I have a client who referred his co-worker to see me for weight loss. The co-worker told my client that she had an appointment with me the following week, and commented that she should eat all her favorite foods now because I would likely tell her she couldn’t eat them anymore. My client’s response was priceless, “Oh no, she is not that kind of dietitian!”When I meet someone in a social setting for the first time and they ask what I do for a living, I’m sometimes reluctant to say “I’m a Registered Dietitian.” Why? Because typically the first thing many people say is “Oh! Can you put me on a diet” or “What do you think about (insert fad diet of the month).” Putting people on diets or providing them with a rigid meal plan and a list of foods they should never touch again? Many people believe that is what dietitians do, right? Not this dietitian!
Lets take a step back for a sec. The definition of a diet is simply the sum of food consumed by a person or other organism. People follow certain diets for a variety of reasons based on religion, culture, ethical reasons, food tolerances or preferences. Somehow the term ‘diet’ has evolved into a word implying restriction and/or weight loss and these, my friends, are actually fad diets. There are an endless amount of fad diets on the market, that I’m sure most of you are aware of, so I won’t bore you with a long list.
Fad diets do not work people…plain and simple. Not only do they not work, but can also be at the root of many problems. Lets look at the statistics shall we? Obesity is higher than ever in adults and children and eating disorders are on the rise. There are also more diet products than ever on the market. Coincidence? I think not! Diets have caused so much confusion and disordered eating in our society that I have to set the record straight.
Have you ever tried a fad diet before? In the beginning you’re feeling “good” and “accomplished” because you’re able to follow the strict regimen. This form of short-term starvation may work in achieving weight loss, but eventually the diet will end and what have you learned? You return to old behaviors, and the weight usually comes back – plus some! Eating after you’ve “finished” your diet may feel intense or out of control. This is a normal response to starving your body, which we also know as dieting. This leaves you feeling powerless and reinforces the idea that you need to be on a diet to manage your weight, perpetuating the dieting cycle. Dieting slowly erodes your trust in yourself with food. Many clients come to me after being on numerous diets and talk about being a “failure,” but the truth is the diet has failed them!
There is no need for an external source to guide your eating. We all have the innate ability to eat intuitively; however, that ability has likely been buried over the years. Chronic dieting has likely left you with a decreased metabolism, increased preoccupation with food, feeling deprived, confused and hopeless.
In the beginning, my clients seeking weight loss have a difficult time accepting the fact that I am NOT going to provide them with a new “diet plan” to follow. I explain that the focus of weight loss must be put on the back burner while their relationship with food and their body is repaired. Getting my clients to not view food as the enemy, but rather a fascinating tool when used properly (which is what our sessions will focus on!) can be challenging and frustrating at times. For the clients that stick with me on this journey there tends to be a magical moment when things click. There is a shift and clients notice that they have more energy, improved cognition and mood, better sleep, clearer skin, and heck maybe even some weight loss in the process…