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How does an Anti-Diet Dietitian Compare to a Traditional Dietitian

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Have you ever wondered what the difference is between an anti-diet dietitian and a traditional dietitian?

In this article, you will learn just how polar opposite they can be!

As someone who has been both at different times in her career, I’m sharing with you the typical advice each dietitian may provide to commonly asked nutrition questions.

What I should eat?

Traditional Dietitian Response:  

You should eat mostly healthy foods and limit foods like sugar, salt, and saturated or trans fats.

You should menu plan all your meals and snacks so that you don’t go over your calorie limit for the day.

You should only buy foods on your shopping list. Try to shop the perimeter of the store.

Anti-Diet Dietitian Response:

You can still care about nutrition. Instead of restricting or limiting foods in the name of health, work on adding foods.

This helps you create variety and therefore gives your body more nutrients.

You don’t need to classify foods as “good” or “bad”, “healthy” or “unhealthy”. All foods, yes ALL, can fit into your life.

Use Intuitive Eating to help you decide what to eat.

Eat foods you are craving or that sound good. Eat until you are satisfied, both physically and mentally.

When you grocery shop, walk through EVERY aisle to see what sounds good to buy.

How much I should eat?

Traditional Dietitian Response:

You should eat a certain number of calories per day based on a calculation that considers your gender, age, height, and weight. If you need to lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories. To ensure you are eating the right portion, only eat off a salad or snack plate.

If you are still hungry after meeting your calorie limit for the day, try distracting yourself or drinking a glass of water.

If your appetite is really out of control, take an appetite suppressant supplement or chew gum to simulate eating.

Anti-Diet Dietitian Response:

You don’t need portion control plates to tell you how much food is enough. Your body will let you know how much you need based on your level of fullness and meal satisfaction.

Practice rating your hunger and fullness levels. You CAN trust your body to tell you how much it needs because you are not a machine that needs to eat the same amount of calories every day.

Your body is very smart and knows what it needs to keep you optimally nourished. The number on the scale can’t tell you that.

What do I do if I have cravings?

Traditional Dietitian Response:

Avoid all foods you are craving. Make sure you keep all bad foods out of the house.

Buy a low-calorie or low-sugar alternative instead so that you don’t go over your calorie limit. Substitute what you are craving for a whole food option like fruit.

Distract yourself when you have strong cravings by exercising, taking a shower/bath, cleaning, or doing something with your hands (coloring, knitting, etc).

Anti-Diet Dietitian Response:

Just eat it! Yes, you have permission from this dietitian to eat whatever it is that you are craving, for whatever reason.

Create an abundance mindset – keep those foods in the house. Eat them throughout the day.

This habituates the food you are craving and pretty soon the craving will pass.

Remember, there are no “good” or “bad” foods so you don’t need to feel guilty or embarrassed for eating the foods you are craving.

Research shows that restriction (both mental and physical) leads to the restrict-binge cycle.

How much movement should I do?

Traditional Dietitian Response:

You should exercise as much as you can. If you don’t have the motivation to exercise, make a pact with a friend or find a reward for when you do work out.

There is no good excuse to skip a work out, unless maybe you are sick. You need to find your inner motivation and self-discipline.

Anti-Diet Dietitian Response:

There is no doubt that movement is good for you, however, it doesn’t have to be a chore. You can practice Intuitive Movement.

Think about the types of movement you enjoy doing!

Finally, listen to your body for when it is a rest day versus a movement day.

You don’t need to feel guilty for choosing not to move. Any reason is a good reason.

What should I weigh?

Traditional Dietitian Response:

You should closely monitor your weight and body mass index (BMI) to make sure you are not outside the “normal” range. If you are outside that range, you must attempt to lose weight in order to be healthy.

If you’re not losing weight it’s because you are not doing enough (ie. calorie restriction/exercise) and you need to push yourself harder.

Anti-Diet Dietitian Response:

You do NOT have to monitor your weight or BMI.

Research shows that BMI is a terrible measure of a person’s health. No matter your body size or weight, you can work towards making better choices that support your health.

There are very few instances where monitoring your weight is actually needed. Those instances include dosing certain medications or monitoring for edema (swelling, typically in the legs or feet) in people with kidney, liver, or heart failure.

What should I work on outside of counseling sessions?

Traditional Dietitian Response:

You should use an app or journal to record everything you eat and all exercise you complete that day. You should be making all your meals from scratch using organic ingredients and cutting out processed food.

Clean out your kitchen of all foods not on your diet/plan. Meal prep for the week so that you aren’t tempted to eat out.

Anti-Diet Dietitian Response:

Read more about Health At Every Size and Intuitive Eating. Listen to podcasts like Health Can’t Weight, Food Psych, and Maintenance Phase.

Practice Intuitive Eating. Identify and reject diet culture. Practice rating your hunger and fullness levels. Work on making peace with food by giving yourself permission to eat all foods and stop labeling foods as good/bad.

Set boundaries with people who comment on your food choices or body. Practice letting your healthy-self voice come through more often than your food police voice.

Find ways to make your meals more enjoyable and satisfying. Eat and move your body in a way that feels the best to you!

Practice talking positively about yourself and your body, just like you would to a friend.

Which would you choose?

Now that you’ve read the major differences between an anti-diet dietitian and a traditional dietitian, which would you choose?

Did you notice the “should” statements from the traditional dietitian?

Did you find yourself feeling lighter or freer reading the anti-diet dietitian’s responses?

Learn more about how Intuitive Eating can work for you by reading Before and After Intuitive Eating.

5 thoughts on “How does an Anti-Diet Dietitian Compare to a Traditional Dietitian”

  1. This is the best blog for anybody who wants to find out about this topic. You notice a lot its almost exhausting to argue with you (not that I actually would want to aHa). You undoubtedly put a new spin on a subject thats been written about for years. Nice stuff, simply great!

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