An anti-diet dietitian and a fat dietitian: what do they have in common besides escaping stereotypes? Both believe that eating well is more than listing nutrients and having a lean body. Known on social networks with the (Un)Built Nutrition and Fat Nutritionist profiles, Pabyle Flauzino and Erick Cuzziol unveil the idea that nutrition should be linked to restrictive diets and weight loss.
For nutritionists, healthy eating should be pleasurable and, above all, take into account cultural, emotional and socioeconomic contexts. “Saying that you have to eat chia and amaranth flour, when in your region there are other accessible foods, it makes no sense and is oppressive,” says Cuzziol.
“You don’t say you’re going to eat the carbohydrates Grandma made, but the cake. Why take it out of affective memory? People are listing nutrients, not eating, and it doesn’t have to be that way,” says Flauzino.
At the Nutritionist’s Day, celebrated on August 31, the CNN spoke with the two professionals, who have been making noise on social networks when talking about the ‘right to be fat and a nutritionist’ and that ‘the nutritionist’s role is not to shape bodies’.
diet x obesity
It was under the pseudonym “Fat Nutritionist” that Cuzziol decided to talk about nutrition from the point of view of those who studied, but he also felt in his skin how restrictive diets do not always work. “I heard that fat people are always making excuses and I was treated like a liar. I’m fat, I didn’t want to be, but when I understood what it was to be fat and the importance of liking me, things changed”, he says.
Before reaching thousands of followers explaining about ‘eating behavior’, Cuzziol needed to show that he had a right to study nutrition. Being a fat person, he was the butt of jokes during his graduation and had trouble getting a job after graduating.
“I used to hear that being a nutritionist and being fat was the same thing as a bankrupt economist. Dentist with rotten tooth. And this is frightening, because they are professionals who study obesity and know that it manifests itself for several reasons, not just because the person doesn’t eat well or doesn’t exercise. There are genetic and social issues too”, he explains.
According to Cuzziol, over the years, science has discovered that people with obesity have individual factors, such as metabolism, food consumption and psychological factors, in addition to external and environmental factors, which are not controlled and must be considered. For this reason, dietary guidance for obesity may be more focused on weight control than on the aesthetic issue.
way beyond the weight
But it wasn’t just personal experience that supported his thesis that diets don’t work equally for everyone, and that nutrition is based more on behavioral issues than on calorie counting. According to Cuzziol, scientists began to notice that there was a worsening in weight control after opting for very restrictive diets. And the conclusion was alarming. “We are causing obesity through diet. If I change all your habits, and you can’t sustain them, you start another weight gain process,” he says.
He gives as an example a study published last year by the British universities of Leeds and Lancaster, which analyzed for 10 years how the British media treated obesity. The study concluded that in the vast majority of reports the fat person was blamed for their situation.
To reach this conclusion, the researchers analyzed reports published from 2008 to 2017 and concluded that the reports on obesity did not take into account environmental factors and the influence of the food industry on eating habits, which helped to create a stigma over the years. fat people.
Another research, carried out by researchers at King’s College of London, UK, and published by Nature Medicine in 2020, shows that the stigmatization of fat people can have devastating social effects, worsening their access to work and health and increasing the chance of developing mental problems.
“Explaining the gap between scientific evidence and a conventional obesity narrative built around unproven assumptions and misconceptions can help reduce weight bias and its harmful effects,” the researchers wrote.
healthy eating without diet
Both experts agree the act of eating healthily must take into account the diversity and accessibility of foods and the stability of mealtimes. “It’s more important to set times, organize yourself to shop and prepare meals than restricting,” says Cuzziol.
Flauzino explains that healthy nutrition goes beyond the ‘rules’, and that Brazil, due to its high food diversity, does not need to have a single diet. The great inspiration, she says, is the Food Guide for the Brazilian Population, which is based on natural and regional foods.
The guide published by the Ministry of Health in 2014 opposes nutritionism – food recommendations centered on nutrients, not foods – and uses the NOVA classification as a parameter, which organizes foods according to purpose and degree of processing, and not according to the predominant type of nutrient in the food.
According to Flauzino, today people are led to believe that it is more important to eat carbohydrates or protein than food itself. While the most important thing is to eat what you want with balance, he explains. According to the nutritionist, all foods are allowed, without the need for fad diets. “You can have a healthy diet without restrictive diets, when you start eating fresh foods, cutting down on processed foods, cooking, and without the need to focus only on nutrition.”
For her, eating foods considered less healthy at a party should not be questioned, because eating is also a social act. “It’s not okay to eat ice cream every day, because it can cause health problems, but it’s okay on certain occasions, like a family gathering. This is also promoting health”.
The nutritionist emphasizes that being against diet does not mean that it does not support the weight loss of people who want to lose weight. But, before prescribing any food, it is important to understand the context in which the person lives and the reason for wanting to lose weight.
“When someone comes to me for weight loss, I work on the reasons for the demand. In 99% of cases, this is not the first time a person is trying to lose weight. So I want to understand what happened before and where these expectations come from.”