How Does This Work and What Kind of Client Might Find You?
Dr. David Wiss
September 2, 2022
Can you walk me through an example of how this would work and what kind of client might find you?
There's a lot of nutrition information out there. There's no shortage of people who want to teach nutrition. We do want to be able to approach food as a science and one of the unfortunate things about nutrition is that it has turned into a big math problem for a lot of people.
I think that especially for those in the sugar addiction and food addiction space having boundaries around food can be a key to success. Having a quantifiable food plan has been very helpful to a lot of people but there are also a lot of people who are led down the path to believing that nutrition is just a big math problem, when in fact there are way more to nutrition than how many grams or how many ounces or how many calories.
So if you look at a lot of the apps that are on the marketplace they really are focused on calories if you think about MyFitnessPal: macronutrients. One of the things I've learned from my clinical practice is that a math-centric approach to nutrition could be very helpful for one person but could be very harmful to someone else, and it depends on their psychiatric profile. Depending on someone's mental health, and their degree of cognitive rigidity, there might need to be different approaches.
There are multiple paths toward recovery even with sugar addiction or food addiction. There might be one person who really needs a weighed and measured food plan but there might be other people that just need guiding principles and some really basic clear things to do so that their life doesn't become a big math problem and create unnecessary impairment and distress.
The Need for Nuance in Nutrition
I'm interested in learning about someone's mental health before starting any treatment. If someone has done math-centric pass/fail nutrition for a long time and that hasn't worked for them, what other ways of messaging nutrition might be helpful to that person? This is where the individual assessment comes in.
There's a difference between someone who's been on 25 diets in the last 25 years versus a person who's never gone on a diet before so we want to learn about someone's dieting history. There's a difference between someone who weighs 150 pounds but has been weight stable in a range of 10 pounds versus someone who is 150 pounds but has weight cycled in a range of 100 lbs. for their whole life. We also need to assess body image.
So there's a lot of nuance in the nutrition space that I think is being currently missed and with recovery, we need to dive into the nuances. Everyone's different. There isn't some single plan that's going to work for all people.
We need to teach people to become empowered to have their own individual agency and I know people (especially in the sugar addiction and food addiction space) like the idea of having zero agency and turning all decisions over to someone else and I can respect that. There are people that don't want to make food-related decisions- they want someone else to give them a food plan. But then you get people who have done that and found it wasn't sustainable over long periods of time, and now they want to try doing something a little bit more curious and open-ended, rather than predefined.
Everyone's different. There are people that need rigidity and there are people that need fluidity and we're not doing a good job assessing what's true for people. We live in an era where practitioners find their brand of recovery and develop a philosophy such as: “this is what I do this is what works for me so if you come to me I'm going to give this to you.”
I think it's a beautiful thing when people have a gift and want to share it with the world but it doesn't actually do a good job of investigating what's going to be most helpful to the client or to the patient.
Food philosophies can be important. I've moved through a lot of different ideas in my career but in many ways, food philosophy is more beneficial to the provider than it is to the client or patient. Because then you can just sort of stay in the lane that you've created for yourself but in healthcare, we need to think about the patient, we need to think about what's going to be best for the person in front of us. People respond differently to ultra-processed foods and we like to discuss this from the individual as well as public health perspectives.
It would be like if a cancer doctor had one medication that she really loved because it's what her husband took and she just really loves this one cancer medication and everyone who came to her practice received that medication. That would be considered malpractice but in the nutrition space, that pattern seems to be normative behavior.
Wise Mind Nutrition
Wise Mind Nutrition explores the possibility that there are multiple lanes that have nuance and that intersect and diverge and converge with other lanes. And what if people could become experts on themselves, with help from an outside expert? If you are looking for help for food addiction, need eating disorder treatment, or someone to talk to about weight stigma or weight bias, we are here to help.
Our program works great for people who have a history of drug addiction, binge eating disorder, or have baffling eating habits such as an uncontrollable sweet tooth. Our experience comes from healthcare settings with trained healthcare professionals, mixed with personal recovery stories and a whole lot of nuanced thinking.