I talk about dieting for health and weight loss because that’s what I have been widely working with, however my ultimate focus as a Nutritionist is the psychology behind it all. Before we can change our lifestyles for the better we have to identify our current habits and change the poor for the better. Ie it’s hard to lose weight without understanding why it was put on in the first place.

Here’s a scenario. Client X wants to go on a diet because they have put on 11lbs in 3 months and they want to stop it before it’s too late. They Google specialist A, contact them for a solution. Client admits to liking wine and having “some” every day but otherwise consider themselves to eat a healthy diet and never overeat.

Specialist A (usually inexperienced or simply reckless) bans alcohol immediately and writes up a diet plan for X and sends them off with it to lose weight on their own over the following months. The plan’s calories are severely below the person’s daily energy needs and all meals consist of plain chicken, broccoli, sweet potato, maybe some rice cakes; no coffee, tea, sugar etc. I call it “the cliché diet”.

Client X fails their diet shortly for lack of support, understanding and actual help. The meal times or choices don’t work, they lack access to “prescribed” foods and can’t resist the temptation to have a drink. Client X’s previous habits or diet history haven’t been taken into consideration and they have been told to follow the new diet without anybody explaining WHY most choices have been made (for the record, as far as these diet plans are concerned, it’s all: “Because I said so”.) Client fails the diet and blames the specialist for a faulty plan; the specialist blames the client for lack of effort – everybody is frustrated, client X wasted their finances and time, specialist A doesn’t really care because they made a bit of money by duplicating a diet plan they’ve already sold to 100+ unknowing victims.

Let’s skip the following scenarios where the client would either: 1) stop seeking help immediately and resort to following fad diets, all of which fail them in the long run while the client keeps gaining weight; 2) keep seeking out new professionals in hopes of finding someone that can actually help her (but the same thing happens each time); 3) give up completely and succumb to the “I can’t help it, it’s my body/genes/metabolism/the way I was created” mindset.

Here’s a happy scenario that hopefully will become the rule rather than the exception:

Client finds Specialist F who is actually willing to work on helping them understand the “WHY” weight has been piling on. By this point the client had reverted back to their original eating habits, gained an additional 7lbs and had been trying to take action for a further 6 months. Specialist F conducts and initial consultation with the client to get to know them, introduce themselves and to explain how they work. They ask the client to complete a food diary identifying the client’s moods, environments, cravings, triggers etc.

Specialist F finds out that Client X has been having half a bottle to a bottle of wine after work every day for the last 9 months. Upon chatting to the client, it turns out they were given a promotion at work 9 months ago, which lead to higher stress levels and the need for stress release and downtime in the evening. They would collapse on the sofa, exhausted after work with a glass of wine, which would easily turn into two or three and suddenly the whole bottle would be finished. If they still felt hungry afterwards, a kebab takeaway would tick the box. Lunch was also a problem due to increased workload, which left them less time to eat a decent meal and only enough to pop down to the nearest convenience store for a meal deal. Client X also wasn’t eating any breakfast since they could never get out of bed on time due to poor energy levels caused by bad food choices and daily alcohol consumption the day before. A real vicious circle.

Specialist F and Client X got to work and over the following months they reduced the client’s alcohol intake by introducing other healthy habits and stress managing mechanisms. They introduced a small breakfast and X started cooking their own dinner plus brought food with them to work the following day to be able to have a healthy lunch at their desk. After stopping work with Specialist F, Client X was able to keep the weight off as they had created a new lifestyle for themselves and gained the knowledge on foods and the resilience to not let their environment trigger any unwanted behaviour.

So the moral of the story for all of you still seeking help,  no matter what aspect of life we’re talking about: find someone who actually cares about you and your “WHY”.

This is for all professionals: Specialist F’s super power was actually caring about the person on the other side of the conversation, for actually wanting to help Client X rather than simply selling them a diet plan. Your product is only as good as the results it provides not the promises it makes. No one cares how many you’ve sold if there are unhappy customers banging on your door.

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