The non-diet approach is a way of delivering medical nutrition therapy that focuses on optimising health behaviours. It rejects the notion that the pursuit of weight loss/body shape or size manipulation is the key to health. In fact, it acknowledges the damage that dieting for weight loss can do to our health and our relationship with food. Any of these side effects of dieting sound familiar to you?
- Weight cycling
- Food rules
- Inability to respond to hunger and fullness
- Restrict-over eat cycles
- Feeling guilty after eating certain foods/portions
- Lack of dietary variety
- Avoidance of carbohydrates/sugars/fat…
- Fear of weight change
- Stress when making food choices
On the surface, dieting with the intent of changing your body may seem like a harmless idea, maybe even health-promoting one. That is understandable considering we are swimming in a weight-centric wellness culture that elevates thinness. Often this occurs without deeper consideration for a) if weight loss is really necessary to improve the health and quality of life of the individual and b) what striving for thinness could really do to a person’s health.
Now, you may be thinking, how can a Dietitian help me without putting me on a diet?
A non-diet Dietitian may help you work on:
- Connecting to and embracing your physiological hunger and fullness signals
- Body trust
- Achieving a diverse and flexible dietary pattern
- Breaking down black and white thinking about food
- Appreciating the natural variation in human body shapes and sizes
- Understanding weight science and the risks associated with diets
- Engagement in movement that feels enjoyable and sustainable
- Developing self-compassion to promote self-care
- Building food knowledge and a skillset around meal building
Importantly, this approach aims to help you get curious about your own body. When you think about it, diets, also known as restrictive meal plans/kilojoule counting/macro tracking/lifestyle (*cough, cough* weight loss) programs (I could go on!) assume that you do not have the ability to nourish yourself. They assume you need external rules and people telling you how to eat in order to find health. They tell you that there is no place for experimenting with food and no place for listening to your body.
This is simply not true. The non-diet approach helps you reclaim your body autonomy. It gives you the tools to navigate your own personal nutrition and wellbeing journey. You have the wisdom within you, the non-diet Dietitian is here to help you illuminate it.