A non-diet app to help your relationship with food


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Diets don’t work.

In our food-obsessed culture, that fact can be terrifying.

It may not even seem true. After all, there’s a $150 billion industry promising to “help” us lose weight, and it might seem like everyone from doctors to smartphone apps to well-meaning parents , tries to prescribe weight loss as a panacea (1).

But it’s true, and Bentley Adams knows it. That’s why he’s co-founder and CEO of Way Health, a mindful eating app designed to help you break the eating cycle.

“We ask questions to get into the thoughts, emotions, and feelings behind the relationship with food and behind the relationship with the body,” Adams told Healthline.

Unlike some nutrition apps that co-opt the language of anti-diet executives while promoting weight loss, Way Health isn’t prescriptive, according to Adams. It’s not rooted in changing your body. Rather, it is meant to help you honor the body you have.

“This is the real anti-regime. You never step on a scale, you never count a calorie, you never follow a macro,” he said.

Instead, Adams said, the app challenges users to ask themselves, “If you woke up tomorrow and could have your relationship with food however you wanted, what would that be like?”

Using Way is meant to be the first step in helping users actualize that ideal relationship with food. People answer multiple sets of self-reflection questions to get to the heart of their emotions and begin to understand how food culture affects them — and how to begin to break free.

It is estimated that approximately 55 million Americans attempt to diet each year. And while some diets are initially effective, these results usually don’t last (2).

Research shows that most people regain more than 50% of the weight they lost within 2 years of starting a diet and regain more than 80% within 5 years (3).

What’s more, a review of 121 studies analyzing 17 different diets found that weight loss and improvements in markers of cardiovascular health — like blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar — generally slow after 6 months and level off. after one year on almost all diets. (4).

Many factors influence weight change and maintenance, but studies show that diet can actually encourage your body to support its weight. Weight-loss diets appear to increase appetite, decrease feelings of fullness, and slow metabolism (3).

In fact, it’s suggested that for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) of weight lost, your body burns 20-30 fewer calories per day while increasing your appetite so you eat about 100 more calories per day than before. the system of government (3).

This is part of what causes the phenomenon of weight cycling, also known as “yo-yo dieting” – dieting to lose weight, regain weight, diet again and repeat the pattern over and over again. over time (1).

The weight cycle has been linked to increased depression, poor cardiovascular health, insulin resistance and other health problems, such as eating disorders and low self-esteem (5, 6, seven).

That’s where Way Health hopes to step in, according to Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, LD. She is an app consulting partner and non-dietitian dietitian based in Kansas City.

“We’ve really been educated on this idea that healthy equals lean,” Harbstreet told Healthline. “This dieting cycle is so harmful just from a physical perspective and the toll it has on your body, as well as mental and emotional well-being and the impact it has on your soul, your relationships and your identity.”

Harbstreet said chronic dieting reduces eating to numbers rather than allowing it to be the intuitive and enjoyable experience it should be. Dieting interferes with your ability to read your natural hunger and fullness cues and can cause you to prioritize thinness over health.

This prioritization of aesthetics championed in our fatphobic society over individual needs is part of the reason diets are linked to eating disorders — and taller people appear to be at greater risk of developing the disorder. food (8, 9, ten).

The negative psychological effects of diets and the lack of evidence that they provide long-term health benefits have even led some researchers to suggest that diets do more harm than good (9).

Way hopes to challenge cultural norms that celebrate diets and applaud thinness. Instead of asking you to follow a specific diet or telling you how you feel about food, it suggests thinking about how you feel when you eat in a way that feels authentic to you.

“We don’t see ourselves as something trying to compete with these legacy diets that have been around for decades or any of the new fads and trends that are emerging,” Harbstreet said. “We really want to stand out and be self-sufficient as an option for people who are ready for an alternative.”

To achieve its objectives, Way Health offers more than 60 activities spread over 3 courses: Emotional Eats, Body Feels and Mindful Shifts.

The Emotional eats Pathway disrupts the traditional concept of “emotional eating”. Rather than demonizing pleasurable foods, the activities in this section simply ask you to think more deeply about the role emotions play in your eating habits. without moralize them.

Then the Body sensations Pathway asks you to consider your body image, as well as how the foods you eat and the movements you make can influence your mental and physical state.

Finally, the Conscious changes Pathway questions the way you talk about yourself and others when it comes to food, exercise and the body. Adams said it’s meant to help you reverse the mindset of the diet culture that prioritizes thinness and sticking to diets.

Questions are open-ended so users can formulate answers in their own words based on their unique experiences and identities.

Clara Mosek, MS, RDN, is another Way partner and non-dietary dietitian based in Modesto, CA. She said the activities are meant to help you learn to trust yourself and know what foods are right for you.

“The app really works to untangle and unlearn those behaviors that lead to ‘health’ in terms of that aesthetic goal, as opposed to an individualized sense of well-being and wholeness,” Mosek told Healthline.

How does health is not supposed to do, however, is to replace work with a non-dietary RD, licensed therapist, or other professional. Instead, it helps you assess where your relationship with food is today and where you might need support.

“The Way app is like a springboard to open up this new ‘what if?’ space,” Mosek said. “What is life like if you move your body not as punishment for what you ate last weekend but for heart health [or] the way you feel?

It’s not something you should rush. The app is intentionally designed for crawling over time, limiting the number of sessions a user can complete in 1 day to avoid being overwhelmed.

Mosek recommends devoting about 5 minutes a day to activities.

“One of the features that I really like is that it limits the number of interactions, so there’s really this practice of setting a limit of ‘How much information do I really need right now?’ “, she said.

Harbstreet said one of the biggest differences between Way and other nutrition apps, besides the rejection of tracking, is the consideration of pleasure in the eating experience.

“One of the biggest common denominators across different diets is that there’s very little to no consideration of these individual taste preferences of what’s satisfying and enjoyable to eat,” she said.

“Because we haven’t focused on measuring, tracking, or counting, it opens up a whole new language and vocabulary to start saying, ‘Here’s what I enjoyed about this meal. This is what I would like to relive.

—Cara Harbstreet

Way provides space for fun, body diversity, and the full range of cultural foods in your dining experiences – and with a monthly subscription price of $6.99, it’s far more affordable than many popular tracker apps. .

According to Adams, it doesn’t take long for users to start implementing the app’s lessons in their daily lives. He said early data shows that 73.5% of users report “thinking differently about how they eat” within the first week of using Way Health.

“The big differentiator between us and everything else is the feeling of a safe, non-judgmental environment to go through an exploration,” Adams said.

“You know what your body needs and doesn’t need, and ultimately that’s how you can heal your relationship with food and with your body: by learning to listen to it.”

Rose Thorne is associate editor at Healthline Nutrition. A 2021 graduate of Mercer University with a degree in journalism and women’s and gender studies, Rose has signed for Business Insider, The Washington Post, The Lily, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and more. The professional accomplishments of which Rose is most proud include being editor of a college journal and working for Fair Fight Action, the national suffrage organization. Rose covers the intersections of gender, sexuality and health, and is a member of the Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists and the Association of Trans Journalists.. You can find Rose on Twitter.


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