Five Ways To Navigate The Holiday Season As An Intuitive Eater

Five Ways To Navigate The Holiday Season As An Intuitive Eater

So here we are in December and the holiday season is upon us. This time of the year can be a challenging time to navigate, especially if you are just in the beginning of your make-peace-with-food journey.

Food is in abundant supply and so it the media’s continued supply of mixed messages. If you open any women’s magazine you will most likely see a miss mash between “How to bake delicious cookies and sweet treats” to “How to beat the Christmas bulge and look fabulous in the little black dress”.

Years ago, long before I became firmly rooted in a non-diet approach, I both followed and gave out advice such as “ How to make sure you don’t got to your Christmas party hungry” and “How to avoid temptations” (insert face palm here…). Anyway, these days when I know better, I would like to rectify this past advice with something more useful and something that won’t backfire into deprivation driven eating or binge like behaviour, just because diet mentality is reinforced.

Though the Holiday Season can be challenging to navigate for many reasons, not just food alone, but dealing with family, in-laws etc. often have their own challenges and if the relationship with these people are strained normally, just because it is holiday season may not make it any easier and we may turn to food (or alcohol) in order to cope. Don’t beat your self up about it, if this is the case, we all do what we  in have to in order to survive.

 

The hallmark of diet mentality is this All Or Nothing thinking. Intuitive eating helps us live in the grey (though I prefer to think of it as a rainbow…) Of course it may feel easier to roll with an all or nothing approach, sussing out all the nuances in between is so much messier. But it is here, in the mess and the nuance, that peace and freedom resides.

So actually, even though this time of year IS challenging to navigate, between family stuff, diet talk, overwhelm and perhaps fear of how to cope with it all, it can also provide us with rich soil for practice and growth.

intuitive eating

These are my five suggestions for How To Navigate The Holiday Season As An Intuitive Eater.

 

  1. Give yourself full permission to eat ALL foods

This is the basic tenet of intuitive eating. In order to create space for choice, we have to first let go of all the rigid food rules we’re holding on to. If ALL foods are ‘allowed’ then there’s no reason for feeling guilty for eating anything. Pick what you truly enjoy of the seasonal feasts on offer and feel free to say no to the rest.

 

  1. Practice honouring your hunger and fullness ques

Now is a prime opportunity to truly listen to your body. Of course there may be some overeating past comfortable fullness, that’s to be expected simply by the share amount of food that tends to be serves on Christmas Day alone. However, if you can let go of any sense of FOMO (Fear Of  Missing Out) then there’s truly no need to any extremes of uncomfortableness. Because you are not starting (another) diet in January, you’re just respecting your body’s cues and that’s that.

 

  1. You don’t need to repent anything

Adopt this as a mantra if one of your struggles are with over exercising and/ or a fear of weight gain.  Move your body because it feels good to do so. You don’t need to earn food, or burn it off. Not over the Holiday Season or any other time of the year for that matter. Trust that your body know how to regulate itself.

 

  1. Set boundaries

Say No, if you have to. Your body, your rules. If you are surrounded by diet talk, try changing the conversation or excuse yourself. Leave if you have to, in order to keep your sanity and if it is too triggering.

 

  1. Rest, Move, Socialise, Eat – Do whatever you need to take care of YOU

Allow yourself some time to do what feels best for you. This may be the greatest gift you can gift yourself.

 

Happy Holidays xx

straightforward nutrition

(All images from Unsplash/ Rawpixels)

Being At War With Our Bodies – Why the intentional pursuit of weight loss is a form of oppression

Being At War With Our Bodies – Why the intentional pursuit of weight loss is a form of oppression

This is not an easy blog post to write. In fact, even though I have a clear idea of what I want to write here, it doesn’t come all that easy. Maybe because I know that this is a difficult topic to write and talk about. It is also both counter cultural AND will most likely upset some (many?) people.

I have decided that this year, I am going to be braver and speak and write about what I stand for and what is aligned to my values, as well as my professional mission. After some deep dives into what is driving our eating behaviours, what the obstacles to having a healthy relationship with food, eating and body are and how we cannot pursue whole self health without also healing our relationship with the same, I am ready to share my thoughts, learnings, observations and resources.

 

This year, my intentions are to truly let this space evolve into a place where you can come and find some sanity from diet culture and hopefully inspiration on your own journey towards food freedom and body liberation.

 

Over the past 15 months or so I have spent a lot of time with colleagues who are doing very courageous front line work and advocacy for the right to health, respect and care of people of all shapes and sizes. It has opened my eyes in ways where it is now impossible to turn the other way… Hence why this post is only the first of many. Brace yourself!

 

My TRUTH is tugging at me to invite you to some exploration around how we see our own bodies, how we regard (or disregard) them.  How we speak ABOUT our bodies and how we speak TO them. In order to heal our relationship with food and eating we also need to examine and heal our relationship WITH our bodies.

Beyond how we speak, think and perhaps judge our own bodies we also need to wake up to how we and society at large speak, think and judge other people’s bodies. But let’s park that conversation for now. I will definitely return to the topic of weight stigma and weight bias in the future, as the impact both have on not just emotional health but even physical health are new revelations to me, perhaps most likely so because of my own thin privilege.

 

Why is it important that we remove weight loss as the main focus when it comes to the desire for lifestyle changes and why can’t we heal our relationship with food and eating if we don’t let this go?

 

I have experienced my own fair share of body dysmorphia / distorted body image.

Looking back at my relationship with food and eating, I could see that much of my disordered eating stemmed from a trigger comment of the size of my body (which in fairness at the time was still well within what society is considering “normal” & “healthy”). And so it begins for many others, with disordered eating or eating disorders.

In the 7 Systems of Health we speak of the ROOT as the system of Safety, Survival and Trust.

How can we anchor ourselves in these, if we are constantly at war with our own body?

Not trusting that it is telling us what it needs, in form of food, rest, play and connection.

How can we feel safe if we are trying to force our bodies into some societal norms of what bodies “should look like”? Always trying to fix them and make them conform, so that we are acceptable and fit in. The desire and external pressure to do so is what is known as Diet Culture.  It is a very insidious way of being bombarded from all angels that we are not good enough as we are.

Somehow our bodies are not trustworthy. They are unruly and need to be controlled, often at all costs. Regardless of what body size our bodies actually are, this message all too often becomes internalised and we decide to do something about it. I.e. diet.

straightforward nutrition

Diets, by design are restrictive.

Often it is about cutting calories, or portion sizes. Or food groups. With the intention of trying to control the size of our body. Sometimes it is even disguised as something we do in the name of health. But as long as you are following a plan, set by someone else that has a bunch of food rules and is aimed at helping you lose weight it is a diet.

Here’s the thing; How can we move beyond surviving into thriving if we are not honouring our physical needs in the first place?

Is it really possible to establish a sense of belonging, if we are always trying to make ourselves and our bodies into something they are not? Yet this is much of the cultural messages we are constantly bombarded with…

 

Then there’s the real desire to lose weight. I get it. It is ok to want it. We all live in this Diet Culture.

Weight stigma is real. Internalised weight stigma too. And it has been shown to affect our health (and not in a positive way) Yet at the same time actively pursuing weight loss is such a futile, life sucking pursuit, which longterm is a pretty good predictor of weight gain.

straightforward nutrition

We definitely need to acknowledge the internal voices of fat shaming we have going on, as well as what it is like for someone to live in a body where society feels like it has some right to judge and criticise based on a particular body size. Especially if this have never been our own lived experience.

We need to be careful with the words we use, because as we know words hold tremendous power…

Shame never helps or heals. Kindness does.

So perhaps if we want to begin with some healing at the ROOT, let the invitation be; to note how we speak, see and value bodies, our own as well as others.

To hold a safe compassionate space where ALL bodies are welcome to heal, worthy of care and to be blessed with health.

To let go of the oppression perpetuated by Diet Culture through actively pursuing weight loss.

When it is about health and not about weight, all of our behaviour changes hold merit and value, whereas when weight loss is the main focus and goal, it becomes all too easy to let go of these if the number on the scales doesn’t budge, or worse if it goes up!

So isn’t it better to pursue healthy behaviours rather than trying to shame yourself into change?

You are a worthy human being just as you are.

(Photos from Unsplash.com)

 

Do you long to let go of obsession around food, eating and weight? Would you like to feel freedom and peace around meals and beyond, but need some help and support to get there?

It would be an honour to walk with you on this path. Please email me HERE to set up a free 30 min consultation to explore how this may be possible for you too.

The importance of giving yourself full permission to eat (ALL foods)

The importance of giving yourself full permission to eat (ALL foods)

Without moral judgment…

I’ve been grappling with the headline for this particular blog post because part of what I also want to touch on is this; “To give yourself full permission to eat (all) foods is not the same as eating with abandonment.”

 

There are some challenging concepts when it comes to Intuitive Eating and Mindful Eating that I feel are both radical as well as counter cultural. And they can be very challenging to put into practice, yet I believe they are vital if we want to reach a place of peace with food and eating.

mindful eating

Many people seem to think that their main problem with “staying on the diet band wagon” is their lack of willpower, and if they just tried harder they could do it. Or if they weren’t such emotional eaters they wouldn’t have such an issue with food and (over) eating.

Here’s thing though.

When you are restricting you are fighting biology.

 

If your body is not getting what it needs, it will make sure that your brain become preoccupied with thoughts of food, your senses heighten so that you will ultimately feed yourself. Because this is fundamental for our survival.

Someone recently shared this famous study with me which was done back in the late 1940s called The Great Starvation Experiment. And when you think of it, it very much mimics the conventional dieting of today…

 

So the first focus of mindful eating is always to get to a place of tuning in, become aware of our hunger cues, as well as our fullness cues, so we can honour the need to eat.

This is where the permission to eat starts. When you notice you are hungry – EAT.

This is a kind act of self care. It sounds so simple, and it is. But not if we are used to eat according to plans, set by someone who does not live in your body, it may be a little challenging to start. Each time you honour your hunger, you are re enforcing your inherent self worth. Luckily most of us have access to food, so there is truly no need to fight hunger.

With this permission to eat, you open the door to explore how different foods affect your hunger and fullness, you may notice that it is useful to bring snacks in certain circumstances when you know that getting access to food can be tricky, and when you don’t want to end up in a ravenous state with limited choices. I can’t tell you how often I end up like this myself, even though I am so well aware of how it makes me feel, both to eat sugary foods to lift my blood sugar (though they may taste great for the first few bites), and how miserable I feel when I’m venturing into “ravenous” territory.

However, if I was supposed to be adhering to someone else’s plan with set amount of foods I most likely would have to be using precious energy and willpower to NOT eat, even though my body is telling me “feed me!” And truly, what message is this sending to myself? That I am not worthy of being fed?

Deprivation and restriction feed the binge cycle, so no 1. is to give yourself full permission to eat when you are hungry.

 

how to give yourself full permission to eat

 

Great, now here’s the next permission slip; “Give yourself permission to eat ALL foods”.

 

Peace and freedom with foods comes from neutralising foods. Yep, you heard that right, that means letting go of the moral compass, and the labels of “good” and”bad”. Does it mean we throw nutrition out the window too? No.

It simply means we drop the moral judgment of ourselves (and others), according  to what we eat.

 

It means I’m no different as a person, whether I eat a doughnut for breakfast, or have a green kale smoothie.

 

It means we can drop guilt from our diets, and any shame we hold about ourselves that stems from our food choices.

 

It means we have the freedom to choose, whatever will bring us most pleasure and satisfaction in that moment.

 

It means we are free to be with our direct experience of eating.

 

It means we can begin to embrace OUR OWN specific needs with kindness.

 

It mean we can eat with pleasure and satisfaction, for nourishment and self care.

 

And however and with whatever foods that brings us pleasure, satisfaction and nourishment, we have the flexibility to change this up as needed, because we are no longer tied to rigid dietary rules.

 

“But if I let myself have whatever I want I will never stop eating”.

“If I let myself eat whatever I want I will end up living on coffee and chocolate.”

 

Maybe…? Or maybe not.

This is what I mean with my statement above, that giving ourselves full permission to eat all foods, is not the same as eating with abandonment. Which all too often happens after dieting. This way of eating is actually a natural response to deprivation.

When you’ve given yourself full permission to eat all foods, and you bring kindness and curiosity to your eating experience, you are free to explore how different foods affect your body, as well as perhaps even your mind and spirit.

You have opened the door for choice. You don’t have to eat everything today, as there will always be another day to have that food again.

Most of all you have given yourself permission to eat and nourish yourself in a way that makes YOU and your body FEEL good.

And to re-enforce the message to yourself and your body, that you are worthy and worth it.

That may just be the taste of freedom that you are looking for.

importance of giving yourself full permission to eat

Do you long to let go of obsession around food, eating and weight? Would you like to feel freedom and peace around meals and beyond, but need some help and support to get there?

It would be an honour to walk with you on this path. Please email me HERE to set up a free 30 min consultation to explore how this may be possible for you too.

Marrying Nutrition with Intuition

Marrying Nutrition with Intuition

 

We live in an era where so many people cook less, eat in a hurry and yet often are more preoccupied with the effect the food they eat have on their health than ever.

My mother became a health conscious vegetarian in the late 70s, not too long after my grandparents had given up their Aga for an electric cooker and the novelty of powder that could turn into mash, rather than cooking the potatoes that they were growing in the fields…

In the ten years since I began my path to study and immersing myself in nutrition and nutritional science, the field have just exploded!

Online summits, upon online summits. Webinars, books and online courses.

Whether you are looking for a professional career in the field of health and wellness or simply want to educate yourself further to be able to take your own health into your own hands, the opportunities these days are endless. And so is the amount of  information available. Endless. With lots of conflicting information at times…

Yes I find nutritional science really interesting and exciting, but like one of my colleagues in the HAES (Health At Every Size) community pointed out, when it comes to it (food and eating and nutrition), “there’s always a human involved”.

 

The relationship between food and eating and its many layers of complexity is becoming increasingly fascinating to me. There’s so much to it!

 

putting nutrition together with intuition

 

Society.

Cultural messages.

Personal knowledge.

Personal preference.

Socioeconomic status.

Food availability.

Health goals.

Religion.

Cooking skills.

Family history.

Body image.

 

I feel like over the past few years my work has gradually evolved and I’ve become more clear on in what way I want to go. How I want to work, what message I am sending out and how I serve in this world.

 

Less about black and white thinking.

More about colour and creativity,

 

Less about guilt and shame.

More about joy and happiness.

 

Less about rules and shoulds.

More about embracing and trusting intuition and inner wisdom.

 

Less about eating from a place of head-knowledge.

More about eating from embodied needs and heart.

 

Less about the goals, more about the process.

Less fear, more care.

Less head “thinking”, more heart “feeling”.

 

It often feels counter cultural to move in this direction, yet it feels like TRUTH to me, so I’m heeding my calling.

And I am really hope that you will join me!

 

eating mindfully

This is a journey about marrying nutrition with intuition.

 

To eat in a way that honour our bodies physical needs, from a place of care.

Without moral judgment attached to neither the food nor the eating.

Where we can learn to use the nutrition knowledge we have to look at food as supportive vs. non supportive and realised with mindful awareness that this may change depending on context and circumstances.

 

Breaking up with diet mentality and taking the path to freedom with mindful eating is one of courage and care, of kindness and compassion, of trust and discernment.

It is a way of looking after ourselves in the best way we can, because we are worthy and worth it.

 

Let’s do it together!

mindful eating

 

My Sugar Story

My Sugar Story

“Don’t be ashamed of telling your story. It may inspire others” – Unknown

With that in mind, I will tell you mine…

 

healing your relationship with food and eating

Once upon a time there was a little girl with thick blond hair, living in the countryside of Sweden, together with her loving mum, dad and baby brother.

This little girl was raised by very health conscious mum and sweets / candy never really featured in the house. In fact it wasn’t until this little girl was about three years old that she had candy for the very first time, much to her mother’s dismay(!) Simply because her childminder felt sorry for the little girl, that had yet to experience the sweetness of candy…

The spell of innocence was broken.

The little girl discovered that she really loved the sweet taste so much! Sometimes she would even trick her brother (who seemed to be totally ambivalent about sweets) to have some of his too. (Or even sneakily steal some… Not very proud moments)

As this little girl grew up to become a teenager, she continued to enjoy the pleasure and sweetness of all kinds sweet. Jellies, chocolates, biscuits. To be honest, eating them brought a lot of pleasure, yet she never thought of using them to sooth feelings, nor had she any trouble with her weight.

Then one day things changed for this (reasonably easy going) teenager.

She was told that she was fat. Too heavy to continue to ride her favourite horse at the racing stables.

 

So she decided to do what every sensible person do who have issues with their weight… She decided to go on a diet.

 

Over the following decade she read ALL the diet books, she tried to; stop eating, eating in secret, overriding her physical signals of hunger and satiety. She tried diet pills, exercise, and replacement products to keep her weight to a number that she felt represented her happiness.

Through all of this, still loved the taste of sweet, so staying off sweets and chocolate was really challenging.

Each time she couldn’t stick to the plan she had set for herself, she would throw her hands in the air and go ”F*ck it, I’ve blown it now so I may just keep eating”.

What perhaps this (now) young woman didn’t realise was that the sweet foods were soothing the lack of other sweetness in her life.

She didn’t see the connection between her eating and her living. She didn’t see that she was working long hours in a very physically demanding job, where she often didn’t feel appreciated or valued.

 

She didn’t make the connection how the sweetness of food was filling the void and the lack of sweetness in her life.

Because she was too busy weighing herself every day, berating herself for the fact that she couldn’t be “good” with food and that she was still ‘feeling’ fat.

She felt sad, lonely and unworthy. And on top of this she was also tired and suffered with digestive issues.

 

Then one day, when as she was racing towards the black hole of depression, she woke up and decided “I need to change my life.”

 

She saved some money, organised a job on the other side of the world.

She changed her environment.

She got a fresh perspective.

Though she stilled weighed herself daily at this point in time, she also started to explore and gather some awareness of how, what and why she was eating.

 

Then all of a sudden, a moment of awakening and insight struck! “Wait a minute, my happiness cannot be determined by a number on the scales. It has to come from within”.

(Hello INSIGHT!)

 

This ONE realisation, changed this young woman’s life forever.

She simply got off the scales, gave herself full permission to eat whatever foods she wanted (candy and all). She placed her focus on eating when she was physically hungry, and she began the tedious work of paying attention to and stop eating when comfortably full.

She began to honour her body instead of fighting it.

 

In this moment, this young woman began her healing process of creating a healthy relationship with food, eating and her body.

 

She began walking the path to freedom, peace and wholeness.

my eating story

 

To be honest, this hasn’t always been an easy process, and there are still times that body image issues and negative thoughts around my body appear. They never truly went away regardless of what size my body is /was. But today I have much more awareness, I can hear them more clearly which mean I can recognise them for what they are, thoughts not facts.

 

So why am I sharing the story of this little girl who liked the taste of sweet so much, who eventually grew up to become a nutritionist, food blogger and mindful eater?

 

It is because I learnt so much from unravelling my story and perhaps someone else may recognise themselves in it.

It is also because I see so much suffering around food and eating, in today’s “sugar phobic and fat fobic” world. And this is impacting on people’s quality of life.

The sense of restriction that is created around trying to avoid something that is so abundantly prevalent in our western society, can all too easily back-fire.

 

More than anything, I believe, when it comes to navigate the challenge of consuming sugary foods (or fatty foods, or any food for that matter!), is that it is fundamental that we are making our choices from a place of care rather than fear.

 

Because when we do, we can approach it with an open and curious mind.

To hear and recognise the subtle messages it give us, if we pay attention.

Rather than getting stuck in a cycle of blame and shame, we can with care and kindness recognise that perhaps this particular food and craving is doing something for us?

Maybe it is filling a void?

Maybe it is a symbol for how we are living our life?

Once we get curious about this, we can create space for choice and be discerning of what it is we truly need and want.

 

To truly heal my own relationship with food & eating I also had to toss a couple of limiting beliefs into the FIRE.

Like;

  • When I have a perfect body I will be happy
  • Eating “perfectly” will make my body perfect
  • I am “good” when I eat “good” foods
  • I am “bad” when I eat “bad” food

Giving myself full permission to eat ALL kinds of foods (no rules), and letting go of the “good” and “bad” labels have paved a way out of restriction (precipitating bingeing) , a letting go of any labels also helped me let go of any associated guilt and shame (very liberating!)

This has helped me to arrive at a place where I can listen and pay attention to my body’s needs and eat from a place of pleasure AND care. It tastes like freedom and feels like nourishment.

 

So I invite you to get curious. What is your Sugar Story trying to tell you?

And if you want some more tips and tools on this journey then sign up to my FREE three parts video series below.


 

Do you long to let go of obsession around food, eating and weight? Would you like to feel freedom and peace around meals and beyond, but need some help and support to get there?

It would be an honour to walk with you on this path. Please email me HERE to set up a free 30 min consultation to explore how this may be possible for you too.