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Feature Articles: Eating Well


Take a New Approach to Health

Linda Rellergert, Nutrition Specialist in St. Charles County
University of Missouri Extension



In America today, we have developed very unhealthy attitudes toward appearance, eating and health. The message communicated by media, as well as many national health organizations and health care providers is that to be healthy, one must have a lean body, exercise to the point of exhaustion and vigorously control what one eats.

However, few people actually fit this image. Our population as a whole is heavier, leads more sedentary lives, eats larger portions of food, and often feels guilty about it. At the same time, the rates of some diseases with strong links to lifestyle like diabetes and heart disease have remained steady or gone up. These trends are alarming to many people.

Some nutrition and health care providers have started taking another approach. We believe it is time to re-examine the research and assumptions that have been guiding us, to face the fact that what we have been doing is not helpful for most people and may even be harmful.

This new approach or philosophy is called a Non-diet or Size Acceptance Approach. This approach looks at issues of weight, hunger, physical activity, food, self-esteem, size acceptance and self-trust, and examines the connections among them.


Practitioners who share this philosophy believe first that we must do no harm. Second, we believe that people of every size can take steps to maximize their own health.

The idea that thin is good while fat is bad is so ingrained in our society that few people recognize it may not be true. Changing long-held beliefs such as this takes time. I urge you to keep an open, yet questioning mind as we continue to explore these ideas together.




Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009








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