Taylor Wark

Taylor Ashley, RP #11063 is a Registered Psychotherapist at MyLife Counselling in Guelph. She works with couples and individuals 11yrs and up through anxiety, depression, and relationship issues. Learn more about Taylor here.

Why do I Connect My Clients with Dieticians?

When collaborating with clients struggling with body image or eating disorders, I make sure they have a stacked health team–this includes myself, a trusted general practitioner, and a registered dietician (RD). This ensures your mental health, as well as your physical health, are monitored, and long-term healthy eating habits are developed in a sustainable way.

The title ‘dietician’ has a negative connotation, especially when it comes to helping clients with eating disorders. I initially get push-backs due to clients thinking, because of the title, that this person will be creating a diet plan. The second issue I usually encounter is from clients who are excited at the prospect of someone creating a meal and diet plan for them, even though this is what we work against. The misperceptions about the role of an eating disorder-informed dietician, or a Non-Diet Dietician, often leave a gap in the client’s healthcare circle that could be extremely beneficial for them in the long term.

So, let us explore the role and benefits of incorporating an RD into your health team!

The key role of a dietician is to counsel clients on nutrition concerns and healthy eating habits. It is important to be clear that healthy eating habits do not equate to ‘clean eating’ or implementing diets.

In the non-diet context, healthy eating instead implies balanced nutrition. The role of a dietician is to learn about your individual lifestyle, nutrition habits, current struggles, and your health goals, to guide you in developing a sustainable and healthy lifestyle. They focus on proper nutrition and preventing health conditions and diseases through education and lifestyle changes.

Notice there is no mention of dieting in a dietician’s job description. A dietician’s main goal is not to help you with the newest FAD diet or assist you with losing weight fast. Registered dietitians promote body health based on the body’s needs. This includes considering medical health issues, allergies, and your own food preferences. Dieticians often collaborate with doctors so they have access to bloodwork indicating where clients may be lacking balanced nutrition, and tailor approaches based on those needs.

I encourage dieticians for clients so that we can focus on the thoughts and feelings behind eating disorders and negative body image, and the dietician can focus on challenging food rules and properly nourishing their bodies. A properly fuelled body will make the work in therapy sessions easier. It is like trying to run a marathon without drinking water… Not happening!

The second reason people usually push back against an ED-informed Dietician, is after the first or second session, when they realize you, the client, will not be given a strict meal plan or calorie counts. This is often when clients’ express frustration or disappointment, and it is usually because they do not get another tool to utilize to control their bodies. I understand this frustration, having gone through it myself, and this is why I prepare clients beforehand.

The RD is not there to help you weaponize diet culture or to further punish yourself.

If we read back to their job description, there is no mention of cutting food groups, calorie counting, or changing your body. The RD’s goal is to promote body health and live a healthy lifestyle. There is a drastic difference between living a healthy lifestyle vs. dieting. This is why non-diet, or ED-informed, dieticians often shy away from rigid meal plans, instead focusing on balanced meals that incorporate all food groups. The best way for body satiation is including those proper nutrients.

Sessions often include brainstorming how to make current snacks and meals more balanced, planning to eat more consistently throughout your day, challenging conditioned food rules and noting when these food rules come into play, nutrition education on why the body needs ALL food groups, analyzing health benefits of a satiated body, and (if you’re lucky like I was) they help you simplify grocery shopping when clients experience anxiety and/or ADHD.

Dieticians are a great added level of emotional support mixed with scientific knowledge about nutrition benefits and how diet culture has impacted the way we view eating.

Along with this, most dieticians I have the pleasure of working with, and myself as an ED Therapist, can assist you with advocating to your doctor about your medical needs being separate from your weight or diet. Being weighed at doctors’ offices is something you coach you how to avoid. Medical advice tends towards weight, how to navigate unnecessary weight conversations with doctors, and how to help clients inform doctors of their body image or ED struggles for future medical appointments.

Eating should be CELEBRATED NOT FEARED. Humans use food to connect with one another, share their culture and traditions, experience joy and so much more. When we cut ourselves off from these very human experiences, we are cutting off a part of ourselves that experiences joy and happiness. Allowing a team to support you in taking care of yourself and developing a healthy lifestyle is the kindest thing you can do for yourself.

Recommended Dieticians and Nutritionists in Guelph and Surrounding Areas:

MyLife in-house referral
Naomi Law, RHNhttps://mylifecounselling.ca/counsellors-guelph/naomi-law
Website: https://www.naomilaw.com

Gut Instinctshttps://www.gutinstincts.ca
Michelle at Dear Dieticianhttps://deardietitian.ca/meet-michelle
Lisa Rutledgehttps://www.custom-nutrition.com
Change Creates Changehttps://changecreateschange.com
Lori Short-Zmudiohttps://www.unapologeticallymerd.com/about

Taylor Wark

Taylor Ashley, RP  #11063 is a Registered Psychotherapist at MyLife Counselling in Guelph. She works with couples and individuals 11yrs and up through anxiety, depression, and relationship issues. Learn more about Taylor here.

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