Updated: Jun 22
This post was adapted from episode 2 of the Nourished & Free podcast.
Click here to listen to the full episode.
If you are considering hiring an intuitive eating dietitian to help you in healing your relationship with food, it's important to ask them about their philosophy and make sure they are a good fit to help you reach what your goals are. I hope this can help you in making that decision if you're considering working with me!
The Philosophy Behind Yates Nutrition and My Eating Disorder Coaching
To treat and prevent eating disorders.
To heal women's broken relationships with food and their bodies through intuitive eating, compassionate care, and evidence-based methods.
Mental health and physical health
Evidence-based methods and practices
Leaving room for nuances and the gray area
Peer-to-peer growth and learning
Viewing the human body the way that God does
Engaging in the intelligent design of our bodies
Who I Help
If you are a woman who struggles with any of the following, you are in the right place!
All or nothing mentality with food
Constant thoughts/obsessions about food
Disordered eating or eating disorders
Am I a Health At Every Size®, Anti-Diet Dietitian?
Everyone is different and require an individualized approach. There is no one-size-fits-all philosophy, but there are unique perspectives and values that each practitioner embodies.
My approach is influenced by a few different viewpoints such as Health At Every Size®, weight inclusivity, non-diet and anti-diet approaches. However, I do not label myself as being a part of any of the aforementioned camps. I find to be an official "advocate" for these movements lends to just another form of black and white thinking and that advocates are easily influenced by woke culture, which is just simply not who I am.
With that being said, these viewpoints do influence my specific practice because I believe that helping women heal broken relationships with food is best done with a generally anti-diet, weight inclusive approach.
What this translates to is the following:
How I Monitor Progress
I do not monitor my clients weight, ask for measurements, or do progress photos. I do not ask them to restrict calories, count macros, or micromanage their food in any way. I help women nourish their bodies by considering what can be added to their diet, rather than what can be taken away.
While these methods of monitoring may not be harmful for some, I choose not to do this with my clients. More often than not, the women I work with need a whole new approach to wellness that is not focused on weight.
What I focus on instead is the following:
Food choices and behaviors
The WHY behind the food choices
Mindset around food and food psychology
Lab values such as cholesterol, HgA1c, etc.
To give you an idea of how I monitor progress from a data standpoint, I measure things like how clients would rate their relationship with food and their body image both on a scale from 0-10. I also ask the # of instances of binge eating or overeating beyond just a few bites per week, as well as exercise frequency. Essentially, I find quantitative ways to measure their quality of life so we know if they are making progress towards their goals.
Can You Help Me Lose Weight?
Many women come to me looking for help with weight loss. Why women want to lose weight can vary. For example, they may want to lose weight to feel better about themselves, impress others, or fit into high school jeans. For others, they may want to relieve pressure off of their joints or become more mobile. Even still, others may want to just for general "health" and because their BMI isn't normal. Regardless of why, I completely understand why it's a desire.
However, what I have found both personally and professionally is that focusing on weight loss is counterproductive for the women I work with.
For one, trying to shrink our body is often the common denominator for all of the things that women have tried in the past and that didn't work long term. These are the things likely worsened their relationship with food, created hyper-fixation on their body weight/size, and in many cases ended up in weight gain.
Second, as an intuitive eating dietitian that means my approach is obviously rooted in intuitive eating. Intuitive eating is an approach created by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, two dietitians who created 10 principles to help women heal their broken relationships with food and reconnect with their God given instincts. This process requires a lot of tuning in to what the body is requesting, and we simply can't tune in to what our bodies need if we have a motive of micromanaging food in order to lose weight.
Lastly, factors affecting our weight and health is a combination of:
Nutrition and physical activity habits
Accessibility to medical care
Notice that eating is just a small part of that list. And also notice that there is only a couple things on that list we can actually control (depending on our situation). For most people, we can control nutrition. That's a TINY piece of the pie in the grand scheme of things.
What I find most helpful for creating better health is diving into the things we can control (like our nutrition choices and behaviors) rather than trying to attack our weight when a large part of what determines our weight is out of our control (see the list above).
In other words, I look at the behaviors and want to get to the core of the issues behind our nutrition. If an individual's body fat is too high for their health as a direct result of poor lifestyle choices, then it will come down when we change the lifestyle choices themselves... but if it wasn't about the choices in the first place (it was about the genetics, or environment, medications, etc.), then the weight might not change. That's okay because we're still changing behaviors to positively influence overall health.
So why not just focus on that instead of being fixated on the weight itself, which is bound to fluctuate throughout our lifespan and is not even within our full control?
As a final note on this, dieting and attempts to lose weight can be the final push to develop an eating disorder for those who are predisposed. Just to remind you of how serious this is, eating disorders have the second highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders, surpassed only by opioid addiction. If you refer back to my vision statement above (to treat and prevent eating disorders), this reality has a big influence on how I practice.
Weight is a symptom. I treat the cause, not the symptom.
A Note on Weight Bias
Weight bias is defined by the World Health Organization as, “negative attitudes towards, and beliefs about, others because of their weight. These negative attitudes are manifested by stereotypes and/or prejudice towards people with overweight and obesity.”
In a study done by a researcher from Nottingham University, it was found that 98.6% of doctors, nurses, dietitians and nutritionists had a negative attitude about fat people. Therefore, if I may be so bold, we can almost expect our healthcare workers to be judging fat people based on size alone.
I don’t know about you, but I would not want someone in charge of my life that judges me just because of how I look.
Providers with negative views towards fat people spend less time with their patients and give them fewer treatment options with less access to treatment. They even characterize their fat patients as lazy, stupid, and worthless. This is exactly the same as purposefully putting less effort into caring for someone because of their race, gender, religion, etc.
Because of weight bias and stigmatization, we see:
· Poor body image and body dissatisfaction
· Low self-esteem and self-confidence
· Feelings of worthlessness and loneliness
· Suicidal thoughts and acts
· Depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders
· Disordered eating/eating disorders
· Avoidance of physical activity
· Stress induced increases in inflammation
· Avoidance of medical care.
Weight bias is a major problem with weight loss and diet culture that can have significant impacts on health. NONE of this is okay with me and I find it incredibly unhelpful AND harmful. I want to assure you that no matter what you look like, you will be treated as a human who has the same rights as everyone else.
But Michelle, Being Overweight Is Unhealthy
A big problem is that a lot of times we just assume that weight loss = healthier. However, we need to consider the lifestyle behaviors before we decide if we’re being ‘healthy’ or not.
Certainly, there are many reports stating that weight loss is associated with better health, but we can’t exactly tie the two together as a direct cause-and-effect. After all, is the better health because of just weight loss, or because of better nutrition and exercise habits?
We shouldn’t be asking, “why do I weigh what I weigh?”. Rather, “why do I eat how I do, choose to exercise/not exercise, have sleeping habits like I do, fail to do self-care, lack self-compassion”, etc.
We have to get to the root of how we live. Weight is merely a symptom of that.
Want to Work with Me?
If you've made it this far, I'm impressed. I hope you feel like you understand my philosophy and the nature of my practice as an intuitive eating dietitian and binge eating coach, as well as the motivation for why I do what I do in my eating disorder coaching.
If you're looking for support and I haven't scared you off yet, explore my virtual dietitian services. From an online course to group coaching and an intuitive eating podcast, this Omaha nutritionist can help you ditch the diet culture and find true food freedom!