Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Musings on body image

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I’ve been thinking about body image lately. A few things I’ve seen on social media lately have led to me wondering if, when helping clients with weight management, we (i.e. dietitians, personal trainers, doctors) should be giving clients a bit of a disclaimer.

Someone I know posted a letter from a girl complaining about how every time she goes to a hairstylist, she’s informed that they can’t do what she wants with her hair. She brings stacks of photos and is frustrated that they continue to tell her that it won’t work with her hair. Honestly, that’s the mark of a good stylist that they’ll be honest and upfront and not tell you that you can have big bouncy blonde curls if your hair is naturally black and stick straight.

Perhaps, as weight management professionals, we should be doing something similar with our clients. There needs to be a discussion of expectations and an acceptance of the facts. How many of us are (or have worked with) people who aspire to possess the body of some celebrity or other? Sure, such aspiration can provide motivation at the gym or resolve at the grocery store. But we need to realise that we all have different body types and for many of us no matter how much we workout, no matter how many cookies we eschew for broccoli, we’re just not going to look like *insert latest uber hot celeb name here*. And that’s not a bad thing. We need to learn to accept and love ourselves (and our clients) no matter what our size or shape. So maybe you don’t have a thigh-gap or a bikini-bridge or whatever the mythical physical trait of the day is. Who cares? Embrace not just the features you like about yourself but the ones you don’t because they’re what make you, you.


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Bad news for science: naturopaths get positive press

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The twitterverse was all abuzz the other day with the release of a journal article that found that patients who received counselling from naturopaths reduced their risk of heart disease significantly more than patients who only went to see a doctor.

Of course, a number of the authors of the paper reported potential conflicts of interest such as receiving funding from alternative medicine groups and naturopathic organizations. Naturally, they would have a vested interest in showing that there is a benefit to seeing a naturopath.

Doctors, unfortunately, are more often than not, ill-equipped to provide lifestyle and nutrition counselling. It seems pretty obvious that patients provided with an additional level of care would experience better outcomes than the patients who only met with their family doctors. This does not mean that all patients with elevated risk for cardiovascular disease should seek the help of a naturopath. It means that they should be receiving specialized nutrition and lifestyle counselling from a trained health care professional. Ideally, a dietitian as our advice is science-based and we do not promote homeopathic remedies.

The two things I get out of this study are: 1. patients with elevated risk for diseases which can be mitigated by lifestyle changes should receive counselling in the appropriate area(s), 2. doctors should be referring their patients to their appropriate counterparts in healthcare to supply that counselling. The fact that naturopaths were the providers of the counselling in this study is unimportant and gives the false impression to the public that naturopaths are a suitable alternative to doctors and dietitians.