Several days ago, some friends on Twitter asked about my thoughts regarding this article in The Huffington Post: What Nutritionists Order When Eating Out. My knee jerk response: I hate it. Below is a more thoughtful, nuanced response. If you glance through the article, you might feel that the nutrition suggestions are reasonable. So why wouldn’t I like it? Let me explain.
1. The title. It suggests the copy-cat approach to eating. Just because a nutritionist is doing it, doesn’t mean it’s right for you! My whole approach to nutrition is helping my clients learn and tune in to their own needs first. See Intuitive Eating for more details.
2. This type of article supports “rule-based eating” rather than “skill-based eating.” If someone told me that I couldn’t have French fries with my burger, I might be a little angry! But for someone else, veggies with their burger might feel like a nice balance. If you are checked in to your mood, appetite, hunger, and fullness level you won’t go wrong. It’s when we shut down to your internal regulators that you get off kilter.
3. There’s nothing wrong with balancing out your dining out dishes with fresh whole foods and veggies. But I fear this article misses the point on balance. Because balance goes for eating out too! Sometimes we feel like a salad. Sometimes we feel like Chinese food. Balance eating out with eating in. Balance fruits, veggies, grains, protein, and fats along with “fun foods.” It really is ok to have the occasional meal, snack, or drink that you enjoy just because it tastes good!
4. I think it’s odd that the RDs in this article are giving advice on portions ie “eat one slice of pizza.” We come in all shapes, sizes, hunger levels, nutrition needs. And if I ate one slice of pizza (unless it was a big one!) for dinner I’d be hungry an hour later. In fact, I don’t know many adults that would feel well-nourished after a slice of veggie pizza.
5. I really really dislike advice that says “stay away from…” Instead, I like to think about it more thoughtfully: If I eat this, how long will it keep me full for? How will it taste? How will it make me feel physically? Is this truly what I’m in the mood for?
In summary, black and white rules make us want to rebel! They are seen as bad and forbidden and become all the more alluring. Learning how to be a skill-based eater is so much more rewarding! You don’t have to follow anyone else’s rules. Simply ask yourself those simple questions listed in #5 and see where it gets you. I bet you’ll be surprised to find you are a pretty good nutritionist all by yourself.
What do you think?