What Kind of Dietitian Doesn’t Weigh You?
November 9th, 2017 by Sara Upson
When you think about going to see a dietitian or nutritionist, what comes to mind? Most people think of scales and weighing, diets, diet food, meal plans, measuring, a focus on weight, and a gamut of emotions- excitement, hope, failure, disappointment, frustration, shame…
That isn’t what I do.* As a result, sometimes when people come to my office they’re surprised. Loved ones- family, friends, coworkers, even other supporters- doctors and therapists are even more surprised to find out that I don’t usually weigh my clients. I don’t write or recommend diets and I don’t focus on weight. That’s why one of my client’s was recently asked by a support person- “What kind of dietitian doesn’t weigh you?!?!?”
So, here’s the kind of dietitian that doesn’t weigh you…A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist that/who:
- Focuses on behaviors- what you did, what you ate, what you’re thoughts are like, your associations with food, how you’re feeling, and how you’re taking care of yourself instead of a single number on the scale that literally only tells us the gravitational pull of your body on earth.
- Focuses on eating disorder recovery and understands that focusing on weight directly interferes with recovery. That understands that eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, EDNOS and disordered eating) are made worse with weight focus and focus on dieting and restriction.
- Values a person for who they are- whatever that means to them- not what they look like or a number on the scale.
- Understands that hating yourself and shame never results in feeling better or behavior change. Let’s face it- you can’t hate yourself happy.
- Knows that body image doesn’t improve with weight loss and that focusing on weight can make body image worse.
- Believes that weight does not indicate health.
- Believes that weight doesn’t indicate happiness or quality of life.
- Believes that honoring your body is more important than honoring a number on the scale or a clothing size.
- Understands that chasing a number on the scale DECREASES health and wellbeing (research indicates that weight focus and dieting increases inflammatory markers).
- Has seen first hand (personally and through working with clients) that chasing a number on the scale interferes with your ability to honor and respect your body.
- Understands that using an external guide (aka the scale, your clothes, comparisons to other people) as your source for worth never helps you feel worthy.
- Teaches internal connection and mindfulness over externally driven sources (weighing and diet plans).
- Works to deemphasize the focus on weight so that you can learn how to take better care of yourself- not a number on the scale.
- Understands that your worth as a human being doesn’t come from your body or what you look like.
- Knows that focusing on weight can lead to very unhealthy behaviors that impact quality of life, reduce health, and can lead to disordered eating or a full blown eating disorder.
- Hates diet culture and wants people to know that there’s another option to living in misery where the scale and what you eat dictates the kind of day that you have.
*To be fair, I do have clients that I weigh. Usually these are client’s struggling with restrictive eating disorders and have difficulty maintaining their weight. These weights are done blind and the emphasis is on how they feel and how things are going. The number on the scale is only one part of the equation. And trust me, if there was a validated way to move away from this measurement (weighing) I would. I also will sometimes weigh clients blind who are extremely weight focused with a compromise that I will keep track of their weight so that they no longer feel like they need to. This is done as a step to build body trust, however my goal isn’t their weight- it’s normalizing their eating and helping them learn how to take good care of themselves- whatever that means for them. If someone comes in wanting to be weighed I usually will, however we will also explore why this is important to them and then focus on the goal of deemphasizing weight and moving towards focusing on behaviors and well-being over weight.
P.S. I love it when client’s totally ditch the scale and get rid of it. Run it over with your car, smash it (use safety protection- goggles, etc), or bring it to my office. I have a scale collection that will one day be used in a giant scale smash and donations are always welcome.