I feel like I can finally and confidently share some exciting information with you! I recently received an email from the Institute for the Psychology of Eating to inform me that the Whitty Nutrition Blog has been named on their list of The 100 Best Nutrition Blogs of 2015.
Now I'll be honest, the Institute for the Psychology of Eating was completely unknown to me prior to them sending me this good news. Actually, I almost deleted the email all together because I thought it was spam. Fortunately, I decided to look a little deeper since I was interested in how the staff had come across my little blog in the sea of nutrition websites available on the internet at any given time.
I'll admit that I was skeptical as I started looking into this institute since I had never heard of it and noticed that they offered courses in Eating Psychology Coach Certification which are the types of courses I usually disregard as being, well, bogus. Anytime I hear words like "coach" and "certification" (among others) I generally get scared away since I in no way want to diminish my own, or someone else's hard work earning a degree in the field of their choice such as becoming a registered dietitian, a physiologist, a psychologist, or any other professional for that matter. But I kept on my search anyway and I contacted the institute for more information and looked into where they were accredited and/or registered, started reading the free information they had available on their website, and started watching some of their free web series videos. I wanted to be absolutely sure that the Institute for the Psychology of Eating was something I wanted to share with my loyal readers. As you all know, I only post information that is true, evidence-based, and accurate to the best of my ability and I do not endorse programs or products that I do not feel promote health and good nutrition for my clients and readers.
Well, needless to say I quickly became very enthralled and quite impressed with what I found. Not only did someone from the institute contact me directly the next day and on several other occasions to answer all of my questions, but I found that they are registered with the Colorado Department of Higher Education. Although this registration doesn't guarantee quality education by qualified instructors, it does help protect the public from scams and some of the issues that often come with online education. I was most interested in whether or not they provided information that was evidence-based and whether their courses and information provided to the public was safe and not misleading from the facts of nutrition.
What I found was certainly something unique, and something that as a dietitian interested in mindful eating and healthy weight management strategies for my clients, I could really appreciate. In the past, I have often referred to the Behavior Change Institute when looking for counselling strategies and ways to help my clients reach their goals. Although the motivational interviewing techniques developed by the genius behind the Behavior Change Institute, Dr. Michael Vallis, have been invaluable to me as a private practice RD, they have also left me wanting more. More information about how the tools used in psychology to change behavior are the exact tools we need to apply when coaching clients about changing their nutrition habits, and more information about what other factors affect individual food choices besides a lack of knowledge or willpower. I have become well aware in my short time as a professional that there is a large gap in the education of RD's between knowing a lot about the science of nutrition and actually having the skills to deliver that information in a meaningful way that promotes change in our clients lives. And that is what most RD's really want to do - promote positive change.
So to summarize what the Institute for the Psychology of Eating is and what they represent, here is some of what I learned:
To quote directly from an email that one of their staff members sent me, "The Institute for the Psychology of Eating is an educational organization on a mission to forever change the way the world understands food, body, and health. We offer trainings for professionals, programs for the public, online conferences, and other events, as well as plenty of free content and inspiration. The Institute is the world's first and only teaching organization dedicated to a forward thinking, positive, holistic approach to Eating Psychology and Mind Body Nutrition"
I found that their approach to nutritional counselling is very much in line with my own philosophy in that they attempt to consider the person as a whole and address all factors in why someone has been unable to reach their goals including a persons' stress levels, sleep patterns, history and relationship with food, and much more. As mentioned above, I tend to be very critical when it comes to "nutrition-coaching" programs or "holistic nutrition" programs since there are many unqualified people out their trying to replace the role of dietitians that frankly, don't know what they are talking about. One thing that I have realized in all of this though, is that writing off every other practitioner that gives nutrition advice simply because they don't have an RD is both a disservice to myself and to my clients, as there is without a doubt many educated people and programs with something to offer that could potentially fill in the gaps that are currently present in the dietetic education provided at many universities nationwide. As they put it in one of their email responses to me, "The training draws on both classic and contemporary peer-reviewed scientific studies, and also contributes to exploring and researching new developments in the fields of Mind Body Nutrition and Dynamic Eating Psychology."
According to a representative from the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, all of their professional training programs are targeted at people who already have basic nutrition knowledge and the ability to think critically. I definitely think this is an important component, since although I'm more open to alternative education for providing nutrition knowledge than ever before, you definitely can't learn to prescribe and apply medical nutrition therapies in 8 months - and thankfully the Institute for the Psychology of Eating makes no such claims.
After learning a little bit about the background of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, I thought I would sign up for their free Dynamic Eating Psychology Video Series and watch some of the free content on their youtube channel to see if I was really comfortable sharing the messages they were putting out there. I would definitely say I agree with about 95% of what I've found and thought I would share a few of my favorite videos that I've come across so far (I have MANY more that I intend to watch and evaluate as time permits).
These first two are great since they discuss what is unfortunately the most common topic dietitians are usually presented with - weight loss. My approach to weight loss with my clients and in my career has changed drastically from when I was a student, and I am definitely more prone to supporting a "Health At Every Size" approach and really avoiding setting weight loss as a goal. My past clients can definitely attest to the fact that although weight loss can be a nice side effect to understanding more about nutrition and developing a more positive relationship with food, it doesn't make a very good goal. We know for a fact that if a person who makes drastic lifestyle and nutrition changes doesn't lose any weight, they can still have a better quality of life and improved health outcomes. I often teach basic mindful skills and try to instill 2 important messages to all of my clients that come to me for weight loss, both of which I feel are supported in the videos below
Number 1: Weight loss is NOT the only sign of success.
Number 2: Not losing weight is NOT a sign of failure.
Mindful Eating Video
Weight Loss Strategy Video
Thanks again for your patience for this blog post! Make sure to share with your friends and don't forget to check out the Institute for the Psychology of Eating website as well as their facebook page, and youtube channel to learn more! Oh, and you'll see the little blurb about Whitty Nutrition on their list of best nutrition blogs for 2015 HERE (we're number 56 :)