Holistic Practitioner Spotlight with Anita Nessin
Health and Nutrition Educator
We are speaking with Anita Nessin, MSHNE, who believes our current diet culture causes us to become so stressed out, hating our bodies, and creates for us a negative self image. She feels strongly that the answers lie in changing our perspective and relationship with food and becoming an Intuitive Eater.
Tell Us a Story About a Client Whose Change in Perspective Helped Her Where Dieting Always Failed
We have probably all been on diets to lose weight. And predictably, we have lost weight on these diets. Unfortunately, the odds of maintaining that weight loss is not good. Only 3-5% of us have or will keep the weight off long term (over 5 years) because popular diets have been shown not to work long term. Statistics reveal that two thirds of us will end up heavier than when we started! Worse, research has shown that weight cycling (losing-gaining-losing-gaining) leads to many of the illnesses that have been associated with fat.
Diane, age 48 and a large-size women, came to me completely stressed about her weight and body image. The diets she struggled with had her agonizing over every mouthful of food. She often found herself binge-eating and out of control around food when she went off her diets, which caused her to have more remorse. This only reinforced her negative self-image. Diane recognized that another eating plan would not be the answer. What she needed was a change of perspective and a change in her relationship with food.
Diane heard about Intuitive Eating and came to me for help in learning to tune in to the messages her body was sending her. She was told by a previous client of mine, who she knew, that the program I offer would meet her physical and emotional needs and that I was empathetic and never judged. As I have made the same journey as my patients, being on diet after diet, chasing a body that was not natural for me, and listening to the “experts” tell me what I needed to eat, only to be disappointed time after time, I understood that dealing with our food and body issues was very personal, even intimate. Through the program, Diane would come to recognize that only she was the expert on her body.
To Be an Intuitive Eater, You Must Make Friends with Food and Your Body
Through questions and exercises, I encouraged Diane to get back in touch with her body and experiment with food in order to “make friends with food” again. One exercise focused on telling her body story. I asked her to go back to the time when she felt at peace with food. I asked her to tell me about any positive food experiences. Then we explored experiences that changed that relationship and examined why it changed.
We also went back to a time when Diane experienced her body as something positive, a time when she enjoyed her body. Diane and I went through a discovery of when she started to think her body was not good enough. We examined when that occurred and what caused that change in her thoughts about herself. I challenged her to think of what was holding her back from accepting her body as it is now. A very helpful exercise was having Diane write a letter to her body and then have her record on paper, a letter written from her body to herself. What would it say?
What You Eat is Not Right or Wrong
Through her experience, Diane found out that Intuitive eating is not something you do. You become an Intuitive Eater. Intuitive eating does not promise weight loss. It is about freedom from diet culture and feeling in control around food. It is about becoming comfortable in your body no matter what size you are.
It takes a little time for each individual to come to their aha moment going through self analysis and education about the body and food. Somewhere in the process, without feeling forced, the individual, like Diane, learns to become an intuitive eater. Letting go of the perfectionist view of eating (that what you are doing or eating is right or wrong) is liberating and healthy for the body and soul.
Why and When Did You Choose the Holistic Path?
When my older son was about 8, he was diagnosed with food allergies. He never broke out in a rash, but he broke out in hyperactivity and inability to concentrate. He was put on allergy shots and a rotation diet. I saw first hand the affect various food additives, as well as “healthy” foods had on him. As a teacher I was well aware of students with ADHD. I knew these children were medicated. No connection was ever made to the foods they ate. Pharmaceuticals were the answer. I knew from my son that food choices made a huge difference in his behavior. If we listened to his body, we would learn things. This pointed me in the direction of helping the body naturally without so much pharmaceutical intervention. That was the start of my journey that led me to get a Masters degree in holistic health and nutrition.
I have a growing interest in the body acceptance movement, and feels that women especially suffer from lack of self love and acceptance. The philosophy of Health at Every Size and Intuitive Eating combine my passion for healthy food and the desire to help women make peace with food and the bodies they inhabit. My practice includes group talks, interactive workshops and individual consults and follows the belief that we are each the expert on our own body, and can get back in touch with the signals our bodies send us.
What Lessons Have Your Work and Personal Experiences Taught You?
Although I do not look to conventional medicine for all the answers, I do not reject it totally. My younger son suffered cardiac arrest at age 15 and now lives with an implanted cardiac defibrillator as a backup to the medication he takes. Personally I have lived with sometimes debilitating back pain for many years. I tried pain killers and physical therapy. I have also known about CBD and hemp oil for years. I tried several brands and about a year ago found one that really helps me. In addition to reduced pain, I have not had my usual upper respiratory issues. I may feel something start, but my body seems more able to fight it off.
I also struggled with my weight. I now know that was a struggle I could never win. I have learned what dieting does to the body, how the body responds to restriction. I understand the feast/famine cycle, and that dieting is fighting 200,000 years of evolution.
Overall, I would say I have learned that balance is the answer. Modern medicine is wonderful for some things, but before there were pharmaceuticals, there was nature. We have to find a balance and let nature do what it can and turn to conventional medicine when it is really needed.
My son’s struggles with food allergies at age 8 was my introduction into the field of nutrition. The necessity of reading food labels to avoid his allergens started my education about what is in the food we eat.
I completed my Masters Degree in Health and Nutrition Education at Hawthorn University after retiring from almost 30 years teaching in the New York City school system.
Anita Nessin, MSHNE
Every Size Nutrition
104 Bon Aire Circle
Suffern, NY 10901
anita@everysizenutrition or 845-893-7193.
Find More Practitioners like Anita in our Holistic Health Directory
As holistic dentists, we've recommended products and services that supported our patients’ health for decades. In experiencing our own health challenges from mercury toxicity, we worked closely with many natural, alternative, and integrative health practitioners who aided our recovery as well as our patients’. We built this site to provide you with a simple-to-use, comprehensive, informational, and functional resource for your physical, emotional, and spiritual health & well-being.