When I first started my journey to becoming a registered dietitian, I remember thinking “This will be easy! I just have to calculate calories and macronutrients and give people meal plans and they’ll know what to eat!”
Well, that is absolutely NOT how I do things now. After spending a lot of time in clinical nutrition during my internship, I found myself interviewing for a job at a small eating disorder treatment facility. My soon-to-be mentor asked me to read Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size. My mind was blown. There was another way to help people as a dietitian that didn’t involve prescribing restrictive diets and counting calories! Suddenly I found myself much less interested in what people were eating, but more on how and why. I began to shift away from focusing on individual nutrients and exploring how someone’s relationship with food can impact their overall health (which includes mental and emotional well-being).
In my practice as a dietitian, I recognize that you are the expert of your body, not me. My goal is to support my clients in rejecting diet culture, healing their relationship with food, and re-connecting with their inner wisdom. I recognize that weight stigma and discrimination have an extremely negative impact on one’s health, and I aim to promote healthful behaviors without focusing on weight through a Health at Every Size® approach. I recognize how diet culture perpetuates oppression, and I believe that each body is ENOUGH, just as it is. I believe each individual’s definition of health is different, and I also believe that health itself is not a moral obligation. I recognize and honor the efforts of activists who have fought for the fat acceptance movement. I hope to help cultivate a space in which body liberation, Body Trust®, and radical self-love can thrive for all folx.
What is Health at Every Size®?
Health at Every Size (HAES)® is a weight-inclusive approach that respects body diversity, supports health from a holistic perspective (physical, psychological, emotional, social, relational, spiritual, etc), and works to end weight stigma & discrimination. This movement recognizes that health is complex and that the pursuit of health is not a moral obligation, as well as the notion that health status should never be used to judge or oppress an individual. HAES® is rooted in a social justice framework and acknowledges the impact that shame, stigma, and oppression can have on health and well-being. The focus is shifted from weight control to supporting self-care practices that allow one to tap into their body’s inner wisdom. The HAES® principles include promoting flexible eating with respect to internal cues, and life-enhancing movement that support physical activities for all sizes, abilities, and interests.
What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive Eating started as a book by 2 dietitians, and is an approach that includes a set of principles to help folks heal from dieting. These principles include rejecting the diet mentality, making peace with food, discovering satisfaction, honoring internal hunger & fullness cues, and discovering movement that feels good in your body.
Learn more here: https://www.intuitiveeating.org/10-principles-of-intuitive-eating/
Can I practice Intuitive Eating if I’m recovering from an eating disorder and/or have a history of disordered eating?
This question often comes up with clients I work with. Here is my approach to this: We need to be mindful that when someone has engaged in disordered eating, their hunger & fullness signals are likely to be inaccurate and/or disconnected. Therefore, gentle structure may be needed to ensure someone is getting adequate and consistent nutrition to promote healing. However, there are several principles of Intuitive Eating that we can explore, such as “challenging the food police,” and “making peace with food.” I aim to support all clients in healing their relationship with food, whatever that looks like to them. This also means recognizing the impact of food insecurity, trauma, oppression and discrimination on someone’s overall health, well-being and access to certain concepts that are promoted in Intuitive Eating practices. Rather than focusing on setting Intuitive Eating as a “end goal” or something to “graduate” to, I believe that each person’s journey towards food peace is different, and I strive to take a nuanced approach by honoring their individuality with compassionate care.