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

 

 

 

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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

What if you didn’t need to lose weight?

And why focusing on weight loss usually backfires…

The common assumption is losing weight will make you healthier and if your BMI is above 25, you need to lose weight to manage your health. But weight is not a behaviour and believe it or not, there is no evidence that pursing weight loss improves long-term health. This is because not enough people have lost weight and kept it off long enough to test this theory. We really need to stop focusing on weight when it comes to health.

Given the lack of evidence, how has this assumption become so pervasive? Here are some of the reasons why…

  • Our culture’s strong weight bias – we live in culture that has been conditioned to believe fat is bad and that wrongly equates thinness with worthiness, attractiveness, success and happiness.
    .
  • Our culture’s weight stigma – people in bigger bodies are constantly being judged as doing something wrong, having a body that is wrong, being lazy, incompetent and unhealthy.
    .
  • The persistent public health (actually public shaming) messages that fat is bad and being “obese” is deadly
    .
  • The continual advertising of weight loss solutions, weight loss products, body transformations and surgery
    .
  • Health professionals advising weight loss as necessary for almost any condition
    .
  • Being surrounded by people, often family and friends, deeply conditioned to this assumption and talking about the next diet they’re doing or how they’re losing weight

Melbourne dietitian HAES

Given all these factors, it’s not difficult to understand why so many people are unhappy with their bodies and desperate to lose weight. Even people who don’t have any health issues. I’m not saying it’s wrong to want to lose weight, I’m hoping to acknowledge why this desire is understandable. I’m also not saying it’s wrong to lose weight, if through changing various health behaviours, your weight changes, then that is a side-effect your body is happy to have happen.

But what happens when a change in diet and exercise, while perhaps improving indicators of health such as blood pressure or blood sugar, doesn’t result in the desired weight loss? Do you keep up with the positive changes or do feel it’s not “working”? Do you give up altogether, or do you try something else, usually something more drastic and rarely maintainable?

What if despite taking better care of your health and doing all the “right” things, you still have high cholesterol or develop diabetes? Does this mean you still try to lose weight even when your body doesn’t appear to want to lose weight? Again, do you give up, or do you try something else, usually something more drastic and rarely maintainable?

It’s often after turning to something more drastic, that people come to see us and rarely has the drastic approach improved their health and usually it’s worsened their psychological health.

What do I mean by drastic? Anything that can’t be sustained or that interferes with daily life, including;

  • Completely cutting carbs or any other other food type from your diet
  • A diet with specific rules that interferes with eating out, eating with others, holidays or just enjoying food
  • Any sort of 9-12 week body transformation
  • Any program that promises rapid weight loss
  • Any program that leaves you feeling hungry or thinking about food all the time

Now if you can do any of these with ease and no interference to your enjoyment of life, then I’m not here to say you shouldn’t be doing them. I’m talking to the people who struggle with such restrictions – which is most of us.

So what can you do? See if you can pop your weight loss the goal on the back burner, this is often easier said than done and you may need help from a non-diet/HAES practitioner who doesn’t focus on weight loss or promise weight loss as an outcome. Instead, could you think about being kind to your body, perhaps moving it more in ways you enjoy and feeding it in ways that feel good both mentally and physically. Being kind to yourself and doing things you enjoy are also vital to health, when you actively dislike and hate on yourself, you are much less likely to treat your body well, be that with food, exercise or social interaction. If you feel you need help with this, please find a non-diet/HAES practitioner, be that a therapist, dietitian or nutritionist. Or you can contact us to make an appointment today.

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

Diet culture sucks!

Do you want to fight back against diet culture? You can. Try out any of these responses next time you hear someone talk about food in the context of weight or “being good”.

Diet culture: “you’re so disciplined”

You: “not particularly, I genuinely look forward to eating this… look how colourful it is!”

Diet culture: “I wish I could eat that”

You: “you can! Here have some, just pop in your mouth and chew”

Diet culture: “that looks so naughty”

You: “really, I don’t think it’s done anything bad… and it’s so yummy, it’s divine!”

Diet culture: “you’re so good, I wish I could be like you”

You: “you can, it’s easy*, just eat whatever you’re hungry for”

Diet culture: “I’d get fat if I ate that…”

You: “You’re telling me if you ate this, you’d wake up fat tomorrow?”

Diet culture: “is this your cheat day?”

You: “nope, I don’t need those to enjoy my food”

 

Melbourne dietitian


In summary…

No, it’s not OK to comment on someone else’s food – unless of course you’re saying how yummy it looks!

Eating a salad doesn’t have to mean you’re on a diet, watching your weight or being good. Ideally it means you enjoy and want to eat a salad.

Choosing to eat a toasted cheese sandwich or burger doesn’t have to mean you’re being indulgent, naughty or having a cheat day. Ideally you’re eating that food because it’s what you really feel like and it’s satisfying.

If you’re eyeing someone else’s lunch and thinking “ooh that looks good, I wish I could eat that…” my advice (if you asked me), would be to eat the goddamn food, you may just be pleasantly surprised!

This is just a small taste (pardon then pun), of what intuitive eating is all about… often learning how to eat intuitively again is complex, if you struggle with your eating or body image, please seek help from a professional who is experienced with intuitive eating and is aligned with HAES principles.

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

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.

 

Melbourne dietitian


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.

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