Health Promotion versus Weight Loss

Many people associate dietitians with weight loss. Whereas I would argue we promote health. Take the focus off of weight and you will see that it is our behaviors that determine if we are healthy or not. When it comes to promoting health, it’s important to have a toolbox with many different strategies and “tools”. No two people are alike and, therefore, different strategies work for different people. Customer service is also an important component of a dietitian’s job and so we must meet our clients where they are and provide strategies that work for them.

So what are some of the tools we use for promoting health?

• Intuitive/Mindful eating

• The plate method

• MyPlate

• Adding nutritious foods

• Identifying one area to change in your diet

• Hunger awareness and cues

• The Rules of 3 (three meals and three snacks each day without going more than three hours without eating)

Not only should a dietitian focus on what works for someone’s personality but also their situation. For example, someone may have had the best results counting calories but this may not be appropriate if they’re coming from a state of disordered eating. Maybe focusing on the plate method or the rules of 3 is more appropriate in that situation.

For me, I felt like as a dietitian I should be competent at and comfortable with intuitive eating. I should be the prime example of eating only when I’m hungry and stopping when I’m full. But I’m simply not. I’m not at ease with counting calories or listening to my hunger. I’ve tried both and it just doesn’t work for me. I’m least anxious and feel my healthiest when following the plate method or MyPlate. And what does that look like you might ask?

Building my plate:

• Entree: usually the protein portion (lean meat or vegetable protein usually).

• Mostly fruit and vegetables as a side (I try to fill at least half my plate and always include a fruit or vegetable at every meal).

• A whole grain as another side.

• Add a little bit of fat for flavor.

I don’t count my calories, but I usually have three meals and one afternoon snack per day (usually almonds). Lately I’ve been having a piece of fruit as a morning snack too. Occasionally I’ll have something sweet for an evening snack as well (chocolate or ice cream or fruit...usually chocolate).

I used to count my calories and that actually led to me eating more processed foods because it was easier to track. I also became more stressed and anxious because I often failed to meet my goal. And honestly I’d rather live my life less stressed than more stressed. Furthermore I found myself eating more. If I had “extra” calories left I would eat more even if I wasn’t hungry. I do why works for me.

Talk to a dietitian if you’re struggling to find what works for you!