Yes, I am a dietitian who does not support weight loss diets.
I had a really good conversation on the phone with a potential client family last week. A mom called me, recommended by her pediatrician, because her 16-year-old daughter wanted to lose weight. Her daughter has been complaining to her about her weight for the past year and mom thinks she could get a little healthier and feel better.
Sound familiar? It’s a common scenario for my nutrition private practice Eat With Knowledge and I want to be honest when I say I sometimes will work with these clients and I sometimes end up referring them elsewhere.
My private practice is weight-inclusive, and Health at Every Size® informed. I want to be honest with my potential clients that I can’t and don’t support weight loss diets because they simply don’t work for 80-95% of people. (For all the people that love research, this article is where that statistic comes from!)
In fact, many weight-loss attempts “backfire” with people regaining even more weight and developing disordered eating habits (Disordered eating is not always what you think… yo-yo dieting, obsessiveness with food, binge eating or commonly referred to as “emotional eating” are all part of this too). Many times, the 5-20% of people that are “successful” with weight loss have symptoms of anorexia, no matter their body size. I simply cannot practice ethically if I promote weight loss, knowing what I know as a Certified Eating Disorders Registered Dietitian.
I want to make something really clear though. I love health, self-care, and positive well-being.
I absolutely support my clients in making positive changes to their health within their ability and lifestyle. I love thinking about creative solutions with clients to promote behavior changes, wellness, and physical health.
Learning how to eat intuitively is a skill set based in interoceptive awareness. It is more than mindful eating and it is more complex than just “eating whatever you want”. Intuitive eating is about connecting knowledge, body signals, and emotions to do what is best for your body in that moment. Intuitive eating WILL change throughout a person’s life and that’s why it’s always a journey and not a destination.
I am not anti-weight loss, but anti-the pursuit of weight loss. When someone practices intuitive eating, 1 of 3 things will happen: they will gain weight, they will lose weight, or they will stay the same. Sometimes I have a “guess” what might happen to a person’s weight, but I have been wrong before! I simply cannot predict what happens to weight when a person makes behavior changes because it is out of my control.
So, let’s go back to my potential client last week. When I asked her mom a few more questions I found out the following:
- Her daughter has been “trying” to diet for the past year and “has failed”.
- She has horrible body image, low self-esteem, and mom thinks she spends way too much time on her phone/social media comparing herself to her friends.
- Mom reports lots of chaotic eating for the entire family and just wants her daughter to feel better.
After explaining my weight-inclusive nutrition counseling approach, mom was fascinated about intuitive eating and ended up making an appointment for her daughter. I think it’s important to explain our nutrition philosophy at Eat With Knowledge about “weight loss” because a lot of the time we’re still the right fit for clients despite our strong stance that we don’t support weight loss diets.
Intuitive eating is one of the best ways you can change your behavior and beliefs and habits about food, and make positive changes that stick with you for life, versus “the diet-binge-repeat cycle”.
“The diet-binge-repeat cycle” can be an awful cycle that lasts years and years.
I’ve built my group private practice, Eat With Knowledge, by helping people ditch dieting and find food peace with intuitive eating. If you’re ready to go on your own journey to intuitive eating, get started with a nutrition counseling appointment.
Jennifer is a Registered Dietitian and the owner of Eat With Knowledge in Nyack, NY. She is on a mission to help people heal from diets, and find peace and balance with their food choices. She leads a team of dietitians who support the philosophy, “Feel Fabulous about Food!”