Amanda Lambrechts, MS, RD, LN is a South Dakota based Intuitive Eating Registered Dietitian and licensed nutritionist. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Food Science from South Dakota State University. From there, she relocated to Illinois State University for two years to complete her dietetic internship and Master of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences. After graduating, she moved back to South Dakota to be closer to family and start her dietetics career as a clinical dietitian. Amanda has also taught an online course for South Dakota State University for the last 2 years. After working primarily with inpatients and long-term care facilities for nearly two years, she accepted a new position as a retail dietitian with a grocery store chain. Around the same time, she started her virtual private practice and blog, Spilling the Beans Nutrition. In her private practice, she helps people make peace with food who have a history of eating disorders, disordered eating, or yo-yo dieting. Since starting her private practice and blog, she has been featured in SELF Magazine, as a recurring guest on Keloland Living, and as a guest speaker at the South Dakota Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Conference. Outside of nutrition, she loves spending time with her family and yellow Labrador, traveling, and yoga.
Here are takeaways from our conversation:
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DIETITIANS AND NUTRITIONISTS
Amanda breaks down the difference between a dietician and nutritionist: a dietician must complete a four-year degree with the basic science courses like chemistry and biology; many go on to get their Master’s degree because it will become a requirement in the near future. You must apply to and match to a dietetic internship with 1,200 hours working in a hospital, in a community setting, etc. From there, you are eligible to sit in for the RD exam. To be a nutritionist, you can take an online course and that’s it- they may or may not have a four-year degree. Dieticians have nutritionist in their name, but can be confusing to consumers when comparing dietitians and nutritionists.
Remember the 90’s and low-fat trends? So much nope. Amanda explains that intuitive eating takes away the judgment and morality out of eating. It allows you to become the expert of your body and listen to your hunger/fullness cues, understanding when you are actually hunger, what foods are satisfying to you etc. Often times with diets, we bring on these arbitrary rules that go against what our bodies need.
Nowadays, it’s not ‘cool’ to be on a diet. The deceiving thing about certain ‘lifestyles’ now is that there are lots of rules and restrictions around what you can and can’t eat. People don’t want to call certain trends diet, which can make it tricky to transition into intuitive eating. Intuitive eating was developed in the 90’s by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch: Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works (latest edition) with ten principles and a whole program developed around intuitive eating.
Some of the principles is to reject the diet mentality, respect your fullness, and honor your health- you can read all of them here. Amanda’s advice is to be patient with yourself. It took you years to learn these rules, so it will take you time to unlearn the rules of diet culture. The great news- there’s no way to fail at intuitive eating like how you may fail on a diet. It’s a learning process about getting in touch with their own bodies.
DIET CULTURE SECRETLY LINGERS
Whole 30 is disguised as a lifestyle, but Amanda describes how clients of hers have developed a strained relationship with food and feel like they can’t be trusted with certain foods post completing Whole 30. Although some of those ‘lifestyle’ diets have intentions to help you to get healthy and improve your wellness, they can actually be doing the reverse and makes you fearful of food. Even Weight Watchers has rebranded themselves to WW and are trying to remove the weight perception out of their branding, which isn’t as cool as it once was in the past.
HAES- HEALTH AT EVERY SIZE
Amanda describes the changes going on in the dietetics world and this shift into Health At Every Size, and Amanda considers herself to be a weight-inclusive dietitian because it doesn’t really matter to her what your size is. She hardly weighs her clients. Her approach is that she meets you where you’re at and what your goals are; however, she doesn’t make weight loss in and of itself a goal because weight loss isn’t a behavior, but a result from a behavior. Amanda helps you to focus on behaviors and helps you take the focus away from the number on the scale, which is quite a contrast with what she learned in school. She learned a weight normative approach, where weight is the center of everything. Amanda focuses on the things you can actually control in your life, like your habits and decisions.
REMOVING THE SHAME AROUND FOOD
Amanda suggests breaking down the language you use around food; for example, maybe you’re strict with yourself during the week but have a cheat meal on the weekends. With intuitive eating, there is no cheat meal- the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ around food has been removed. If you remove the judgment around food even though it may seem so innocent- i.e., “I was so bad yesterday when I got ice cream,” challenge yourself with those phrases. “Did I steal the ice cream? Did I do something bad to get the ice cream?” Creating some humor around it will help you to remove some of that judgment you’ve held around food and your perceptions about the morality of food.
If you have a friend/co-worker/family member that negatively talks about food and their weight, you can be supportive by role modeling your behaviors around a positive body image and relationship with food.
FOOD DISCIPLINE IS A MYTH
Amanda argues that you can have discipline around food to some extent, but something that’s interesting in the intuitive eating world and talked about often on social media is the binge-restrict cycle. For example, let’s say you decide to restrict sugar because you believe you have a sugar problem. Naturally, you’ll have this heightened thought process around sugar, and sugar will become appealing to you. You most likely ultimately binge on sugary foods, and the cycle of restrict-restrict-restrict-binge will bring forth a lot of shame and guilt because you feel like you’ve failed. When you give yourself that complete freedom and where no-foods are really off limits (with some nuances depending on any medical conditions), foods will begin to lose their appeal. Intuitive is more than just thinking “I listen to my body when it’s hungry, and I stop when I’m full.” There is also a component in this approach of feeling satisfied. Technically, you can get full if you eat a full plate of kale; however, if you’re not in the mood for kale or don’t like kale, you will be full but not satisfied.
BODY POSITIVITY IS NOT PERFECT
We all express ourselves differently; likewise, expressing our body positivity and confidence takes on many different approaches. Some people flaunt what they’ve got, posing in underwear pics and posting them on Instagram, whereas others can have the same confidence but not feel comfortable showing that to the world. One way of developing a healthy body image is by doing an audit on your social media- who do you follow that is encouraging body positivity or encouraging shame around diets and our bodies and proponents of diet culture? Ask yourself “how does this account make me feel?” Create a space online that is inspiring and inclusive.
FOOD AS FUEL FOR ENERGY
Amanda recommends if people can eat every 3-4 hours, especially during long shifts at work. It can be helpful to have a snack on hand and planning ahead. She likes to combine a protein source and a carb source- the carb source will provide you with a boost of energy, and the protein will give you sustained energy. An example of this might be an apple with a string cheese, banana with peanut butter, or candy bar with almonds.
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