Finding Food Freedom
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Finding Food Freedom and Combating Unnecessary Diet Rules

Andrea Holwegner as published in Calgary Herald Newspaper

 I recently watched a strong woman in her late 70s step on the scale before heading to her water aerobics class, scold herself and mumble the words “not good.” She then shared with her friend that she had to get back on her low-carb diet. I wondered if she enjoyed a low-carb diet since this is not necessary if you are trying to lose weight. I also wondered what in her life would really be different if she did indeed lose a few extra pounds.

Food Freedom - beyond the scale

If you have struggled with an eating disorder, chronic dieting or simply read a book or blog that encouraged you to follow a very limited diet full of lists of good and bad foods, this article is for you. Read on as I truth tell and combat some of the most common unnecessary diet rules.


Unnecessary rule: I must follow a diet

Truth tell: I need a lifestyle

Confused if you should be following a low-fat, low-carb, sugar-free, gluten-free, paleo, vegan, raw or clean eating diet? Trends come and go. Watch the trends from the sidelines and choose not to jump on the bandwagon and participate in unnecessary food rules. The best diet is the one you will actually follow for life. 

I live and teach the philosophy that you can eat anything, just not everything; it all comes down to personal choices. You can find a diet that will villainize just about any food. There are no bad foods, only bad overall diets. You can actually create a lifestyle based on your health goals and overall food personality (i.e. what you enjoy eating). The key for success is understanding how to balance geeky nutritious foods along with soulful foods chosen exclusively for taste and fun. 

Unnecessary rule: I need to weigh myself daily

Truth tell: I can ditch the scale

In our nutrition counselling practice, the scale lives in a dark closet and is only pulled out if absolutely necessary as a baseline or long-term measure over weeks of hard work (not days). Overall, the scale is not the best tool to measure daily progress or success since much of what moves people toward better health and achievement of their personal best weight has more to do with creating the systems, mindset shifts, emotional eating strategies and practical meal plans that include a good balance of healthful and also soulful foods. These very critical habits and skills may not show up as a reward on the scale right away, which means it can very easily derail motivation and continued progress.

If you focus on the scale, the side effect will often be derailed motivation and sabotaged momentum with your meal planning and working through what, when, where and how much to eat since often things take far longer than you may want to admit. If you, however, focus on the things you can directly control such as the systems, meal prep and cooking skill, the side effect will be movement towards your personal best weight.

Unnecessary rule: I must measure my food and track on an app

Truth tell: Understand the power of flexible structure

While there is benefit in understanding approximately how much you are eating and what your body requires on average in a day, you do not need to measure food or track on an app to be successful. If measuring food and tracking on an app feels like you are on a restricted diet, work with an experienced dietitian who can help you find healthier ways to encourage progress without harming your relationship with food.

If you choose to use an app or follow a set meal plan with specific portions of food, remember that you are not a robot. Your hunger and appetite changes daily and is not tied to how much you exercised today. You may be hungrier on a day that you were a couch potato and less hungry on a day you are more active. Exercise should never be treated as a reward to eat. If you are going to measure your food or track on an app, consider thinking of your plan in the context of a week rather than a single meal or day since relying exclusively on a set rigid meal plan or on an app dishonours your body and natural intuitive hunger cues.

Article originally appeared in the Calgary Herald

Calgary Dietitian Andrea Holwegner “the chocoholic nutritionist” is a corporate wellness expert and motivational speaker specializing in workplace health, stress and productivity.  She is launching an online nutrition course for distance education for individuals and time-strapped employees, looking to improve their overall nutrition habits. As owner of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. since 2000, she leads a team of Calgary nutritionists specializing in meal planning, weight loss, eating disorders, heart health, diabetes, digestive issues, sports nutrition, kids nutrition and more.  Visit www.healthstandnutrition.com  or phone 403-262-3466 for more information and to subscribe to her free monthly e-newsletter or award winning blog.  Twitter: @chocoholicRD.  Facebook: @chocoholicRD  Instagram: @chocoholicrd



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Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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