Nutritionist and yoga teacher Kacie Shoulders speaks about her non-diet approach, and why it’s important to be honest with clients
This week, Nutritionist Resource member Kacie Shoulders talks about
A nutritionist and yoga teacher, Kacie works with clients to heal their relationships with food and movement, primarily using the intuitive eating framework.
So, what’s her professional opinion?
Hi Kacie! Why did you decide to join your profession?
I had a background in personal training, and found this very weight focused and started to explore nutrition and the HAES approach. From there, I explored how movement, what we eat, and how we treat our mental health all affect our wellbeing – regardless of what we externally look like.
Healing people's relationship with food is such a rewarding experience not only in knowing they are happier and in many ways 'healthier', but also in giving them the tools to do it themselves – they don't rely on me, but rather I am a support for them to step into their own power.
Since you began, what have you found to be the most surprising thing about the work you do?
The sheer range of factors that affect our wellbeing. When you train in one area such as nutrition you're taught to focus on that, but I've ended up chatting to people about their jobs, their sleep, their stress, their relationships... The list goes on.
Because, sometimes, the best thing people can do is vent and share. And people are willing to share if you show you can listen, there's a great deal of trust in working on your relationship with food and your body.
What do you like about your profession?
The difference it makes. It may seem small in the many things we have going on, but focusing on your food and movement can take up a lot of brain space. And once that is released it makes a difference, even physically you can see how someone carries less stress on their shoulders.
It is empowering to people to know they can trust their bodies and have the tools to listen to their intuition. Knowing I'm a small part of that is an amazing feeling.
You can see how someone carries less stress on their shoulders
What are some of the challenges that come with your line of work?
Often with nutritionists, there's a preconception that we'll give you a meal plan and voila you're transformed. Legally, we can't do that – nutritionists cannot give a written meal plan with amounts, etc. We serve purely as educational liaisons, giving feedback and advice but specific plans are only to be administered by a dietician.
Especially working through non-diet nutrition, I have to explain to people that I will work with them on how they approach food and movement but not give them a strict set of guidelines. They hold the power.
How do you address some of the challenges that you face?
By asking questions: Why does someone want to work with me, and what is the result they desire? Often, they may want to instantly lose weight or fix their relationship to food, but with some exploration find that they just want to appreciate their body a bit more, or not be hyper-aware of what they're eating – neither of which is truly about their weight. I'm there to support and guide.
What do you think could be done to improve the profession for you and for others?
I think the non-diet nutritionist space is on the rise. I follow some nutritionists doing amazing work right now and changing lives. I think recognising such frameworks, especially in the education sector, would be amazing.
My uni course had zero in the way of non-diet approaches, and so I had to find training elsewhere. This also helps people find credible nutritionists in the field, especially with intuitive eating being such a buzzword. There are a lot of people using it without employing the framework.
The non-diet nutritionist space is on the rise
What do you see being some of the major challenges your profession will face in the next 10 years? How do you think the way you will operate may change?
Hopefully, people continue to see working with a nutritionist as a worthwhile investment but even now with the cost of living crisis, people are less likely to reach out – and may desperately need it.
I think we'll get a lot more lateral thinking in terms of how nutritionists work with clients, we're already seeing a massive rise in webinars, online programmes, and group sessions to help buffer against rising costs. And the move to online practice helps with this too. As a profession, we have been very adaptable over recent years.
What advice would you give to others in the profession?
Your clients don't need you to be perfect, or have 10,000 courses under your belt. They need you to listen and to have their best interests at heart. You might not be able to quote a scientific study, but if you know what you practice well it will be enough. And if you don't have an answer just say – people understand and will work with you or will respect your honesty.
BSc Biological Sciences, MSc Human Nutrition, 200 hour Yoga teacher training certificate, Level 3 Personal training certificate, 60hr Yin Yoga teacher training, Member of the Association for Nutrition (AFN).