Forty five per cent! This is the number of women I surveyed who said they would still continue to diet despite research concluding that 95% of all dieters regain the weight lost within two to five years. Australia’s peak funding body for medical research, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), has been delivering this advice since 2013: diet’s don’t work in the long-term.
Furthermore, one-third of those people gain even more and end up heavier than when they first started dieting. So, if diet’s don’t work, why are women wedded to them?
Diets don’t work
Ladies, if your doctor told you that she was going to prescribe you a weight loss medicine that worked for Angela, but that she was legally required to say that Angela’s results weren’t typical, that you probably wouldn’t experience Angela’s results, and then told you that it was more likely to leave you less healthy than more healthy, would you take it?
If Viagra failed 95% of the time would we blame guys for not trying hard enough or would we say that the medicine didn’t work?
So, why are women still dieting if diet’s don’t work?
From what I can see in my practice it’s because they’re desperate to attain a particular body type or magic number on the scale, and they still believe dieting or some type of restriction is the only way to get it.
Furthermore, they want that body yesterday. Quick-fix promises to drop 5kg in 14 days, lures them in. However, this is a potentially dangerous and often unhealthy dead end loop.
Moreover, despite the evidence that is recognised by the NHMRC, many people simply do not want to accept diets don’t work long term.
There’s a real grieving process when people are shown the facts. There’s a deep grieving of the ‘thin me’ dream. There’s grief over the time, energy and money lost to dieting. Furthermore, there’s the story many women have told themselves about the person they would become after they lose weight.
Thanks to our diet culture “being healthy” means depriving yourself of the foods you want, taking a no-pain-no-gain approach to physical activity, and keeping a close watch on the scale. We don’t see this lifestyle as problematic.
Most people are wedded to these ideas – it’s the norm. However, just because it’s the norm doesn’t mean it’s healthy. I’ve learned that for me and my clients, trying to follow diet cultures rules does far more harm than good.
What I’ve learnt from years of (failed) dieting
I’ve found that the best guide when it comes to eating isn’t an outside source; it’s connection with my own body and her hunger, satisfaction, needs, and desires. An inborn wisdom that we’re all born with but we unfortunately lose that when we start dieting and following rules from a book.
I’ve learned how to guide myself and other people to break down internalised diet and weight loss beliefs and explore for themselves what foods they find satisfying and sustaining, so they find their balanced weight.
The aim of this is to normalise your relationship with food and find your balanced weight AND keep it. Diet’s don’t work – they give you the OPPOSITE – A disordred relationship with food and yo-yo weight cycling.
Want help getting out of diet autopilot? My program Stop Punishing Start Nourishing helps women give up dieting, without losing control with food, so they can have a body and life they love.
Client’s often ask me, “how do I fix my relationship with food”? Allowing yourself unconditional permission to eat is the answer. Contrary to popular belief, unconditional permission to eat does not just mean, “eat whatever you want, whenever you want!” It’s more nuanced than that.
How to fix my relationship with food
It’s 11 am and you’re hungry. But it’s not “lunchtime”.
You’re starting to feel a subtle hollowing of your stomach. You feel pulled to eat.
Do you allow yourself to eat or do you ignore your hunger?
Maybe you’re confused? Should you eat 1,200 calories a day, or only a certain number of points, or only during certain hours?
The good news is, your body knows exactly what she wants and needs, you just have to learn how to listen.
Intuitive Eating is a framework made up of ten guiding principles, however, from a research and clinical perspective, we can breakdown these principles into four underlying constructs; you can think of the principles as the actions we take to become intuitive eaters, and the constructs are the characteristics intuitive eaters are made of.
I’ll go through the four constructs one by one – the first of these is unconditional permission to eat (UPE).
“Call a truce, stop the food fight! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat”.
There are three main components within the UPE construct:
1) No labeling of foods as forbidden or good/bad.
2) Willingness to eat when hungry (i.e. not deliberately staving off hunger)
3) Making food choices for health and satisfaction.
If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing.
When you finally “give-in” to your forbidden food, eating will be experienced with such intensity, it usually results in Last Supper overeating, and overwhelming guilt.”
According to one of the founders of the Intuitive Eating movement, Evelyn Tribole, “One of the biggest misconceptions is that, without a structured diet, people will start to be unhealthy.
But if you look at the research, it’s clear that intuitive eaters have higher self-esteem, higher well-being, and they also tend to have lower body mass indexes.
They eat a variety of foods, they have more trust in their bodies—it’s really rather lovely all of the good that comes out of this.”
Can you trust yourself around certain food?
Many women worry that if they stop restricting what they eat, they’ll eat all day and won’t stop. This is understandable given they don’t trust themselves around food, but simply not true.
Take for example people who work in chocolate factories. They might eat a lot of chocolate, to begin with, but get sick of it very quickly. Habituation research explains why food becomes less enticing with exposure.
Sure, there’s an initial “honeymoon phase” where you may want to eat your previously forbidden foods quite a lot. But that will subside with time.
But when you know food will be there and allowed day after day, it doesn’t become so important to have large quantities of it and it eventually loses its power over you.
This is why it’s important to understand that deprivation leads to unwanted backlash eating.
The reason we crave foods that we label as ‘bad’ is because we put them off-limits or tell ourselves that we’re not allowed to eat them. This then leads to deprivation and inevitably a binge!
*Dieting* actually heightens the novelty and desirability for forbidden foods. When people go off a diet, they often eat those forbidden foods in excess, in part because of the lack of habituation.
Another reason not to diet
When you combine low habituation with the fear of never eating your favourite foods ever again (or that’s what you tell yourself), it becomes a powerful recipe for overeating. It’s called the “last supper mentality”.
Better eat it all now, because I start my diet again tomorrow.
Giving yourself unconditional permission to eat what you like, is an important mindset and skill that will put you back in charge of your own food choices without micromanaging every bite.
You’re finally trusting your body to guide you, without external conditions on why, how, where, when or what to eat.
Start with one food or food group that you want to challenge. Add it to one meal or snack a day and once you feel more comfortable, move on to the next.
You’ll find that some of those scarier foods feel less intimidating as you start to see that food is available to nourish, not punish you.
Eat foods that you find both nourishing and pleasurable for full metabolic power. Some days that will be brownies and other days that will be a salad. It’s called balance and unconditional permission to eat. It’s called peace with food.
I recently had the honour of being interviewed by Peggy Schirmer for her fabulous podcast on Youtube called, Gut Feelings. We talked about cravings and binge eating and how they are linked to dieting/food restriction and negative body image. If you haven’t heard of Peggy before, she is a certified naturopath (all the way from Panama) that specialises in helping people to heal their digestive issues and cultivate good gut health.
We talked about
My personal battle and full recovery from chronic dieting and an eating disordered that inspired me to help other women have a healthy relationship with food and their bodies.
The worst advice I’ve heard when it comes to cravings and stopping binge eating and what to do instead.
Why willpower does not work when it comes to cravings and how our microbiome also influences what we crave.
The best advice I would give my friends and family members to stop binge eating.
How to manage your cravings so you’re not restricting and feeling deprived.
The essence of the work I do is “stop punishing start nourishing” and what that actually means and how it can help you heal and transform your relationship with food, your body and by extension your whole life.
We literally could have talked for hours!
Watch the interview here
Cravings and binge eating have much in common with gut issues.
Many people that struggle with chronic dieting, disordered eating and/or an eating disorder also experience some level of digestive upset. Some surveys show that up to 98% of people with an eating disorder also have concurrent digestion issues. I wanted to point this out to show how prevalent this relationship is!
And it makes SO much sense when you think about how dieting and disordered eating behaviors impact the amount and the variety of food consumed. Ultimately, that will affect the way our digestion works.
Disrupted gut/brain connection.
Communication between the brain and the gut is “disrupted” in a “functional gut disorder.” A functional gut disorder is a gut issue in which the symptoms cannot be explained by a structural or tissue abnormality. Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS) falls into the category of a functional gut disorder, whereas Celiac Disease does not (that’s because in Celiac Disease, gluten triggers an autoimmune response in the body, which can cause damage to the small intestine).
How can this communication between the gut and brain become disrupted?
Typically by some type of stress response, which can either be physical or psychological. So yes, anxiety can cause a disruption in this communication. And it may result in things like acid reflux, bloating, gas and/or diarrhea.
Many people are then often prescribed an elimination diet, like FODMAPS. One major problem with these types of diets is that they are extremely restrictive, which means they are not appropriate for disordered eating and/or eating disorder clients.
Up-and-coming research suggests that gut-directed hypnotherapy may be just as effective as elimination diets. I thought that was fascinatin and I am looking forward to seeing the new research on this.
On the physical side of things, this connection could be disrupted by undereating, over-exercise, laxative use, or bingeing. And it goes both ways. Digestive symptoms often cause stress and anxiety via the same connection. Someone may be feeling really anxious about how/when/if their digestive system will play up.
There’s so much to learn about our digestion and gut health and it’s a topic that science is only beginning to scratch the surface on.
If you would like more information regarding how you can manage cravings, stop binge eating and improve your gut health, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me here.
If you’ve searched around on my site at all, you’ll see that I am 110% aligned with the principles underlying Health At Every Size (HAES) and the non-diet approach. Although they are different philosophies, they’re also deeply intertwined, so being HAES aligned also means being non-diet aligned (or some like to use anti-diet) and vice versa.
Health At Every Size can be a difficult paradigm to accept, especially living in our fat-phobic, thin obsessed society. But, HAES has the same goal as any other approach: wanting to support our clients in living happy and healthy lives.
The difference? HAES doesn’t believe that this can (or should) be achieved by focusing on weight and body size. HAES (and the non-diet approach) wants to remove this focus.
It’s also important to note, HAES providers generally accept health is not a moral obligation. What does a HAES provider focus on then? Literally everything else across the health spectrum (sleep, food, movement, emotional health…etc).
*By the way, there are also discrepancies in health across lower and higher socioeconomic statuses. I do not touch on this issue in this blog, although I am continually learning more about this. Genetics also play a role. So “health” is based on so much more than food and exercise.
The traditional dieting approach has been in vogue for more than 30 years, but it has the highest failure rate out of any industry.
Many of the women I speak to have spent years, if not their whole lives dieting and weight cycling. Weight cycling is problematic in itself, but the focus on weight can also erode self-worth and adversely affect psychological health.
The Health At Every Size (HAES) approach has received some negative press about not focusing on weight; it has also been suggested that HAES promotes obesity. However, this is where the approach is grossly misunderstood.
HAES is NOT anti-weight loss. Rather, it does not promote weight loss as a health strategy. Key reasons for this are: weight loss is not a behaviour, it is an outcome and a focus on weight perpetuates weight stigma.
Weight stigma is a form of social prejudice toward people of higher body weight, one that elicits deep personal shame and can prevent people from engaging in healthier behaviours.
Another key problem with making weight loss the focus is that a person can actively take steps to improve their eating and movement habits, and not lose any weight at all. Despite their overall health greatly improving, that person may then become disheartened and go back to restrictive eating (dieting).
The HAES approach helps people find sustainable health behaviours that support overall well-being, acknowledge and address weight stigma, and is inclusive of human diversity in terms of body size, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identification and social status.
There is no doubt when people feel better within themselves, they are more likely to engage in healthy behaviours and feel motivated to take care of their bodies.
With HAES, if a person loses weight through changing their health behaviours and better self-care, weight loss is a beneficial side effect, not the primary goal.
If you would like help incorporating the HAES principles into your health routine, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Do you binge eat at night?
Grab my FREE ebook ‘HOW TO STOP BINGE EATING AT NIGHT, STARTING TONIGHT’.
It will help you to get out of the binge-restrict cycle and eat normally again.
Body image is a complex, multidimensional issue and it requires a multidimensional approach to repair. Here is a new body image activity I learnt this week to help you work towards feeling at ease and confident in your body.
Practical body image activity
The relationship between your body image and self-esteem is a powerful one.
You begin forming your perceptions of your bodies attractiveness, acceptability, and functionality in early childhood. Your body image continues to form as you age and receive feedback from family, friends, peers and society, etc.
It’s complex is because we live in a culture that first and foremost values a woman’s outer appearance, over their inner qualities. This means women will often base their self-worth on a number on the scale, the size of their clothes or what they see in the mirror.
As a consequence they feel compelled to spend a lot of time, energy, and money trying to control their weight and shape, even though the research is clear. Intentional weight loss fails more than 95% of the time and ironically, leaves us heavier than when we started.
If for example, family members continually made disparaging comments about your weight and what you ate as a child. This may increase the risk of developing a deeply ingrained dissatisfaction with your body, no matter how thin you became.
Additionally, personality traits such as perfectionism and self-criticism can also influence the development of a negative body image.
There’s much we can do, but a good place to start is by critically evaluating the messages society sends us about valuing bodies.
From a young age, women aspire to Barbie-like measurements that are physiologically impossible without surgery and/or starvation.
In order for this narrative to change, you have to work really hard at it. It requires mindset changes, behaviour changes, and surrounding yourself with body positivity regularly. Sadly, you cannot think or wish your way to body acceptance.
I have seen how interventions aimed at fostering a sense of self that hinges on achievements and internal attributes, not just appearance, have helped my clients develop a more peaceful relationship with their bodies and food. Thereby, significantly improving their overall quality of life.
If you are concerned about your body image, here are some questions to ask yourself:
Is my perception of beauty distorted from years of media exposure that glorifies a very thin ideal that is unrealistic for most people to obtain in a healthy manner?
Do I find myself regularly criticising my own appearance?
With this in mind, I thought I would share with you a new body image activity that I have learnt from a mentor of mine – Marci Evans RD.
Marci describes our relationship with our bodies as “one of the MOST important relationships we attend to because we live with our bodies from birth until death”.
I’d like to invite you to do a body image activity
Step 1:Take a moment to reflect and make a list of the best relationships you have in your life. It can be with your partner, best friend, dog, colleague or anyone. But choose the one relationship you feel contains the most positive and essential aspects of a high functioning relationship.
Step 2:Identify as many characteristics that describe this relationship as possible. Try to give yourself several minutes to really reflect on this.
Step 3:Circle which of these characteristics also applies to your relationship with your body. For example, if you listed “trustworthy” in number 2, does that also apply to the relationship you have with your body?
Step 4:Underline one characteristic that doesn’t currently apply to your relationship with your body, but one that you would like it to.
Step 5:Do a practical activity tocultivate that characteristic and consider journaling about, talking about it with your counsellor, coach or a friend.
I am passionate about learning and growing in this area and hope that some of the ideas I’ve shared have been useful to you in some way! For more support to help you repair your body image take a look at my program Stop Punishing Start Nourishing here>>
Understanding the self-love language that you speak, will make it easier for you to meet your own self care and self love needs.This test’s most important use is to strengthen the relationship you have with yourself.
“Do unto others as you would have them do on to you.” I was taught from a young age to treat others with respect and kindness. I was encouraged to give to others and that giving to myself should always be second.
One thing I was never taught was self-love or what that even looks like?
When we’re recovering from an unhealthy relationship with food and our bodies, we are encouraged to give to ourselves — to put on our own oxygen mask first — before we help others. Yet, this idea, of having self-love, has always been a foreign concept to so many women.
I realised that showing self-love for yourself doesn’t mean that you love every part of you every day — but that you accept that you’re human and things won’t always go to plan; life happens. You will encounter hurdles and you will make mistakes. This is what it means to be human.
The more we open ourselves to the reality of this, instead of fighting it and expecting perfection, the more we are able to feel compassion for ourselves and shower ourselves with self-love.
The 5 Love Languagesexplores the idea that love can be expressed in more than one language and that not everyone feels loved in the same ways. Once we figure out what our self-love language is, we can improve the ways in which we love ourselves and help others love us in ways that mean the most. This post is all about how you can use your self-love language to love on yourself.
I am five years into my recovery from an eating disorder, and self-compassion and self-love is something I have to mindfully practice on a daily basis. We all need different things to feel loved, and we all have different self-love languages. It is important to know what resonates for you.
The 5 self-love languages
Words of Affirmation
Practice daily affirmations that encourage self-compassion and being good to yourself. Such as, “it’s only a thought and a thought can be changed”, or “I love the way I feel when I take good care of myself”.
Journal your strengths and everything you’re grateful for. Document everything you accomplish, feel good about, like about yourself, etc.
Keep your self-talk positive. Turn down the volume of your inner critic and choose to be your own coach or cheerleader. Be positive in the ways that you not only talk to yourself but how you talk about yourself.
Acts of Service (this is my self-love language!)
Prepare healthy meals for yourself. Put thought and effort into grocery shopping and meal preparation.
Create an organised, clean and aesthetically pleasing home environment for yourself. Love where you live, even if on a budget.
Schedule regular physical, dental and mental health check-ups. Address any health concerns in a timely manner if they arise. Without your health, you have nothing.
Dress yourself with love and care. Wear clothes that make you feel like the beautiful person you are.
Get up and give yourself what your body is telling you it needs in that moment.
Buy only what you love.
Gift yourself with an experience on your bucket list.
Invest in your education. Want to pursue a higher degree? Take a cooking class? Learn how to be a yoga instructor? Do the research, apply for grants and scholarships, volunteer to learn new skills or take a free course online. Gift yourself with knowledge.
Treat yourself to the wisdom and perspective gained from travel. Limited funds? Consider volunteer or service work or pooling together resources with friends and traveling on the cheap.
Never apologise for nurturing your mind, body, and soul.
Set aside time for daily mindfulness practices such as meditation and deep breathing relaxation.
Make time for leisure, hobbies, play and enjoyment.
Prioritise sleep, movement and making food you enjoy eating.
Do not over-schedule, over-book or over-commit. Your life is worth more than being a mouse on a wheel…
Make time for being alone and for slowing down to get to know yourself, which in turn will help you to be more present in your life.
Stretch and give yourself a massage with a foam roller.
Release toxins by taking a hot bath with Epsom salts. Release the stress and soak in the love.
Moisturise your skin. As you touch your skin, thank each body part for all it does for you.
Give yourself a spa treatment: manicure, pedicure, facial, deep conditioning treatment.
Self-love is a journey. Our bodies deserve our love and kindness. They do not deserve to be punished for what we think our bodies can’t do or what we believe they are not.
“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” ~ Buddha
What is your self-love language? I’d love to know.
Self care refers to activities undertaken with the intention of enhancing energy, restoring health and reducing stress. It’s not always bubble baths and pedicures. It can also be about processing emotional reactions to our life and doing things that we might find difficult, like setting boundaries and saying NO.
Paying attention to what is happening to your body, both physically and emotionally, helps you to identify when something is affecting you. It is important to take time out when you need it to reduce feelings of stress and protect your mental health.
I always talk to my clients about feelings and stress. If we’re not talking about feelings and stress, then we’re not talking about the full human experience. It’s not always just about food. It’s also about your why!
Why is self care important?
When we’re stressed, self care should be the first thing we go to. Why?
We go into the sympathetic nervous system dominance of fight-or-flight mode and our perspective narrows. We don’t see we have options – options for coping with stress and making ourselves feel better.
We may not have a “go to” list of self-care activities. When we’re dealing with stress, we remember that, “I need to take care of myself in this situation.” And, you need a variety of activities to try, if one doesn’t work, you can switch to the other.
Fortunately, there are several pathways to self-care, and none of them need be difficult, take a lot of planning or be expensive. Here’s a list of ideas:
Snuggle under a cozy blanket Cuddle with a pet Stare up at the sky Listen to music
Be a tourist in your own city Make art Journal Go for a photo walk
Take action (one small step) on something you’ve been avoiding Read something on a topic you wouldn’t normally Try a new activity Drive to a new place
Read inspiring quotes Meditate Spend time in nature Journal what you’re grateful for
Write your feelings down Laugh and cry Talk to someone about your feelings Practice self-compassion
Go for a gentle walk Dance Stretch Take a nap
Speak to a friend on the phone Catch up with family or friends Join a Meetup group Join a book club
These can all lead to a calm mind and that’s the best self care strategy I know.
NOTE: The activities and suggestions above are a guide only and it is important to choose activities that are meaningful to yourself and your own goals.
Create your own self care plan
For each category above, select at least one activity that you can undertake. You might notice areas of overlap between these categories. It is important to develop a self-care plan that is holistic and individual to you.
Self care isn’t designed to be an emergency stress relief plan. It is something that can be incorporated into everyday activities to maintain a positive wellbeing.
If you’re coming off a long history of diets, it can be difficult to tell when you’re truly physically hungry. There’s an easy tool that’s called the hunger fullness scale. It’s helpful to determine your current level of hunger or fullness. The hunger fullness scale is one of my favourite tools to use with clients to help them eat more intuitively and mindfully.
The Hunger Fullness Scale
You were born knowing exactly how much to eat. Hunger is your body’s way of telling you that you need fuel for your body to function optimally. Kids are great at knowing how to eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full. Watch them at a birthday party as they easily leave cake, fruit, lollies and sandwiches on their plate without any worries.
As adults, we lose touch with our appetite cues because we make food choices based on external tools. Such as dieting, calorie counting, meal plans, food rules, etc. This disconnects us from our bodies natural in built system of hunger and fullness.
It’s not unusual to look up from years of dieting and numbing or ignoring your hunger, to realise it’s difficult for you to tell when you’re truly hungry. Furthermore, if you have a history of an eating disorder or disordered eating, it’s highly likely you’re disconnected from your hunger signals or lost the ability to sense hunger accurately.
The good news is, this doesn’t have to be permanent. We can fix this.
By reconnecting with your natural signals, you can manage your eating naturally and mindfully, without restrictive dieting and obsessing over every bite of food you put in your mouth.
When I work with clients on intuitive eating, one of the first things we do is work on the hunger fullness scale to get you back in touch with your bodies internal cues for when and how much to eat.
The Hunger Fullness Scale and Intuitive Eating
Because two of the key principles of intuitive eating have to do with hunger and fullness, this is where the hunger fullness scale comes in particularly handy. It’s often called the hunger fullness scale because it’s an easy, visual way to assign a number or value to your current level of hunger or fullness.
The hunger fullness scale helps you get back in touch with your subtle (or not so subtle) signs of hunger and fullness. If you eat when you’re just getting hungry, and stop when you’re satisfied, but not uncomfortable, you’ll eat just the right amount of food for your body.
It’s important to note, however, the amount of food needed will change from day to day based on multiple factors. Things like your age, sex, physical activity, amount of quality sleep, stress levels, how long in between eating or that time of the month.
How to use the Hunger Fullness Scale
When you’re ready to eat a meal or snack, ask yourself, “How hungry am I on the fullness scale?” Ideally, you’ll be between a 3 and a 4.
Halfway through your meal, pause for 10 seconds or so and check in with your body. Ask again “Where am I on the scale now?”
Eat until you get to a 6 or 7, then stop
If you do this exercise and find that you don’t have normal hunger and fullness cues, ask yourself these questions:
Am I eating regularly?
Or – have I skipped meals and snacks, even when I am hungry?
Or – do I graze on food all day long when I’m not feeling hungry?
Do this exercise for five days in a row, or until you’ve become more aware of your hunger and fullness cues. And remember, this not a magic pill. The scale is to be used as a guide only.
Repeat this practice anytime you’re feeling out of touch with how and why you’re eating.
What if the Hunger Fullness Scale isn’t working?
If you’re struggling to determine your hunger and fullness using the scale, don’t stress! Don’t be too hard on yourself because the process of unlearning external food rules and relearning internal body signals isn’t easy.
Maybe you don’t sense the hunger in your stomach. Maybe your hunger shows up as irritability, moodiness, a headache, lethargy, or you’re unable to focus. Maybe it manifests in some other way. Pay attention to ALL of these body signals and over time you’ll recognise them as hunger.
Re-establishing body trust takes time and a lot of trial-and-error as you determine whether or not you’re hungry. Eventually, you’ll get to a place where you can ask, “Am I hungry?” and make that assessment without using a scale. Until then, maybe start with some of these tips.
Many women believe that their value in this world and self-worth is defined by their size, weight, shape, and appearance. How much body fat they have, their bra size, or their waist circumference. I was once one of those of women. Always defining my weight and self-worth by a number. If this sounds familiar, read on while I explain why the appearance of your body does not determine your worth.
Weight and Self-Worth
We’re led to believe from a young age that a woman’s appearance is the most important thing about them. Their currency is how they look.
Futhermore, they are told their happiness, relationships and success are based on a achieiving that number, or not. Yet, there are individuals with all of these things, living in larger bodies and individuals with none of them living in smaller bodies.
Moreover, what constitutes the “worth” of an individual is subjective because we don’t all value the same characteristics in people.
Not to mention, our cultural “ideals” of beauty has fluctuated throughout human existence. Looking stunningly different from one generation to the next.
So, how do we determine what makes a person beautiful?
There was once a time where living in a larger body was valued, as it reflected an individual was wealthy enough to feed themselves well. Even today, there are many cultures that value larger bodies as more appealing.
The tropical paradise of French Polynesia is known for celebrating yet another kind of beauty – that of the well-rounded female body. The Tahitian appreciation of ample body shape goes back to the traditional practice of ha’apori. Literally meaning “to fatten,” according to this ritual, young women were made to put on weight so as to be presented to the chief for beauty and fertility inspection.
However today, we as a culture and as a society, particualrly Western societies, have become obsessed with size. It’s become connected to our identity as women.
This obsession fuels societal pressures to appear a certain way and to have a certain body type, particularly among young women, stemming from a cultural construct of the “ideal” body.
However, wanting your “ideal weight” is not like seeking the Australian Dream. Where if you just work hard enough, you’ll get it.
No. We are heavily determined by our geneticsand unfortunately, we cannot change that.
We can pay for a lot of beauty products and plastic surgery to enhance, support, and beautify our looks and keep us feeling attractive in our culture, but there are limitations.
Products and surgery cannot change our hip size, height, change how our bodies use and store fat, give us genetically modified skin or change the length of our legs.
Products and surgery can enhance, not create self-esteem. But, we still keep on trying.
It’s important to be critical and ask, who decided that what we weigh determines our value?
This is something I ask my clients a lot. In order to heal and change our relationship with our bodies, we must start thinking outside the box and critcially thinking.
Asking, why do I feel this way about my body and myself?
Who said I should be a size x and weigh x amount?
Is it because we live in a thin is best and beautiful society?
Who profits from me feeling insecure about my body?
Do I feel energised, empowered and strong physically and mentally when I definine my self-worth by the size and shape of my body?
Is there really anything truly “wrong” with my body, or am I just unhappy that I can’t live up to the unrealistic standards of beauty?
Do I honestly have the genetics, time, money, resources and mental energy to devote attaining and then sustaining a certain weight and shape?
What else would be impacted in order to achieve my ideal weight?
We can decrease body dissatisfaction and harmful eating behaviours by increasing cognitive dissonancearound the “ideal body.”
Weight and self-worth
There is a reason “self-worth” has the word “self” in it. It is not worth determined by your friends, your family, your partner, your schoolmates, co-workers, or significant others.
It is your worth determined by you. And, who better to determine it.
Check-in and ask yourself, “is this based on facts about myself or is there a lot of outside noise contributing to how I feel about my body?”
Bringing the “self” back into “self-worth” means that the answer to this question is entirely up to you. Ask yourself what you value in the people you love and what you believe makes a person worthy.
Self-Worth = Self-Love
It goes without saying; we love what we value. The more we value the traits and characteristics that make us unique and worthy in our own eyes, the more we love the human we are.
The same is true of our bodies, the more we value them for the incredible machines they are and the life through which they carry us, the more we love them regardless of the number on a scale.
Embarking on a journey to reject societies ideas of weight-basedvalue and to determine what you believe makes you worthy will lead to positive and life-changing realisations, recovery from self-loathing and body hatred, and a future of self-love.
Just remember, If you do reach your goal of a lower body weight, that does not increase your value as a human. Likewise, if you fail to achieve your goal that does not decrease your value.
You are not your weight.
If this is somethin that you need support with, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me here>>
“So, you’re suggesting I eat nuts, seeds, olive oil, whole fat milk and yoghurt, salmon, sardines, avocados, eggs, and even butter,” a client recently asked me. “But I can’t shake my fear of fat. Is eating fat bad for me? Isn’t it going to make me gain weight – the very thing I’m trying to avoid!” If you think that eating fat is bad and it’s going to lead to weight gain, your ambivalence is understandable but let me put your mind at ease.
Is eating fat bad?
FAT! That four letter word…we hate.
For the past four decades we have been urged to banish it from our diets wherever possible. The recommendation was to switch to low-fat foods.
But this shift hasn’t made us healthier or thinner, probably because we also cut out the healthy fats as well as the potentially harmful ones.
But, don’t be scared of fat. You actually need it in your diet.
Fats have been given a bad name, but they are an important part of our diet. I promise you – good quality healthy fats will not make you put on weight. The fat you eat is not the fat you wear (unless it fat from deep fried stuff).
Mono and polyunsaturated fats (such as the list of foods I suggested to my client above) are excellent sources of essential fatty nutrients. They play a very important role in maintaining healthy skin and hair, regulating body temperature, supporting the immune system, insulating internal organs, nerve transmission, vitamin and mineral absorption, and hormone production.
Just like petrol and diesel are both fuels that cars can run on. If you put gas in a diesel engine or the other way around, the engine may run but it won’t run well, or it won’t run for a long.
Similar to cars, the human body functions well on a range of fats in combination with carbohydrates and protein, but it runs much better on some types of fat, compared to others.For example, the fat component of your say your lunch, is really important for the absorption of fat soluable vitamins (vitamins A, D, E & K) that are hopefully present in your lunch. If no fat is included in your lunch at all, the vitamins from your lunch won’t be absorbed into your blood stream as easily.
Healthy fats don’t make you “fat” – excess calories make you “fat”. It’s about getting the balance right.
Not all fats are created equal. The not so healthy fats include industrial made trans fats. Saturated fats fall somewhere in between. There is now some quality evidence to suggest that saturted fats such as butter, is perhaps not as bad for us as we once thought.
Trans fats are found in everything from commercially baked biscuits and pastries, to fast-food French fries. Eating foods rich in trans fats increases the amount of harmful LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream and reduces the amount of beneficial HDL cholesterol.
So, is eating fat bad for you? What about all the talk of it leading to heart disease? The research tells us this: Numerous meta-analyses and systematic reviews of both the historical and current literature reveals that the diet-heart hypothesis was not, and still is not, supported by the evidence. There appears to be no consistent benefit to all-cause or CVD (cardiovascular disease) mortality from the reduction of dietary saturated fat.
As I always say, the poison is in the dose no matter if that’s fats, sugar or carbs etc. So most things, including butter, is a good option to include in your diet. You gotta love fats because with 9k/Cal per gram, eating halthy fats will also help to keep you fuller and siatiated for longer. Meaning you may eat less throughout the day. So maybe fat isn’t that bad afterall. Eating healthy fats is actually GOOD for your health, weight and body.
If you’re on the low-fat train, it’s time to jump off! If you need help with that, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me here>>
Intuitive Eating is the polar opposite of a diet. Essentially, it helps you to connect with your body’s signals of hunger, satiety and fullness. So you can re-discover your natural ability to eat normally again. But does intuitive eating work and is it right for you?
I’ll explain in more detail below and you can decide if intuitive eating is right for you.
So, you’ve tried every diet on the planet, and you’re fed up.
But you’re unsure about what the next step might be. You know in your heart of hearts that you can’t keep dieting, and you can’t continue life with your unhealthy eating habits. So what do you do?
Intuitive eating offers you a way out of this struggle and a way in to a more enjoyable, easier eating life–with a lot less food stress.
But to move from a life of dieting to intuitive eating, you have to take a leap of faith and jump off the cliff into unchartered waters.
Will I gain weight? Maybe.
Will I be able to let go of the inner critic? Yes, it’s possible.
Will I like myself on the other side of this struggle? Yes, I think so.
The hard truth is, there WILL be discomfort whatever way you turn.
Disliking your body whilst cycling in and out of the hope that you will love your body if you only can do better or go harder on the next diet, and maybe temporarily lose some weight, is quite frankly nothing but an exhausting dead-end loop.
Honestly, you only have to look back on how many failed diets you have attempted. You’re your own guinea pig here. Diet’s don’t work! They’re cause of your eating issues.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You deserve more. You deserve better.
Okay, so if dieting doesn’t work, what should you do?
Introducing intuitive eating?
Enter intuitive eating and it’s set of 10 principles created over 20 years ago by two Dietitians.
These principles encourage you to understand your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that occur when engaging in dieting or restrictive eating patterns, that may lead you to become disconnected from your body and food.
In short, it’s a step-by-step guide to an evidence-based way of eating that helps you decide when, what, how and how much to eat, based on what feels good for you, instead of societies expectations of what you should eat.
Importantly, it also encourages you to feel good (or at least neutral) emotionally, mentally and physically about food. No more feeling guilty after eating, imagine!
Therefore, it’s about creating a healthy relationship with food, body AND mind.
So if intuitive eating allows us to eat what we like, when we like, does that mean we can just eat all the time and not be mindful?
No, not all of the time. This is not about reckless abandonment. Some flexible discernment with food is necessary, without it being obsessive.
What it does help you do is get to the bottom of why you want to eat a box of donuts and a tub of ice cream when your boyfriend dumps you. So that next time you feel upset, angry or bored, you know you have the option of either eating donuts or talking to a good friend for support.
As an intuitive eating practitioner, my job is to help you understand how your life experiences, and how your thoughts emotions, and behaviours with food and your weight, link to the way you eat. When you understand why you eat, you can become more aware of your available choices.
The people who find it the most helpful are those who tend to overthink food, eating and their weight. They may have also lost touch with their sense of hunger, fullness and appetite cues, and may be stuck in a dieting mentality.
How do you know if you’re out of touch with your hunger and fullness cues?
You feel guilty eating certain foods
You have removed certain foods or whole food groups
You think and speak of certain foods as “good” or “bad”
You count calories, macros or points
You track your food using an app or journal
You use exercise to offset what you eat
If any of these statements sound like you, it’s highly likely you’re not eating intuitively or listening to your body.
Is Intuitive Eating right for me?
Intuitive Eating is for everyone. But particularly for those with a history of chronic dieting. If any of the statements below resonate, you’re in a place where intuitive eating can help you:
You want to feel calm, confident and in control with food
You want to stop thinking about food all the time
You want to be able to trust your body when it tells you it’s hungry and full
You want to be able to trust yourself around all foods – even those foods that are “trigger foods”
You want to be able to eat all foods without any guilt, shame or regret
You want to learn how to cope with your feelings and life’s ups and downs without using food
You want to exercise because you enjoy it and it’s good for you, not to burn the calories you eat
You want to look after yourself and your wellbeing without the obsession.
Does intuitive eating work?
When you start to bring a more mindful and ’embodied’ approach to eating and living in your body (instead of dieting) and start eating enough, eating regularly and eating a wide variety of foods, you can begin to eat intuitively.
Although it sounds simple, intuitive eating can be challenging at first because it involves a lot of deep reflection, self-help work, and eating psychology. For those who want to pursue an intuitive eating approach, there’s often a learning curve involved. It does involve “work” or what I call “self-care”.
Which means you do need to put in some time and energy do to the work. If you only do half the work, you only get half the results. But it is no harder than sticking to a diet and the results are life-long.
It’s absolutely possible to transform your relationship with food and become a normal eater with the right support. I was once in your shoes. Forever riding the diet-binge-weight cycling merry-go-round. If I can get off the ride, so can you!
If this is something that you would like to try and you need personalised guidance, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me here>>
I used to really hate my body. No matter how much weight I lost, it never felt good enough. In this post I delve into the exact strategies that I learned to stop hating my body, that enabled me to get out of my own way and get on with my life.
How to stop hating your body
The above photo was taken sometime in early 2013. I thought I was fat! Yes, fat.
I was trying to eat “clean” aka paleo.
I thought about food non-stop.
I was bingeing and purging.
I had an exercise addiction.
I was weighing myself a lot.
I often turned down invites out to eat.
Every time I binged, I felt guilty and worried about weight gain, so I purged and hated my body and myself even more.
Quite frankly, I was miserable.
It felt like I was trapped in body jail. My body and mind tormented me.
No matter how much I restricted my food and worked out – my body never looked the way I thought it should.
Thankfully, I can now see that my weight was never a problem. I was never fat.
Even though that’s how it looked and felt in my head every day for almost two decades. That’s what living with an eating disorder can do to your mind.
You don’t see yourself correctly. You forget women are supposed to have hips and curves.
It wasn’t until about three years ago that I realised what my body problem was.
I couldn’t accept myself as I was.
Our perfection and thin-obsessed society certainly don’t make it easy. Well-meaning comments by loved ones didn’t help either.
I also thought if I could just get my weight down to a certain number all of my problems would go away.
The hard truth was, even at my lowest weight I was never happy. Just two more kilograms. Just two more kilograms. I’ve got to get to the magic number.
Eventually, I hit rock bottom. I was physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually exhausted and could not keep living like this. I felt like I was slowly killing myself and wasting my life away.
Something had to change. It didn’t happen overnight. But with a whole lot of digging deep, lots of false starts and lots of help, I somehow came out the other side.
But now…? Now I accept my body the way it is. I feel neutral about my tummy rolls, cellulite, love handles, and rosacea on my face. I never thought I would feel this way about my body.
I now describe myself as happy and liberated! The feeling is so good that I’ve committed my life to help other women find peace with their bodies.
Accepting your body doesn’t happen overnight. If you’ve been hating your body for years (if not decades), it’s going to take a little or a lot of time to heal that relationship.
But it’s possible and worth it because when you accept and appreciate your body, you take better care of it and balanced eating and regular movement stops feeling hard and starts feeling easy. Here’s how I did it:
Three ways I learned to stop hating my body and feel confident and carefree in my own skin.
In no particular order…
1. Be realistic – You can’t go from body hate to body love overnight.
I get asked this question often and the answer is: it didn’t happen overnight, it took a lot of time, energy and effort. It’s not the answer I know women want to hear, after all, we are human and we love a quick fix.
Quick fixes don’t deliver life-long results. We all know that. They mostly deliver weight cycling (loss and gain) and an unhealthy relationship with food.
I invested in professional support.
I tried for years to do it myself by reading books, talking to friends, doing short do-it-yourself courses but nothing worked until I found the right help and support I needed to heal and transform my relationship with my weight and body image.
The good news is, big change is possible and your journey to body acceptance can start right now.
2. Do not compare your body with another woman’s
I call it – Compare and Despair!
“if only I looked like that” used to be a regular part of my vocabulary every time I left the house.
The comparison comes from our need to self-evaluate. How do I measure up to her? The reason why we compare is that we live in a competitive world and we undervalue ourselves.
Look at my big house.
Look at me working on location in the Maldives.
Look at my gorgeous family.
Look at my beach body.
Look at my “perfect” life.
It’s all so fake and materialistic but we all have major #FOMO (Fear of Missing Out!).
We are constantly thinking “how do I measure up?” It’s no wonder our default thinking is to constantly self-evaluate.
You throw a little insecurity into the mix and you have an issue ripe for the picking. I can’t tell you how many arguments with previous partners I’ve had because of my insecurities and comparing my body to another woman’s.
It’s the thief of joy, it’s exhausting and our partners hate it. I say this with the deepest compassion, please stop it, right now.
3. Stop the fat talk
Honestly, how far has berating and hating your body got you?
Maybe it kicked your butt into gear and motivated you for a few days or a few weeks. But if telling yourself you’re fat, ugly, and disgusting was going to get you the body of your dreams, it would have worked by now, right?
Negative self-talk about your body won’t make you healthy, happy or lighter, or help you love your body. Dissing it actually makes it harder to look after yourself properly, consistently.
If you’re out with your girlfriends and the topic of diets and weight keeps coming up, gently suggest you talk about something other than your bodies. There are literally millions of other interesting things you could be discussing, connecting and laughing about with your besties.