Have you just stumbled across the non-diet approach and wondering what this strange concept is?
If you have ever been on a diet, what you are about to read may go against everything you have ever known about weight, and health.
As a result, the non-diet approach could challenge long held, health views. Alternatively, it may bring sweet relief to your ears, to hear that there is an alternative to chronic dieting.
This post aims to shine a light on the perils of existing in a weight-focused society. In addition, this post will explore the downsides of a diet culture so perverse, that for so many, it becomes the norm. You will gain a greater understanding of the non-diet paradigm, and why I take this approach in my nutrition practice.
What is the non-diet approach?
The non-diet approach refers to a compassionate alternative to weight concern, that incorporates five key principles of accepting and embracing:
- Body cues
- All foods
- Body shape
- Non-diet nutrition
It is a group of strategies designed to delve in to what hunger and fullness feels like, in your body. The approach focuses on eating behaviours and emotions around food, including your relationship with food. It can address binge eating and associated behaviours.
Finding joyful movement is another important part of the non-diet approach.
The focus is on moving your body because you love it, not because you hate it.
Are you worried that if dieting is off the table, what is left?
Non-diet practitioners such as myself, focus on individual health outcomes, rather than weight. This means that I will not routinely weigh you, unless there is a specific purpose. Weighing can often be a trigger for people, so a blind weight can also be performed.
Weight is only one part of the equation. There are much better methods to accurately measure health.
The non-diet approach is not opposed to weight loss, it rejects the pursuit of weight loss.
This is because research shows that not only is dieting not sustainable long term, it actually often results in excess weight gain (NEDC, 2018).
Why do I use the non-diet approach?
I have chosen to focus my practice on a compassionate approach to weight concern. Top three reasons impacting my choice:
- Weight loss diets don’t work long term
- Weight loss diets cause harm, and often, rebound weight gain
- Calorie restriction actually slows down your metabolism and contributes to obsessive food thoughts
Research shows that health markers can improve with behaviour modification, even if the number on the scales does not change. As an example, increasing intake of beans, chick peas and lentils may improve fasting blood sugar levels or lower cholesterol, without a change in weight (Bacon et al, 2005).
“Dieting is the number one cause of the onset of an eating disorder (National Eating Disorders Collaboration, 2018)”.
Another very important reason that I practice the non-diet approach is that dieting is one of the most common forms of disordered eating, which is a precursor for an eating disorder. I want to improve my client’s relationship with food, not damage it.