

 

dietitian melbourne

 

 

 

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

Want to undertand how to nourish your body without dieting or restricting food?
Get a taste of what’s involved with with our ebook Nourish.

Click the banner to grab your copy today!

non-diet dietitians Melbourne

 

So how do you know if you’re doing intuitive eating right?

Beware of podcasts, books or programs that talk about intuitive eating (or mindful eating), but also claim to help you lose weight.

The point of intuitive eating is to relearn how to eat based on your bodies appetite cues, something you were born with, but may have lost through dieting, food restriction, weight loss pursuits or just living in a world where many people eat for reasons other than hunger.

Intuitive eating is about reconnecting with the pleasure of eating and fostering a calm relationship with food and body. Intuitive eating also involves learning to eat in a way which nourishes your body adequately.

 

Melbourne dietitian

If a person loses weight through eating more intuitively, this is a SIDE EFFECT and not everyone’s weight will change. Weight loss is not, and should not, be a goal of intuitive eating.

Why?

Eating to appetite is about meeting your bodies energy and nutrients needs, not a marker for body size. Not everybody is meant to be thin (or thinner than they are) and some people when they have consistent access to adequate food will be in larger bodies. In addition, if you have lost and gained weight a number of times, you may have changed your bodies set point to a higher weight. If you feel this is you and you struggle with your current body and feel losing weight is the only way you’ll ever feel better, or be healthier, then I urge to seek help from a Health At Every Size/Non-Diet practitioner.

As the intuitive eating approach becomes more and more popular, I am hearing more people express that intuitive eating “didn’t work” for them. In most cases, this is because they have used intuitive eating as a means to lose weight and they didn’t lose weight, or “enough” weight. 

If you’re practising intuitive eating for weight loss, you are doing the “intuitive eating diet” or “hunger-fullness diet” and not actually practising intuitive eating; and as we all know – DIETS DON’T WORK!!

So how do you know if you’re doing intuitive eating right?

  • You feel calmer around food
  • You spend a lot less time thinking about food
  • You are learning to enjoy all food without guilt
  • You are starting to notice appetite cues and are learning to trust them
  • You sometimes eat less as you realise you’re not that as hungry, or you’re full
  • You sometimes eat more as you realise you need more food
  • You are starting to get more pleasure from food and may even find yourself craving things you never thought you would

For most people, it can time for these changes to start happening and many, if not most, people will need to address how they feel about their body as a key part of learning to eat intuitively. If you are focused on weight loss, you will continue to see your body as a problem and this will prevent you from truly learning to trust your body with food again.

dietitian melbourne

 

 

 

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

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

Can DNA testing help you lose weight?

After seeing the findings and advice from one lab, you’re more likely to end up heavier.

Can personalised genetics or DNA testing in relation to how you eat be useful? One of my clients was curious to know, so she went online and completed the application.

weight loss


My clients assessment was in relation to body size and shape, body weight, ability to lose weight and how the body handles fat and the impact this has on lipid profile. The claim is that your genetic profile can give you information on these factors and how to eat to best manage them.

I’m not going to comment on how accurate the findings are, as I simply don’t know. What I would like to comment on, is the advice given to my client… and there is so much wrong with this advice it’s hard to know where to start.

She was advised (suggested with the help of a health professional) to reduce total calories per day by a substantial amount – similar to what is recommended by most diets or weight loss programs – and to exercise for at least 30 minutes most days.

Aside from the advice being the exact same stock standard generally unhelpful advice you can find anywhere, there was no consideration of;

  1. What my client was currently eating or doing exercise wise. Had my client already been restricting, such advice could be highly nutritionally compromising, or heading toward an eating disorder.
    .
  2. How many times my client had tried this before and lost weight and then regained.
    ..
  3. My clients current weight now being at its heaviest after 15 years of trying to do exactly what they suggested.
    .
  4. Previous calorie restriction resulting in over-eating and and an increased desire to eat sugary food. Something we have been working on for almost 2 years now and which my client is seeing improvements with.
    .
  5. My clients psychological health after 15 years of struggling with dieting and weight, which when she first came to see me had left her with a very damaged relationship with food and body.
    .
  6. What my client might already be doing to address her health and where she is at with this, and the impact that their advice might have on her progress.

Quite frankly, I’m stunned and appalled. This DNA testing is simply dieting repackaged without any serious consideration for the person’s lived experience or psychological status.

My advice – don’t waste your time or money.

dietitian melbourne

 

 

 

 

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

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

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. If a person is fat, this does not mean they eat poorly or don’t exercise, just a thin person doesn’t necessarily workout daily and drink kale smoothies.

I am using the word fat as a purely 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” (and I still do at times), this is totally understandable given we live in a culture where we have been conditioned to believe and feel that fat is bad and 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.

non diet dietitian haes

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 I am exercising regularly and I do eat well!” – and 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 on stigma and this study on shame which discuss how public health campaigns and attitudes around obesity/weight may actually serve to damage health.

dietitian melbourne

 

 

 

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

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

Just eat more celery and less meat pies!

Want to lose weight?

Just eat more celery and less meat pies!

While most people should recognise this as ridiculous advice, is it really any different to the message of just eat more veggies and less “junk”? As in, if losing weight were that simple, surely the millions of people who have tried to lose weight would have been successful by now. In addition, the current common wisdom around what is required to control body weight is mistaken (weight loss is not a simple equation of eat less and move more), which helps explain why no one is able to do it.

If we were machines and could just program our food for the day, then just doing what is suggested by this “common wisdom”, might actually be possible – but we are not machines, we are complex organisms with complex emotional and physiological needs and desires. You can’t simply instruct someone on how to eat to meaningfully* lose weight – oh wait, that’s what most weight loss programs try to do – it’s no wonder they don’t work!

*meaningfully, meaning in a way that benefits the individual mentally and physically over their life-time

non diet dietitian

So why isn’t it as simple as just eat more veggies and less “junk”?

Factors that influence food choices:

  • How hungry you are
  • Awareness of how hungry you are
  • How long since you last ate
  • The type of food you late ate
  • The type of food that appeals to your taste buds
  • The type of food available
  • History of dieting
  • Past or current food restriction
  • Emotional state
  • How tired you are
  • How much sleep you’re getting
  • How much stress you’re under
  • Your hormones and metabolic factors
  • Any medications you may be on
  • Where you’re next meal is coming from
  • A sense of when and what you’re going to be eating next
  • How active you’ve been
  • What you’ve got on for the rest of your day
  • What the other people you’re eating with will eat
  • What other people are telling you you should or should not be eating

I’m sure there’s many more, so feel free to add more in the facebook comments.

Eating celery over meat pies, or less extreme, advice to eat more veggies and less highly processed food does not take into account or address any of these factors, in fact, placing the emphasis on the food could exacerbate a number of them. Now, I am not for a second staying eating more veggies is not a worthwhile pursuit, or would not benefit health. Instead, I am wanting to highlight that very often, well meaning dietary advice falls way short of the mark and only serves to perpetuate our culture’s unhelpful and often very damaging diet and weight loss industries.

 

dietitian melbourne

 

 

 

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!

non-diet dietitians Melbourne

It’s not about willpower

I have a number of clients whose significant other (in my clients words)…

“Is able to eat anything without gaining weight”

“Is 6 foot tall and race horse lean and able to eat as much as they want”

“Can just leave chocolate in the fridge for days or weeks”

“Will choose to eat fruit even when there’s cake just sitting there”

non diet dietitian

And when these significant others see my clients struggling with food and weight, they may say things like;

“Just don’t eat as much”

“Just don’t buy it”

“Are you sure you really need that?”

“Wouldn’t you be better of having…”

“Just put it somewhere you can’t see it”

“It’s not rocket science, just eat a bit less and move more”

With regard to the first round of statements, if a person happens to have a smaller or leaner body type (due to genetics), then they may never have felt the need (or pressure) to restrict food. They may never have had anyone (such as a parent or other relative) restrict their food or suggest “you shouldn’t eat that”.

The reason they can leave chocolate in the fridge or choose fruit over chocolate has less to do with willpower and much more to do with never having been truly restricted of food, or made to feel “bad” about eating food. Deprivation drives desire and it is the restriction of food (both physically and mentally) that so often leads to over-eating or feeling like you’ll never stop once you start.

The notion that these people can “eat anything they want” without gaining weight is because they have permission to eat anything they want, again, they haven’t been restricted, they (often) literally eat whatever they feel like. That said, not everyone in a smaller body allows themselves to eat freely, some will still “be careful” or restrict certain things. Some of these people are being unnecessarily careful and with some, it may be helping them stay smaller, however these people have genetically smaller bodies to begin with. The combination of not being in a state of constant food restriction (or having the belief that you should be restricting) and a genetically smaller body, means these people don’t face the same struggle with food that others may face.

With regard to the second round of statements, if someone close to you says these (or you are this person), please understand they although they are usually said with the best of intentions, they are unhelpful and misguided for the reasons explained. Unfortunately we live in a culture that continually validates this way of thinking without stopping to question why so many people struggle with food in the first place. If you want to discover a different way of thinking, you might like to learn about intuitive eating. Often these significant others are intuitive eaters.

dietitian melbourne

 

 


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 int
uitive eating with our ebook Nourish.

Click the banner to grab your copy today!

non-diet dietitians Melbourne