My journey to becoming an Intuitive Eating Dietitian

My journey to becoming an Intuitive Eating Dietitian

RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD

My journey to becoming an Intuitive Eating Dietitian (i.e. not selling weight loss). 

KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian

January 10th 2019

I’ve been a Dietitian for nearly 6 years (and studied Nutrition for 5 years)… That’s almost 11 years in the Nutrition Industry. You may be wondering why only recently have I started going (what looks like) against the grain and stopped selling “weight loss” – however you jazz it up. 

How can someone just switch like that?

Well it’s been a journey, and quite a rocky one! I totally understand why it’s hard to get your head around not focusing on weight loss as a main goal, when we live in a culture that’s telling us left, right and centre that we need to be thinner to be healthier, happier and more successful. It’s taken me a year and a half to get my head around, and I’ve done degrees in this stuff! 

As a Dietitian, part and parcel of the job is to continuously reflect on my learning, keep up with, and critically review the latest research and maintain flexibility in my practice. That’s exactly what I’ve had to do.

This is what I’ve learnt…

For the last 5 years, I have supported clients through weight loss (amongst many other conditions) both in the NHS, and privately. They were never sold or promised a diet, rather it was about making small ‘lifestyle changes’ to improve health. However, weight was nearly always at the centre of the conversation about health. 

Of approximately 200 clients, I would say 90% of them succeeded at achieving their goal… pretty incredible. They were sold beautiful tailored plans to stick to. The weight would fall off, and they would feel amazing.

However, as time went on (weeks, months and even years), the weight would come piling back on. They would feel out of control, and didn’t know what to do about it. They blamed themselves for lack of willpower and not being able to ‘stay on plan’ again. They of course would come back to me. The person they could trust. The person that helped them do it the first time.

As this happened more and more, I knew there must be something else going on. So I delved into the research, and linked up with various other professionals. That’s where I discovered a whole new area of non-diet nutrition. New research papers, new ways of practicing, and other professionals who had been through the same experience as me. Unfortunately, the non-diet Dietitians voice is not as loud as the weight loss message.

At first I felt confused and decided to shut out this whole area of dietetics. It went against a lot of what I knew and preached, and would discredit a lot of work I had done with individuals. But I couldn’t ignore it. It was on my shoulders, haunting me. The more I read into it, the more I freaked out and went back to what I knew and was comfortable with… that was weight loss and telling people what to eat or not eat.

I feel a little angry that I hadn’t learnt about this sooner. How could I obtain a first class degree from the top UK University in Nutrition Dietetics (King’s College London) and a distinction in my Masters in Clinical Research, but had never been opened up to this? 

I now understand that it’s because most of this work is being done in the USA, Australia and Canada. It’s soon to seep into UK university courses. 

As we look at the research to date, there is not one single study that supports sustained weight loss. Take that in for a moment… not one single study! 80-95% of those who lose weight, regain it within 5yrs, and 30-60% of those people, end up at a higher weight that first started.

So putting weight loss at the centre of changing health, is really like fighting a losing battle, and it can actually make peoples health worse. It’s ineffective, and unjust. I no longer feel comfortable supporting people through (what I now know) is such a painful and unnecessary journey.

You can read more about why diets don’t work here.

So what do I do instead? 

Non-diet nutrition is not about neglecting health or suggesting a ‘free for all’. It’s about improving physical and psychological wellbeing, without putting body weight at the centre. It does this by:

  • Putting your weight on the back burner, tackling your food problems, and letting your weight do its thing. Your weight will settle where it’s most happy. Usually the place where your weight falls back to in between diets. 
  • Getting back in touch with your natural body signals (which are there – albeit buried somewhere), to help you determine what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat.
  • Encouraging body acceptance (rather than spending a lifetime trying to fight biology).
  • Encouraging exercising for pleasure (rather than hitting to gym to burn off the cookies you at yesterday).

This is taught by an evidence based approach called Intuitive Eating. This approach is associated with a number of health benefits which include; lower Body Mass Index (BMI), weight stability, improved dietary variety, improved blood fats and blood pressure, and improvements in self esteem and depression.

I help you:

– Find peace and enjoyment from all foods, free from rules and restrictions.

– Get rid of the battle in your head around what you think you should/shouldn’t be eating so that you can have a normal relationship with food.

– Get back in touch with the best tool to tell you what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat… that’s your own body! Yes – it can give you ALL the information you need. A bit like how your bladder tells you need to pee or not to pee. You have all of these tools, I just help you find them again.

– Improve your physical and mental health, without trying to manipulate your weight, no matter your shape or size.

– By providing the most simple, up-to-date nutrition information to empower you to make changes to your health. We factor in all the other things that impact us, like stress, sleep, planning, socialising etc.  

I am not anti-weight loss. I am anti-pursuit of weight loss. I believe it’s important for professionals to be transparent in order for you to make an informed decision. I am disagree with:

  • Professionals promoting that ‘non-diet’ but sell weight loss.
  • Professionals that sell weight loss, without informing you from the side effects that will likely occur (binge eating, rebound weight gain, loss of muscle mass, disordered eating, shame, guilt and anxiety when the weight comes back on). 

Despite this being a more difficult journey, I do not for one minute regret the shift in my practice. When you turn the lights on in the room, and see a new perspective, it’s impossible to go back. So I am in this to truly help you heal your relationship with food and your body, so you can get on with things that matter in life.

Hitting Diet Rock Bottom

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Juice & Detox Diets – All you need to know

Juice & Detox Diets – All you need to know

RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD

Juice Detox Diets – All you need to know

KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian

19th November 2018

When trying to lose weight, it may feel like an easier option to go for the quick fix of a detox diet or juice cleanse for a few days.

Whilst they aren’t particularly enjoyable, there may be some pros. 

1) You get to take time off work and do nothing, because the headaches, fatigue, irritability, and potentially messed up stools mean you will not be wanting to leave home!

2) You drink less alcohol, caffeine, and more water! You also probably eat more fruits and vegetables than normal.

That’s about it! 

The reality of how the Detox Diet cycle goes:

1) You feel bad about your body/self

This feeling can occur when you’ve overindulged over a holiday period (e.g. bank holiday, family holiday, Christmas, birthday, easter), OR, you have an event coming up like a wedding, holiday, party, or just summer in general and want to feel better.

2) You decide to go on a detox diet as you believe this will make you feel good

It’s also quick, easy to follow, and way more exciting than “everything in moderation” that you may hear from a registered dietitian or healthcare professional. 

You sift the internet or speak to friends/colleagues about what juices/cleanses may have worked for them. In fact, 20% of young people head to YouTube for nutrition advice these days, and apparently, if it’s backed up by a health blogger, then that’s all the evidence needed – sigh! You then buy overpriced supplements or juice cleanse packs that are not backed up by science.

Examples of the fads… 

3) Restrict and deprive yourself for a period of time

This could be 5 days, 10 days or more… it depends on which detox plan you get your hands on. It’s not expected you will be productive, be able to concentrate or be a nice person during this period! You will spend much of your time irritable, with headaches, or asleep!

 

4) Break the diet, or emerge from your cleanse, overeat or eat anything but is in the boundaries set in your diet

You emerge from your hibernation from food, with a little less fluid and muscle mass than you did at the start. You learn that chewing food actually feels quite good, it’s sociable, tasty, and gives you the energy and nourishment you need to be your best!

 

5) Feel guilty/ashamed/distressed about this whole cycle, which may feed back into point number 2…and the cycle continues. 

Once you’ve broken the cleanse or diet, you feel a failure… not ever considering that the diet actually failed you!! You may then start the cycle again at point 2, or if you have done this enough times, you reach out for some proper advice. Something realistic, tailored, and sustainable!

 

If you are fed up with battling with your weight, or binge eating, emotional eating, stress eating, yo-yo dieting, check out my FREE download. This will guide you through some of the first steps of intuitive eating to help resolve your food problems.

This article is not intended to provide individual advice, and it’s important that you seek support from a qualified professional. 

Useful links:

The Truth About Detox Diets 

Hitting Diet Rock Bottom

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Soya and Cancer – what’s the deal?

Soya and Cancer – what’s the deal?

What is Soya?

Soya beans and products have become a hot topic recently in the rise of more plant based diets, and in particular the link between soya and cancer. Soya beans are are a popular, and cheap legume, native to East Asia. Soya contains a good amount of protein, fibre, potassium, magnesium, copper and manganese. It is also one of the few plant foods with all the amino acids your body needs to make protein, plus, they are a good source of healthy fats, containing both the omega-6 (linoleic acid) and omega-3 (alpha-linolenic) types. Soy beans can be found in many forms, including tofu, the beans themselves (also called edamame), soy milk, miso, and soy powder.

What are the concerns?

Concerns have been raised due to the fact that soya has weak oestrogen (female hormone) like compounds called isoflavones naturally occuring in them. It’s thought that oestrogen can promote the developement, growth and spread of some cancers, and so research has been conducted into whether soya and cancer are linked, and in particular, breast cancer.

What does the research say?

One small study conducted in 2014, suggested that for some women, adding a medium amount of soy to their diets turns on genes that can cause cancer to grow.

The study involved 140 women who were newly diagnosed with stage I or stage II breast cancer between 2003 and 2007. For 2-3 weeks prior to surgical removal of the cancer, the women were randomly assigned to eating:

  • soy protein (70 women) approx. 50g
  • a placebo that looked like the soy protein (70 women) approx. 50g

Once the cancerous tissue had been removed and analysed, the results showed that several genes that encourage cell growth were turned on in women in the soy protein group. However, as with most research, ther study had limitations. The study didn’t last long enough to know whether these genetic changes would cause cancer to actually grow. The study also didn’t look at whether soy does or doesn’t reduce the risk of breast cancer, or whether eating soy would have any effect on women who don’t have breast cancer.

The researchers could not conclude that soy should be avoided, and they could therefore not confirm a clear link between soya and cancer.

So should I avoid it?

The current advice is no. The American Institue of Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund for cancer prevention have reviewed the evidence extensivley in this field. Evidence shows that soya does not increase the risk of breast cancer, breast cancer recurrence, or any other cancer. Soya and cancer, and it’s possible effects on health is an active area of research.

How much can I have?

In general, it is fine to eat moderate amounts of soy foods – about one to three servings per day as part of a balanced diet (a serving is about a half cup). If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer and are concerned about any isoflavone effects, ask your doctor or a Registered Dietitian for further and more individualised advice.

In summary

Research on soya and cancer, and soya foods is ongoing, but it is clear that soya is nutritious, safe and healthy. Other potential health benefits include lowering cholesterol and even reducing the severity of hot flushes in women going through the menopause. Soya foods can also help us to achieve an increasingly plant based diet by reducing our intakes of animal protein which can also benefit the environment and food sustainability.

Links to further information on soya and cancer:

World Cancer Research Fund Breast Cancer Prevention

World Cancer Research Fund – General Guidance

American Institute of Cancer Research

About Me

I am Katherine Kimber, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and I am on a mission to set you free from dieting and confusing nutrition information.I have completed an extensive amount of formal education and training, achieving a first class degree in Nutrition and Dietetics at King’s College London, and a distinction in my Masters in Clinical Research. I am also highly experienced in providing motivational support, I’m trained in Intuitive Eating, and hold a Diploma in Neurolinguistic Programming.Let me know how I can help!

Your comments and feedback are always welcome!

8 + 13 =

Periods and food cravings… is there any science?

Periods and food cravings… is there any science?

Do you wonder whether this is a link between periods and food cravings? Wondering whether this is all just in your head, you are using it as an excuse, or it’s actually a thing? Let’s #StripTheNonsense on whether your period actually means you need to eat more, and ways in which you could manage food cravings around that time of the month, otherwise known as Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS).

Do all women tend to eat more?

You are not alone when it comes to periods and food cravings. A review of 30 studies (Dye et al. 1997) looked at women’s energy intake at different phases of the menstrual cycle. They identified, that in 27 out of 37 groups of women, energy intake was higher in the second half of the menstrual cycle (day 14-28), just before the period was due.

The link between periods and food cravings, therefore, does exist in other women, however, in order to determine whether this increase in energy intake is due to a physiological increase in our bodies energy needs, further studies need to be conducted in humans. Some research suggests our energy requirements may be slightly higher, however, the research is varied and this will also vary from women to women.

We are also yet to determine whether periods and food cravings are linked to our hunger hormones. Hunger hormones tell us when we are hungry, and when to stop eating. More research is required to determine whether our female hormones interact with hunger hormones to control changes in appetite over the course of the menstrual cycle.

Is it carbs, fat, or protein that we crave?

Studies on whether it’s fat, carbohydrate, or protein that we crave, are inconsistent (Davidsen et al. 2007). Different studies have determined that in the build-up to our period (1-2 weeks), our intake of carbohydrate, proteins, and fats are increased. In reality, it is challenging to interpret data when it comes to what type of foods we crave.  For example, say the consumption of something like a donut is consumed by a craving, is it the carbohydrate, or fat in the donut that was sought for? Who knows!

What about our periods and food cravings for chocolate?

Two studies have identified that chocolate cravings seem to be more frequent in the build-up to a period, than at any other time of the cycle (Hetherington et al. 1993, Rozin et al. 1991).

About Me

I am Katherine Kimber, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and I am on a mission to set you free from dieting and confusing nutrition information.I have completed an extensive amount of formal education and training, achieving a first class degree in Nutrition and Dietetics at King’s College London, and a distinction in my Masters in Clinical Research. I am also highly experienced in providing motivational support, I’m trained in Intuitive Eating, and hold a Diploma in Neurolinguistic Programming.Let me know how I can help!

Typical PMS symptoms

Premenstrual Syndrome can be characterised by various symptoms in 1-2 weeks before your period, that is usually relieved when the period starts. Symptoms vary among women and each individual can also experience different symptoms from month to month. These include mood swings, irritability, increased appetite, carbohydrate and alcohol cravings, breast tenderness, headaches and bloating.

I get cravings, what can I do about them?

  1. Eat regularly – this will help prevent the rise and falls in your blood sugar, which you may be more sensitive to before your period, and also may help stabilise food cravings. Ensure you eat something every 3-4 hours. Most people find that leaving more than 4 hours between meals can result in feeling overly hungry, which may result in over eating at the next meal. Whilst it’s normal to overeat at times, not eating enough, and then overeating can not only fuel into the ‘diet’ cycle explained below, but can also lead to unstable blood sugar control.

2. Chose Low Glycaemic Index foods –  Basing meals and snacks around low GI carbohydrates (such as root vegetables, quinoa, wholegrain bread, oats, beans, pulses, chickpeas) may help with PMS symptoms by maintaining an even blood sugar level. Such a diet may also help reduce food cravings. A low glycaemic load (GL) diet, where both the GI and amount of carbohydrate are taken into consideration, has been shown to be associated with a decrease in inflammation markers which could, in turn, lessen the PMS symptoms. A portion of these starchy foods is approximately your fist size.

 

3. Don’t over-restrict – over-restricting, often leads to over-indulging. Over-indulging, can lead to feelings of guilt and shame which feeds into the diet cycle that looks something like this:

1) Feel bad about your body/self
2) Decide to over restrict, diet as you believe this will make you feel good
3) Restrict and deprive yourself for various periods of time
4) Break the diet, overeat or eat anything but is within the boundaries set in your diet
5) Feel guilty, ashamed, distressed about this whole cycle, which may feed back into point number 2… and the cycle continues!!

4. Listen to your body – a bit like you would listen to your bladder when you need the loo, it’s important to listen to your bodies cues to eat and not ignore them. Your body is the best determinant of when to eat, and if you are filling it with healthful foods and balanced meals, you can’t go far wrong.

5. Stop labelling foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – of course some foods are healthier than others, but labelling foods as bad and good can make you feel good for eating the ‘good food’ and bad for eating the ‘bad foods’, again fuelling into the diet cycle. Rather than labelling foods as ‘good or bad’. try using ‘every day foods’ and ‘celebratory/occasional foods’. It’s normal and healthy eating behaviour to enjoy delicious celebratory foods, now and then when you fancy them and the rest of the time enjoy nourishing your body with good quality healthful foods that you enjoy (wholegrains, fruit, veg, dairy, nuts, seeds, lean meats etc).

6. Eat protein and fats with your meals – fats can support keeping you feeling fuller for longer, and proteins can help lower the GI of your meals, as they mix with the carbohydrates in your stomach, and slow down their absorption. Making sure your meals contain small amounts of healthy fats (e.g. 1 tbsp olive oil, 1.5tbsp seeds or nuts, 20 olives, 1/2 small avocado), and small amounts of lean proteins (e.g. 1/2 can lentils, 150g chicken or turkey, a can of tuna, or 1 fillet of fish) is therefore important.

7. Stay well hydrated – it’s really easy to mistake hunger for thirst, therefore if you sip fluids regularly and are well hydrated, you are less at risk of this happening. I love these Memo Bottles which can be purchased by my “Nourish Well Care Package”, that slip perfectly into my handbag!

8. Schedule your meals if tired or stressed – I often emphasise how important it is to listen to your body, and eat when you are hungry, not because the clock says. However, at times of stress, tiredness, or when you are not feeling so in control, it’s really important to try to make sure you schedule proper meals and have activities to do in between your meals. An example of what a day could look like with food is breakfast at 8 am, snack at 10:30 am, lunch at 1:30 pm, a snack at 3:30 pm, snack at 5:30 pm, and dinner at 7:30 pm.

So in summary…

When it comes to periods and food cravings, you are not on your own. Whilst in the two weeks lead up to your period, you may find that you feel a little more hungry, we do not know whether this is the body actually needing more energy, or whether it’s just our hormones causing cravings. More research is required. But don’t worry, there are still things you can do, and I have provided you with some top tips to ensure you stay on top of cravings.

If you enjoyed reading this, check out some of my previous posts! 

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Chia seeds – what’s all the craze?

Chia seeds are tiny little black seeds, packed with fibre (important for our gut health), omega-3 fats (good for our heart), and a small amount of protein. The combination of fat, protein and fibre can mean the seeds are digested slowly, providing a long and slow release of energy. Many claims have been made against how great these little seeds are…

What does the research say?

There is not strong enough evidence to support that chia seeds can support weight loss (1). There is some, research to suggest that chia seeds may be beneficial for overweight and obese patients with type 2 diabetes (2). However, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest chia seeds can directly reduce the risk of heart disease or diabetes. In general, little published research has been conducted on chia seeds, and most information available is based on animal studies, not human.

So what’s the verdict?

Whilst these are a great little burst of nutrition, that can be soaked, roasted, toasted or ground, they, like any other individual food, do not have any super properties. They are a great addition to meals. I enjoy them soaked with my favourite Greek Yoghurt, milk, oats, vanilla paste, and topped with fruit!

References:

(1) Neiman et al. (2009). Chia seed does not promote weight loss or alter disease risk factors in overweight adults. Nutr Res. 29:414–418.

(2) Vuksan et al. (2017). Salba-chia (Salvia hispanica L.) in the treatment of overweight and obese patients with type 2 diabetes: A double-blind randomized controlled trial.Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 27(2):138-146

More heart healthy information.

About Me

I am Katherine Kimber, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and I am on a mission to set you free from dieting and confusing nutrition information.I have completed an extensive amount of formal education and training, achieving a first class degree in Nutrition and Dietetics at King’s College London, and a distinction in my Masters in Clinical Research. I am also highly experienced in providing motivational support, I’m trained in Intuitive Eating, and hold a Diploma in Neurolinguistic Programming.Let me know how I can help!