Katherine Kimber, founder and CEO of Nude Nutrition, is a registered non-diet dietitian nutritionist and Intuitive Eating specialist providing personalized online nutrition support. We talked with her to find out more.
Up until the early 2000s, weight loss was mostly focused on aesthetics, and fuelled by the beauty and fitness industries. However, some key political events changed this.
In 2013, obesity was considered a disease despite a lack of evidence to support this. Campaigns were launched to solve the “epidemic” of obesity, and a war on fatness was proclaimed.
This medicalization of weight loss is ironic. One of the strongest predictors of weight gain is dieting, regardless of the actual bodyweight of the dieter (O’Hara & Taylor 2018). And if dieting were to be held to the same standards as prescription drugs, it wouldn’t be allowed to exist, due to the lack of evidence of effectiveness.
There’s a body of research that shows food restriction for weight loss is not only ineffective but causes harm. Framing obesity as a disease, and an epidemic, has permitted the pursuit of weight loss in the beauty and fitness industries to continue. Weight loss has become not only a beauty standard but is labeled as a matter of life and death.
The pursuit of weight loss perpetuates weight stigma, weight cycling, increases the risk of eating disorders, and harms a person’s relationship with food, their mind, and body. Social media, advertisements, and media amplify these messages – it’s all a big mess!
My nutrition career started when I went to King’s College University in London, where I studied Nutrition and Dietetics (although I was interested in this area from a very young age). This was so I could qualify as a dietitian and work in the NHS (the UK’s National Health Service).
I achieved a first-class degree, and have been practicing for about eight years now. I initially practiced in a number of areas in the NHS, supporting very sick patients, before specializing as a kidney dietitian. I was always interested in the research aspect of nutrition and went back to King’s College to do my Master’s in Clinical Research.
An opportunity came up to work in a private practice in West London. I made a bit of a u-turn and here the focus was on helping people to lose weight. I saw this as a good opportunity to work more closely with individuals.
It was here that I learned about the damaging side effects of dieting, and how the pursuit of weight loss can create all sorts of issues around food. For example, it results in increased emotional eating, puts a person in the cycle of yo-yoing, creates anxiety and guilt around food, creates disconnect and distrust from the body, creates a loss of control around food, and puts people at risk of eating disorders.
Despite being armed with nutritional knowledge and science myself, I personally didn’t have the best attitude toward food in my early years of growing up and being a dietitian.
I had been in cycles of trying to count calories and eating “healthy” by cutting out sugar – only to find myself feeling out of control around it later on. I was obsessing about food and constantly trying to pursue weight loss, only to find it had the opposite effect.
It was only when I started to practice Intuitive Eating, got out of the diet mentality, and truly started looking after myself, that I changed my relationship with food. It no longer had power over me.
I was able to eat chocolate and not feel bad about it, and have fun food in my house without feeling the need to eat it all at once. I made peace with my body and stopped trying to starve it and work against it!
I became certified as an Intuitive Eating counselor and founded my own company to help people break out of a negative relationship with food. So, in my nutrition practice, although it draws heavily on nutritional science, there’s some psychology and behavioral science thrown in there too. I also incorporate life lessons I’ve learned as well as what my incredible clients and colleagues teach me.
The approach I use is an evidence-based self-care framework called Intuitive Eating. I draw upon this when working with individuals, centering them as the experts of their own bodies.
Intuitive Eating is a process of learning to honor your health by listening and responding to the direct messages of your body. This helps you to meet your physical and mental needs based on your terms. Basically, making you the boss of you!
This means not relying on external tools such as the time of day, points systems, calorie tracking, rules, or meal plans to show you the way. Intuitive Eating is designed to help people break out of a negative relationship with food and to have a healthier body image.
It now has over 120 studies to support its use to improve health and wellbeing. It’s not a fad, and it’s not a diet. It’s a set of 10 principles developed to help you build up trust in listening to your own body to tell you what, when, and how much to eat.
Now this can also sound quite scary… and the process of Intuitive Eating isn’t just a case of “eat whatever, it’s fine” – there’s work to be done and that’s what I’m here for. Through 1:1 support, group courses, or my community, there are multiple ways people can access support at different price points.
Everyone has the right to make the dietary choices that they believe are fit for them. Nutrition is complex and pretty grey! But I do believe that everyone has the right to make an informed decision.
Due to the internet and wellness culture being unregulated, anyone can say anything they want about nutrition. On the one hand, we’re lucky enough to live in a time when food is plentiful (albeit not affordable for everyone). However, an abundance of food, coupled with a wealth of conflicting information, can be completely overwhelming to know how best to eat.
In our current climate, diets are seen as “last season.” But labels are still about. Paleo, veganism, and keto have all become the new religions with communities and websites based around them. However, nobody regulates them.
It’s completely confusing, and most importantly, can be dangerous. Cutting out whole food groups can lead to unwanted nutrient deficiencies, or worse, claims that certain foods/ways of eating cure disease can be deadly.
My best advice is to check whether what’s being shared is within that expert’s professional remit. When sharing nutrition and information and dishing out claims, it’s crucial that the author only provides statements that sit within their professional remit and not beyond the boundaries of their qualifications/expertise.
You can look at their years of experience and qualifications in the field.
Is the nutritionist a member of a professional body like the British Association for Nutrition & Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) or the Association for Nutrition (AfN)? Is the dietitian registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), and a member of the British Dietetic Association (BDA)? These are UK examples, different countries will have different professional bodies.
You can also check if they have any industry awards or if they have contributed to scientific research. They shouldn’t be reluctant to share this with you. This information is accessible online – I’ve also written an article on how to find reliable nutrition information.
I’ve worked with hundreds of people to help them improve their relationship with food, and you can read about them all on the client stories section of my website. Angela’s story, right at the top, is one of my favorites.
Yes, absolutely! I have even created a whole course centered around helping people to cope with feelings without always turning to food.
When we think about emotional eating, it could be argued that ALL eating has an emotional attachment to it. In most cultures, food is highly linked to emotions from a young age. When you’re a baby, you cry when you want food. When you go to a kid’s party, you eat cake and pizza. At weddings, you often eat a special meal in some form.
On a basic level, food is there to offer nourishment and pleasure, but also sometimes comfort… and using food to soothe emotions isn’t inherently a “bad thing.”
Sometimes it’s a really important coping tool. In fact, it can be quite useful. Emotional eating is just your body’s way of letting you know something is wrong. It’s a clue that something is up and you need to address it – it’s a coping mechanism. HOWEVER, it doesn’t feel good if you’re always diving into food at every emotional state.
This is where Intuitive Eating is such a great tool to help unpick what’s really going on. When we peel back the layers, support people to make peace with food, and connect with natural subtle hunger signals again, sometimes emotional eating can dissipate. If not, this is something that we work on to manage and understand together.
My three main nutrition myths are:
1) Being thin equates to improved health
2) Carbs are the enemy
3) There’s a perfect diet and way to eat
I believe that the world is heading toward a weight stigma crisis, not an “obesity crisis.” Weight stigma is a form of prejudice and stereotyping, which is reported to be at rates comparable to racial discrimination.
The incidence of weight stigma has increased by 66% with the rise in public health campaigns to prevent “obesity” (Danielsdottira et al. 2010).
It can look like:
The assumption that larger-bodied people are lazy, weak-willed, unsuccessful, unintelligent, lack self-discipline, have poor willpower, and are noncompliant with weight-loss treatment
Being denied healthcare treatment, because of size
Being laughed at on the street
Feeling fearful of going to the doctor’s surgery, due to concern a health care issue will not be taken seriously, and/or blamed on their body size
Not being able or invited to engage in activities that don’t cater for people in larger bodies – e.g., gym clothes, water sports
Not getting a job, or being fired, because of body size
Being teased about weight or shape
Being avoided, excluded, or ignored because of weight
All of these factors, independent of weight, put people at higher risk of increased blood pressure, inflammatory markers, blood glucose levels, depression, anxiety, lower self-esteem, body image dissatisfaction, type 2 diabetes, and increased risk of mortality.
We need to make this world a safer place for all body shapes and sizes to feel included. We need to take the focus off of trying to make people thinner and on helping people to improve their health. Bodies are supposed to be different sizes, and we’re not all designed to sit within the same range.
We need to enable all people to receive equitable and effective healthcare, reduce weight-based discrimination, and provide safe and encouraging spaces for people of all body shapes and sizes to engage in health-promoting behaviors, should they choose.