Case study: Intuitive Eating Client R

NOTE: This story has been shared with permission. Content warning for previous specific exercise and food rules. Specific weight numbers have been censored.

If you’re feeling curious about how a dietitian may be able to help you with intuitive eating – read this!

Client R is an intuitive eating client and I would describe her using the words: caring, high-achieving, intelligent, and brave. She has many roles and responsibilities in her life and is understandably very busy! We have been working together for some time now, and when she first came to visit with me her number one goal was always to feel more JOY in her life! She spent so much time and energy on others, that self care and being able to feel happiness and mindfulness in her life was very difficult.

With that in mind, she started on her journey of self care.

Every year she sets self care intentions. Here is the beginning of her list from 2021:

Self-Care & Work/life balance 2021 intention. A client's list of goals to improve her health before working with intuitive eating dietitians.

The document starts with: Self-Care & Work/Life Balance, 2021 Intention. Mantras: “I must be my best self in order to give my best to others” “Client R’s best self”. What do you notice about these mantras? I notice some very strict wording, and perhaps some black and white thinking. “I MUST be my BEST self” doesn’t give us very much flexibility or self-compassion.

In session, we explored the “mind” section. It turns out, Client R doesn’t really like yoga or meditation. She was told by somebody else that it was good for her to do, and it ended up on the top of her list. It can be easy to internalize rules or “shoulds” from other people.

How often do you find yourself holding on to a recommendation or rule from somebody else that doesn’t actually serve you?

“Choose to have a good day, find the positive, opportunity or joy” – this is a wonderful sentiment, and mindset and perspective shifts can be powerful, however this goal does not leave much room for bad days or negative emotions. Life is going to happen, there will be ups and downs, and toxic positivity can be unhelpful. There are going to be times where we are unable to choose to find the positive, and then end up feeling like a failure because we didn’t achieve that goal!

As for the exercise section, Client R has really been able to shift from a specific weight loss goal over time, though this can be very understandably challenging!

What else do you notice about the body section? I see a lot of black and white food rules, again with no room for flexibility. We may be able to stick to some harsh rules and restrictions for days, or maybe even months, but when we inevitably break our rule we are setting ourselves up for feeling guilt and shame.

I also notice that she is restricting culturally important foods. Client R identifies as Latina, and foods like rice and potatoes are so culturally important! Restricting this part of ourselves can be distancing ourselves from our identities.

Food is about more than just fuel: it’s culture, nostalgia, connection, and more.

Here is the intentions page Client R wrote in 2023:

Self care mantra: Show up for yourself so that others know how to show up for you! A client's intentions and goals after working with an intuitive eating dietitian.

Her mantra of this year: “Show up for yourself so that others know how to show up for you!” Is finally centering herself in a healthy way. She had spent years neglecting self care, as many of us do, and is ready to invest in self care for herself.

Health means something different to every person, and it can be a helpful exercise to journal on what health means to YOU. To client R, the first goal in health is “I meet my basic needs and desires”. I love the saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup”. Client R has strong values of taking care of others and in prioritizing herself, she will be able to show up for others even more authentically.

Her new goals reflect on what she can add into her life versus what she needs to subtract. She is still on her journey of self healing and growth, but the shift between these two documents is remarkable. I see so much more grace, softness, and openness to the joy that is so important to her values.

It is such an honor to work with clients to support them in working towards what truly matters to them.

Curious about how we could support you?