Most dietitians have heard about the non-diet approach, mindful/intuitive eating and Health at Every Size ® but many express concerns about the specifics of how to actually use this approach with their clients.  Until now there has not been a practical guide for dietitians which brings together and clarifies the core principles of this new perspective and contextualises it for dietetic practice, including its place in the Nutrition Care Process.   The Non-Diet Approach Guidebook for Dietitians takes the converging themes from research, non-diet approach publications and current practice and looks at them through a dietetic lens.  This method is showing promising clinical and psychological results as one of the most helpful, least harmful ways to assist those with weight concern.  We dietitians are well-placed to counsel within this paradigm.  After all, our professional reason for being is to assist individuals to make helpful food and eating choices which allow them to live as full and healthy a life as possible.  

The non-diet approach turns traditional dietary prescription on its head by shunning external eating drivers and health-risk-driven behaviours, and turning the focus inwards, towards internal body cues, self-acceptance and more multidimensional concepts of self-care.  Typical dieting behaviours of weighing and measuring food and body, recording detailed food diaries, extensive forward planning and timing of meals, concrete energy intake, specific weight loss goals and the use of ‘diet’ foods are firmly discouraged.  It is instead a much more gentle approach, allowing the client to build skills and confidence in their own innate ability to select appropriate foods for their body in appropriate amounts.  Clients make healthful choices not because they feel they should, or because they’ve been told to, but because they genuinely want to.

There is a common belief among both health professionals and the general public that abandoning food and eating restrictions will result in food choices of poor nutritional quality, excessive energy intake and commensurate weight gain, and then assumed increased risk of chronic conditions which will further burden the health care system.  This is the main criticism of the non-diet approach despite the widely researched and consistently poor long-term success of traditional weight loss interventions.  Most non-diet approach interventions have shown positive outcomes in physiological, psychological and dietary outcomes.  Weight tends to remain relatively stable or decrease during treatment, compared with the almost certain weight regain as a result of continued weight loss dieting.

The Non-Diet Approach Guidebook for Dietitians is intended to be used as a text and a workbook for dietitians working in private practice and outpatient settings.  It has the following features: 

•A clear explanation of the non-diet paradigm with supporting evidence

•A framework for dietetic practice using the non-diet approach

•Each section for the five core components of the non-diet approach includes a description of the core component, discussion points to inform your counselling, and worksheets which can be used in sessions to support client education or given as ‘homework’

•How to integrate the non-diet approach into the Nutrition Care Process

•Assessment tools

•Forms to use for the client record

•Recommendations for further reading and an extensive reference list

Fiona Willer has also set up a website (www.healthnotdiets.com) and Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/HealthNotDiets) to support dietitians and the non-diet approach.  If you use the non-diet approach in your practice and would like to be listed on the website practitioner page, please email Fiona with your details.

As a special deal for Dietitian Connection members, Fiona is offering her book for a reduced price of $35 (plus $4 postage within Australia).  Just email Fiona to express your interest: [email protected]