Anti-Diet Dietitian Compared To 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 only eat foods specified on the provided list. Other foods are bad and not allowed on your plan.

No, your food list is not customized to include foods from your heritage. You must eat only the “right” foods to be healthy or lose weight because there is only one diet that everyone needs to follow.

You should follow your meal plan down to the tee for every meal and snack no matter how boring they get. You should only buy foods on the approved shopping list.

Anti-Diet Dietitian Response:

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

You will use Intuitive Eating to help you decide what to eat. You will practice awareness of your cravings and satisfy them as they arrive without hesitation or guilt (remember all foods fit!). When you grocery shop, you will walk through every aisle (not just the perimeter of the store) to see what sounds good to buy.

How much I should eat?

Traditional Dietitian Response:

You are only allowed a certain number of calories in a day based on your gender, age, height, and weight. If you need to lose weight, you need even less calories. To ensure you are eating the right portion, only eat off a salad or snack plate.

You can’t trust your body to tell you how much to eat because you will always go over your calorie limit that way. Ignore hunger signals.

If you get hungry, drink a glass of water or eat an apple. 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 who 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 us that restriction (mental and physical) leads to binge eating.

How much movement should I do?

Traditional Dietitian Response:

You must exercise a certain amount per week – mostly cardio. Yes, even if you don’t feel like it. Yes, even if you don’t like to workout.

There is no excuse to skip a workout unless maybe you are sick. You need to find your inner motivation and discipline yourself.

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.

Decide what type of movement you enjoy doing. Listen to your body for when you want to move. Similarly, listen to your body for when you need to rest. You don’t need to feel guilty for choosing not to move. Any reason is a good reason, including preserving your mental health.

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 by any means possible and at any cost.

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 because research shows that the 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 swelling in 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 meal 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 Eatfluencer, 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?

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

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