The Intuitive RD Kirsten Ackerman

The Intuitive RD

What encouraged you to create The Intuitive RD?

The Food Psych Podcast with Christy Harrison was my original inspiration for delving into my own personal work of healing my relationship with food. And through that process, I have been finding a peace with food and my body that I never thought was possible.

As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist working with a population of larger bodied individuals, I have also been inspired to proliferate the message of Health at Every Size. From this approach, I can encourage healthy behavior change irrespective of weight change.

The Intuitive RD is my medium for proliferating the messages that have been so essential to my own healing journey in hopes of helping others.

I love following The Intuitive RD because it’s really inspiring to have such a positive presence on my instagram feed.  What do you hope to bring to people’s lives with this project?

I’m so glad to hear you feel that way! I really do hope to counteract some of the misleading messaging about food and body that floods our culture.

My first main goal is to help my followers on their journey to finding body acceptance. In our culture, we are inundated with messaging that tell us we are not enough as we are, that we must change ourselves in order to find happiness. Specifically, from a body size perspective, the pursuit of intentional weight loss is commended and even encouraged in our daily lives. This is extremely damaging and comes from a very misguided place. I hope to stand up against this message.

Secondly, I hope to bring the science of the Health at Every Size Movement to my followers. There is a growing body of research which suggests that the traditional weight loss paradigm is heavily flawed. Heck, just think about it. What percentage of people who pursue intentional weight loss are actually successful long term? Hint: it is a very, very, very small number. I hope to shed light on this research and to help my followers understand that health is not found by achieving a number on a scale, but rather it is found in small, flexible, intuitive behavioral changes. Weight change is just a potential side effect.

Finally, I hope to encourage my followers to find a sense of peace with food through the practice of intuitive eating. This method of eating is, at its essence, the absence of dieting. It is the absence of guilt and shame and fear surrounding food. In recent years, there have been a lot of deceptive shifts in diet rhetoric towards “clean eating”, “cleanses”, “detoxes”, and “lifestyle changes”. These are really just diets in disguise. They are a set of food rules and regulations that, if broken, tell someone they have failed. Plus, these methods are all selling weight loss which is damaging in itself. By proliferating the concepts of intuitive eating, I hope to encourage my followers on their journey to finding peace with food.

What has been your favorite part of The Intuitive RD so far?

I am so happy to be connecting with fellow women who have struggled with food and body image issues. These struggles run deep for so many of us and, in finding others that can relate, there’s a sense of understanding that can’t be found anywhere else. So, for both myself and my followers, I think there is a lot to be gained from this space.

Inspiration

How do you stay motivated?

I feel a sense of urgency to relay this information to people everywhere. I feel that we have been misled. We have been made to believe that our bodies are not acceptable the way they are and that our body size is not “healthy”. This has led us right into the open arms of dieting and intentional weight loss, which truly has only harmed us more.

I am motivated because I know that it is crucial for the wellbeing of so many people that this message is delivered.

Favorite quote or lyrics…

It’s so hard to choose just one! But one of my favorites is “Your best weight is whatever weight you reach when you’re living the healthiest life you actually enjoy.” – Dr. Yoni Freedhoff

What is the best advice you’ve received about focusing on intuitive eating and exercise?

The original book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch is packed with invaluable advice on this topic. One of the most memorable takeaways I had from this book was the importance of allowing yourself to have unconditional permission to eat. For so long I had considered myself someone who practiced balance in my diet, allowing all foods to fit. But I realized that, although I usually allowed myself to eat certain foods, I placed a lot of judgement on myself for craving certain foods (hello, Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha, I’m talking to you.)

By practicing unconditional permission to eat, I practice non-judgement regarding any and all of my food choices. This has allowed me to find more pleasure in the foods (and sugary coffee beverages!) that I enjoy and to release my feelings of guilt and shame around these choices.
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Mental Health

Your work touches on a lot of big topics in mental health, food, body image, weight, exercise etc.  How do you balance working with all of these topics and maintaining your own mental health?

To keep it completely real, pursuing this passion of mine has been extremely overwhelming at times. I have a therapist that I’ve been working with because I genuinely believe we can all benefit from slowing down, taking stock, and asking ourselves how we can take care of ourselves better. This has helped me immensely in handling the anxiety that has come with both delving into my personal work with eating, but also in handling the stress of taking on such a time-consuming project.

How would you describe your own mental health and what are your go to coping skills for dealing with any symptoms or stressors?

I would describe my mental health as improving. My journey to healing my relationship with food has opened the floodgates to a lot of deeper rooted issues. But I am grateful for the opportunity to explore and heal them now.

My go to coping skills are practicing yoga and other joyful movement, writing in my journal, and calling on my support system of friends and family. In particular, the breath practice of yoga, pranayama, has really helped me to center and reconnect regardless of where I might be in my day or what kind of stressor I am facing.

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Self-Care

Say something nice about yourself! I am…

Intuitive! (See what I did there?) I feel I have always been guided by a strong sense of intuition. This has been extremely helpful on my healing journey and on my mission to serve others.

How do you practice intuitive self care?

My yoga practice is a big part of my self care routine. I’m a very on the go type of person and making time for slowing down and checking in has been life-changing.

Favorite self care tip to pass along?

Get outside and breathe in some fresh air! It’s something everyone can do and it can totally alter your mood in a matter of seconds.

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