What is Gentle Nutrition?
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Honour Your Health with Gentle Nutrition

What is Gentle Nutrition?

Wondering what gentle nutrition is? In this article, I’ll break down where the term gentle nutrition comes from and share 3 strategies to help you get started on your gentle nutrition journey! 

What is Gentle Nutrition?

Gentle nutrition is a term that comes from the intuitive eating and food freedom world. In fact, “Honour Your Health with Gentle Nutrition” is the 10th and final principle of Intuitive Eating, a revolutionary anti-diet approach created by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. Gentle nutrition involves making choices about food that honour both our health and our taste buds, while recognizing that there is no such thing as perfect eating. Practicing gentle nutrition is a way of taking the pressure off of each and every food decision we make, allowing us the grace to recognize that it’s about the journey and our progress in building a joyful relationship with food – one meal or snack will not make or break our nutrition! 

Why Healthy Eating Can Get Warped with Diet Culture

There’s intentionality behind why we leave gentle nutrition to the end of our intuitive eating journey. It’s because diet culture can be so sinister in taking well-intentioned nutrition advice and turning it into a militant rule that fuels all-or-nothing thinking and brings guilt and shame back into our relationship with food. As a dietitian, I know that we have a strong body of scientific evidence that shows that proper nutrition can support us in reducing risk of chronic disease, improve sports performance, support digestive health, and more! However, there are more pieces to the puzzle.  

We live in a culture obsessed with food and food rules – headlines and media outlets are constantly touting the best and worst foods to eat, and we are quick to blame food for any ailment we may experience.  All too often I have clients who come into my office with “analysis paralysis” – they are constantly bombarded with nutrition information that is conflicting! In one article, fruit is great for you, and in another article, it’s going to kill you. At best, this is confusing and frustrating. At worst, these types of messages contribute to our society’s growing food phobia and can fuel an unhealthy obsession with food. 

This hyper-focus on food can be misleading, because we often forget about other very important factors that affect our health and wellbeing, such as:  

  • Social Connections: our ability to feel connected and grounded in community plays a role in our risk for disease  
  • Childhood Experiences: how we were raised, and trauma we may have experienced in childhood can have marked impact on health  
  • Social Determinants of Health: a variety of non-medical factors that we know influence health outcomes from scientific research 

How can Gentle Nutrition Benefit my Health? 

When we break up with dieting and choose to honour our health without the all-or-nothing mentality, we can be more flexible in our methods. Gentle nutrition allows us to make progress forward in choosing foods that feel good because healthy eating can and should be enjoyable! In fact, research looking at Intuitive Eating and the practice of gentle nutrition has demonstrated improved nutrient intake, a wider variety of healthful foods in the diet, and reduced eating disorder symptomatology overall. In short – gentle nutrition supports not only eating a healthy balance of foods, but also fostering a healthy relationship with food at the same time! 

How Can I Start to Embrace Gentle Nutrition?

If you’re wondering how to practice gentle nutrition and are ready to give gentle nutrition a try, here are a few tips:   

  • Recognize and reject diet culture messaging: be skeptical of any nutrition messaging that is all-or-nothing or offers strict rules about “good” and “bad foods.” Feeling stuck here? Our team of Registered Dietitians are here to help! 
  • Look at the bigger picture: remember all of the different factors that impact health and wellbeing, and allow food to be one piece of the puzzle. It holds importance, but shouldn’t be put on a pedestal.  
  • Notice how food makes you feel: focus on enjoyable experiences with food! Plan a family dinner, try a new vegetable recipe, and notice how different foods feel in your body. 
  • Embrace progress over perfection: habit formation and goal setting are practices that move us towards where we want to go! Pick one to two tangible action items (I.e. get a vegetable on your plate at lunch!) and focus on the progress versus expecting perfection.  

In summary, gentle nutrition is a way of looking at our overall eating patterns, using food as a tool for self-care, not a weapon of self-control.

Struggling with your relationship with food? Looking for accountability? We can help!

If you’re struggling with your relationship with food, overwhelmed with media messaging about nutrition, or want an accountability buddy in taking that first step towards creating a balanced outlook on food and eating, I’m on your team!

Book a session with myself or any of the capable and compassionate Registered Dietitians on our team – we’re here for you! 

Check out these related blogs on our website:  

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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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