Encouraging a Nondiet Approach to New Year’s Resolutions

Can you believe 2018 is already here? It’s amazing how quickly time flies. Despite the onset of a new year, there’s one thing that always feels like it’s on autopilot year after year: clients’ weight-focused New Year’s resolutions.

According to Rebecca Clyde, MS, RDN, CD, a nondiet private practice dietitian and owner of Nourish Nutrition Co, clients often feel pressure to make a weight-focused goal for one of two reasons: “reason A, because of an external belief that may be felt from health care practitioners emphasizing weight loss, or, reason B, the internal belief that weight is the most important indicator of health.”

As we know, there’s so much more to health than a number on a scale. But, sadly, sometimes our clients don’t see that, especially considering the messages they’re bombarded with day after day in the media.

To help instill change and get your clients thinking wellness, not weight, I’ve enlisted the help of six nondiet dietitians. These ladies are rock stars when it comes to helping their clients see the importance of health, not size, when it comes to New Year’s resolutions.

Whether you have a blog, podcast, newsletter, or even just a social media presence, there’s a tip in here that’ll speak to you—I’m sure of it!

Tips from Kim Hoban, RDN, CDN, CPT, certified intuitive eating counselor and blogger at (find her on Instagram @KimHobanRD).

In what innovative ways can dietitians engage their clients through their blogs?
First and foremost, I think it’s helpful for RDs to spread the message that this time of year doesn’t have to revolve around weight or diet talk. Many clients (and RDs) don’t even realize there’s a whole world of nondiet dietitians out there promoting intuitive eating, Health at Every Size, and body positivity. I wholeheartedly encourage other RDs to learn about this approach, immerse themselves in it if they’re interested, and start working creatively with clients on strategies that can heal their relationships with food and their bodies, as well as promote true health. One idea for engaging clients without promoting weight loss or management might be a challenge held on a blog or social media platform, where the “results” have nothing to do with a number on a scale. During the busy holiday season, I ran a free 12 Day Self Care Challenge, where subscribers received daily e-mails with simple tasks to improve their health—mind, body, and soul.

What strategies would you recommend dietitians use to begin?
Make sure that your challenge or “ask” is realistic and achievable so clients aren’t overwhelmed. You want to truly set them up for success. I’ve found that virtual challenges are most impactful when there’s a community component, so try creating a Facebook group for discussions or using a hashtag so participants can share what they’re doing and get inspiration from others. Another key is to share inspiring messages or implement challenges at times when clients are likely to be bombarded with weight loss and diet culture messaging, like the holiday season or New Year.

Tips from Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RDN, HFS, host of the podcast Body Kindness and author of the book Body Kindness: Transform Your Health From the Inside Out — And Never Say Diet Again.

In what innovative ways can dietitians engage their clients through podcasts?
Through podcasting, you can let people know what you stand for and discuss issues that matter to you. Your podcast topics can include conversations that impact your work as a dietitian and the trends going on in our culture like the antidiet and body-positive movements. Podcasting is a way to reach more people who may not be able to afford your services, and I think that matters.

What strategies would you recommend dietitians use to begin?
For beginners, I recommend being a guest on podcasts before jumping into starting your own. Listen to your favorite podcasts in the health and wellness space, and pitch yourself as a guest. Then, you can share the podcast you were on through social media while you work on the content of your own show. You also can share podcast episodes you love from other podcasters and fellow RDs (trust me, we’re looking at shares and hashtags to like and reshare ourselves). Add your input to the episode in your social share: What did you like about it, why, and how does it mirror your philosophy and approach? Later, you can include links to your offerings as well.

For current podcasters who want to share the nondiet approach, I’d say start anywhere. Have a guest on who specializes in the nondiet approach. Besides other dietitians, look to trainers, therapists, researchers, professors, or fat activists. Do your own reading on the subject and talk about the books. As you learn and grow, so will your podcast. One thing I always do is ask, “How can I be more helpful to the people I’m trying to reach?”

Tips from Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD, of Nutrition à la Natalie, (find her on Instagram @nutritionalanat).

In what innovative ways can dietitians engage their clients through their newsletters?
I love engaging clients through an e-mail series of daily challenges, affirmations, or tips. For example, you can create some sort of five- to 10-day program that helps clients create actionable goals or teaches them about a certain topic, and you can send an e-mail each day with a small amount of information. They’re likely to be engaged and look forward to your e-mail every day.

What strategies would you recommend dietitians use to begin?
New Year’s is the best time of the year to promote anything nutrition focused because the idea is already in the minds of your readers and clients. I once did a 30-day challenge in January with my blog readers, and it was as huge hit. At the end of every week, I’d send a recap of the week’s challenges via my newsletter, and my readers got really involved. You also can send exclusive recipes or info to your newsletter readers to encourage them to sign up.

Tips from Emily Kyle, MS, RDN, owner of Emily Kyle Nutrition, (find her on Instagram @EmilyKyleNutrition).

In what innovative ways can dietitians engage their clients through Instagram?
As RDs, we already know that weight and weight loss don’t automatically indicate good or bad health, and this season it’s more important than ever to help our [social media] followers understand this. Instead of focusing on weight loss, we can help our clients identify behaviors they have control over, such as healthful eating habits, enjoyable physical activity, or intentional and mindful self-care. Because Instagram is a visual sharing platform, we as RDs can share photos—or, even better, an Instagram Story—of our favorite small change (for example, eating a meatless meal). Explain the health benefits or why you personally love the change, and then push a powerful call to action such as “Comment below with your favorite meatless meal” or “Post your own favorite meatless meal using the hashtag #MeatlessMonday” to create that engagement our audience craves. This helps to reinforce positive, actionable behaviors that have a positive impact on health without any mention of weight loss, and it allows creativity from the participant in how they’d like to engage back with you.

What strategies would you recommend dietitians use to begin?
Beginning to share tailored messages on January 1 is always a great idea because we already have our clients’/audiences’ highest attention, as health and weight loss is naturally on the forefront of everyone’s mind this day. Start small, such as one post per week on your preferred topic, but remain consistent, such as posting every Monday. Consider following a Meatless Monday, Wellness Wednesday, or Self-Care Saturday trend that your followers can relate to and begin to expect from you.

Tips from Lindsay Stenovec, MS, RD, CEDRD, mom’s food and body image expert, founder of The Nurtured Mama—an online body-positive community for moms and moms-to-be—and host of The Nurtured Mama Podcast

In what innovative ways can dietitians engage their clients through Facebook?
Shift the focus from weight to wellness. And no, they’re not the same thing. Phrase nutrition and wellness advice in a way that can be used by, and is respectful of, people of all sizes. Create messaging and programs that will truly help people feel well in the new year, and develop sustainable wellness routines that won’t be thrown out when the scale doesn’t do what they expect it to do.

What strategies would you recommend dietitians use to begin?
In the online space, providing easy-to-use tips that can give people tangible outcomes are typically best received—how to streamline weekly grocery and meal prep, adding one new self-care activity per week, tools that help with tuning in to appetite cues, etc. Consider setting up a challenge or wellness kick-starter for your online audience—delivering support, tips, and actions they can take during the month of January (and beyond) so that people have a chance to develop new self-care routines that have the potential to last long term and have a more holistic impact on their well-being.

Tips from Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, LD, of Street Smart Nutrition (find her on Twitter @streetsmartRD).

In what innovative way can dietitians engage their clients through Twitter?
Hashtags are still an effective way to connect with followers and grow a community around a topic. Searching hashtags such as #IntuitiveEating or related nondiet terms can connect you with like-minded professionals and individuals and let your followers know that your tweets pertain to that subject.

Sharing articles that promote a nondiet message or body kindness also can amplify your voice. Now that Twitter allows longer tweets, pulling a quote or phrase from an article and using it in your tweet can prompt interest for people to click through to the article (just don’t forget to include the link!).

Threads are another way to escape the confines of limited characters. By replying to your own tweet (I know it sounds odd, but stick with me) you can create a monologue your followers can read start to finish. Numbering tweets can help orient someone to where they are in the thread and redirect them back to the beginning so they don’t miss anything. For example, tweeting 1/n, 2/n, 3/n, and so on until you reach the end (perhaps 10/10) lets people know this is a thread worth reading in its entirety.

What strategies would you recommend dietitians use to begin?
As with all social media, my belief is that waiting until you feel “ready” [to use Twitter] just postpones some great opportunities that could come your way. So even if you’re new to Twitter or don’t have much experience using it, just get out there and get active.

Creating your own hashtag won’t necessarily drive new traffic or followers, but you can create a series of related posts. For example, if you want to share helpful tips to avoid the mentality of weight loss as a New Year’s resolution, perhaps something like #HealthyAfterHolidays or #NonDietNewYear can emphasize your message and remind people to check back for new posts.

— Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, is a nutrition communications consultant and adjunct professor of nutrition in San Diego. She’s the recipe creator behind the popular blog, freelance writer for Shape and Oxygen magazines, and coauthor of Fertility Foods.

2 Comment

  1. This is great!!! I am an RDN/CDE trying to learn more & more about this movement and concept. Other great podcasts include: Food Psych, Nutrition Matters, and Love Food. I’m wondering if you are aware of any forums/communities/resources available for health professionals to ask questions and share ideas. I’d love to collaborate with more professionals via online forum as my area is saturated with mostly traditional perspectives re: dieting, including the medical community. Thank you.

    1. Hi Elizabeth! I’m Hadley, editorial assistant for the RD Lounge. I’m posting this on behalf of the author, Elizabeth Shaw. She says, “Thanks so much for your kind comment. The anti-diet movement is strong amongst RDNs and it’s a great way to network and gain support with your peers by joining groups to brainstorm! A few I’d recommend looking into include the HAES Facebook Group for RDs, and Inspired to Seek. Check out Instagram too and Body Kindness by Rebecca above, all great resources for your audience!”

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