When you've tried all diets and there is no where left to turn, have you considered not dieting at all? "Gentle Nutrition", "Intuitive Eating" and "Mindfull Eating" are all non-dieting approaches to promoting healthy eating habits. If done correctly, you can expect to see weight loss.
With Lockdown 2.0 truely underweigh in the UK right now, now might be the best time to do see how a non-diet approach could help you to achieve weight loss.
"Gentle Nutrition", "Intuitive Eating" and "Mindfull Eating": What is it?
It is all about promoting balance in what you choose to eat and steers away from focussing on achieving the ‘perfect diet’…because that does not exist.
The goal is to build a neutral relationship with all foods. No food group is demonised or excluded and there isn’t a single food item or food group placed on a pedestal.
It encourages people to eat foods which are not only nutritious but also appeals to their tastes and makes them feel good. It provides you with the knowledge to make informed food choices and encourages you to use the internal senses of huger and fullness to control how much and when to eat. Following this concept of eating will ultimately mean that calorie, protein, vitamin and mineral requirements are likely to be met because you will be eating a varied diet.
Is it just another fad-diet?
This is far different from fad-diets in a number of ways!!
Fad diets tend to present themselves as a ‘quick fix’ to all weight and eating problems. They oversimplify and don’t take into account the needs of the induvial or the complexities around food and weight loss.
These diets often promote unnecessary restrictions without an evidence-based reason or logic but instead might use the results of one study to justify their extreme weight loss regime. Extreme portion-control or food group exclusions can create a large calorie deficit which can also lead to mineral and vitamin deficiencies. In extreme cases this can cause muscle breakdown and can be particularly damaging for the heart.
There is often a promise of fast weight loss in a short time frame with fad diets, these tend to be unsafe and unrealistic weight loss goals. More recently, we are seeing the use of health buzz words like ‘detox’ or ‘rejuvenate’ alongside false health claims to entice people buy powders, tablets, teas or follow restrictive diets.
Other buzz words like ‘toxic’ or ‘poisonous’ are being used to demonized specific food items or groups such as white bread or dairy which only creates negative food association and does not teach about healthy nutrition.
All in all, if a diet for weight loss looks too good to be true it probably is.
Okay, so waht are the benefits to a non-diet approach?
You can expect to have a renewed and thriving relationship with food. Because the focus is around adding to your diet as opposed to taking foods away with no real substitute, people will have more opportunities to meet those calorie, protein, vitamin and mineral requirements.
People will feel empowered to make guilt free food choices because there is no pressure or expectation to eat the ‘perfect diet’ everyday!
Many people may rediscover their love for food. What was once a quite stressful experience heavily coated in feelings of self-doubt about how much, when and what to eat; people are retaught to associate food and cooking with nourishment, socialising and enjoyment.
Weight loss? Hell yeah!!
Not only can it help you to lose weight but it can ensure that the weight stays off in the long term.
Coupled with the principles of intuitive eating weight loss is possible but this is not the primary goal of gentle nutrition. Unlike other diets which look to weight loss or muscle gain as a sign of an effective healthy eating programme, the primary goal of gentle nutrition is to promote nutritional balance and to build a healthy relationship with food.
This is not a ‘quick fix’, there are no promises of extreme weight loss or the perfect body and there is no ‘one-size fits all’ diet plan to follow.
It can take several weeks of re-education to allow someone to fully grasp and follow the concepts of gentle nutrition. Before learning about gentle nutrition, the relationship with food needs to be explored so that any disordered eating habits and irrational beliefs about body image or about food is addressed.
This approach to healthy eating requires openness, acceptance and patience with yourself and this may not appeal to everyone right away.
So you want to find out more....
It is important to do the groundwork to address your relationship with food first before moving onto a non-dieting approach to eating.
I would say the best place to start would be to stop putting pressure on yourself to achieve the ‘perfect diet’. It doesn’t matter what you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner as long as most of the time you are eating a balanced, nutritious meal.
The second thing would be the think of how you can add variety into your meals. Look at what you currently eat and see if there are any areas that you might be interested and willing to try to incorporate more nutrition. This could trying a new vegetable in your bolognaise sauce, swapping white potatoes for sweet potatoes or aiming to have one meat free-dinner a week.
I would definitely advise seeing a Registered Dietitian or Registered Nutritionist with experience in delivering Intuitive Eating sessions for tailored support and advice. If their bio promises "fast weight loss", strict calorie restrcitions or follows a one-size fits all advice plan, they are not professionals following a non-diet approach to eating. Instead look for bios that mention mindfullnes, wellness and use a holistic, personalised approach to weight loss.
I would suggest reading one of the following books “Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works” by Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole, both American based Registered Dietitians who developed the concept of Intuitive Eating and Gentle Nutrition. “Just Eat It” by Laura Thomas PhD, Registered Nutritionist based in London, breaks down the concepts of Intuitive eating into smaller nuggets of information and throws in a lot of advice of how to put the principles to practice in this social media heavy world that we live in.