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

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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.

 

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What makes a good food choice?

Rather than thinking about food as “good” or “bad” based on the messages from our screwed up diet culture, try considering these factors next time you’re thinking about whether or not the food is a good choice.

So what makes a good food choice?

  • Being hungry for that food

  • Food that’s the only available choice when you’re hungry

  • Taking pleasure from the food

  • Feeling satisfied mentally and physically afterward

  • Any food that allows you connect socially and enjoy the company of others

  • Any food that provides nourishment, be that physical or mental

Not every food choice needs to be nutrient rich to be a good one, provided you get adequate nutrition via a variety of food over time, enjoying food purely for the taste is healthy too.

What might make a not so good food choice?

  • Food you don’t enjoy the taste of

  • Food that doesn’t feel good in your body

  • Food that leaves you feeling unsatisfied and that results in you craving something else even though you’re no longer hungry

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What’s the point of pursuing health if you can’t enjoy life?

Here are some examples of how the pursuit of health can take away from enjoying your life:

 

  • If being “good” with your diet means you can’t eat out without worrying about eating “too much” or the “wrong” thing.
  • If changes to your diet have you constantly thinking about food and/or worrying about whether you should or shouldn’t have something.
  • If tracking food, calories or macros is stressful, annoying or creating anxiety or guilt.
  • If having to avoid or limit certain foods means you avoid certain social events or feel immense guilt should you partake in the food.
  • If you can’t enjoy birthday cake on someone’s birthday without feeling you’ve been “bad” or blown your goals.
  • If all this obsessing over food is taking away mental space and energy to pursue more meaningful things.
  • If the amount of exercise you do is taking time away from spending time with friends, family or doing things you’d actually prefer to be doing.
  • If the type of exercise you “need” to do means exercise is not truly enjoyable.
    .

How many of the above points resonate with you? Maybe it’s time to reassess what it is you think you need to do to take care of your health. The common wisdom in our culture is that to manage our health or weight, we need to restrict or be careful with our food, but in actual fact this only ends up working against us. Restricting, or “being good” with food may seem like it works initially, but at some point, inevitably, this fails us and we find ourselves swinging back towards over-eating and feeling out of control around food. Allowing yourself to eat freely is not the problem, it is the solution. You can learn how this works with the intuitive eating (or non-diet) approach.

If you would like help in becoming an intuitive eater and to get out of the diet cycle and start living a more meaningful and enjoyable life, give us a call or send us an email today!

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When it comes to nutrition and the human body, there is still much we don’t know and we still have so much to learn.

When I first started working as a dietitian, I could be quite dismissive of anything not backed by mainstream science or medicine. After 13 years working as a dietitian one of the key things I’ve learned, is that just because science hasn’t proved something, or Western medicine doesn’t agree with a particular idea, does not mean that idea is necessarily wrong. The human body is complex and nutrition is still a relatively new science, which means we will always be discovering new things and sometimes we will make mistakes and we will need to change our stance and text books will need to be rewritten.

So now, when a client, or anyone, tells me their homeopathic remedy or sugar free diet is helping them, I don’t try to explain that homeopathy is not grounded in science or that they shouldn’t eat sugar free. I listen to that person and if they feel strongly an alternative treatment or particular diet is helping them, I simply move on to find out why they have come to see me and how I might be able to help them.

Once I have established a good rapport with the client and they trust me, it’s very likely at some point we would discuss whether or not they are truly benefitting from eating sugar free, if they feel they are, then it’s not my place to tell them otherwise. If the client has a very disordered relationship with food and finding themselves bingeing on sugary food, or feeling highly distressed whenever they eat something with sugar, then this conversation would come earlier, but then that client is not comfortably eating a sugar free diet.

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I do however, get up in arms when nutrition claims that have no clear evidence, are broadcast as what someone MUST do to better their health. Or when a person, usually a celebrity or TV personality, uses their anecdotal evidence to encourage millions of people to do what they are doing because it worked for them. Especially when this can cause harm in some people, harm such as disordered eating, eating disorders, emotional distress, anxiety, poor body image and damaged self worth.

Peter F, Sarah W and Pete E may all have found salvation through quitting sugar (or going Paleo) and good luck to them, I am not denying it hasn’t helped them or many of the people who have also chosen to follow there rhetoric, but at this stage we don’t have evidence that what they promote actually improves health long-term (or on a population level), to be suggesting the entire population quit sugar or go paleo. The other factor we need to consider, is that if quitting sugar or going paleo is done in the context of calorie restriction with weight loss as the main objective, and often this is the case, then this is no different to dieting. There is clear evidence that dieting is ineffective and often leads to weight gain and that dieting is the number one risk factor for developing an eating disorder that does significantly worsen a person’s mental and physical health. No, not everyone who quits sugar or eats paleo will develop disordered eating or an eating disorder, but enough will and when there’s not enough evidence to back their claims, shouldn’t this be considered problematic? 

We do have an issue of highly processed (often sugary) food being too readily available at the expense of more nutritious food and this can and does cause health problems. I strongly believe the issue lies with food industry and policies, rather than the food itself. I don’t know what is required to address this, but I do know that focusing on the food products and the individual as the problem, is leading to a significant number of people ending up with a disordered relationship with food and adverse mental and physical health outcomes.

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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

 

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There is so much nonsense and fear mongering when it comes to food and nutrition and it needs to stop.

If bread and pasta really were evil, how have France and Italy managed so well with these as staple foods?

If rice was so void of nutrition or an issue weight wise, why hasn’t a high rice consumption affected the billions of people in Asia and India who eat rice as part of their traditional diets?

If sugar really was to blame for increasing BMIs and diabetes, why do Switzerland and Germany, the biggest consumers of chocolate in the world, have some of the lowest rates of people with high BMIs and diabetes?

If cheeses and deli meats were so unhealthy, why don’t countries such as France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland have much higher rates of diet related disease?

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The answer is relatively simple, none of these foods are the issue. When populations experience higher rates of illness or body weight, along with a genetic component, there are a myriad of other lifestyle, social and economic factors that are influencing these changes.

If we keep blaming the food, and the individuals for eating the food, the bigger picture of what it means to have a healthy population will never properly be addressed and continue to be swept under the carpet.

In my practice, seeing these foods as the issue has only led my clients down a path of disordered eating where they find themselves obsessing over food and (usually) weight. This obsession ultimately results in feeling miserable about food and themselves and in many cases results in bingeing on the foods that have been restricted.

There’s a good chance you* would benefit tremendously from taking a deep breath and just chilling the heck out when it comes to thinking about food and nutrition.

*Please note: if you experience anxiety or emotional distress around food, chances are, chilling out will not be straightforward and you may benefit from talking with a non-diet psychologist, dietitian or other health professional.

You can find us here:

HAES dietitians Australia

HAES dietitians worldwide

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