Kate Bubacz / BuzzFeed News
We typically think of dietitians as experts who help people lose weight.
But there are registered dietitians whose approach to working with clients doesn’t include dieting or weight loss at all. In fact, some of them outright reject it as a way to help their clients find satisfaction with their eating habits and their bodies. Some of these professionals call themselves weight-neutral, others anti-diet, still others practice from a Health At Every Size (HAES) or intuitive eating perspective, embracing principles of body acceptance and diversity, and pushing back against cultural norms of thinness and diet culture.
BuzzFeed Health reached out to a bunch of these dietitians and asked them about their practice — why they took this approach, how it’s worked for them, and what they’ve learned along the way.
Of course, at BuzzFeed Health we understand that everyone has different feelings about and goals for their health and bodies; your decision to lose weight or stop trying to lose weight is yours alone. We’re all making food- and body-related decisions for a zillion reasons, from health and digestion to societal cues to what we love or hate to eat, to what we have the energy to cook or the money to buy, to what our doctors might suggest to us. Bottom line: It’s your call. We’re just showing you the other side of the weight loss coin.
1. “Because if dieting doesn’t work for most people, why do we blame the individuals and not the approach?”
“My approach to working with clients is weight-neutral, meaning I’m concerned with their thoughts and behaviors, not the number on the scale. To people who are curious about my approach, I explain that weight does not dictate health, and there is no way of predicting what someone’s healthiest weight is. Even if we could, 95-97% of purposeful weight loss attempts fail. Instead, I help my clients build sustainable habits that aren’t built on restriction, and let their body settle at whatever size it’s supposed to be.
After practicing as a very traditional, weight-focused dietitian for a few years, it was clear to me that weight loss approaches just do not work. I would see clients who would make all the changes, and either lose weight and gain it back, or the scale wouldn’t budge at all. Many would struggle to make any changes at all. If an approach isn’t achievable for a large percentage of people, why do we blame them and not the approach?”
—Rachael Hartley, RD, private practice dietitian at Rachael Hartley Nutrition, works with clients online across the US
2. “Dieting is black and white, all or nothing. In that paradigm, if someone is not doing ‘all,’ then the only option they have at their disposal is ‘nothing.'”
“Dieting is a system with rules that relies upon external constructs to guide one’s eating: a meal plan, a list of foods to eat and others to avoid, a points system, etc. Similarly, dieting is black and white, all or nothing. In that …read more