New Vanderhoof health program scraps diet for lifestyle change

Vanderhoof’s dietitian Robyn Turner is a free six-week program that aims to offer an alternative to weight-loss fad diets.

Vanderhoof's registered dietitian Robyn Turner is looking to expand her Fill Your Plate program to non-clients this February.

Vanderhoof's registered dietitian Robyn Turner is looking to expand her Fill Your Plate program to non-clients this February.

Reinforcements have arrived for those struggling to lose weight in Vanderhoof.

On Feb. 2, Vanderhoof’s dietitian Robyn Turner is launching Fill Your Plate, a free six-week program that aims to offer an alternative to weight-loss fad diets.

“You want something for six weeks and yes, you’ll see results, but once you’re off, you gain the weight back and maybe more,” Turner said. “We all have habits, and if you’re looking to make healthy changes in your life, it’s not going to be just a restriction of foods.”

Through meetings once a week, participants would learn about hunger, the mental component of weight loss, and how to set realistic goals from local physicans and mental health clinicians.

“We give them an exercise to explore why they are hungry,” she said. “Is it an emotional draw, habits like eating popcorn with a movie, or because the food is just there?”

One of the exercises involve giving participants a piece of chocolate or candy to first look at, feel, smell, and then put in their mouths.

“How does it feel and taste, are you enjoying it, and what is the flavour?” Turner asked. “This is what we want with our meals.

“We rush so quickly with our meals and we don’t allow ourselves to focus on our food, which allows us to get full and not overeat, which leads to weight gain.”

Turner also takes the group on a grocery store tour to discuss label reading and look at options that don’t compromise an individual’s lifestyle.

“I don’t guarantee weight loss, but it’s more about adopting a healthy lifestyle that is appropriate for the person, family, and social functions,” she said. “No one is expected to eat perfectly all the time.

“We look at the behaviour, like snacking all the time or before bed or when cooking, and gaining extra calories that you don’t need.

“Let yourself enjoy the food, not deal with the stress, and modify behaviour in simple ways.”

Turner first piloted the program last November with a group of physician-referred clients, and is now looking to offer it to the rest of the Vanderhoof population. In the community, a 12-week program known as doctor’s diet was popular in the past and was usually prescribed for diabetic patients or those needing to lose quick weight for surgical reasons. With restrictions such as low carbohydrates and high protein, the diet can lead strict followers to effectively lose 20 to 30 pounds.

“I want to shift the focus on the numbers game and raise awareness that it’s more about mindfulness, a commitment to behaviour change, and small steps that translate into a healthier life,” Turner said.

Jennifer Little, office manager of Omineca Medical Clinic, was one of the participants of the pilot program to stay informed on the physician-referred progam and also to learn more about health and nutrition for her personal goals.

For her, the program helped to reinforce new habits that she adopted recently, leading to weight loss in the past year.

“It’s about portion control, not depriving yourself,” Little said. “Food is such a big part of our everyday life and usually involved with celebrating.

“You have to find ways to enjoy some treats and make some smart choices.”

While much material was covered over six weeks, Little found the grocery store tour the most interesting.

“As a dietitian, she doesn’t say that you can’t have a cookie again, but it’s about balance and moderation.”