By Jane O’Shea
Do you remember learning about the importance of reflecting on your performance and questioning what you are doing and how you are doing it? I admit that it took about twelve months in private practice before I could really stop and ask myself if the work I was doing with a client was helpful and effective.
As a dietitian, many people come to see me for weight management advice. I noticed that there was a certain group of people that I just didn’t seem to help. In fact, I even wondered if I was somehow contributing to their issues around food. These were typically women around 40 years of age, often in caregiving roles, who had struggled with weight issues for many years, and had been intermittently successful at weight loss in the past. They would say things like, “I know what I should be doing, but I just can’t seem to get it together these days.” They seemed truly motivated to manage their health through diet and exercise, but life just seemed to always get in the way of them achieving their goals.
Sure, I was able to estimate energy requirements, offer healthy diet plans, and had heaps of resources on hand to give them—just like any good dietitian! But in the words of W.L. Bateman, “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got.” I knew I had to find a different way to help these people.
After a few months of contemplation and investigation, I started reading articles and books about the Health at Every Size® movement. I took note of the positive feedback from so many people who had started using the non-diet approach in their own lives and practice. I was hooked and wanted to learn more. Then I came across Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. I was especially attracted to the practical structure of the program based on Dr. Michelle May’s Mindful Eating Cycle. I couldn’t wait to start!
In April 2014, I signed up to participate in the online training to become an Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Program Facilitator. In August, I held two 8-week workshops. Eight women signed up and all of them completed the course. The feedback comments included:
•The most worthwhile course I’ve ever done.
•I learnt to recognise signals of levels of fullness I wasn’t aware of.
•Informative, thought provoking, empowering – a refreshing approach.
•This has been life changing for me. This course has given me the tools to change my relationship with food and self care, thank you.
•I feel completely different about food now. I can nourish my body with what I need and what I want. Thank you for allowing me to be the me I am meant to be.
The non-diet approach to health management is not about losing weight. It is about helping our clients rethink their relationship with food. On this foundation of mindful decision making, my clients are empowered to make choices that are flexible enough to maintain for life. As Dr. May says, “It’s not about being good. It is about feeling good.”
Following the HAES® movement and becoming an Am I Hungry? Facilitator has been an amazing experience for me. I am currently participating in the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Diabetes training too. I have learned so much about myself as well as my clients. I love delivering each of the workshops because they have such a positive message. You and your clients can’t help but feel fantastic afterwards!
As you reflect on your own practice and realize that you and your clients are frustrated from trying every diet under the sun, then perhaps a fresh approach is needed. Learning about the tenets of a non-diet approach may just change your own life too!
Jane O’Shea is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and licensed facilitator for the “Am I Hungry?”® Mindful Eating Programs. She has gained significant experience as a research dietitian through her work at University of Wollongong and she also runs a successful private practice in Warrawong, New South Wales. She is an advocate of the Health At Any Size movement, encourages self care, and believes that everyone can achieve optimal wellness and wellbeing through balance, variety and moderation in all things.
Editor’s Note: If you are interested in learning more, please join us for our webinar as Dr. Michelle May shares the Mindful Eating Cycle structure with us!
Webinar: The Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Cycle: How to Break the Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle
Speaker: Dr. Michelle May, founder of Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training and author of the Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat book series for yo-yo dieting, diabetes, bariatric surgery, and binge eating.