Nadia Felsch hired a nutrition coach to help her lose weight. She wishes she’d done more investigating.

Video by MWN

 

For help and support for eating disorders, contact the Butterfly Foundation‘s National Support line and online service on 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673) or email [email protected]. You can also visit their website, here.  

It was late 2013 and I’d just paid $30 USD to receive “personalised macros and a nutrition plan.” I had 20 percent body fat. The (very good) science that got those figures classed me as optimal body composition, athlete-status and with no changes recommended. I trained hard six days a week and paid a great deal of attention to my nutrition.

No changes recommended didn’t help me though. Because as I’ve shared openly, I was deep in the throes of disordered eating and body dysmorphia.

So, changes I sought.

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Searching online, I contacted someone offering said macro plans, an area that I’d started learning more about. Someone, if I’m honest, I consulted on my own nutrition because of how they looked. And because I wanted to look like that.

If you’ve ever read any of my disordered eating or training stories on my blog, you’ll know that I can stick to anything. I’m a master of discipline when I want something. Six weeks into this “macro program” I had to admit that it wasn’t right though.

1. Eating as little as I was and,

2. Eating with ever more obsession than in the past (who knew it was possible?!) wasn’t OK for me.

Is a caption really even needed for this? Week after week I see clients who torture themselves about what they’re eating. And sometimes what they’re not eating too. ????I hear it when I’m sitting in cafes. I read it on social media. It’s a completely evasive practice, if we allow it to be. And I have allowed it to be. ????Reclaiming that time back has been one of the most powerful decisions of my life. And it was absolutely a decision. ????Merging my university degree in the science of Nutrition, my practical skills in cooking and personal experience with disordered eating is an area of service that I’m thoroughly looking forward to offering in the coming months. ????There is a healthy life beyond diets. Can’t wait to show you.

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So by the end of summer 2014 I stopped the program. And I started to unravel the complexity that was my disordered eating, obsessive training and body dysmorphia. A huge part of that unravelling is my blog; so much at the time self-therapy via writing and for anyone to see.

I’m naturally suspicious and always one to find the evidence. However, the above story I’ve shared was less than five years ago. And I still vividly recall the palpable feeling of vulnerability and of desperation. I felt desperate to lose weight (yes, I thought I needed to), so desperate that reason went out the window. Believe me, I get it. When a health and wellness goal is so important to us that it becomes everything.

I freaking well get it.

The Bachelorette’s Sophie Monk shares with Mia Freedman her experiences with body dysmorphia during her time with Bardot. Post continues after audio.

I saw a somewhat similar story shared online this week and felt compelled to share my story with you. Fortunately, dissimilar to the recent story, I was not seeking assistance for a health issue; as this poor girl had been; and had been around these practices for long enough that my intuition cut it short, and quickly!

You could say that in 2013, my desperation allowed me to have blinders on. I “fell” for what I thought was a qualified individual though in reality if I’d spent even half the time researching her actual qualifications as I had stalking her ab shots online, I might have avoided additional pain on my journey.

I still vividly recall the palpable feeling of vulnerability and of desperation. I felt desperate to lose weight, so desperate that reason went out the window.

If I’d looked, what I would have found is that this individual “trained as a nutrition specialist,” which FYI means nothing. That her personal history of being around gyms, working as a trainer and around other fit people somehow qualified her to consult on highly individualised nutrition planning for someone she enquired nothing of, across the globe!

This is nothing new but that doesn’t mean we’re learning anything from it. Self-labelled experts and gurus are all over the place and come in many forms. And the truth is, they wouldn’t be if people weren’t biting.

I take responsibility for seeking out this individual to help me, she didn’t approach me. She didn’t lie about false qualifications either, I simply chose not to investigate or think they mattered.

I’d love for everyone to know of the pitfalls from these stories and hopefully avoid them though that’s likely naïve. So perhaps more modestly, I’d ask you challenge people on their qualifications to be talking about what they’re talking about. Personal experience does not equal professional.

Though on the other hand, it can help make a better professional and I certainly know that’s the case for me. Years of struggle and learning the hard way complement my three plus years of studying Nutrition at university. [Which by the way, is the only place I’ve provided personalised consultations to date; within a teaching clinic.]

I lose count of how many times in a day, online or offline I experience how wrong this can go. Seemingly harmless information, perhaps even designed to empower, making its way to dinner table and water cooler discussion, setting up misinformation and likely unnecessary actions in people who’d otherwise have benefited from individual, qualified and evidence-based advice. Hello… this is why everyone is now obsessed with turmeric.

Perhaps that everyone eats means the likelihood of nutrition experts will always naturally be higher? We can all relate, therefore we all know. And much of that is true too.

No one will ever know your own instincts like you will. And it’s my professional perspective that the best, qualified Nutritionists and Dietitians encourage and promote those instincts, working with you as an individual to bring about your best health and most enjoyable eating.

I welcome the industry to become highly regulated, which FYI it’s not regulated by the government in Australia at all, to prevent so much of the above from happening in the first place. Because an understanding of nutrition is powerful and whilst I’m no elitist, I do believe that power should be taught well, practiced efficiently and regarded highly.

I’m proud of the work I’ve done so far within my industry and look forward to continuing to evolve and hold myself to incredibly high professional standards (even if they’re not required). And I know there’s a heap of Nutrition professionals in the same boat which is something that we can all feel hopeful about.

This post has been republished with full permission from nadiafelsch.com.

Nadia Felsch is the brains behind the popular Wholefood Society mixes, a final semester Nutrition (BHSc) student, recipe developer, photographer and blogger at nadiafelsch.com.

For help and support for eating disorders, contact the Butterfly Foundation‘s National Support line and online service on 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673) or email [email protected]. You can also visit their website, here.  

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