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Eating for well-being: the non-diet approach

The non-diet approach (NDA) is the practical application of the Health At Every Size values and involves shifting our focus from weight to health.

In essence, the NDA moves away from dieting behaviours such as calorie counting, weighing food, detailed meal plans, food diaries, weighing your body and weight loss goals. Instead, the NDA focuses on responding to internal eating cues, often referred to as “intuitive eating”, “mindful eating”, or “eating competence”. It promotes eating in a flexible manner in which we respond to individual hunger and fullness levels and nutritional needs, take pleasure in the experience of eating, and have a non-judgemental and curious attitude towards body and food. Eating for well-being with the NDA can help you to decrease body dissatisfaction, disordered eating and depression.

A lot of us don’t know what hunger feels like anymore because we have stopped paying attention to our internal cues and eat according to external (environmental) cues (a trait of many dieters). And if we do know the feeling of hunger, it is generally from a dieting perspective—in which case, alongside hunger is suffering, guilt and shame. So the first step is to start eating when you are hungry. Keeping a diary or journal rating your hunger and fullness levels can help get you in tune with your internal cues. Trust yourself—you are capable of making the right food choices for your body. You don’t need someone else to tell you what they think you need!

Intuitive eating is for people who are tired of being on the dieting roller-coaster and want to improve their relationship with food. Intuitive eating is NOT a diet; therefore, there is no such thing as failure! It is possible to acknowledge your internal hunger signals and still make the conscious decision to overeat; for example, we may do this when food tastes really good or in social situations. Intuitive eating is about giving yourself unconditional permission, both physical and emotional, to eat what you want, paying attention and taking pleasure in that experience. Just as importantly, enjoy the company of those around you!

Written by Daniel Lewin, Accredited Practising Dietitian/Nutritionist (BNutDiet, Honours) on behalf of Pure Water Systems –  2 0 1 7



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