This article was originally published in The Healthy Body Company - re-published with permission http://www.thehealthybodycompany.com.au/2015/06/24/the-non-diet-diet/
Dieting is the answer if we regard weight as the problem. At this point in time weight has become synonymous with health. Many complex and multifactorial health problems are met with the recommendation “lose some weight”. It is as though we have lost sight of the fact that there is a diverse range of healthy shapes, weights and sizes.
Yes, sure, some children will eat lollies until they come out of their nose! However these children have learned somewhere along the line that these foods are wrong and are limited in availability and are making sure to get enough while they can. The opposite of intuitive eating and a great example of what happens after a diet ends.
Non-dieting avoids dieting behaviours of weighing and measuring your food and your body. Other behaviours like recording detailed food diaries, intricate planning of and rigid timing of meals, fixed calorie intake, specific weight loss goals and the use of ‘diet’ foods serve to further separate you from your internal drivers to eat and are not part of the approach. Good and bad foods do not exist in non-dieting.
The big fear is that without the rules and restrictions of a diet you’ll blow out and eat ALL the banned foods. It’s as if the only two options are dieting or bingeing. This is not what is reported in research into the non-diet approach and certainly not what I have seen in practice.
Most non-diet approach interventions have shown positive outcomes in physiological and psychological outcomes and BMI tends to remain relatively stable or decreases during and after treatment.
The Non Diet Approach in a nutshell
Diet Inflexible, quantitative, prescriptive, rigid, perfection-seeking, good or bad foods, rules, deprivation, time-based, fear-driven, guilt-inducing, shaming, body hatred, hunger, struggle, rationalising, temptation, thought-consuming, punishing.
Flexible, accepting, welcomes all foods, intuitive, qualitative, supporting, enjoyable, life balance, appreciating, comfort, confidence, variety, freedom, natural, calm, pleasurable, kindness, nurturing, grateful, nourishing, forgiving, satisfaction, trust-building.
Susan Williams is a compassionate dietitian who specialises in helping people change their eating behaviour. She started her private practice Zest Nutrition Consulting in Western Sydney in 2007. Susan consults to psychiatric hospitals and childcare and recently joined The Healthy Body Company as their dietitian.