5 Tips to Find an Intuitive Eating/Health at Every Size® Professional

We live in a time where much of life happens on the internet and there are million different “buzzwords” out there. People type these buzzwords into article titles, blog posts, social media posts, and anywhere they can fit them in order to get us to click on their content. It can be known as “click bait”.

The words Intuitive Eating (IE) and Health at Every Size® (HAES) have become buzzwords that are often incorrectly used. When you’re searching for a therapist, dietitian, doctor, psychiatrist, trainer, etc. to help you truly heal your relationship with food and your body, it’s imperative to find someone who truly practices from these principles.

With all the chatter at your finger tips, how do you know if you’re finding someone who truly knows what they are talking about?

I’ve outlined 5 tips for you to find the right professional!

5 Tips for you to find the right professional

Watch out for weight loss promises.

If you are reading a post or searching a website, be really critical about any weight loss promises or even insinuations that crop up. No matter how veiled they are, if you are looking to step into Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size®, know that weight loss is *not* a goal.

No matter what, weight loss is not the goal when truly operating from a IE/HAES lens because we are focused on behaviors and attitudes that reinforce whole health and have nothing to do with intentional weight loss.

It’s true that weight loss can be a by-product of healing our relationship with food, but that’s not a goal or focus or hope of healing your relationship with food.

Be wary of food restriction.

Outside of certain medical diagnoses, food restriction is often very harmful and set us up for the restrict-binge cycle. Meaning we restrict certain foods or food groups for a set amount of time and then we binge on those foods or food groups as a result of the restriction. The subsequent binge after restricting can be planned or unplanned. The restrict-binge cycle is difficult on us in many ways and is often reinforced when we have feelings of shame, disgust, failure, and physical discomfort after a binge. We think “See? I can’t control myself around this food! I have to restrict it!”

Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size® want to see food freedom, which means we must tune into our internal cues around foods instead of arbitrary, external rules about what we should and shouldn’t eat. We want to get back in touch with our good bodies. That restrict-binge cycle disconnects us further and further from the innate goodness of our bodies and our hunger/fullness cues.

If you’re looking at a therapist, dietitian, doctor, etc website or blog post and you see recommendations for food restriction, be mindful that they may not fully understand the IE/HAES concepts. Unintentionally, or intentionally, this could cause a further disruption in your journey towards food and body freedom.

NO Before and After Photos.

If the provider you’re re-searching shows their own or former clients’ before or after photos on their website, their personal or professional social media, look elsewhere.

Before and after photos reinforce the idea that intentional weight loss is always a good thing and goes against Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size® principles. It reinforces weight stigma and fatphobia which perpetuate body image issues.

Look for specializations, professional associations, trainings, etc.

As a therapist, I fell into two niches: eating disorders and perinatal mental health. It’s good to have niches because it often means you have very specialized and advanced training around that topic. On my marketing material, I try to advertise the specializations I have to let people know that I have dedicated myself to learning more about that certain area.

I don’t pursue certifications or put in dollars every year to make myself feel better! I put in the time, money, and effort to help the people I have been called to serve. There are nuances to many mental health issues and if I’m to ethically treat those issues, I need to have an advanced understanding of the issue at hand and the best treatment practices.

Whether you’re looking through a website, reading a blog post, searching an online directory, making that first phone call, or even sitting in a session with a therapist or dietitian, don’t be afraid to look for or straight out ask a few questions:

  • How did you gain knowledge about Intuitive Eating/Health at Every Size®?
  • What Intuitive Eating/Health at Every Size® trainings have you participated in?
  • What professional associations are you a part of?
  • What certifications or specializations do you have?
  • How long have you been working with this population?

Trust your gut.

You have this little thing called intuition that has a big job- it’s job is to signal you. We often override our intuition and it can be tricky to ferret out what is true intuition versus anxiety or depression or past issues of distrust cropping up.

However, you will find that sitting quietly and tuning into that pit in your stomach and asking “what is my intuition trying to tell me?” is actually life changing!

Trust yourself to know when something isn’t right. Trust yourself to know if working with the professional in front of you would be beneficial to your journey.

With or without training and credentials, you may not be a good fit with the professional you’re seeing and that’s okay- trust yourself to make that assessment.

Part of the IE/HAES process is learning to trust yourself again- that trust has been broken by a culture that tells us the internal cues within us are not worthy of our trust and attention. As a therapist, I want you to learn to trust yourself again and it starts by tuning in to your intuition.

Time to make a move

The journey to connect with our bodies and food in a new way is a scary one and sometimes taking the first step- to even look for a professional to journey with you can feel too big.

Notice the feeling you are experiencing, take a deep breath, and make the call, send the text or email, or submit that online inquiry. The right professional will be happy to answer all your questions and make sure you feel confident in working together.

Use the Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size® websites, books, and workbooks as a foundation for your search and subsequent work. There is a vast community of professionals and others journeying toward healing that are ready to walk with you, so keep looking!

What questions or tips would you add to find a IE/HAES professional? What’s holding you back from starting your journey?

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