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Body Autonomy: You are the expert on your own body

Dietetic professionals abide by a Code of Ethics which includes autonomy. Autonomy is defined in this context as “ensuring a patient, client, or professional has the capacity and self-determination to engage in individual decision-making specific to personal health or practice" (1).

Autonomy is integrated into dietitians care in many ways, including developing a care plan for patients and clients. It is important for dietitians to include the patient or client in decisions about their care. Additionally, there is an abundance of health information and recommendations out there that do not take into account the individual. 

We should aim to shift our focus from “I know that food is bad, but…” or “that food isn’t good because” to “that food is good for ME” or “that food makes ME feel good”.

There are many trends in diet culture that don’t have great evidence behind them or become trendy for the wrong reasons. An example of this is the Keto diet. This diet has shown improved health conditions for some individuals with epilepsy under strict medical supervision. This does not mean this diet should be recommended for the general public to follow to be “healthier”. 

Opposed to following trends in health and wellness culture, following nutrition guidelines is a good baseline for overall health but the individual's needs must be considered. 

We see examples of blanket statements in diet culture and in the media. Some examples over the years include “eggs are bad”, “dairy is bad”, “pasta is bad”, “red meat is bad”. 

You see the pattern. We should avoid assigning the terms “bad” or “good” to foods, because the reality is they all have a time, place, and person where they belong. Your food preferences, culture, financial situation, genetics, and health conditions determine whether a food is “good” or “bad” for you. 

Working with a dietitian allows you to express your feelings, discuss your experiences and work with a knowledgeable professional to develop goals that work for your individual lifestyle.


  1.  Fornari A. Approaches to ethical decision-making. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015;115(1):119-121.


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