Eating... a frequent but complex behaviour

It’s one of the most frequent and regular experiences that we engage in as humans. Yet, for many of us, eating is far from straightforward.

The relationship we have with food can become complicated due to:

  • Mindset: our beliefs, feelings, past experiences and rules impact on eating behaviour.
  • Skills difficulties: eating is a learned skill that requires the co-ordination of a large number of body systems
  • Medical conditions: conditions such as reflux and allergies can make eating unpleasant or scary, complicating our relationship with food.

OUR multidisciplinary APPROACH

The Talbot Centre seeks to bring together experts in the field of eating behaviour across a variety of disciplines in order to offer you the highest level of care.

We offer a holistic, whole-person approach to treatment that addresses your unique needs. We recognise that your relationship with food is complex and multi-faceted such that improving your relationship with food requires attention to physical, mental, and social elements of health. We are committed to assisting you to be healthy in all domains, moving towards a full and complete picture of health beyond a mere absence of symptoms.

Psychology

Psychologists are experts in human behaviour. Often we know what behaviours we would like to be doing more, but it is really difficult to do them or to sustain behaviour change in the long term. This is because our behaviour is influenced by our past experiences, our beliefs and our feelings. A psychologist can assist you to identify the experiences, beliefs and feelings that are getting in the way of making sustained long term behaviour change that will benefit your health and can teach you skills to manage these barriers successfully.

 

Dietetics

Dietitians are experts in the science of human nutrition. They assist individuals and families to challenge unhelpful beliefs and correct myths about eating and food through education about the science behind eating behaviour such as appetite and how the body uses food. Dietitians can assist in supporting child growth and development and help clients to develop a healthy relationship with food and accept their natural body size. Dietitians provide eating support, practical guidance and medically sound strategies to improve health and wellbeing and support the development of eating competence.

Occupational Therapy

Eating is a complex physical skill. Occupational Therapists are experts in the functional skills needed to eat successfully. They can assist with a range of eating related skills such as body control, balance, muscle tone, attention to task, and oral motor skills. They also assess the sensory issues, such as textures, smells, sights and tastes that impact our relationship with food and assist individuals to develop the sensory integration required to eat well. As a result, Occupational Therapists assist in reducing the stress that can lead to difficulties with eating, and increasing the enjoyment experienced from meal times.

Pediatrics

Paediatricians are experts in the organic issues that influence child health and development. Physical health issues such as reflux, allergies, respiratory difficulties and ENT issues can influence the development of feeding competence through disrupting the natural process for skill development or by making eating an unpleasant or aversive experience. A paediatrician can provide a thorough medical assessment of your child to identify and address any physical health issues that might be impacting on their feeding skills, ensuring that as they learn to develop a new relationship with food that they do not continue to have negative or aversive experiences of eating.

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Tricia Finkbeiner, Occupational Therapist, Baulkham Hills NSW 6 November 2018 As parents, our goal is for our children to 1. eat and 2. eat what we eat. This allows us to cook one meal and not have to worry about if they are getting a healthy diet. If they eat what we...

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Frequently Asked Questions

Which professional should I see?
The answer to this question depends on your specific needs. Eating behaviour is complex and can be affected by a wide range of factors which are unique to each individual. Many of our patients see multiple professionals from our team as part of a team based approach to achieving their health goals.

If you are unsure who might be the best person to see, our intake officer can assist you in determining what support might be the best fit for your needs. Please feel free to give us a call on 02 8814 5703 to discuss your needs in more detail.

What are the benefits of a team based approach?
A team based approach allows us to view your health in a holistic manner and recognises that the concerns you have about your health may be impacted by a wide range of factors spanning medical, mental and social domains. Taking a team based approach allows us to bring together a wide breadth of knowledge about the factors contributing to health concerns and to work closely with you to develop a treatment plan that addresses each of these factors directly.

Our team of clinicians work closely together, so even if you only see one clinician on a regular basis, you get the benefits of our shared knowledge in addressing your concerns and achieving your health goals.

Who can benefit from working with our team?
Anyone who wants to make changes to their eating behaviour and improve their health. Our team work with individuals of all ages with a wide range of eating or feeding related concerns.

Whether your child is a fussy eater, you are experiencing an eating disorder, you have concerns about your appearance, you have a chronic health condition, or you just want to improve your overall health and well being, we have a service option that can assist you in achieving your health related goals.

I have tried (and failed) so many diets, why is this different?
You are not alone! Up to 95% of individuals who diet regain the weight they lost within 1 to 5 years. Unfortunately, despite the evidence that dieting does not lead to long term weight loss, many people feel that they have failed or criticise their lack of self-control in achieving the outcomes they are looking for. But ultimately it is the diets that have failed in not being able to offer what was promised. Diets are unsustainable changes to your eating behaviour that offer limited flexibility to support a healthy lifestyle.

Our approach is focused on developing sustainable healthy eating and exercise behaviours that support your engagement with life such as enjoying dinner with your friends at a restaurant without feeling guilty. We will work with you to understand your individual health needs and goals and will support you to develop and maintain health behaviours in the long term. We take a practical approach that recognises the barriers to engaging in health behaviours and will work together with you to make healthy living achievable given the other demands and priorities in your life. And most importantly, unlike your diet, we won’t judge you, we will support you from a space of compassion and will teach you to apply this same kindness to yourself.

How long will it take to achieve my goals?
This is a difficult question to answer as it varies greatly between individuals and is influenced by a number of factors including the nature and complexity of the issue, goals of treatment, motivation to change and external factors separate from treatment. Some simple issues may be addressed within a short time frame of 2-3 sessions while other more complex difficulties can take much longer. Few difficulties can be resolved immediately and change requires a commitment to regular attendance as well as to implementing skills outside of the sessions. Your clinician will be able to give you some guidance on the likely number of sessions needed after a treatment plan has been established (usually at the initial appointment). This recommendation will be reviewed over the course of treatment.
What is the non-diet approach?
The Non-Diet Approach is a weight-neutral, compassion-focused approach to weight management. This approach is focused on improving health related behaviours such as developing mindful, intuitive eating and enjoyable movement. The framework is ultimately about nourishing and looking after yourself out of compassion and self-acceptance rather than rule bound behaviours driven by criticism and shame. It is an individualised non-prescriptive approach that supports the development of optimal well being through caring for oneself.
Will you just tell me something I already know?
We realise there is lots of information online about nutrition and health that is free and easy to access. However, much of this information is misguided and incorrect, which can lead to confusion and can even cause harm. We use up to date scientific evidence and clients are often surprised that what they have believed for so long isn’t true!

The science of nutrition changes regularly as new research is published and our understanding of the human body improves over time. Our clinicians stay up to date with the latest research and can assist you to sort through facts and fads in order to understand what might work best for you in your individual situation.

Our clinicians are skilled at assisting people to implement knowledge and at supporting behaviour change. This means that even if you are very familiar with up to date scientific information about nutrition or eating and exercise behaviour, we can still assist you to achieve your goals by focusing on supporting you to develop and sustain healthy behaviour.

I am not local can I still access services?
Yes, at The Talbot Centre we are passionate about improving access to evidence based therapy options for all individuals regardless of their location. With this aim in mind we offer an outreach service to patients in regional and rural areas as well as for patients who are interstate or unable to attend in person. This service may be fully remote involving phone or internet based consultations, or may involve a combination of face to face and remote options such as an intensive in person block of treatment with follow up remotely. The Talbot Centre can also offer consultation to your local treatment team in order to provide expertise that may not be available locally. You can read more about our outreach service options here.

Please note that in some cases remote consultations may not be an appropriate option; if this is the case we will assist you to link in with a more appropriate service. Please contact us to discuss your options further.