Why it’s not your fault that you’re a serial dieter

Why it’s not your fault that you’re a serial dieter

Why it’s not your fault that you’re a serial dieter

Facts are irrelevant. What matters is what the consumer believes.

Seth Godin

That quote speaks volumes to me. It quite honestly sums up diet and beauty culture perfectly. It doesn’t matter what the truth is, just what the advertisers make you believe to be the truth. It doesn’t matter what you really look or feel like, just what you think you look like and how much of it you need to change.

I know that diet culture is all around us but I’m not sure that people who aren’t immersed in it day in day out like I am would realise quite how bad it is. It’s kinda my job to know this and see it and help you to see it, but I’m aware that anyone not working in the field may not see it for what it is.

So, I did a little experiment this week. I thought I would keep a little note of every time I saw or heard anything diet culturey (yes, that IS a word now thank you Monica) and see how it looked at the end of the week. I was genuinely surprised at how often dieting, body image, beauty ideals and how we should improve ourselves came up, both in the media and in general conversation.

Are you ready for this? You might be shocked. It started very early in the day!
Here’s my list:

  • It started with the breakfast tv doctor talking about losing weight.
  • Another morning breakfast tv presenters were talking about weight that both they and the nation had gained.
  • A diet club actually sponsors morning tv on one channel.
  • There were numerous social media posts referring to weight loss and/or how to make yourself look better throughout the entire week, too many to count actually.
  • One radio host joked about his own weight. Who knows whether he meant it or not. I suspect there was an element of him that did, but either way self deprecating jokes aren’t good for you.
  • Social media adverts dotted around my feeds advertising diets.
  • Magazines on a rack where I queued in a shop were busy commenting on celebrities’ bodies, the ‘best’ diets for coming out of lockdown, ‘healthy’ meal plans, and beauty ‘secrets’. Honestly, those mags are the worst. Please stop buying them!
  • A celeb sadly died after losing her battle with an eating disorder.
  • Colleagues around me discussed their weight, why they ‘shouldn’t’ eat something, and diets they are on.
  • Friends commenting on their weight.
  • Other friends promoting diet products and their financial gains from selling it.
  • People cast for TV shows generally being more slim and glamorous than your average person on the street.
  • Jokes on birthday cards referring to dieting, weight, and the negative connotations around aging.

These are just the things that I spotted, never mind the stuff that I missed, didn’t pick up on. These things are all being drip fed into the subconscious without us even knowing. So, with all that going on around us is it any wonder that we constantly question ourselves, our bodies and our looks? That we question our weight and question whether our clothes look right? That we question our hair and makeup and what people will think when we enter a room?

I eat sleep and breathe this stuff and even I was second guessing the impact of my weight on some health issues I’ve had this week (I’ll talk about that more another time). 

These companies are spending millions of pounds on getting us to buy into their products. They wouldn’t do that if it didn’t work. Go back to the quote and tell me that the advertising doesn’t intentionally make us feel bad about ourselves in order to sell products. You can’t, because you see it, you hear it, and you feel it.

Principle 1 of Intuitive Eating is rejecting the diet mentality, and looking at that list it’s no surprise that this is often the hardest principle for people to get through. 

It makes me so angry. People struggle with their body image and self confidence because they’re constantly being told they’re not good enough. People like poor Nikki Grahame, who sadly lost her life this week to an eating disorder. She didn’t think she was thin enough and it ultimately killed her.

Why can’t we accept that being thinner or lighter is not the be all and end all? You can be healthy without trying to live up to some crappy companies’ beauty standards. 

What was refreshing though was that I did also hear a few people trying to tell others that dieting for weight loss is not the answer to better health. There was good sensible conversation rather than instantly dismissing it which is amazing.

Keep spreading the message. Keep telling people they are wonderful as they are. They are listening.

 

A shameless plug feels appropriate here. You may have seen that I am launching a new membership group. If you are sick of serial dieting, sick of having fear or stress around food, sick of not feeling confident in your own skin, then this is for you. 

I am creating a membership and a community that is working hard to kick diet culture to the kerb and embrace our bodies. 

You can learn how to eat intuitively, according to how your body feels and what it needs at any time, without rules around what you can eat and when you can eat it. Does that sound like freedom to you?

Also, as it’s before 1st June this is your lucky day. There is a founding members offer going on right now. Take a look at the Instinctively You Membership page for more details. Get in there early, lock in a low price for life, and have a say in what we are creating.

Now click the button and take a look. I think you’ll like it!

Please note:  This post is intended to be general information that applies to people who don’t have diagnosed medical conditions and are not pregnant, and any figures correct at the time of writing. As always, please see a registered professional before making changes to your diet⁠.

 

Happy Easter, but don’t eat it all at once

Happy Easter, but don’t eat it all at once

Happy Easter, but don’t eat it all at once

Easter is the only time it’s okay to put all of your eggs in the one basket.

Evan Esar

Here I am, Easter weekend, sat in the sun. It’s Saturday, so we’re day 2 of a long weekend. I’ve done the food shop for the week and now I’m sat in the sun having a pint of cider. Tomorrow there will be chocolate. No two ways about that. It’s Easter and that means chocolate eggs and other goodies like hot cross buns. I’ve got a couple of recipes for bakes that I’d like to try too so I’ll be giving those a go.

This is a far cry from how Easter used to look for me. I used to spend a couple of weeks leading up to Easter being told by my Slimming World consultant how many syns there are in all of those things that we’d really like to enjoy, and how we really should limit them otherwise what will the scales say when we get on the scales next week 😱

Sure enough the weekend would be spent restricting other things so I could fit the chocolate in. Then when that didn’t work and I’d run out of my syns for the whole week I just binged on the chocolate regardless because if you eat things really quickly it hasn’t happened right? Maybe I’d go and weigh the next week, maybe I’d be too scared to. It was all just so unpleasant.

Now I’m sat here and I don’t care. I won’t feel the need to eat the chocolate really quickly because I have unconditional permission to eat it. I will enjoy a hot cross bun, and the butter I put on it. I’ll eat them because I know they form a part of my overall diet, which is actually really good. They do not make or break me. And since I no longer weigh myself I couldn’t give a damn what the scales would say.

But there’s something else that I’ve noticed since I’ve been doing Intuitive Eating.

Growing up how many times did you hear “Don’t eat it all at once”?

All the time if your upbringing was like mine.
Given sweets – “don’t eat them all at once”
Given cake – “don’t eat it all at once”
Easter eggs – “don’t eat them all at once”
But of course I did 😂

The problem is that it’s stuck with me into adulthood, as do alot of things we hear as we’re growing up, because I automatically want to say that to my own kids now. This is why we have to be so careful what we’re saying around impressionable ears. 

happy easter

It’s habit to want to give them their Easter eggs, or watch someone else give them eggs, and tell them not to eat them all at once. I’ve learnt that that’s not helpful to say so I don’t any more, but it still screams loudly inside of me.

So what if they eat it all at once? Does it really matter as long as it doesn’t make them sick? And if it does make them sick quite frankly they’re old enough to deal with that unpleasant feeling and figure out that they probably shouldn’t eat that much of it in one go next time. Eating it all at once just means they have the food in a larger amount rather than in smaller amounts spread over time, and that really doesn’t matter.

How about we leave the kids to decide for themselves how much they feel comfortable eating? Maybe if given the freedom they would stop when they’d had enough. We are all actually born knowing how much we want to eat and when you don’t want any more. As babies we cry for food when we’re hungry and turn away from the food when we are full. Why should that stop? It’s stupid food rules that dictate that as we grow up, and most of them aren’t even reasonable rules. Let’s relax around food.

Now go enjoy watching your children have a fun, carefree Easter. I hope you enjoy the weekend and all it holds for you. Eat, drink, laugh, have fun, relax, have peace and quiet, go out, stay in, whatever you want your perfect weekend to be.

Unless you can’t for medical reasons please just eat the damn chocolate. For me! I can’t wait to hear about it. Let me know what you have.

Happy Easter x

happy easter

 

 

One more thing before I sign off, did you know I’m running an Easter Giveaway?

You could win FREE LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP to the new Instinctively You membership that I’m launching. If you win, that’s essentially free Intuitive Eating and body confidence coaching for as long as you want it.

Take advantage of me this Easter weekend and enter this giveaway. Just CLICK HERE or click the giveaway image to be taken to Instagram where you can enter for very little effort!

Entries accepted until the end of Monday 5th April 2021.

Good luck!!

Please note:  This post is intended to be general information that applies to people who don’t have allergies, intolerances, diagnosed medical conditions and are not pregnant, and any figures are correct at the time of writing. As always, please see a registered professional before making changes to your diet⁠.

 

Trial by TikTok – Part 4

Trial by TikTok – Part 4

Trial by TikTok – Part 4

I have gained and lost the same ten pounds so many times over and over again my cellulite must have déjà vu.

Jane Wagner

Ok, by now you must know that this is a mini series? If you’ve missed the previous THREE you really do need to start at the beginning, so go back and have a read and watch the video in question.

Oh to hell with the scales. I don’t weigh myself. I refuse. It makes me miserable, I put too much value on what the number is, and in reality it says nothing. It just tells me the force that exists between me and the Earth.

It doesn’t tell me anything about my health or my body composition. Your average bathroom scales that measure water in the body, body fat etc are not accurate so don’t waste your money on those either.

If I ate that whole cake, you know, the one in the video, or any cake come to think of it, then sure I’d weigh heavier because it would be me AND the cake on the scales, not just me. It may mean that I retain some water for a bit and that will make me heavier too?

Whatever the number is, it makes zero difference to my physical health, my mental wellbeing, or my worth, and as we’ve already discussed my weight does not correlate directly to my level of health so what’s the point in putting myself through it? I won’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel terrible for people who lose people close to them through ill health. It’s very sad, it’s hard to deal with, and it’s hard on those close by if they think they can see one or two things that the person could have done to help themselves a little. 

Canva - Delicious Slice of Red Velvet Cake

How many times have you looked at a friend or family member and thought how they would be a little healthier if they lost a bit of weight? How they would be doing themselves a favour if they’d just eat a few less chocolate bars or bags of crisps? It’s not your fault that you think that. We are all so heavily influenced by diet culture and the messages in weight stigma, and when you’ve been seeing and hearing those things for a long time you aren’t to blame for believing them.

That pattern of thinking can be changed though when we begin to realise and believe that health is an extremely individual thing. What food does in one person’s body is completely different to what it does in someone else’s. You are not the same as anyone else on this planet, even if you are an identical twin (true, there are some very interesting studies on this), so how can you expect your needs to be the same?

One person weighing X kg on the scales will have a different body composition to someone else who also weighs X kg. Someone at one stage of their life may even have a different body composition to their own body at that same weight but in a different stage of their life, and so it should. As you go through life your body’s demands will be different, and life experience and all the things you are subjected to through that time will affect your own personal needs.

Your body is constantly adapting and changing, and to apply a set of rules to your body based simply on what you look like is doing yourself a real disservice. For all the hard work and amazing things your body does for you, don’t you think that it deserves more than for you to just try and apply the same rules and eating habits as someone else just because it is working for them? You DO deserve more. You don’t necessarily need to go out and scrutinise every piece of food you put in your mouth and how your body reacts at a cellular level, but you can start to gauge how you feel in general after eating and work with that.

Maybe you’ll start making some notes about the foods that make you feel a bit sluggish and the foods that make you feel energised. Maybe you’ll start adding some new foods to your diet and seeing how you like them. You can of course consult with a professional to fine tune it, but you can start to understand your relationship with food if you simply start listening to your body. You don’t need to stand on the scales to do this. In fact, you’ll get a much clearer picture if you avoid them altogether. 

Final thought

Although I didn’t do a full deep dive into the issues I hope that now we’re at the end of this mini series that you can see that you cannot judge a person’s health based solely on their diet. To criticise someone for what you perceive their diet to be is wrong and quite unfair. You can’t judge a person’s overall diet based on a photo or a video. You can’t know what their health is like based on what you see them eating. You can’t figure out how well their body is functioning based solely on their size, and you can’t judge your own health based only on the number on the scales. 

If it were that easy to diagnose and fix health issues just through reducing body weight and the food you eat wouldn’t everyone be super healthy?? Let’s be a little more compassionate and understanding towards others, and to ourselves.

Please note:  This post is intended to be general information that applies to people who don’t have diagnosed medical conditions and are not pregnant. As always, please see a registered professional before making changes to your diet⁠.

Trial by TikTok – Part 3

Trial by TikTok – Part 3

Trial by TikTok – Part 3

Where there is cake, there is hope. And there is always cake.

Dean Koontz

This is Part 3 in a small series about the response to a TikTok video that I posted. If you haven’t read the previous parts go back and have a read and watch the video in question.

So, let’s all stop assuming that what you see in a video or a picture is that person’s diet as a whole. In my video I had a whole three layer sponge cake filled with loads of jam and fresh cream. It was bloody lovely, but could I eat it all in one sitting? No of course not! Do I want to? No. Could I if I wanted to? No. Do I eat nothing but cake all day every day? No.

My diet is varied. It is a good mix of carbs, fats and proteins, and loads of vitamins and minerals. I have a lot of really nutritious foods and my fair share of play foods. For those of you who don’t know, play food is in the intuitive eating community what some people would call junk food. We don’t call it junk around here because it still has its place in a balanced diet and ‘junk’ implies it is rubbish. We don’t do food guilt thank you!

My point is, you cannot tell by looking at me in that one joke video what I eat, how much of any one food I eat, or how often I eat. You can’t do that, and you don’t know what is good for MY body. You don’t know what it responds well to, what disagrees with me, what nutrients I am or am not lacking, how much energy I do or don’t need.

When it comes to food affecting health, yes, if you were to eat a block of lard a day that might have some obvious repercussions, but that’s an unrealistic scenario. No-one is really going to do that, in the same way I wasn’t really going to sit and eat a whole three tier sponge cake to myself in one go.

Some foods are less nutritious than others, but if you have a good balanced diet that food will play a small part in your health. We don’t eat foods in isolation. There are always other foods in the day.

If you’re eating a whole cake each day and nothing else then I would say you are not eating intuitively and that is something to look at, because that’s not going to be health maximising, but if you enjoy cake as a part of your overall day then I’m all for that.

Canva - Delicious Slice of Red Velvet Cake

With conditions like diabetes and heart attacks it is fair to say you can give yourself a fighting chance with the food you eat, but it is totally unfair to say to someone that eating a cake will give them diabetes or a heart attack.

Again, the body is very complex and cannot be affected by food alone. It’s how that food interacts with your internal systems that determines the outcomes. Add to that external factors like family history, pollutants, money, activity levels, social factors and all of a sudden once more it becomes a big picture where lots of things affect your health. People need to stop spewing blanket statements like ‘cake gives you diabetes’, ‘cake gives you a heart attack’.

Now, before people get ranting about this, I absolutely do know that the quality and type of food that you put into your body has an impact on your health. As a nutritional therapist I couldn’t not know this, and it would be wrong of me to ignore it. There is no denying that you can definitely improve your health if you eat well. Some foods are more nutritious than others, and different foods support different systems in the body.

My motto is this: Isn’t it much nicer to ask what can be added to a diet to make it more nutritious than to ask what we can restrict? Isn’t it better to look at what nutrients you can add to the diet, rather than what you ‘should’ cut out. Same result will come out of it nutritionally more or less, but it’s reframed and a much more positive experience, and doesn’t end up with you wanting foods you’ve put on the banned list and feeling like you’re missing out. Remember where that ends up – that nasty binge restrict cycle.

My point from all of this is simply that people need to remove the automatic blanket thoughts that say it’s ONLY the food that impacts on someone’s health, and that what you see in a picture or video is an indication of the person’s diet as a whole. We should always consider there might be other reasons why a person is going to have health issues.

And finally, on to Part 4: The Scales……

 

Please note:  This post is intended to be general information that applies to people who don’t have diagnosed medical conditions and are not pregnant. As always, please see a registered professional before making changes to your diet⁠.

Trial by TikTok – Part 2

Trial by TikTok – Part 2

Trial by TikTok – Part 2

For me fitness is not about fighting fat or aiming thinness, it is about having the stamina and physical energy to keep up with my professional demands and day to day requirements of life.

Amrita Rao

This is Part 2 in a small series about the response to a TikTok video that I posted. If you haven’t read Part 1 do go back and have a read and watch the video in question.

It seems lots of people commenting on the post were worried for my health – how kind of them! Honestly, so many people said that instead of eating the cake I should just have a small piece and lose some weight, then I’d be healthy. Brill. Simple then yes?

No! Not simple. It is a terrible sweeping statement to say that if you lose weight you’ll be healthier. I’m a big Health At Every Size (HAES) advocate and I urge you to wipe that thought from your mind if it’s something you currently believe.

There are lots of factors at play, as always in nutrition.

How quickly is the weight lost? What did the person do to lose weight? What was their body weight before? What is their body weight after? What was their diet like when losing the weight? All of these things matter.

Quick weight loss is not good. It sends the body into a bit of blind panic, it’s usually accompanied by serious restriction, and the weight usually comes bouncing back at speed once that restriction stops. It is actually causing more harm than good.

Maybe the person doesn’t have any weight to lose for their body to be happy and so losing weight is detrimental rather than beneficial? And how far did they push it before they stopped? Has that weight loss become extreme?

feet standing on weighing scales

The type of food they have been consuming through that time would be important. A person could cut a large number of calories but still live on crisps and chocolate alone, and then what you have there is restriction plus a degree of malnutrition.

Did you know that the disorder anorexia nervosa, for example, can often be found in larger-bodied people? Eating disorders of this nature don’t always present as the person being seriously underweight. To anyone on the outside it looks like they’re ‘just on a diet’, but this is serious restriction. While people are busy congratulating their weight loss the person is really harming their body. Fast weight loss may be a sign of an eating disorder and encouraging weight loss across the board can be incredibly dangerous.

Likewise, obesity isn’t actually an indicator of poor health either. Just because a person is overweight it does not automatically mean they are unhealthy. There are plenty of inspiring influencers on social media for example that prove that you can be fit, healthy, and have a clean bill of health in a bigger body.

At the opposite end of the scale let’s look at fitness models, male and female. Do you look at those people in magazines and online and think how fit and healthy they must be, and how you’d love to look like them?

There are plenty of those models out there that will tell you that at their leanest they were unhappy, clinically depressed, lacking certain vital bodily functions, weak, dehydrated, and that their health in general was poor. Those people don’t advocate it and it is their living.

Now, knowing that, will you look at those models again and see if they still look fit and healthy to you? I hope not because they are prime examples of losing weight not necessarily being a benefit to health.

Next up in Part 3: ‘But you eat rubbish’

Please note:  This post is intended to be general information that applies to people who don’t have diagnosed medical conditions and are not pregnant. As always, please see a registered professional before making changes to your diet⁠.

Trial by TikTok – Part 1

Trial by TikTok – Part 1

Trial by TikTok – Part 1

A lot of people use social media to share mundane things or for self-glorification. I try to use it to share interesting things with people.

Ashton Kutcher (and now me!)

A couple of days ago I posted a fun video on TikTok. It’s me stood with a massive sponge cake saying ‘If you eat an entire cake without cutting it, technically that’s only one piece.’ It’s a joke. It’s funny right? Watch it and see for yourself.

My TikTok profile is meant as a bit of light-hearted fun to brighten the day. I’m peppering in some sensible messages, but overall it’s just a food related giggle.

On the whole the video was received as intended, with people having a laugh and a joke along with me, BUT there have been a few that have taken it seriously and think that the message is ridiculous. Comments go along the lines of:

“Just cut it like a normal person, that one piece is over X calories”
“That’s called obesity and maybe you should cut back”
“Diabetes in other words”
“Heart attack waiting to happen”
“The scales will say different”

One person made a comment and then disclosed that they had had someone close to them die of a heart attack and that they were unhealthy. They automatically linked what they see to be unhealthy food and calorie content to poor health.

I think it’s important that we look at this a little, and I’m going to talk about this in the context of me and the cake as an example, but it really does apply to any food. It is an incredibly complex topic and I don’t want to go science mad on you so let’s just cover some basics. In order to save your poor eyes and concentration levels I’ll break this down over 4 posts for you.

phone showing tiktok logo on the screen

First item on the agenda is calorie counting. There is a common misconception that the more calories you eat the more weight you gain, and the worse your health is, full stop. This is a very black and white statement, but nutrition isn’t black and white like that, it’s very nuanced. Technically (or tenticly as one person wrote in a comment ????‍♀️) , the energy balance equation is about energy in vs energy out. Eat less calories than you use and you’ll be in a calorie deficit and lose weight, eat more calories than you use and you’ll have excess calories and gain weight. In physics or maths that is true, but throw that into the human body and all manner of other things get added in to the equation.

There are over 100 genes that determine our body weight alone. Before you’re even born you have 100+ genes that have pretty much already decided what sort of body weight you’re designed to be. These genes all interact with different mechanisms in the body, and respond to the food we consume.

Also, did you know that the number of calories you put in your mouth isn’t the number of calories we absorb and use as energy? True story! The type of food you are eating will have different levels of caloric availability. A good example of this is sweetcorn. Whole kernels don’t get digested well and a large proportion gets passed through the digestive system relatively unscathed and appears out the other end. If you grind that sweetcorn to a powder though it’s more easily digested and you’ll take in more of the calories in the corn.

In addition to that, your body will use those calories more or less effectively than another person’s body will. You may naturally need more calories to function. You may need less. You may be more active and demand that energy, you may not be. Your systems may need more calories to function than the next person’s, or they may not.

So, some basic information to start with, but can you see already that you can’t just say calories in and calories out is an accurate guide for whether you gain or lose weight. You can’t just say to someone “‘eat less calories and you’ll lose weight’. It’s not that simple.

 

Next up, in Part 2: Does losing weight improve your health?

Please note:  This post is intended to be general information that applies to people who don’t have diagnosed medical conditions and are not pregnant. As always, please see a registered professional before making changes to your diet⁠.