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
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Weight is not the problem

As a society, we are so convinced weight is the issue, we have lost sight of what it really means to care for our health.
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Key reasons we believe weight is the problem, are;
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  • The weight cycling industry (aka weight loss or diet industry) that keeps selling weight loss as the answer to success and happiness
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  • The traditional medical model that so often blames weight for ill health even when it’s unrelated and that labels people’s body size based on a recognised inaccurate measure of health – the BMI scale
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  • Our culture’s strong weight bias (fat is bad, thin is good) and weight stigma (people in large bodies are constantly judged by their size)
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  • Friends, family and loved ones who (with misguided good intention) comment about your food and weight and who congratulate you or say “you look great” when you lose weight
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  • Well meaning health professionals who have so much to offer, but are themselves caught up in a weight focused paradigm and diet model and haven’t yet realised how problematic this is – I used to be one of these
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Let me give you an example…

A patient came to me wanting to lose 10kg she had gained over the past 2 years, increased back pain was a key reason. The message she received from her doctor, health care provider, her family and society was that the weight gain was the key issue.

I asked my client, if anything had changed in her life 2 years ago? Her response… “I suddenly got busy at work and my activity dropped off, I wasn’t sleeping as well, I felt stressed and exhausted much of the time and my comfort eating increased.”

It should be clear that this person’s issue is not the weight itself, but rather all the factors that affected her self care and for which the weight gain was just a side effect of. It must also be noted that activity levels, sleep (or lack there of) and stress can all influence back pain independent of body weight. So even if she hadn’t gained weight, she may well have experienced worsening back pain. 

As a society, we would be much more effective at helping people if we took the focus off weight and instead discussed the myriad of aspects that affect our capacity to self care. 

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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!

non-diet dietitians Melbourne

How to avoid going overboard with food this holidays… Hint – don’t restrict!

As a dietitian, at this time of year, a common question from clients is how to go about managing the extra food around the Christmas/New Year period.

With Christmas, New Year and summer holidays fast approaching, many of us find ourselves at more social gatherings with an abundance of food and alcohol. You might also find yourself doing more cooking or baking. While this shouldn’t be a problem in terms of nutrition, health or eating intuitively, diet culture makes it seem like a problem.

What do I mean by diet culture? Diet culture is the idea that certain foods are bad for you or fattening, that to keep your weight in check (or to lose weight) you must eat less, or at least not too much. The thought that if you do “indulge”, you need to restrict or be careful the next day or do more exercise, is also part of diet culture.

The problem with this type of thinking is that it pretty much always leads to over-eating the very food you think you shouldn’t be having too much off. You restrict until you’re faced with the food, at a party, at a friends house, at the office and you find yourself thinking “stuff it, one won’t hurt…”. Because you’ve been restricting the food, the food not only looks more appealing, but the pleasure centre in your brain goes nuts over the taste and you find yourself wanting to keep eating. This is part of the “I’ll get it while I can” or “last supper” effect, where you think you may as well eat as much as you can now and then you’ll “be good” tomorrow. Sound familiar?

For many people, this drive to keep eating reaffirms the belief you can’t be trusted around certain food, or that you are “addicted” to sugar*. However, it may actually be the restriction that it the issue, from a physiological and psychological standpoint.

If you’re someone who tends to restrict how much you eat after you’ve eaten too much, there’s a very good chance you’re messing with your appetite regulation. Not eating enough during the day and then getting to the point of being too hungry is a sure way to increase your risk of over-eating at some point, usually in the afternoon or evening. If the food available happens to be food you’re trying hard to limit, you’ll most likely find it next to impossible to not overeat that food. When you do overeat, you then feel terrible about yourself, that you’ve “failed” or been “bad” – this is part of the psychological trauma of diet culture.

HAES dietitian Melbourne

 

What if there were no restrictions on any food? No diet culture telling you sugar is evil or that you shouldn’t eat that if you want to lose weight? What if at the time of eating you could calmly assess your appetite and desire for the food and then enjoy eating the food to the point of satisfaction? This is what intuitive eating is all about.

Eating to satisfaction involves the pleasure of the food itself and feeling comfortable in your body afterwards. Your decision about how much to eat is influenced by having acknowledged satisfaction and not wanting to feel uncomfortably full or sickly. When you know you can enjoy the food in question whenever you feel like it, having less in the moment is an easier thing to do. 

This may sound like an impossibility to some of you, but what is required is letting go of, or loosening your grip on, food restriction and on diet culture. If you’re not dieting or restricting food, you’re less likely end up over-hungry and vulnerable to over-eating and while the pleasure centre in your brain will still be activated by food (as it’s designed to), it won’t go as nuts. This, combined with attunement to satisfaction and the knowledge you can have more of the yummy food later, is what will allow you to feel calm around food during periods such as Christmas.

Another aspect that must be acknowledged in all of this, is how you feel about your body. Diet culture thrives on you feeling bad about your body and ultimately how you feel about your body underpins the need you feel to diet or restrict food. You can’t effectively address your problems with food until you start addressing how you feel about your body. For most people, the body stuff is toughest work and you may need help from a skilled non-diet dietitian or therapist who works within the Health At Every Size paradigm. Let us know if you need help finding one.

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

Click the banner to grab your copy today for $9.95

dietitian melbourne

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/

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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

non-diet haes dietitians Melbourne

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

 

non-diet dietitians Melbourne