When Wollongong researcher Dr Anne McMahon goes out to dinner, she tells people she works as a florist and not a dietitian.
That's because, as soon as she mentions her job, people start to watch what she eats - expressing surprise if she opts for something they deem "unhealthy".
"People have this idea that a dietitian is 'good' and eats well and doesn't do anything 'bad', and then you get this whole definition that 'oh, I must be a good person if I eat well'," she said.
"There is this relationship where people think food makes you a good person or not, and you can feel shame if you don't measure up."
This type of judgement she receives - as an adult well-equipped to push back on negative attitudes - is why she's a strong supporter of new guidelines for school teachers which recommend avoiding talk of diets, "good" and "bad" foods and using the Body Mass Index to assess children's health.
Under the advice from the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) released this month, activities like calculating calories and BMI, taking body measurements or recording food intake will be avoided in school lessons to reduce unintended harm to students.
The push for the change came from eating disorder groups, who highlighted that the focus on weight and measurements, or shame-inducing attitudes to food could be triggering.
Dr McMahon, a researcher at the University of Wollongong, agreed saying adolescence was fraught enough without giving kids more reasons to feel embarrassed.
"Any time that you are made to feel different in a school environment is not great and adolescence is a tricky time," she said.
"Body mass index is not really easily transferable to lots of different groups - and if young people fall outside those norms, then they start to feel isolated.
"You can fall out that side those norms just by being an athlete, like if you're a very highly muscular athlete, so it's not a concept that is useful in all settings."
"Why would we weigh and compare kids, who are already in that very vulnerable period of development, unsure about themselves and hormone changes. That's an incredibly damaging thing to do."
She said the new advice was about emphasising healthy eating habits without demonising certain foods, and giving kids a broader social picture of health and food.
"We have to have a good relationship with food, and to classify food as good and bad is a very negative approach," she said.
"That doesn't mean we want people to eat rubbish foods - the reality is the foods that are highly processed, high sugar, high salt, high fat generally have a lot of other issues.
"They are environmentally damaging, there's packaging, there's food miles apart from anything else in terms of poor nutrient quality.
"So that's where the curriculum is looking at whole food systems and quality of food - and that's a really good move because if we also make different choices at the supermarket in our daily lives, the food system also responds and shifts."
She said her research was focused on issues like food insecurity and encouraging schools to have community gardens to become more connected with where food comes from to help students make better choices.
"If we have more local, stronger food systems and people being aware of where food comes from, we're going to get a better outcome not just for their health, but for the economic health of their community and global health," Dr McMahon said.
She said she believed the shift towards a more holistic view of food would do more to shift Australia's overweight and obesity rates.
"Food is not just a bunch of nutrients - good or bad - it is a social cultural connection with your family, with your friends, with the world," she said.
"We start classifying foods, it gets quite confusing. Where does a beautiful rich lasagne that your Italian grandmother made you go?
"We know that we have an overweight and obesity issue in Australia and it isn't going away - but we need to think how can I relate to food and physical activity in a more positive way rather than saying this food's good and I'm a bad person because I ate this or I didn't do exercise today.
"I don't think that will change the status quo."