Critical dietetics.

The following is an excerpt from Critical Dietetics: A Declaration, something I was lucky enough to witness being born early this summer.

…we acknowledge that food is more than the mere sum of its constituent nutrients. We recognize that human bodies in health and illness are complex and contextual. Moreover, we recognize that the knowledge that enables us to understand health is socially, culturally, historically, and environmentally constructed.

Dietetics and the field of nutrition, being relatively new fields, are only just coming, in some ways, to reflect critically on their own place in the world: the places where we have succeeded as well as the places where we have failed, and our responsibility to social justice via the currency of health promotion.

(And by health promotion I mean the ENTIRETY of health promotion, as laid out in the Ottawa Charter, linked above — not merely rhetorical social marketing campaigns that sometimes consist of little more than ableist, boot-strapping propaganda.)

Aside from certain progressive sub-fields, such as food security and the emerging criticism of food production systems, I feel like nutrition and dietetics have been missing an important intellectual cousin, so to speak, in the form of critical analysis — using the knowledge and techniques available to us through many other fields of inquiry, such as philosophy, humanities, literature, art, and identity studies — of our own practices, beliefs and intentions.

To me, critical dietetics includes questioning definitions of health as they currently stand; questioning top-down approaches that rely on the hierarchy of practitioner and patient; being willing to shine light on where, exactly, dietetics has failed its own practitioners as well as patients; discovering where cultural bias has informed dietetic practice and public health policy, often without being questioned or challenged.

I’m sure you can see how important this is in the light of fat acceptance and Health at Every Size.

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