health

The Bachelor's Helena has launched her own health coaching business. And experts are furious.

In the wake of any reality television finale, it’s not unusual to see contestants leverage their new-found fame to promote a new business venture.

But this week, there’s one venture in particular that’s been raising eyebrows, with some critics arguing that it’s peddling “dangerous” health advice.

Video by Mamamia

It’s called The Weight Loss Trilogy, and it’s a business co-founded by 2019 Bachelor second runner-up, Helena Sauzier, along with her sister, Alexandra, and their GP mother, Dr Kathi Bleeker Sauzier.

The company currently operates via an Instagram account, and describes itself as: “One doctor. Two health coaches.⁣ Offering one-on-one coaching sessions.⁣ Weight loss⁣⁣. Healthy eating. Movement⁣⁣. Mindfulness⁣⁣. Well-being.”

In posts on the account, The Weight Loss Trilogy offers advice to that effect. Including one tip that’s been broadly slammed by followers and criticised by a number of professionals in the nutrition and mental health industries.

Alongside a cartoon that reads, “The perfect snack does not exist”, the company has penned a caption in which it “highly” discourages people from snacking between meals.

“The body needs to devote a certain amount of time to repair and maintenance. Critically, this cannot take place whilst you are also digesting food,” the post reads.

“Snacking also prevents ketosis (i.e., fat burning).⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣”

The company advises ⁣⁣⁣followers to instead “have a glass of water/cup of herbal tea”, “go for a walk, phone a friend, read a book”, or simply “Surf the ‘hunger wave’… it will pass”.

Another post suggests not drinking coffee between meals, unless it’s black coffee, or at least reducing the amount of milk you add.

 

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One of the most common questions we’ve been asked…⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ Alas, there is no such thing as the perfect snack ???? ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ We highly discourage snacking as it is very important to allow your body to rest and repair itself in-between meal times. The body needs to devote a certain amount of time to repair and maintenance. Critically, this cannot take place whilst you are also digesting food. It’s like expecting a mechanic to repair your car whilst you are still driving it. The first thing the body needs to do is clear out old and damaged cells – only then can it get on with building new cells. All of this only takes place several hours after you stop eating. Snacking also prevents ketosis (i.e., fat burning).⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣Instead of snacking, why not:⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ ???? Have a glass of water/cup of herbal tea – hunger is often confused for thirst
⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ ???? Go for a walk, phone a friend, read a book – hunger is often confused for boredom
⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ ???? Surf the “hunger wave” and understand that it is absolutely okay (and healthy) to be hungry and that it will pass ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣We do realise that this might not be what you want to hear, but it truly is one of the best pieces of advice that we can give you.
⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣Keep messaging us with your burning questions ???? incredibly excited about the amount of messages we’ve received ???? ***As we’ve mentioned, please note that we do realise that this is not a “one size fits all” approach – what works for some doesn’t necessarily work for others. And if you do have any health issues, we recommend that your local medical professional be your first point of call ????***

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The posts were met with a chorus of criticism from followers, who accused the company of promoting toxic diet culture and misleading information.

“Shaming people into starving themselves is a despicable way to ‘help people’,” one commenter wrote.

“Shame on you,” added another. “You are in such a powerful position to create change and you use it for this. So unbelievably toxic.”

A number of followers also requested that the business provide reputable sources for its claims about snacking.

However, in a message posted to its Instagram stories the company wrote, “We are not legally obliged or willing to provide references for every one of our posts as this not a valuable use of our time. But we would absolutely encourage you to look into the evidence further, as it is most certainly there”.

It also added a disclaimer to its posts that “we do realise that this is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach — what works for some doesn’t necessarily work for others”.

The company posted this message in response to the backlash. Image: Instagram.

"Extremely dangerous."

Clinical psychologist Louise Adams is among those who are deeply concerned about the message The Weight Loss Trilogy is sending.

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Speaking to Mamamia, she described their post encouraging people not to snack as "extremely dangerous".

"They're telling us not to eat if we're hungry," the UNTRAPPED founder said. "That's not nutrition advice — that is an eating disorder."

In her clinical practice, Louise focuses on problematic eating, body image, and weight struggles, and she argues that advice such as that in The Weight Loss Trilogy posts legitimises disordered eating behaviour in an already vulnerable population.

"We know that women get particularly impacted by Instagram influencers [when it comes to body image]," she said.

"We're seeing such an upsurge in eating disorders, it's not funny. It's an absolute epidemic. And I'm really tired of having to mop up the mess caused by people like this."

She noted that Instagram this week took the step of banning posts that make a “miraculous” claim about a diet or weight-loss product and include commercial offer, such as a discount code. But she argued that posts offering blanket diet and nutrition advice ought to be platform's next target.

"Generic nutrition advice is doing much more harm than good," she said. "I really want Instagram to stand up and say, 'Hey, we've had enough of irresponsible, unqualified, unregulated industries popping up on our [platform]'."

Who's actually qualified?

All three women involved in The Weight Loss Trilogy have health-related qualifications. But critics have been quick to point out that none have any formal qualifications in nutrition or dietetics.

Dr Bleeker Sauzier is a GP and partner at a Perth weightloss clinic. According to her profile on the clinic's website, "Her special interests include obesity management, metabolic syndrome and weight loss. Dr Kathi is passionate about lifestyle medicine, nutrition and anti-ageing medicine, and also does Cosmetic Injectables and wrinkle relaxers."

Meanwhile, Helena and Alexandra both have an undergraduate degree in health science and have done a course in 'Health and Wellness'.

These programs are typically offered online, take as little as a few months and result in a 'professional certificate', which is not recognised under the Australian Qualifications Framework.

 

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Stop holding yourself back. If you aren’t happy, make a change.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ All behaviour change starts in the mind. We find that most people lack confidence in their ability to master change, and that simply telling people what to do does not build confidence.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Most of us have followed a diet and exercise program, only to regain the weight that we lost.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ What’s needed is an integrated approach to help you lose weight… and keep it off!⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ That’s where we come in. We are here to help you make those behavioural changes which we know are key to long-term weight management.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Think of us as your support team – working with you to grow and develop beyond what you can do alone.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Get in touch with us today to start your health and wellness journey!

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But the industry doesn't require much more. The reality is that professional nutrition practice is not regulated in Australia, meaning that anyone can call themselves a nutrition professional and offer advice, regardless of their qualifications.

According to Margaret Hayes, spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, the title to look for when obtaining dietary or nutrition advice is "Accredited Practising Dietitian". APDs must have graduated from an Australian university dietetics course and are required to undertake ongoing training and education programs to remain up-to-date.

As the DDA notes via its website, "It is the only credential recognised by the Australian Government, Medicare, the Department of Veterans Affairs and most private health funds as the quality standard for nutrition and dietetics services in Australia".

An APD herself with 33 years experience, Margaret urges people to be wary of generic diet and nutrition advice offered on social media.

"There are so many 'experts' out there; it's such a crowded space. And most of them are not qualified," she said.

"I can't tell you how many people I see who are very confused about what they should eat. So it becomes very stressful for people to be feeding themselves properly and trying to do the right thing."

She argues that it's important to seek the services of an APD who can get comprehensive understanding of your health.

"There's so many variables affecting your nutritional requirements, that it's very naive to think that one [approach] is going to fix everybody," she said.

"I spend my whole day sitting and listening and talking to people, and will make very specific dietary suggestions based on that person's scenario."

Louise Adams echoes that advice, and encourages anyone who sees unsubstantiated, harmful diet advice on social media to block and report the account.

"We've actually had an impact on Instagram if we can keep it going," she said. "And if women can actually rebel against this kind of message, if we all stand up together and say, 'This needs to stop', I reckon we've got a chance at shutting it down."

Mamamia reached out to The Weight Loss Trilogy, but the company was unable to provide comment by time of publication.

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