I’m back! It’s been over 4 months since I last shared here and I have to say I’m so thankful for that break. I appreciate y’all sticking with me during my blogging silence, but can’t wait to get back to sharing, ranting and creating conversation in this space. In my time off from blogging, I’ve done a lot of growing, learning and reading. I immersed myself in ANTI-DIET culture and am now a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. In the coming months, you’ll be seeing a lot more on Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size here, but today I want to start with an apology. I’m sorry for the things I’ve said, done and recommended when I myself was caught up in diet culture. You see…dietitians aren’t immune to some of the influences of the media and popular culture. Our education and experience as “nutrition experts” was supposed to empower us to help others, but too often I think it functions to fuel diet rules and restrictions.
Looking back, I cringe thinking about how many times I told people to ask for a to-go box immediately upon ordering at a restaurant, sending the message that they should ignore hunger and fullness cues and only eat half a meal. I can’t tell you how many times I suggested someone brush their teeth right after dinner to avoid sweets or eating more. Eek. Worst of all, I would recommend clients pass up the warm bread baskets at restaurants! Do you know how delicious fresh bread (with butter) is?!
But when you know better, you do better. And now I know not only that diets don’t work but that there is another way, so I want to spread that message. I want consumers to recognize (and truly believe) that the diets are failing them, not the other way around. I want other dietitians to be willing and open to look beyond their training and become non-diet, weight-inclusive practitioners. So here I am, spreading the word and apologizing for not getting on board sooner.
If you’ve seen the words “anti-diet” and thought, what the heck is that?, you’re not alone. As a dietitian, it’s a given that we prescribe diets–right? WRONG.
The first (though not necessarily most important) principle of Intuitive Eating is Rejecting the Diet Mentality. For many of us, dieting has simply become a way of life and it’s tough to remember what it’s like to NOT focus on weight management or controlling our food intake in one way or another. It does seem as though the tide is shifting and people are starting to recognize that diets simply don’t work. However, diet culture is still flourishing, especially with companies maneuvering around the term “diet” and re-branding their programs as sustainable, “lifestyle changes”.
If you’ve gotten to the point of being frustrated, angry, annoyed or just plain sick of diet culture, welcome to the club! Learning to tune into your body and rediscover true health is not easy. It’s not a simple switch. But it’s possible. Here are my top 3 tips for ditching diet culture and getting started on your intuitive eating journey:
- Unfollow and stop supporting people who are engaging in or pushing diet culture. Their messages are what normalizes dieting and tricks you into believing you should be on a diet. Some telltale signs to look for: before-and-after photos and posts about Whole 30/Shakeology/Macro Counting, etc. As soon as I see one of these things in my social media feeds, I hit unfollow!
- Do not engage in conversations that involve negative body talk, fat phobia, food shaming, etc. You may even have become immune to these types of conversations by now, but try to start paying closer attention…The woman at work who is talking about how “fat” she feels after missing a few days at the gym, your friend you’re out to dinner with who says she is going to be “good” and only order a salad. You don’t need to “correct” these comments/statements, as the person may not be ready to hear it, but you can choose not to engage.
- Let go of judgement. In order to change a thought or behavior, we must first be aware of it, so noticing your tendencies to lean into diet culture or participate in the above conversations is key. Pay close attention, but be gentle with yourself–no need to judge, belittle or beat yourself up.
RD Real Talk Round Table
Also, if you happen to be an RD, Dietetic Intern or nutrition student who wants to learn more about the Anti-Diet Approach, don’t miss the first RD Real Talk Round Table event (affiliate link), hosted by Heather Caplan. I’m honored to be participating, along with Christy Harrison, Anne Mauney and Robyn Nohling. You can sign up to attend a live discussion or purchase the recording and listen in later. Early Bird Pricing ends TOMORROW, so register now!