How Dietitians are Putting Intuitive Eating to Practice
Intuitive eating promotes finding attunement with our bodies’ internal physical cues, like hunger and satiety, rather than feeding based on external factors, like daily calorie intake calculated by an app, or “food rules” we’ve created around foods we fear to be unhealthy. Eating and exercising to achieve weight loss/gain hinders our intuition and decision-making abilities surrounding an essential human experience.
I recently spoke with Magan Cortez, MS, RD, who is a dietitian with Nutrition in Motion based in Oklahoma, about her experience with Intuitive Eating and nutrition counseling. If the conversation of weight loss comes up in her sessions, Magan will have her clients reflect on their thoughts and emotions they felt while this occurred. She said,
“I will ask my clients to tell me about the last experience they had with weight loss. ‘Did you feel anxious about going out to eat with friends?’ ‘Did you skip meals or restrict certain food groups with the goal to lose weight?’ If we find that the behaviors were restrictive and created negative feelings around food, then I know we need to address that first.”
Through the Intuitive Eating lens, weight change is a side effect of our day-to-day lifestyles and activities. If weight loss is the desired outcome in certain cases, healthy and sustainable behaviors are necessary. When Magan and I spoke about some of the harder conversations with clients about relearning how to eat without focusing on weight and body image, Magan shared,
“When I’m counseling, that topic does come up and I address that even as a dietitian, I’ve been through it and had to relearn things myself. We were taught ‘weight loss’ in school and we need to address those thoughts first. Weight loss in itself is not a bad thing, but putting our focus on behavior changes instead will result in long-term overall health.”
Like Magan noted, to relearn nutrition counseling through the Intuitive Eating lens means we first have to unlearn the weight-centric paradigm that exists in both the dietetics curriculum and American culture. There have been times when I’ve posted or misspoken when it comes to using the correct language about Intuitive Eating on social media. Magan shared a few similar stories with me and stated that she’s recently felt more comfortable owning up to her mistakes and fixing them publicly.
“I know that I may say some things wrong, but I know it’s okay to recognize that and address it to rework those thoughts. Because we were not taught Intuitive Eating in school, I think it’s okay to still be learning and growing as dietitians in that field.”
Have you ever noticed how babies are able to acknowledge when they’re hungry, and when they’re full? Hunger may be expressed by crying, while the latter is often communicated by pushing away the spoon. This is an example of Intuitive Eating–something we are all born with. Diet culture contributes to the desensitization of our internal hunger and satiety cues. The practice of relearning how to eat intuitively removes obstacles to nourishing our bodies based on our biological and psychological needs.
If you’d like to incorporate Intuitive Eating into your life or would like to learn more about how I can help you let go of food rules and enjoy the foods you love, please reach out! You can email me at [email protected]. Also, check out some of my favorite recipes and other food for thought on my website www.rachelartus.com.
SCHEDULE SOME TIME WITH YOUR LOCAL NIM TEAM MEMBER TO TALK ABOUT REACHING YOUR WELLNESS GOALS! REMEMBER, VISITS WITH A REGISTERED DIETITIAN ARE COVERED BY MOST INSURANCE CARRIERS FOR IN-PERSON AND TELE-HEALTH VISITS. ASK US A QUESTION OR REQUEST AN APPOINTMENT TO LEARN MORE!