By: Riley Burns, RDN, LDN
Chrysalis’ Nutrition Director Terri Mozingo recently completed the rigorous Intuitive Eating Counselor coursework and sat down with us to share what she learned alongside some words of wisdom.
How long did this certification take you?
One and a half years. It is an intense certification process that included modules with an accompanying workbook, an exam, an intensive literature review, and group supervision with one of the founders, Evelyn Tribole.
Why was this the next step in your career? What made it feel enticing to you?
A lot of clients come to Chrysalis wanting to learn Intuitive Eating (IE). Most of the time, clients aren’t ready for Intuitive Eating right from the get-go. Most of the time, by no fault of their own, clients come in with an extensive background in diet culture, and I wanted to pursue this certification to gain more tools to help me help clients move from diet culture into a more neutral place where they’re ready to learn IE.
What was the most valuable thing you learned in the process?
The tools that we learned. The certification came with an abundance of information, worksheets, research, and skills that are translatable into tools for clients that really help them to learn the language of intuitive eating. Oftentimes one of the hardest things for clients to do is to unlearn diet culture and reframe subjective thinking around food. The language of intuitive eating is based in rejecting the diet mentality and embracing food neutrality, which is a big challenge for clients. The tools I learned during the certification are immensely helpful in helping me help my clients.
Another valuable component of the certification was reading the wealth of evidence-based research that backs up IE. I’m a very science-minded person, and I thought it was fascinating to see that there is quantitative and qualitative research showing that intuitive eating promotes favorable health outcomes. That is really important for dietitians to see because we make our treatment decisions based on evidence-based recommendations.
Supervision was a significant part of the journey to get this certification. What do you think the supervision added to the experience? Any takeaways?
Supervision was helpful because of all of the different perspectives that were being highlighted. There were other dietitians, therapists, yoga instructors, and people who just wanted to learn more about intuitive eating! Everyone had different, but equally valuable insights, and it was really interesting to present cases and hear everyone’s feedback. There was also such a wide geographic spread, with some people living as far away as Australia. It was awesome to see how far IE has reached.
How does someone know they are ready to learn intuitive eating?
It’s really different for everyone. It’s important to have the motivation to make changes, but it’s just as important to be ready to let go of diet culture and the desire to lose weight. Intuitive eating is not a weight loss tool. Once someone is ready to release expectations, reject black-and-white thinking around food, and learn how to live in the gray area, then intuitive eating can be a topic of conversation. IE is a lifelong journey – it takes a long time. Learning IE is one thing, living it is another.
So IE has 10 principles. What is your favorite principle? Which principle do you find most people get stuck on?
My favorite principle AND the one most people get stuck on is principle 1: Reject the Diet Mentality. The IE principles don’t have to go in order, but Principle 1 is first for a reason. I find myself coming back to this one the most frequently with clients too. It is so important to reinforce, especially because we are all raised in diet culture. Principle 1 also has incredibly compelling research to back it up.
When clients get stuck, this is usually where it happens. This principle is also my favorite because I have so many clients that hit roadblocks because they don’t have a safe space to unlearn the diet mentality. I also spend a lot of time reinforcing that even if you work diligently at unlearning the diet mentality, it may never feel like you’ve done it perfectly. That’s because IE isn’t a diet plan – it’s a way of life, and life isn’t perfect.
Interested in starting an intuitive eating journey of your own? Call us today to make an appointment! (910)790-9500
Find more Intuitive Eating resources HERE.