I am a dietitian.
There are so many layers and nuances to the word “dietitian”, which I didn’t realize until I officially became registered. And now, I’m working to break that word down.
When you think of a dietitian, what comes to mind?
A simple Google image search results in photos of only women pictured with white lab coats, fruits and vegetables, measuring tapes, and scales. Based on these images, someone would be right to assume that dietitians only tell you to eat fruits and vegetables and are heavily concerned about your weight and size. Many also think of dietitians as the food police, governing what you can and cannot eat, and think that we judge every aspect of your meal. No wonder dietitians don’t always get a good reputation – who would want to subject themselves to that?
Our societal view of dietitians is sorely mistaken and that needs to change.
I associate with a category of dietitians that describe themselves as “non-diet” dietitians. Everyday these brave individuals are working to break the norm and stigma associated with our title. I 100% identify with this group and I strive to ensure that that is evident in my everyday work and my approach with clients.
What exactly is a non-diet dietitian? Afterall, the word “diet” is in dietitian, isn't it?
A non-diet dietitian doesn’t prescribe diets.
A non-diet dietitian approaches health holistically meaning we take into account your whole being – your physical, mental, and emotional health. Rather than encouraging you to engage in diets, which are often accompanied with strict rules, restrictive eating, food group elimination, and limiting and counting calories, we focus on your relationship with and behaviors around food. We work with you to better this relationship and help you reach your individual non-weight related health goals.
A non-diet dietitian makes all foods fit.
No food police here. There are no good and bad foods and we strive to remove this labeling from food. All food is capable of nourishment, providing energy, and pleasure. We work with you to provide permission to eat all foods freely without rules or restrictions and bring the joy back to eating.
A non-diet dietitian smashes the scale.
We separate weight and health and the idea that these two are significantly correlated. Weight tells us virtually nothing about your individual health, habits, or your worth. Besides, weight is merely a number, not a behavior that can be controlled. This seems a bit radical, huh? Well research has shown over and over again that 95-97% of weight loss attempts fail and inevitably rebound with further weight gain. This weight cycling can begin to damage your body’s natural workings, messengers, and metabolism which only separates you further from health. Every body and size is capable of health, regardless of weight. So instead, we help you attain health outcomes and behavior changes without weight manipulation.
A non-diet dietitian is inclusive to all bodies.
We are not exclusive and welcome all bodies and sizes, no matter what. We work to remove weight stigma – the negativity towards people in larger bodies – from health care and create a safe space for everyone in our practice. Because every body is deserving of excellent and inclusive care.
A non-diet dietitian embraces the journey with you.
Non-diet dietitians typically have more training in counseling, behavioral therapies, and motivational interviewing. We listen A LOT and give you the space to share whatever you need so that we can aim to understand the entire picture. We strive to be a strong support and cheerleader for you. We will never judge or be mad for a mistake you’ve made in the process. That’s part of the process! We celebrate the journey with you and we work to help you overcome the hurdles and find joy in the process.
A non-diet dietitian still focuses on nutrition.
We are still dietitians and nutrition is our language! We want you to feel nourished and it’s our job to make sure you are getting what you need. We encourage variety and satisfaction – after all that’s what our bodies love and thrive from. We explore with you what foods you like and make sure you’re eating foods you enjoy.
One last takeaway: food and nutrition is important, but it’s only a small blip on the radar of life. If you feel that it is consuming your life, consider working with a non-diet dietitian to help you reclaim your life and health.
Our goal at The Joyful Life is to address your individual needs and support you to bring joy and freedom back to food and health. Check out our philosophy and contact us to start your journey to a joyful life.