I consider myself a non-diet dietitian although I don’t often encounter direct weight loss requests. I work with maternity and early childhood nutrition, so the diet culture is a little more nuanced. If you’re not sure what a registered dietitian (RD) is, or you want to know more about the differences between RDs and nutritionists, read this first!

A woman who has battled her body for 25+ years sees the number on the scale going up and up. Even though it signifies a beautiful blessing (or two, or three) growing inside of her, it triggers old fears and challenges. As I guide her toward easy snacks and prenatal supplements, I help facilitate her relationship with her new body.

As that new mother gives birth and may face challenges breastfeeding, she is once again at war with her body. “Is it something I ate? Is it something I did? Why is this so difficult?” She needs a gentle voice reminding her that her body is a miracle and she was made for this.

As she explores food introduction timing and techniques, her own relationship with food is again called into the spotlight. “Should I only give vegetables? What if the baby doesn’t like it? Am I feeding my baby right?” She needs to know, and internalize, that food is just food, although sometimes with babies, it’s also a moisturizing facial. She needs to hear that her gut instinct is important, that nutrition is more than just a checklist of nutrients.

The transition to motherhood isn’t easy. Often, we default to taking control where we can get it. If there is a history of diet culture, of beating the body into submission, into avoiding social affairs because of food concerns, it’s all too easy to revert back into those uncomfortable but familiar habits.

As a non-diet dietitian, I help heal that relationship with food and with the body while helping this woman to explore other ways to manage her life and her stress. I help her gain the confidence to request a blind weight at the doctor’s office. I help her display a healthy relationship with food so that her children can see and emulate that, growing to be adults who don’t experience that same battle so many of us are trying to move past.

While many women wish their bodies looked different, smaller, perhaps the way it was before baby, my job as a non-diet RD is to bring their focus, attention, and energy to comprehensive health, and barometers that matter.

Why isn’t that the scale? There are so many factors that contribute to a person’s number on the scale. Genetics, lifestyle, and other factors both in and out of our control will impact the scale. But it’s important to know that there are those in bigger bodies who are healthy and those in smaller bodies who are not.

Instead of looking at the scale, consider your mood. Your sleep quality. You interpersonal relationships. Your stress level. For objective means, look at your A1c and inflammatory markers. These are indicators of health far more important than the scale.

The scale won’t build you up. The scale won’t increase your confidence as a mother, sister, wife, daughter, or friend.

Because that’s what we all really need, right? More confidence. Less mom-guilt.