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Are you done with dieting?

By Leanne Cooper
from Well College Global

Something we’re passionate about here at Well College Global is making nutrition joyful. We also love facts about eating, and dispelling fallacy. One of our philosophies we adhere to is the non-diet approach (NDA) in our teachings and it’s a technique I often lecture on as a nutritionist.

Surely, after half a century of failed dieting fads we must know it just doesn’t work, and more than that dieting has failed us, not the other way around? Dieting has made us insanely unhappy about our bodies and about ourselves. Studies show that after five years of any diet (that includes medically prescribed ones) 95% of us end up back at our starting weight, though heavier with the burden of failure. So, here’s a few facts for you to digest… (excuse the pun). Even our scientific body here in Australia, the NHMRC (2013), state that studies show disordered eating patterns, body dissatisfaction, rigid eating focus, and emotional eating tend to come as a package with the regained weight for dieters.

Consider, Flegal et al. (2013) in their meta-analysis of 97 studies (2.88 million individuals and more than 270,000 deaths, not something to be sniffed at) of all-cause mortality amongst overweight and obese individuals, based on BMI, found, wait for it…That while grades 2 and 3 obesity (relative to normal weight individuals) did have a significantly higher all–cause mortality rate, grade 1 (BMI of 30 to less than 35) and ‘overweight’ individuals had a lower all–cause mortality rate. Hello… what? Controversial to say the least. The study raised questions about our carte blanche use of BMI. In fact, the authors suggest that the lowest mortality risk is in overweight individuals, who had a lower risk than even normal weight individuals.

There are other studies supporting this proposition, enter the ‘obesity paradox’ something that is of much interest in health science given such studies outcomes fly in the face of our current beliefs around body weight and health outcomes. Check it out on Medline or Google Scholar, it’s all there!

What is the ideal body weight I hear you ask as you are shaking your head? We don’t really know, but one thing we are edging towards is a more holistic approach to health markers, that the simple ‘big is bad’ equation just doesn’t help anyone anymore and perhaps we have inadvertently shifted perceptions of body into a dysfunctional clinical view.

One thing we know for sure is that a common distortion of perception around what in fact constitutes a ‘weight problem’ in many societies has been ‘weight bias’ issues. The Food & Drug Agency (FDA) in the United States defines weight bias as:

the inclination to form unreasonable judgments based on a person’s weight… is caused by a general belief that stigma [the social signs of weight bias] and shame will motivate people to lose weight or the belief that people fail to lose weight as a result of inadequate self-discipline or insufficient willpower. Our culture may not punish people who practice weight bias because our culture values thinness. Society frequently blames the victim rather than addressing environmental conditions that contribute to obesity.” (CDC, 2016)

Essentially weight bias is the negative attitudes, values and beliefs that we can assign to a person based on their weight or body size, which in turn may lead to discrimination and potentially to harm. Weight bias is a weight perception problem.

So, our message, consider if you have a desire to leave behind chronic dieting habits, keen to let go of restriction and restraint, and of living by numbers, deprivation, fear, guilt, hunger, body shame, punishment, mindless eating, eating on schedule, and shaming; these are all part of a dieting paradigm that fails us and in many cases leaves us with scars and wounds that may last years or never fully heal.

Instead try:

  • Taking a flexible approach, free of measures, weighing, and counting
  • A judgement-free journey to nourishment, one that is also free from blame and guilt
  • Embracing food and eating as being about health and enjoyment rather than being body image focused
  • To be accepting, mindful, calm, light and nourishing
  • Self-compassion, and a deeper sense of bodily trust, intuition, nurturing and balance

A non-diet approach supports you in learning to ‘hear’ your body cues when you are hungry, and when you are in fact full. You are empowered to accept and embrace foods and enjoy them for social and nourishment reasons, not for body shape. You can love the unique body you live in, discover joyful movement, enjoy eating socially with people you love, and practice self-kindness.

Studies are showing a common theme of reduced mortality risk being connected to just a handful of major factors including dietary diversity, fruit and vegetable consumption, movement, eating socially, not smoking, and limiting alcohol, rather than the risk being about body size. One study found that undertaking just one of these healthful habits reduced mortality rate significantly.

Food is more than a tool to create or alter our bodies, it has an intelligent design that is intimately connected to the intelligent design of the human body, food is nourishment for the body, mind and spirit.

More about the author

Leanne Well College
Leanne Cooper
– Well College Global

Leanne begun the business in 1998 from just one healthy eating course she taught at nights for six weeks, four terms a year. Since then we've grown into one of the largest, and most trusted providers of industry approved courses.  If you watch providers long enough it's clear that some simply emulate others; Well College Global has always lead the way with new learning strategies, novel course options and quality of service. We pride ourselves on differentiation and on continuous improvement; we believe this will ensure our student's learning experience will be the best it can be.

PGCert HumNutr; BA (Pysch/Ed); Dip Nutr; PG Cert Higher Ed; TAE; CertifiedCP
Nutrition Society of Australia Member (1831);
Member Nutrition Australia; Member ICF;
​Member Australian Psychological Society (171798);
ATMS Member (6693)