What is a non diet approach? Can active and athletic vegans meet their fitness goals without counting macros?
I spoke with non diet dietitian and (fellow vegan) – Tara Gallimore all about this!
Disclaimer: This podcast episode and article is just providing education and entertainment. It is not personal medical or dietary advice. Always talk to your doctor before adding a supplement or making major dietary changes. If you have or suspect you have disordered eating or eating disorders, please seek treatment from a professional therapist, doctor and dietitian with the proper expertise. See our Disclaimers for more details.
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What is a Non Diet Approach?
A non diet approach is a approach to eating that does center weight as the ultimate determination of overall health.
While there is no one set definition or non diet approach guidebook- many a focus away from the fixation of weight is a primary characteristic.
This approach doesn’t say that body weight shouldn’t be taken into account. Rather, it recognizes the complexities, harms of weight stigma, discrimination, and social determinants of health.
Many proponents of a non diet approach take a more holistic view of health.
Health is viewed as multifactorial and that involves many factors including:
- Physical health
- Mental health
- Environmental factors
- (some people a also believe) Spiritual
- Other existing health conditions
- Sleep, etc.
This approach also recognizes that many (*not all but many) individuals who lose weight will gain some amount back. Much research suggests weight cycling (repeatedly losing and regaining weight) is unhealthy(1, 2).
In essence, the non diet approach centers healthy behaviors instead of body weight.
Is it the Same As Intuitive Eating?
A non diet approach and intuitive eating are sometimes used interchangeably, but the non diet approach is more of an umbrella term.
Intuitive eating is a framework that has several principles, and encourages mindful eating with a focus on internal cues.
It is based on a book written by two dietitians that you can check out below (*affiliate link):
There is no set definition for a non diet approach, but it is sometimes thought as the umbrella term in which many somewhat overlapping responses to dieting embrace.
These approaches include Intuitive Eating and the Health at Every Size or HAES (A framework embracing body shapes of all sizes).
As mentioned in the previous section, a non diet approach encourages healthy eating behaviors with a more weight neutral lens. This is a strike contrast between a lot of fad weight loss programs that focus on dieting as the only way to be healthy.
Can Active Vegans Adopt a Non Diet Approach?
Vegan athletes and 100% plant based active people can adopt a non diet nutrition approach.
Instead of the goal being on weight loss, other metrics are likely to be tracked.
This approach may be more attractive for people who don’t want to focus on counting macros or calories.
Balanced nutrition can help with many things athletes like to track such as:
- How energetic they feel
- Labs (example: blood sugar and cholesterol levels), blood pressure, etc.
If this approach speaks to you and you want personal guidance, look for a dietitian who specializes in this area.
Gentle Nutrition For Active Vegans
Gentle nutrition is a term used in the Intuitive Eating book (*affiliate link) that making healthy choices that focuses on fueling your body and meeting nutrient needs.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Tara Gallimore, a non diet sports dietitian about her tips!
Here’s her gentle nutrition tips for active vegans:
- The Athlete’s Plate® provides a visual for structuring a plate by activity. It is based on levels of easy, moderate and hard training, with increasing portions from the grains group as the training intensity level goes up.
- Getting adequate carbohydrates is so important for having enough energy to fuel active activities. If you are constantly hungry, it may be that you aren’t eating enough complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrate examples include foods like oatmeal and bread.
- If you can, try to prep in advance! That way when you recognize body cues that signal you are hungry, you’ll be prepared.
- Be well versed on the nutrients that may be more tricky to get enough of on a vegan diet! Check out my post Vegan for Beginners to learn more.
- Learn what supplements to take. Vegans will at least want to plan for a vitamin B12 supplement (talk to your doctor about starting one).
For personalized guidance, on how to select certain foods to fuel your activities or athletic goals, talk to a dietitian!
Did you find this article and the corresponding podcast episode helpful? Did you learn anything new about diets? Let me know in the comments!
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And if you want to listen to me interview more vegan dietitians, check out these other episodes about:
–Nutrition for Vegans who Lift
–Intuitive Eating for Vegans
–Nuance within Veganism