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What is the difference between an 'anti-diet dietitian' and a regular dietitian?

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

Whether you're seeking help with a specific health goal or simply looking to improve your relationship with food, there's a dietitian out there who can help you achieve your goals.

And while traditional dietitians have been the go-to for years, a new approach to nutrition counseling has emerged in recent years. An 'anti diet dietitian' offers an approach to nutrition that prioritizes holistic health, a healthy relationship with food, self-care, and body neutrality and positivity.

In this blog post, we'll dive into the differences between the key differences between a 'regular' dietitian and an 'anti-diet dietitian' and help you decide which is right for you. Let’s get started!

What’s the main focus?

Some regular dietitians will have you believe that the secret to good health lies in counting calories, tracking what you eat and striking the perfect balance of macros. But this narrow focus on WHAT you eat ignores the bigger picture of WHY you may eat the way you do. They often don't take into account the emotional, psychological, and social aspects of eating. This approach not only overlooks the complexity of human physiology, but it can also perpetuate a cycle of disordered eating and negative body image.

Enter the ANTI-DIET dietitian, a refreshing alternative to the traditional calorie-counting and weight centric approach. We prioritize helping clients develop healthy habits and a positive relationship with food and their bodies by moving away from dieting and towards food freedom. At the core of our philosophy is the belief that food should be enjoyed and that it should bring pleasure, satisfaction, and nourishment. Not just nutrients.

Views on weight loss

Some regular dietitians or nutritionists may put the primary focus on weight loss. If their clients don't see the scale move, they're quick to have their clients adopt even more restrictive measures. They might even put the blame on their clients for not complying with their rules, when in fact their approach is to blame.

Anti-diet dietitians, on the other hand, recognize that health is unique to each individual and can present itself differently in every body. We do not make assumptions about you based on your weight and even ask you how much you weigh! (unless a client is in eating disorder recovery and weight restoration is necessary). We prioritize weight inclusivity and body respect, while rejecting the notion that only people with certain bodies (or BMIs) can achieve good health. We understand that sometimes with health behaviour changes weight may change (or it may not) but weight is never the focus of any sessions.

Don’t eat X, Y or Z

There are a number of regular dietitians that encourage restrictive diets. They may suggest low-fat, low-carb, or gluten-free diets to their clients in the name of health, while laying down strict dietary rules, like avoiding certain foods. Think of it this way: Imagine going to a party and being told that you can only eat carrots and drink water. Not only would you probably feel pretty deprived and unhappy, but you might also end up overindulging on the snacks you've been craving once the party is over.

Anti-diet dietitians believe in the power of intuitive eating. We never prescribe restrictive diets and instead encourage clients to tune into their bodies and trust their own instincts. They believe that the focus of nutrition and dietetics is in the ADDITION of foods rather than elimination, and challenge diet culture and societal beauty standards by helping clients recognize and resist external pressure to conform to certain body types or eating habits.

What counseling approach do they adopt?

With regular dietitians, some clients might be scared to tell them the truth about their eating habits in fear of being judged or “scolded”, they often weigh/measure clients which could lead to a breakdown in trust.

Anti-diet dietitians will make you feel comfortable enough to discuss all topics in mind including your dieting history, body image, fear of weight gain and desire to lose weight. We never weigh or measure you or ask you to track calories or macros. We believe in body autonomy and the freedom for you to choose what works best for your body and life rather than imposing a “right” way to do things. We help you get back to the basics of nourishing your body, and as you work on healing your relationship with food, they'll be there with you every step of the way to ensure you're eating enough, eating regularly throughout the day, and enjoying a variety of foods. It's all about finding what works best for you. YOU are the expert of YOUR body!

Working with an anti-diet dietitian may be a scary step, especially if you have a history of dieting and have worked only with traditional dietitians in the past. As an intuitive eating dietitian & nutritionist, I assure you that working with an anti-diet culture dietitian can be truly life-changing in healing your relationship with food & your body.

If you’re ready to take the next step, I’d love to help you on your journey toward body respect and acceptance. You can book an appointment to see how I can help!

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