Non-diet is a no(n)-brainer for this student dietitian
By Kirsten Maier, Student Dietitian
I’ll let you in on a little secret. This is my third stint at university.
The first time, I was a fresh faced 18-year-old sitting in the front of the lecture theatre questioning if nursing was the right career for me. It wasn’t.
The second time, I juggled part time study with full time work, thinking it would lead to a business degree. It didn’t.
Fast forward to now and I’m pleased to say that third time’s a charm. I’m now halfway through a Nutrition and Dietetics degree and I finally feel at home.
While I’ve been finishing the important foundation subjects of science and nutrition, I’ve also been watching and observing the work of the fierce health practitioners in the HAES and non-diet sphere.
And I’ve been blown away.
Their tireless work helping people to escape chronic dieting and find peace with themselves and food is inspiring.
And even though I’m still watching from the sidelines as student, I’ve started to realise that I can actually start to channel their philosophies as I sit in lectures and labs.
When we learn about society’s unhealthy obsession with being a certain shape and size, I can point to the research that shows how this has led to an insidious diet culture and resulted in disordered eating, depression and weight gain.
When we learn about treating patients with weight concerns, I can take into consideration the non-diet approach where all patients are treated the same, regardless of their size, without judgement or bias.
When we learn about BMI, I can think about Poodle Science and how using a person’s weight to determine their health can be unhelpful. I can also think more deeply about how we can help others to love their bodies and regain their confidence to normalise eating patterns … without counting numbers.
When we learn more about nutrition assessment, I can question if ranking food and putting it into categories of good and bad really will lead to positive dietary outcomes. Instead, I will ask to learn about intuitive eating because I have seen that the non-diet approach of making food choices that honour our physical and emotional needs is leading to positive dietary outcomes.
When we participate in mock clinical consultations, I can question whether placing people with weight concerns on a restrictive diet is truly better than teaching and empowering them to make positive dietary choices. Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to putting my theoretical knowledge into practice to develop a meal plan that meets a person’s nutritional needs, however I will delve further and question if it really is the best way help a person lose weight (if that’s their concern).
I am truly thankful for the opportunity to be back uni and will definitely be soaking up this glorious opportunity to learn all that I can … even if I am a little less fresh faced and a tad more head strong this time around.
Kirsten is a 30-something student dietitian and food peace warrior. Thanks to the wisdom of her mother, she is also a firm believer that moderation (in everything) and being kind to yourself, is the key to living happily ever after. When she’s not at uni or work, she can be found in the kitchen or at the beach.
Griffith University, Gold Coast