Following intuitive eating dietitians on Instagram can be helpful, but only if their content is inclusive, non-triggering, and fat-positive.
First, some background for why I’m writing this.
I’m an anti-diet dietitian who helps clients overcome eating disorders and work towards intuitive eating. I’m also a journalist who writes about weight-inclusive nutrition. As such, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to present health and nutrition information in a way that’s truly inclusive and non-triggering.
Lately, I can’t stop thinking about this Reddit post asking for clarification on “intuitive eating nutritionists” on social media:
What is up with “intuitive eating” nutritionists on social media?
My feed is filled with them, telling us to stop counting calories, stop worrying about losing weight, and just eating healthy. Which I totally get, since they’re all skinny/in shape and don’t need to lose weight. But what about people that DO need to lose weight?
Maybe you see why I was so eager to discuss this. The OP, knowingly or not, gets at so many hot-button issues of anti-diet nutrition and Health at Every Size® (HAES). Basically, they’re saying, “this sounds great for ‘skinny’ people, but what about me?”
So many people wonder if you can use intuitive eating for weight loss. (No.) And, seeing only thin people promote it makes it seem like it might help you lose weight. But the truth is that you can’t use intuitive eating for weight loss. Real food freedom only comes when you accept your body and stop trying to lose weight.
I’ll pause for a second to acknowledge that I’m a thin, white, cisgender, straight, financially secure, and able-bodied dietitian. And yes, I talk about intuitive eating and HAES on Instagram and elsewhere. I’m certainly guilty of some of the mistakes I’m about to call out. My intention here isn’t to shame anyone for how they promote their anti-diet work, but rather to get us all thinking about how we might do better.
Intuitive eating is rooted in body acceptance and is meant for people in ALL bodies. But I understand why that might not come across.
Scroll through the #intuitiveeating tag on Instagram, and…it does make it seem like intuitive eating is just for thin people. (Usually, these thin people are also cisgender, young, white, and able-bodied). It looks something like this:
Pretty homogeneous, right? As the Reddit post points out, many of these thin people are intuitive eating dietitians on Instagram. They say they’re spreading the message of food freedom and body acceptance for all. But, although that might be their intention, it’s not what they’re actually doing. By posting so many photos of their own thin bodies, they’re making it seem like intuitive eating is only for thin people. And, consciously or not, they’re implying that if you eat intuitively like them, you’ll look like them some day.
Using your own thin body to promote intuitive eating is a diet culture move.
Hear me out. So many “wellness” influencers use images of their own bodies to sell diet plans, fitness programs, and supplements. It’s a sketchy move, because it just isn’t true. You could eat and exercise in exactly the same way as someone else, and you still wouldn’t look like them. Sketchy diet programs like Whole30 do it, but anti-diet dietitians do it, too.
When an intuitive eating dietitian on Instagram constantly shows you their own body, they’re using this same tactic. And while they might claim to be anti-diet, fat-positive, and inclusive, their imagery says otherwise. And, it might be super triggering for people. Because anyone in a fat or otherwise marginalized body might feel like they don’t measure up.
It’s not that intuitive eating dietitians on Instagram aren’t allowed to be thin.
The more experts that get on board with intuitive eating, HAES, and the anti-diet movement, the better. And unfortunately, the field of dietetics is very homogenous. 80 percent of dietitians are white, and 92 percent identify as women. And, while there aren’t statistics on body size, it’s safe to say that most dietitians are thin.
This isn’t because being a dietitian (or eating a certain way) makes you thin. Most likely, it’s because fat people don’t feel comfortable in dietetics education programs, or in nutrition-related jobs. Precisely because of weight stigma.
So, it’s great that thin dietitians are on board with intuitive eating and body acceptance. But, we shouldn’t be centering ourselves and our bodies, because that doesn’t further the cause.
If we want to show that intuitive eating is for everybody, our goal should be to diversify the movement. (By “our,” I mean white, thin dietitians in particular, but really anyone advocating for quitting diets.)
What I can do is recommend a diverse range of dietitians to follow.
Yes, you can absolutely continue to follow your favorite thin, white, able-bodied, cisgender, anti-diet dietitians on Instagram. For my part, I try to spread messages about intuitive eating without centering myself or my own body. That means only occasionally posting photos of myself, and essentially never posting photos of my body. Several other thin, white, able-bodied, cisgender intuitive eating dietitians do the same thing, and I enjoy following them.
But, you shouldn’t be getting your information about intuitive eating and body acceptance only from people with thin privilege, white privilege, and a host of other privileges. Because we don’t know what it’s like to live in a marginalized body. Our experiences with diet culture only go so far.
Here are 11 intuitive eating dietitians to follow on Instagram
The list includes dietitians in diverse bodies, with various gender, racial, and ethnic identities. If you really want to learn more about intuitive eating on Instagram, diversify your feed by following them.
1. Christyna Johnson, @encouragingdietitian
Christyna’s bio reads: 🥑 Anti-Diet, Weight Inclusive – ✝️ Christ Follower – 🤓 Nutrition NeRD – 🎙Intuitive Eating for the Culture. Follow Christyna here.
2. Amee Severson, @amee_rd
Amee’s bio reads:
Non-diet Dietitian, treating disordered eating, fighting fatphobia and fighting for social justice in Bellingham, WA. Follow Amee here.
3. Vaughn Darst, @allgendernutrition
Their bio reads: Trans Nutrition Therapist (he/they) – Serving Up Nutrition for All Bodies – HAES, social justice, trans-centered nutrition. Follow Vaughn here.
4. Kimmie Singh, @bodypositive_dietitian
Kimmie’s bio reads: 🥨 Fat NYC Dietitian Nutritionist – 🌵 Body Politics & Fat Liberation – 🍋 Eating Disorders, Intuitive Eating, PCOS. Follow Kimmie here.
5. Ayana Habtemariam, @thetrillrd
Ayana’s bio reads: Promoting collective healing from trauma, rejection & body oppression. – Anti-Diet Culture – Fat ➕ – Intuitive Eating Counselor. Follow Ayana here.
6. Krystal Dunham, @themotherroaddietitian
Krystal’s bio reads: Krystal, MSc. Nutr. & Food Science – 🌈 Affordable, Sensible, & Accessible Nutrition – 🌈 Former NCAA Athlete & Peace Corps Volunteer. Follow Krystal here.
7. Aaron Flores, @aaronfloresrdn
Aaron’s bio reads: Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Body Trust® Provider #HAES advocate, #IntuitiveEater, and dad. Follow Aaron here.
8. Dalina Soto, @your.latina.nutritionist
Dalina’s bio reads: 💁🏽♀️Creator of the CHULA METHOD ™️ – 🇩🇴 Helping latinas end chronic dieting – 🍕Eat w/o guilt 🍚 embrace your culture – ⬇️join the club, stop dieting FOREVER. Follow Dalina here.
9. Whitney Trotter, @whitneytrotter.rd
Whitney’s bio reads: Eating Disorder/Anti- Racism/ Anti-Trafficking Consultant – Trauma informed – Registered Dietitian 👩🏽🍳 – Registered Nurse👩🏽⚕️ – Yoga Teacher 🧘🏽♀️. Follow Whitney here.
10 & 11. Jessica Jones and Wendy Lopez, @foodheaven
Jessica and Wendy’s bio reads: Exploring the intersections of nutrition, food, culture & body image – 🌱 Dietitians & BFFs – Co-Hosts, The Food Heaven Podcast – Get our FREE eCookbook. Follow Jessica and Wendy here.
I’d love it if you’d help hold me accountable on Instagram @christinejbyrne
As I mentioned above, I identify as thin, white, straight, able-bodied, financially secure, cisgender dietitian. I try my best not to center myself when I’m talking about anti-diet work. And, my goal is to create a space that feels welcoming for as many people as possible. I’d love if you’d follow along (you can do that here) to hold me accountable.
Intuitive eating is for everybody.
Social media often makes it look like it’s just for people who are already thin, and have many other privileges. This just isn’t the case, and following a wide range of intuitive eating dietitians will help you better understand what intuitive eating actually is. It looks different for people with less privilege. It looks very different for those without regular access to healthy food. And, the goal isn’t to be thin. In fact, the goal is to let go of the pursuit of thinness and the thin ideal.
If someone starts talking about how to lose weight with intuitive eating? Unfollow them. If they’re constantly centering their own thin body? Unfollow them. True anti-diet, weight-inclusive content will make you feel like you, and your body, belong.
If you’re ready to stop obsessing about food, feeling guilty about what you eat, and succumbing to disordered thoughts, I can help. I’m a dietitian who specializes in eating disorders and disordered eating. I take a weight-inclusive, gender-affirming, patient-centered approach. Learn more about nutrition counseling, offered in Raleigh, NC, and virtually to clients in several states. (We’re in-network with most Blue Cross Blue Shield plans as of October 2022, which means you might be able to work with a non-diet dietitian at little or no cost!)
If you’re not ready to commit to counseling but want more information about the anti-diet approach, subscribe to my weekly newsletter.