Are you a dieting casualty?

“Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one.”

-Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth

Let’s just come out with it: dieting sucks.

Not eating the food you like sucks. Feeling hungry and never quite satisfied sucks. And second-guessing every food you eat?

Yep, it sucks.

Maybe you’re ready to give up dieting, but don’t know what else to do.

You’ve lost the ability to eat normally. You can’t eat according to hunger and satiety because you no longer feel those things, except in terms of desperate hunger and painful overfullness.

Your eating is chaotic, and your weight is unstable.

Great. So now what?

Dieting hurts people because it does not work. Not only is it ineffective (and risky!) for most people over the long term, it erodes your natural, inborn ability to eat normally.

Yes, I said “inborn ability.”

Believe it or not, you already know how to eat.

You were, in fact, born knowing how to eat.

But, on the long and winding road between then and now, maybe you took a wrong turn or two.

Or seven.

When eating stops being fun, it means you’ve taken a wrong turn.

Some signs that you need a refresher:

  • The merest hint of food rules or “shoulds” sends you into a tailspin of resentment and rebellion.
  • In fact, you’re worried right now that I might take food away from you, or shame you about your weight.
  • The idea of seeing a nutritionist fills you with dread.
  • You feel ashamed, guilty, and conflicted about eating.
  • You haven’t felt hunger or fullness for a long, long time – or you don’t notice it until you’re too hungry or uncomfortably full.
  • Whenever you try to be “good” and eat less, you end up diving headfirst into the cookies (or Cheetos, or pizza, or ice cream, or cake, or all of the above.)
  • You’re simultaneously worried that you won’t get enough to eat … and that you’ll eat too much.
  • You’re scared that, if you let yourself go, you’ll eat and eat and never stop.
  • You just want to … eat. Without the drama.

Sound familiar?

What if people just ate without worrying about calories, antioxidants, or guilt?

Without it being a Grand Weight Loss Plan or The Lifestyle Change That Will Hopefully Work This Time?

You know, without all the drama?

Well, I do.

Yes, really. I learned how to eat in 2005, after a spectacularly bad diet, and then got trained to teach it myself.

Who am I?

Hi, I’m Michelle.

I’m a happy fat lady (and former dieting casualty) with an accredited degree in nutrition, a popular blog called The Fat Nutritionist, and sometimes people put my name in the papers.

In 2009, a famous dietitian and therapist named Ellyn Satter mentored me in “Treating the Dieting Casualty,” and then she retired.

I live in Canada, but because I work online, my students are all over the world. It’s pretty awesome.

I worked at a hospital for five years as a nutrition supervisor and clinical diet tech (like a sous-dietitian.) I’ve done stints in diabetes, cancer, eating disorders, and, well…just about every department of the hospital. Well, of three hospitals.

And now I just teach everyone how to eat – like a not-crazy person.

What exactly is this weirdness I do?

It’s called “normal eating.” You may have heard of it.

Here’s how Ellyn Satter describes it:

Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it—not just stop eating because you think you should…

Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life.

How does it work?

Using a science-y concept called eating competence, which I’ve been teaching my clients for the past two years, I’ll show you how to feel happy about your eating, expand your food repertoire, eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, and take good care of yourself with food.

Basically, you learn how to get good at eating, one lesson at a time:

  1. Training yourself to eat guilt-free
  2. Naturally balancing your weight and appetite
  3. Organized eating
  4. Identifying your hunger signals
  5. How to handle comfort eating
  6. Finding your fullness
  7. Separating weight from eating
  8. Bottom-line nutrition
  9. Exploring and rediscovering yummy food
  10. Intuitive moving, or Exercise That Doesn’t Suck
  11. Healthy eating without pressure
  12. Self-acceptance in a weight-weary world

Where the magic happens

Once a week, for 90 minutes, six people get together in an online lounge where we talk face-to-face, using video conferencing. (Sounds complicated, but it’s not – all you need is a webcam and a decent internet connection.)

We talk about eating — our struggles, our histories, our successes — and then we eat tasty, delicious food.

Yep. We eat together online.

Also, there may or may not be giggling, international food show-and-tell, strange facial expressions, and stupid YouTube videos.

Or so I hear.

How much?

My going rate for individual counseling is $100 per session, which isn’t exactly cheap. But, with group sessions, I can charge half that.

Which means that each group session is $50.

To sign up, you pay $200 Canadian up front for the first month, and then two installments of $200 each over the following two months. Which makes for a total of $600 Canadian for the 3-month program.

Is it for you?

If you’ve tried every diet under the sun and are absolutely done with dieting, yes.

If you’ve recovered from an eating disorder and want to put the icing on the recovery cake, yes.

If you’re into Health at Every Size and want to eat intuitively, yes.

If you want to learn nutrition from a body-positive, food-positive perspective, yes.

If you don’t want to pass your eating neuroses down to your kids, yes.

Fat, thin, male, female, cis or trans? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

However, it isn’t for you if:

  • You know you’ll have to miss more than three sessions
  • You’re an extremely picky eater, or otherwise significantly restrict your food intake*
  • You’re in the midst of a crisis, or will have major life changes in the next three months
  • You have no say in the household cooking or groceries
  • You have no private space
  • You are in constant battle with family or friends about your eating or weight
  • You’re absolutely terrified by the idea of modest weight changes
  • You want me to teach you how to lose weight
  • You have an active eating disorder and currently purge or are significantly underweight

*If you’re dealing with picky eating or restriction, working one-on-one will be better for you.

If you have medical nutrition issues like diabetes, celiac disease, heart disease, high cholesterol, kidney disease, or food allergies, you are welcome to sign up, provided you are medically stable and are very comfortable managing your condition on your own.

If you have an eating disorder but are medically stable and undergoing therapy, this can help.

Bottom line: if your condition is well-managed and you have access to medical care, then you’re probably in a good place for this group.

Just keep in mind that we’re dealing with basic, healthy eating here — this is not a clinical diet intervention intended for the treatment of any disease.

Eating competence and normal eating can complement many types of disease management. If I think you need to seek out other care, I’ll let you know before we get started.

What you get:

  • A one-on-one session with me before the group starts.
  • Twelve weekly group sessions, at 90 minutes each.
  • An intimate group of people to eat and laugh with.
  • Email supplements to keep you up-to-date and on track.
  • Access to additional one-on-one sessions with me.
  • An invaluable skill that you’ll use for life.

Sign ups for Spring 2012 are now closed

Not sure about the times?

Use the fancy time converter to figure out which group fits your schedule.

Anyone from any place in the world is welcome in any group! If you’re awake, that’s all that matters.

No PayPal account?

No problem – there’s a link inside to pay with credit or debit.

If you’re good to go, pick a group and click the button, and I’ll see you soon :)


P.S. It’s a bit of a wild ride. Twelve lessons in twelve weeks is a fast pace, but it has fast results. It’s also incredibly fun.

P.P.S. Questions? Email

  • Michelle's portrait

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