As a Registered Dietitian, I was trained very traditionally, prepared to work in a hospital, as the “expert”. In my 17 year career, I have had a lot of time to find a perspective that makes sense to me and supports clients to find their way to a way of eating/living that does not cause harm.
I work using principles of Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size from a place of non-judgment and compassion. There are no “good” foods, there are no “bad” foods. I do not even think of food as “healthy”. I believe we, human beings, are healthy. Food can lend to our health, is necessary for survival, and food contains nutrients (carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, fluid), so it is nutritious. All foods contain nutrients, so all foods are nutritious. I am not saying foods are equally nutritious (varying ratios of nutrients), but all foods provide the body with nutrients that it can use.
The first steps are in an attempt to level the playing field of food. If we think of a certain food as “bad” or “unhealthy”, and we eat it (we all know how many different directions we can take this!). Our culture sends us way too many messages regarding what we should/shouldn’t do especially when it comes to food/body). My clients have full permission to eat what they want to eat, we work for the clients to reach this place for themselves. We want our clients to have adequacy, enough food, to allow for their brains and bodies to be ready for the work they do with all of us. If the brain is not nourished, there really isn’t the capacity to work on healing when the body is attempting to survive.
From adequacy, we can see how a client’s history may interfere with a positive relationship with food/body. We create a space that will allow clients to see that food is so much more than weight gain, nutrients, gluttony, etc. We also allow our clients to discover the messaging they have been receiving and be able to continue on with the belief or discard if it no longer holds true or serves them.
My belief is that when our clients can reestablish a connection with the wisdom of the body, their relationship with food and body will be forever changed. When we can acknowledge/honor/respect the cues the body provides we are working with the body instead of against it. This is where the app Recovery Record comes in. We are working to re-establish the connection with hunger and fullness cues and the nuance of the many levels of hunger/fullness. When we can identify if we are hungry, when we are hungry, how hungry we are or are not, we can also look at how we are feeling and determine if food is really the thing we need at that certain time.
We were all born into a diet culture, we may not be aware of the messaging and the profits gained from those who create the messaging. The best way that I have heard it said is:
“We were all born into the culture without consent. I attempt to provide an alternative path for my clients. If in the end, my clients choose not to follow the path I have introduced to them, they can reenter diet culture giving consent”
The Health at Every Size component is that ALL bodies deserve respect. And that we cannot know anything about someone just by looking at them. Celebrating diversity, honoring differences, challenging assumptions (scientific and personal), valuing body knowledge and lived experiences, finding joy in movement, eating in a flexible, attuned manner valuing pleasure, and honoring internal cues.
I hope that this gives a glimpse of how I work and how it contributes to the whole of our clients.
I am happy to connect with anyone who may have questions.
Happy Holidays to Everyone!!
Aimee Hammond, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian who earned her BS in dietetics from the University of California, Davis, and her MS in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University, Denton, where she also completed her Dietetic Internship.