What is Gentle Nutrition?
Honour Your Health with 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:
Disordered eating, intuitive eating, mental health, digestive health, emotional eating, chronic disease
One of the first things you’ll notice about Britney is her energy, zest for life and love of food! Britney is passionate about supporting her clients in developing a healthy and satisfying relationship with food and their bodies, allowing them to live life to the fullest. Britney specializes in disordered eating, intuitive eating, mental health, digestive health, emotional eating, and chronic disease.