Katie Valley is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor and Founder of Katie Valley Wellness LLC passionate about guiding clients on a journey of self-love and body respect - the ultimate path to nourishment.
I have always been interested in health and wellness, so that’s what I pursued in college. After earning my degree in public health education, I decided I wanted to work more in the nutrition field specifically. I studied Holistic Nutrition and eventually opened my own business, where I provided nutrition counseling to clients. It wasn’t until I worked with people for a while, that I realized that what many people really struggled with, was their relationship with food. Often they already knew what foods were nutritious, and what habits contributed to better health, but it was the psychological and emotional component of eating behavior that was the real struggle. The truth is, it was my own issues with dieting and disordered eating that put me on the path of Intuitive Eating, and I knew firsthand how life-changing it is. So that’s why I switched gears and became a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. Now I help people who feel out of control around food learn to eat intuitively, pursue TRUE health, & feel confident in their own body.
Intuitive Eating is a weight-inclusive, evidence-based model of care with almost 200 studies evaluating its impact on health outcomes. It is a holistic health framework based on 10 principles. Each principle is based on a practice or skill that gets you closer to a peaceful relationship to food and your body. For example, Principle 1, Rejecting the Diet Mentality, helps you uncover the myths perpetuated by diet culture that keeps you on the hamster wheel of yo- yo dieting. Principles 2-6, Honor Your Hunger, Make Peace with Food, Challenge the Food Police, Feel Your Fullness, and Discover Satisfaction, all help you reconnect with your internal body cues (something called interoceptive awareness), and also helps shift your mindset by challenging old beliefs that keeps you stuck in diet mentality. Principle 7 is all about coping with your emotions with compassion and teaches you new tools to add to your toolbox if emotional eating is a struggle for you. Principles 8-10, Respect Your Body, Joyful Movement, and Gentle Nutrition all focus on ways to engage in health behaviors from a self-care perspective (instead of punishment). You really get a chance to embody sustainable ways you can care for your body out of love and respect, without falling into the ‘all or nothing diet mentality trap.
The most common mistake I observe people making is focusing on restrictions and having a long list of food rules. No sugar, no carbs, no fat, no eating after 7pm etc. We actually know that restriction often leads to binge eating, increased risk for disordered eating and that dieting is actually a predictor of future weight gain. People think nutrition has to be black and white, or all or nothing. That has been proven to not only NOT work, but actually backfire.
If I could persuade people to change 3 things about their lifestyle, I would say
focus on what you can “add” in when it comes to nutrient dense foods- instead of what you feel you need to take away or restrict.
Practice self-compassion and self-kindness- you can’t hate yourself to health, and
Make a commitment to actively not participate in diet culture messaging. Recognize the harm in perpetuating messages that elevate the “thin ideal” and contribute to fatphobia and oppression. It can be as simple as not engaging in diet talk, or not praising weight loss or before and after pictures. We think we are being kind and supportive, but the underlying message can actually cause harm.
I am a big believer in affirmations. Our thoughts are truly powerful and affect the way we feel and how we take care of ourselves. If we are constantly self-critical- we’re not going to feel that great, or take care of ourselves the way we deserve. I practice daily affirmations and it’s definitely a part of my self-care routine. Getting enough sleep is also really important for both mental and physical health. Lastly, eating enough and nourishing myself regularly. It sounds like a simple concept, but for those with a history of dieting, myself included, we learned to not trust our hunger, ignore it, or even question our appetite. Trusting my body to tell me what I need and honoring it, is also a form of self-care I follow and recommend.