We’re constantly bombarded with messages from the media and from even our health care professionals that health is only possible if and when weight loss occurs. It’s simply not true, there are many studies that have found that health outcomes can improve without losing a single ounce.
Research also shows that restricting food and calories to lose weight backfires. It usually results in weight gain and disordered eating. Therefore, my counseling is geared towards helping you heal your relationship with food.
We can talk grocery shopping, meal planning, and how to eat in a way that’s both nourishing and pleasurable. At the same time, my goal is to help you feel confident and radiant in your body.
A non-diet approach focuses on developing a healthy relationship with food. Instead of relying on calories, portions, and food rules to determine when and how much to eat, a non-dieter relies on internal body signals such as hunger, fullness, cravings, intolerances, digestion, and energy levels to guide eating choices. A non-diet approach is weight-inclusive, meaning individuals who follow a non-diet approach are not pursuing weight loss. Instead, non-dieters accept their genetic blue print, which largely dictates body weight and shape. Non-dieters engage in physical activity because it is pleasurable and enhances physical and mental health and well-being, and not for the sake of weight loss.
Mindful eating involves paying attention while you eat to notice the flavors, textures, and pleasure of the eating experience. Becoming a more mindful eater is part of a non-diet approach. Slowing down is one piece of being a mindful eater. Food is meant to be celebrated and cherished, not scarfed down with a gulp of guilt and shame.
Intuitive eating involves paying attention to hunger and fullness cues to guide eating timing and amounts. We were born with natural stomach cues to guide our eating decisions. We can’t always eat when we’re hungry and sometimes emotions lead us to eat when we’re not hungry. It’s normal to not be “perfect” at intuitive eating. However, a non-diet approach involves, for the most part, allowing these natural and normal cues to help us plan for eating. For example, if you are hungry every three hours or so, it’s helpful to pack meals and snacks so that you can satisfy a hunger cue in order to stay energized and well-fueled throughout the day. Overeating happens on occasion, and often results in feeling sluggish and lethargic. It can be helpful to slow down the eating process a bit so that we can find a comfortable stopping place. By leaving a meal comfortably full, instead of overly full, we’re more likely to have the energy we need for our jobs, friends, and families.
Health At Every Size® is a label often used synonymously with a non-diet, weight-inclusive approach. There are five principles, which can be read here. The focus of Health At Every Size® is ending weight stigma and ensuring that all people, regardless of weight status, are given equal access to resources and practices that support health and well-being.
Health At Every Size® and HAES are registered trademarks of the Association for Size Diversity and Health and used with permission.