Fiona Sutherland is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian & Nutritionist with a diverse working background including international clinical work, private practice, sports nutrition, corporate consultancy, research & working extensively in Dietetic training (with both students and colleagues).
Fiona is a specialist in Mindful Eating and the NonDiet Approach & supports eating in an individually tailored way that supports every person’s unique needs, in alignment with the HAES (Health At Every Size) (R) paradigm. Fiona co-facilitates workshops all over Australia training other Dietitians in the NonDiet Approach with Fiona Willer from Health Not Diets. Together, they aim to support Dietitians in the mindfulness and client-centered therapies.
Q. Can you share with members more about your Mindful Eating program?
As part of body Positive Australia, we run a 14 week Mindfulness and Self Compassion-based group therapy with women who have a difficult relationship with food, eating and their body. It has been running for over 10 years now, with our mission being to support women to find a more peaceful, relaxed and positive way to eat, move and live in the world.
Our website is www.bodypositiveaustralia.com.au
I also run training programs for fellow Dietitians here in Australia (both live workshops and online programs) in Mindfulness-based practice, Mindful Eating, Eating Behavior & Body Image - I love this work and it’s an enormous privilege!
Website is www.themindfuldietitian.com.au
Q: Can you share with us your favorite resource for someone who is interested in mindful eating?
TCME, of course! It’s a one-stop shop for those who would describe themselves as beginners, right through to being very experienced. Plus, all those incredible Professionals who are willing to share their knowledge, skills and experience so generously; you can’t beat it! Q: Do you have a few favorite tips to offer? Approach mindful eating with a sense of curiosity - there’s always something to learn, and experience in every meal…
Don’t worry about eating every single food mindfully - just giving it a go when you can will be helpful.
Mindful eating is not yet another thing to try to be “perfect” at - it’s an opportunity to step back from the need to “get it right” but simply to connect with food and eating in a more calm, respectful & joyous way.
Q: Tell us a little how you came to this path. A story or memorable moment.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t the best student Dietitian. I was the one talking up the back, doodling on the paper, or asking difficult questions to the lecturer. Yep, that student. I had no idea what “kind of Dietitian” I wanted to be but I was endlessly fascinated by humans, and human behavior (which wasn’t really discussed at all in my training). This interest (plus needing a job, I’m being honest!) let naturally into Eating Disorders, which led me to further explore the “how” and “why” people eat the way they do. In fact, I now think it’s a whole lot more interesting in what we eat and in fact when we can drop the pressure on ourselves in thinking “if I could only eat right…..”, it can free us up to make food choices that are a better match for us at any one time.
My passion for mindfulness came from two different areas - my yoga practice (previously erratic, now a little less so!), listening to the experiences of my clients and thousand of dollars worth of Professional Development and Supervision (worth every cent!) After 10 years in Eating Disorders and Sports Nutrition. I very much became more of a specialist in binge eating, and immersed myself much more in understanding how I could help my clients calm down and stabilize their eating, and nourish themselves from a place of love and care, rather than shame and disconnection. I owe all my thanks to my incredible clients, who have allowed me to “practice on them” and my colleagues in the Eating Disorders and Health At Every Size ® spaces who have taught me the value of patience, persistence and curiosity.
Q: What is the one question about mindful eating or mindfulness that makes you cringe? “If I eat more mindfully, will I lose weight?”
I don’t begrudge anyone who has had concern about their weight or body asking this question but the reason it makes me cringe is because, to me, it makes Mindful Eating seem like just another diet. Which couldn’t be further from the truth……. This question, or the insinuation of Mindful Eating as a weight loss tool, also seems to miss the very central tenet of mindfulness which is basically “be here now,” not 10 pounds into the future! Mindfulness and Mindful Eating are definitely skills for life….
Q: What is your vision for Mindful Eating? What do you want mindful eating to help or cure?
My vision for Mindful Eating is that people use it as a vehicle for greater inner peace, and to cultivate a wisdom that can be shared from generation to generation so we can break the cycles of food and body anxiety. My grand vision is basically this:
Food Peace - Body Peace- World Peace
And I mean, the world could totally do with less “hangry” people right? Who knows what incredible things we could achieve!
Q: Why did you join The Center for Mindful Eating?
I joined TCME to connect with other professionals, and to learn more about how Mindful Eating can be utilized in a variety of settings. I have learned SO much about the incredible breadth and depth of Mindfulness practice and its relationship to food and eating, and love exploring different ways I can work with the principles with my clients - I feel like it’s an ever-evolving adventure! I particularly love the webinars, with my favorite so far being “When the Dr says No” which was held last year by one of my great heroes, Marsha Hudnall. The way she explains concepts in a clear, concise yet open way really helps me to expand my own mind, and inspires me to keep learning and growing. I’m excited for all the new guests in 2016, and thank you for having me!