I’m doing my best to get to all my reader questions (you can ask me one via email or Instagram!) and today we’re tackling a big one: what is it like to work with a non-diet dietitian? Our cultural and societal view is so wrapped up in weight that it’s normal to be unsure of what, exactly, we can focus on if not weight. Similarly, it can also feel like, if we’re not recommending weight loss, there’s no point to working with a dietitian.
I’m here to share some good news: a dietitian help you improve not only your health, but your relationship with your body - without the pursuit of weight loss. Here’s four things that will happen when you work with a non-diet dietitian (RD) (the fourth one may surprise you!):
1 | Your weight won’t be blamed
A lot of clients have come to me and said things like, “I was told to lose weight to manage my (medical condition)” or “Because of my size, my doctor was surprised that my blood sugar is great.” First of all, if this resonates with you or if you’ve experienced delayed care or compromised care due to weight stigma, I am so sorry. You deserve care that is caring.
When working with a non-diet RD, weight won’t be measured as an outcome. You and your RD will set goals that are personalized to your health and life, and you’ll decide together how you’ll view progress. If you’re coming to an RD for help managing a chronic condition, like diabetes, PCOS, IBS, or others, your weight won’t be blamed for the development of that condition. All told, we know very little about how those conditions arise and we certainly don’t have evidence that they have a causal relationship with weight. Repeat after me: I did not cause my condition.
Note: there is a time and place for the monitoring of weight, primarily in early eating disorder treatment and conditions that may cause unintentional weight loss, like receiving treatment for cancer. Should those circumstances arise, you and your non-diet RD can create a plan together for how to approach the situation in the least triggering way and you will receive support throughout.
2 | Your knowledge of your body will guide sessions
Your preferences, your preferred rhythms in life, your history - all of these things become the foundation for our work together. If we discuss some strategies you’re not into, or try and don’t like, we will find other things.
Additionally, if you’re finding it difficult to tap into your body knowledge (maybe you don’t feel hunger and fullness very loudly or you’re not sure what you like) we can work on that, too.
3 | You’ll learn skills to help you regain confidence in your eating
A hallmark of diets is stealing your confidence while promising better self-confidence - wearing you down and telling you you’re less-than until you pursue a smaller size, more muscle, or a specific set of eating rules. The secret that diets won’t share is that they all eventually fail, and come with a slew of side effects like slowed metabolism and preoccupation with food.
As we begin to heal your relationship with food and your body, we’ll work on skills to help you make decisions around food, improve your body image (including helping you define what body image means to you), and build your confidence in our work together - so you’ll feel sure of yourself when you say “no” to any future diets that may cross your path.
4 | You can still ask questions about your weight
Because of our culture’s values of weight and a specific appearance, a desire to lose weight is normal in our culture. But normalized desires and healthy, productive desires are not the same thing, and intentional pursuit of weight loss is overall ineffective, unnecessary for improved health, and damaging physically and psychologically.
We can absolutely still hold space for your desires regarding your weight - but we’ll also talk about where those desires stem from and whether they’re productive and helping you to actually live a healthier life. When moving away from diets (and throughout life), it’s normal for weight to change and move up or down - or not change at all, and attaching value to weight change can feel unstable and emotionally distressing. So what we work on includes separating self-value from your weight, and focusing on behaviors because weight is not a behavior - it’s an outcome.
What questions do you have about working with a non-diet RD? What do you hope would happen during your work?
Ready to move away from diets?
Let’s work together!
Now accepting a limited number of virtual nutrition clients for January 2019! Click the button below for pricing information and frequently asked questions, or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information!