From “Weight Management”* to Weight-Inclusive: My Story
*Content warning: This page contains terms that are considered stigmatizing to higher-weight folks as they serve to medicalize and problematize body size. I am using them here as they were the terms that I used to describe my work at the time.
When I started this business several years ago, choosing “weight management”* as a niche seemed like a natural fit. I had years of experience working at a bariatric surgery/weight management* clinic, and it seemed like almost everybody looking for a dietitian was looking to lose weight.
I was good at calculating nutrition needs and teaching people all the little tips and tricks to cut “excess” calories. As time went on, however, something didn’t feel right.
As “flexible” as I tried to be with my recommendations, clients would come into my office and berate themselves for “not sticking to the plan” or “falling off track”, or when people were ready to give up because they were doing “everything right” but the scale had not budged.
For those who did lose weight, their “celebration” was often cut short by concerns around whether they’d lost “enough” weight or how they could keep losing more weight. It was from these moments that I learned that health and happiness do not come from a number on the scale.
Discovering My Truth
Early on in my career, I read Intuitive Eating after attending a talk by co-author Evelyn Tribole. Though I loved the book, as evidenced by the many tabs that are still in my copy today, it didn’t really change the way that I practiced. My takeaway at the time was that once people stopped dieting or worrying about their weight, they would reach a “healthy” weight.
It wasn’t until 2016 that I revisited the idea of intuitive eating after listening to the Food Psych podcast for the first time. I was hooked almost immediately, and it opened my eyes to a way of thinking about food, nutrition, health, and weight that was at once new and familiar to me. (Side note: Since then, not only have I been a guest on the podcast, I’m also the community and content associate! Talk about coming full circle.)
I realized that though I rarely saw people with diagnosed eating disorders, I actually saw disordered eating every day, but I didn’t notice it because it was so normalized to me. In fact, I promoted it and celebrated it.
Although I never put anyone on a specific diet, I was still promoting dieting and causing harm by conflating weight and health, overriding our inner wisdom by imposing food rules, and perpetuating the myth that smaller bodies are healthier, happier, better, worthier.
And for that, I’m sorry.
Maya Angelou once said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.”
This is my way of doing better.
I believe that eating well shouldn’t have to be a part-time job that involves spending hours comparing labels at the grocery store, calculating the calories or macros of every meal in your head, or eating the same few foods every single day just because it’s the only “clean” food you like.
I believe that at our core, we are our own experts. My job involves helping people pause, attune to, and learn to trust their inner wisdom (while occasionally massaging it with some updated evidence), so that they can discover their own way of eating that fuels, nourishes, and satisfies.
I believe that your body was never the problem. Since I started shifting toward a weight-inclusive approach several years ago, I have learned more about how this work intersects with fat liberation and other social justice movements, and how multiple systems of oppression work to lead us to believe that we’re “not enough.” Choosing to reject those messages is at once liberating and difficult, as it is an act of resistance. We can work together to take down these oppressive systems, while doing our best to stay resilient and survive as long as they continue to exist.
Thinking about working with me? Find out more.
Vincci Tsui (she/her) is a former bariatric dietitian turned certified intuitive eating counselor and body-liberation advocate. She is the author of The Mindful Eating Workbook: Simple Practices for Nurturing a Positive Relationship with Food.
Vincci takes a collaborative, compassionate, and inclusive approach to nutrition counselling and coaching that is informed by social justice, Health at Every Size®, intuitive eating, and mindful eating philosophy. She believes in helping clients attune to their inner wisdom when it comes to making decisions around food, eating, and overall well-being, with the ultimate goal of equity and dignity for all, regardless of size, ability, and identities.
Born in Hong Kong and raised in Calgary, Vincci received her Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences from McGill University, and completed the school’s integrated dietetic internship program. She is an active member of the College of Dietitians of Alberta and Dietitians of Canada.
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