Over the years, I have had the privilege of working with many different types of clients as they journeyed toward weight loss & wellness. I was self-motivated to eat well & exercise, so I made the naïve assumption that empowering people with knowledge would naturally lead to better choices and hence weight loss. Sadly, this assumption has been proven wrong time and time again in my personal experience. The great majority of clients actually possess quite a bit of nutrition knowledge, however, knowledge does not always translate into action. A person struggling with obesity does not want to be told how to count calories when they have been doing it unsuccessfully for years. There are actually many examples of this “preaching to the choir” type nutritional education, but at some point in my career, I assumed that perhaps I just wasn’t teaching them right & nevertheless, I persisted.
My epiphany came when I attended an eating disorders conference and learned about Intuitive Eating. Intuitive Eating is an evidenced-based, mind-body health approach, comprised of 10 Principles and created by two dietitians, one of whom lead the conference session. I walked away from this conference feeling completely inspired and ready to change the way I approach nutrition education. The transition to an intuitive eating approach has not been easy; changing your relationship with food and your body is certainly scary. And despite my best attempts I still get many requests for “strict meal plans” and “tell me what to eat since I don’t trust myself.”
To date, my most successful outcome was with an overweight client who learned to love herself. While she may not have lost many pounds on the scale, she learned how to embrace her genetic blueprint & focus on the strength of not only her body but also her mind. “Healthy” eating & exercise” came as a natural consequence to the more internal changes she made in her life.
Lastly, I wanted to share these points made by an RD who embraces the philosophy of Intuitive Eating.
Enjoy food..all food
- Tap into your intuition and listening to what you need. If that means that meal prep stresses you out or you have to choose to take a nap over going to the gym, that’s ok!
- Believe that people of all shapes and sizes can be healthy and that you don’t need to lose weight in order to improve your health
- Believe that you can feel calm and confident around food without counting calories, weighing or measuring anything
- Believe that in order to truly heal your relationship with food, you have to completely leave nutrition out of it (at least to start with)
- Believe that any kind of external factor including diets, meal plans or calorie restriction of any sort will result in diet backlash including guilt, shame, stress, overeating and binging.
- Don’t believe in labeling food as “good”, “bad” or “forbidden”
- Don’t believe that it is your lack of willpower that has caused you to “fail” at dieting or losing weight (hint: it’s the diets fault)
- Don’t believe that there is any good diet
- Don’t believe in shaming people into making changes to their eating