This may be the reason why you can’t stop binge eating

This may be the reason why you can’t stop binge eating

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This may be the reason why you can’t stop binge eating 

KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian

January 30th 2019

As a result of the diet culture world we live in, it has become all too common to live by “food rules”.  

These rules are usually self-imposed and dictate the types of foods that should be consumed, how much and when. Whether that’s only eating “clean” foods or eating a certain number of calories at each meal or only eating at specific times of the day, the rules can be subconscious, and very rigid.  

So, what if I said to you that it was time to ditch all these rules and give yourself unconditional permission to eat whatever you like?  

Would your response be … 

a) “I already do allow all foods in my life, but I also give myself permission NOT to eat if I don’t feel like it.

or 

b) “ummm, you mean everything like full fat dairy, chips and pastries? But, but, but … what about my health?”

If you answered a) well, good on you! You are someone who knows that all foods can be part of a varied diet, but at the same time, will know when NOT to eat and consciously choose not to do so. You are someone who does not let food control you, because you know that all food is available at any time when you need it.   

If you answered b), then you’re not alone. This article will talk about how we can incorporate all food in your life in a mindful, conscious way, without fear of eating chaotically and feeling out of control around food.   

In order to create a healthy relationship with food one of the first things we must do is give ourselves permission to eat all foods. That’s right. All foods. Without restriction.  

Internationally run self-care retreat, Green Mountain at Fox Run, states really nicely that: “many women aren’t totally sold on the idea that we’re allowed to eat what we want at first, thinking, “That’s exactly what brought me here to begin with.” But they do usually all agree that the alternative approach of restriction and deprivation hasn’t worked so well either.”

 Yes, allowing all foods to be consumed may sound scary and downright crazy, especially because diet culture has led us to believe that some foods are “good and some are “bad”. But it’s important to remember that by doing this and becoming an intuitive eater is not about letting go of your health.  

It’s about making all foods normal, so you can enjoy eating all foods in moderation without episodes of binge eating or feeling out of control. 

Having rigid rules around forbidden foods, paradoxically leads to greater restrictions, which then increases the chances of binge eating. However, if we remove the food rules and allow all foods (especially previously forbidden ones) in our life the urgency and intensity to eat decreases (1). This phenomenon is called habituation, where repeated exposure to something eventually loses its appeal. Habituation can actually be experienced in other facets of our life. For example, when you buy a new car and first drive it out of the dealership, it’s exciting. But eventually, the novelty of the new car wears off.  

This can also be applied in the context of food. So, for dieters, this means that the more a certain food is restricted, the higher the desire it is to eat because of the lack of exposure to it. If we can give ourselves full permission to eat all foods, then the “eat-this-now-before-you-never-let-yourself-eat-this-again” mentality is likely to dissipate.  

Interestingly, studies show that people who follow food rules generally display perfectionist traits (2). And that makes sense, considering that perfectionism is where a person will place large emphasis on organisation and preciseness, set high personal expectations and be self-critical if personal accomplishments are not met (2).  

So now that we understand why we need to give ourselves unconditional permission to eat, let’s break it down into simple steps of how to actually do it.  

Step 1: Change of mindset: No food is morally better than another 

Food is food! Let’s not label it as “good” or “bad” or demonise calories. Seeing all foods as equal, means your choice to eat a certain thing is not emotionally driven. So that means deciding to eat a cookie is equal to deciding to eat a salad. Neither one of those food choices has a higher moral value. If you want to eat the cookie, eat the cookie. If you want to eat the salad, eat the salad!  

Step 2: Identify your “forbidden” food and practice giving yourself permission to eat it 

Is there a particular food that you’ve previously not allowed yourself to have? Let’s name an example. Say your once “forbidden food” was ice cream. It’s now time to give yourself full permission to allow ice cream back into your life.  

For some clients, this is scary. They feel that if they give themselves permission to eat their forbidden food, they may never stop eating it.  

So how do we manage this?  

Firstly, when giving ourselves permission to eat, don’t do it when hungry! Maybe try this 30mins – 1hour after a meal. Also, perhaps try this in an environment where you feel safe, such as at work, in a restaurant, at someone else’s house, before bringing it into the home.  

So, let’s use the ice-cream example. When you desire ice-cream, pause and check in with yourself about what is driving this desire. Are you sad, tired, angry, bored? Is it just convenient to have it?  

Then have a think about the quality of the ice-cream. How will it make you feel afterwards?  

Once you’ve checked in on these things, if you still decide to eat the icecream, then do so mindfully. That is, slowing down, getting rid of any distractions and truly tuning in as you take each mouthful. As you take bites, think about the texture, taste and smell. Try to really be in the present moment throughout the whole eating experience. 

Then once you’ve finished, carry on with your day and don’t give it another thought. A big part of this process is not allowing food to occupy our minds and think about it anymore than we have to.  

Step 3: Make a plan for how you’re going to include the “forbidden foods” back into your life 

Now that you know you can have your icecream whenever you choose, plan out when you would like to practice eating mindfully with it. This helps to avoid eating it impulsively. And remember, this is practice and it’s normal to not get it perfect! Some days you may end up eating more of the icecream than you would have liked, but that’s perfectly fine! This is about gaining confidence that you can trust your body and discover that no one food has power over you.   

Giving yourself permission is a process. And it takes practiceIf there are days where you overeat, instead of being critical, get curious about what was going on that day. The key is not to beat yourself up over it! After all, there are much worse things you could do than eat some chocolate!  

References 

  1. Tribole E, Resch E. Intuitive Eating, 3rd ed. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press; 2012 
  2. Brown, A. J., Parman, K. M., Rudat, D. A., & Craighead, L. W. (2012). Disordered eating, perfectionism, and food rules. Eating Behaviors, 13(4), 347-353. doi:10.1016/j.eatbeh.2012.05.011 

 

Hitting Diet Rock Bottom

RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD Hitting Diet Rock Bottom KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian January 23rd 2019 There will be a time in your life where you will eventually feel that “enough is enough” with trying to lose weight and keep it off long term (dieting). It could...

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Hitting Diet Rock Bottom

Hitting Diet Rock Bottom

RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD

Hitting Diet Rock Bottom

KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian

January 23rd 2019

There will be a time in your life where you will eventually feel that “enough is enough” with trying to lose weight and keep it off long term (dieting).

It could be days, months or years before you get there.

It will most likely be after repeated attempts of dieting or restriction, only to become more and more frustrated with the results.

It will most likely make you feel like you’ve failed the diets (when in actual fact, the diets have failed you).

You will most likely never want to look at a diet again.

This is what we call hitting ‘diet rock bottom’.

It is an important step, because more often than not this is the time when you are truly ready to break up with dieting forever. 

 

Do you think you’ve hit diet bottom? Let me paint you a picture of what it might look like for some people.  

Meet Emma.  

She’s a hard-working woman in her mid-50s with three children, an adoring husband and dog named Barry.  

The thing about Emma is that she’s always dieted. It started as a young teen when she had to suddenly stop dancing competitively due to injury.   

Without dancing in the picture, she became increasingly worried about her figure so took it upon herself to jump on the scales every day to monitor her weight.

She noticed the numbers increase and started to copy what her always-dieting mother would do at meal times. Emma stopped having toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and potatoes at dinner because “carbs are full of calories” her mother told her.  

And this was the beginning of her relentless pursuit to make those numbers on the scale go down by dieting. 

Throughout her teens and then in her 20s and 30s, Emma followed every diet out there. Each one with the same result – initial weight loss, then weight regain.   

She couldn’t understand why. She would follow the diet’s rules precisely… for days and sometimes weeks. That was, until she would crave the foods that the diet said she couldn’t have. And those cravings would get more severe the longer she kept restricting. Which eventually led to binge eating on the foods that she’d deprived herself from eating.

Then after overeating, she’d feel guilty. She’d hate herself for failing her diet. She’d tell herself she had no willpower. But then she’d pull herself together and promise that the next day would be a clean slate to start the diet again…

And this would be repeated each and every time she was on a diet. 

Now in her mid-50s, the effects of dieting have taken their toll. As a result of yo-yo dieting, Emma is now so preoccupied with food that she’s anxious at meal times and constantly thinking about what she can and can’t have.  

She doesn’t like exercising. 

She eats less food but weighs more than ever before. 

She’s uncomfortable in her body. 

She doesn’t trust her body. 

She feels completely at a loss about what to do around food and can’t stand the thought of going on another diet.  

She has hit diet bottom.  

And this is not Emma’s fault. It is the world of dieting that has failed Emma.  

This scenario is experienced by many of my clients.  

The problem is that we live in a world where it is ideal to be thin. This culture (also called diet culture which you can read more about here) drives us to believe that dieting is the norm and being thin is the key to happiness and success.  

But unfortunately, dieting is the very cause of health issues such as disordered eating, weight gain and decreased psychological health.  

And it’s not until we hit diet bottom that we truly see this.  

When we see this, we can open ourselves up to the alternative to dieting, which is Intuitive Eating – a mindful, evidence-based approach that teaches us how to respond to internal body cues and eat according to our individual needs. Intuitive Eating is the proven method to help people break up with dieting and heal their relationship with food and their bodies. You can read more about it here.

If you feel like you’re at diet bottom, I’d love to hear from you. Or if you’d like to learn more about how we can work together, sign up to receive my free download below!  

Hitting Diet Rock Bottom

RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD Hitting Diet Rock Bottom KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian January 23rd 2019 There will be a time in your life where you will eventually feel that “enough is enough” with trying to lose weight and keep it off long term (dieting). It could...

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How to spot diet culture: unpacking the less obvious diets

How to spot diet culture: unpacking the less obvious diets

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How to spot diet culture: unpacking the less obvious diets

KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian

January 9th 2019

At the start of a new year, we’re bombarded with health information. Some people tell us to start this new, exciting, “long-term solution” diet. Others tell us we don’t need to diet. And some tell us that we just need to make small and consistent “lifestyle changes”. All of these messages can make it darn right confusing as to how we can improve our health. 

Research tells us that weight-loss doesn’t work for the majority. Whether it’s jazzed up a ‘lifestyle’ but is still selling weight loss, it’s a diet. Sadly, 80% of people who lose weight regain it (and often more) by 5 years (1).

I’m not here to ruin your fun and I am not anti-weight loss. Rather, I anti-pursuit of weight loss as I have witnessed the miserable side effects of pursuing it – there is also a load of research that have identified these miserable side effects too. 

I therefore, believe it’s important for you to understand whether you are subconsciously wrapped up in a diet. To understand the damaging effects of dieting, and to be able to point out who is selling you a diet, before jumping into the next diet trap. 

So, are you subconsciously wrapped up in a diet? 

Well sadly, diet culture is everywhere. It teaches us that we’re not good enough as we are. That we have to live a life of constant monitoring, controlling our bodies, restricting ourselves, and over exercising. It promises that when we’re thinner, we will fit in, be smarter, happier, more loveable and more worthy. 

We can see how prominent it is when we look at different types of eating personalities.  

 

Firstly, there is the Careful Eater. This can be someone who thinks they’re not following a specific diet, but instead chooses a certain food because they think it is healthier than something else. 

This person may scrutinise food labels or seek reassurance from a waiter in a restaurant that a meal is prepared exactly as they like it (I.e.: is it grilled rather than fried?). The Careful Eater can spend most of their days thinking about what they’re going to eat and even become a little anxious about it.  

The problem with this type of eating is that while it’s great to make informed food choices, it can adversely affect your relationship with food and your body. If you’re only eating “safe” foods and not really what you care for, it can lead to bingeing episodes later on due to deprivation of what you actually want to eat. 

The second eating personality is the Professional Dieter. As you’d imagine, this person can be easily identified. They’re the ones who are clued up on the latest dieting trends. They can tell you calorie content of most foods. They are then always pursuing another diet after the previous one didn’t work out. They diet and eat for the pursuit of weight loss, rather than health.

It’s not unusual for this person to engage in Last Supper eating (I.e: bingeing on foods that they don’t think they’ll ever be allowed to eat again) and starting their new diet the next day with a “clean slate”.  

The problem with this is that chronic dieting is not an effective or scientifically proven method to lose weight. In fact, it is a surefire way to develop other harmful effects such as disordered eating, slowed metabolism and decreased mental health.  

The final eating personality is the Unconscious Eater. As the name would suggest, this person will eat while being distracted by something else, such as watching television or being on their phone. There are subtypes under this category.  

The Chaotic Unconscious Eater is the busy person whose life is so hectic that they’ll eat anything that’s available at the time. They can go for long stints without eating and whenever they finally do eat, they’re ravenous. They can end up losing the ability to recognise biological hunger signals. 

The Refuse-Not Unconscious Eater is someone who will eat food that’s in sight regardless of hunger and are usually unaware of what or how much they’re eating. Attending cocktail parties or buffet style events can be tough for this group. 

The Waste-Not Unconscious Eater is the person who will not leave anything on their plate to ensure they can get as much value for money as they can. It can be common for this person to eat other people’s leftovers to ensure nothing is wasted.  

The Emotional Unconscious Eater eats food to soothe an emotion, whether it’s sadness, loneliness or frustration. This person often thinks that eating is the problem as opposed to getting to the root cause that’s driving them to eat in the first place 

The problem with being any subtype of Unconscious Eater is that it can lead to overeating. A classic example is having a large packet of crisps at your desk while writing a report and before you know it, the packet is empty because you were completely engaged in the report writing, rather than the eating.  

It is not anyone’s fault that they have become one or several of these types. This is the effect of living in a society where there is a $66 billion weight loss industry out there profiting from the people who will do anything to pursue their “ideal” body (2). 

And this industry continues to thrive because the same people go back again and again. That’s because the diet or weight loss aid failed them… not because of their lack of willpower as diet culture would have you believe. 

Does any of this sound familiar to you? 

If so, rejecting diets and becoming more of an Intuitive Eater may be best for you. 

An Intuitive Eater is able to make choices based on biological hunger and make food choices without experiencing guilt, or an ethical dilemma. They honour their hunger, respect their fullness and enjoy the pleasures of eating.

How do you spot diet culture? 

Unfortunately, there has been a recent trend of “health professionals” claiming under false pretences to be non-diet. They talk about body positivity and “anti-diet this” and “nondiet that”, which seems legitimate, when in actual fact is not.

Instead, they still push dieting and weight loss. This is a problem, when we know the side effects of any pursuit of weight loss are pretty miserable. 

In order to help shed some light on how to spot dietculture, I have identified some key phrases. These are notoriously used by these people who are trying to sound like they’re not selling diets, but actually are. 

  • This is a “wellness approach”  
  • It’s a lifestyle not a diet” 
  • This food is good and this food is bad’” 
  • You can only have X serving size and amount of meals/snacks/points in one day 
  • “You can only have X grams of carbs/fat/protein per day” 
  • You can only eat at certain times of the day 
  • Detox your fridge”  
  • “This is a cleanse in a healthy way 
  • “You only have to eliminate x, y, z foods for 30 days to change your life”  
  • Let’s work together to shift habits 
  • “This is all about clean, energising eating” 

So essentially, if it looks like a diet, sounds like a diet and smells like a diet, it’s most likely a diet. And it’s important that we call these people out. The reason being that even if you have the best intentions of stopping dieting, you could still have a little bit of unconscious diet mentality (called Psuedo-dieting). This could make you susceptible to the diet trap 

 

But this is not your fault. This is the effect of the insidious diet culture we live in.  

That’s why we need to make sure you can spot diet culture being perpetuated by people cashing in on it. Together, we can call them out, and help the world to see that dieting is not the answer.  

For more on ending dieting, check out my FREE download. 

References 

  1. Anderson, James W., et al. “Long-term weight-loss maintenance: a meta-analysis of US studies–.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 74.5 (2001): 579-584. 
  2. Rothblum, E. D. (2018). Slim chance for permanent weight loss. Archives of Scientific Psychology, 6(1), 63-69. doi:10.1037/arc0000043 

Hitting Diet Rock Bottom

RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD Hitting Diet Rock Bottom KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian January 23rd 2019 There will be a time in your life where you will eventually feel that “enough is enough” with trying to lose weight and keep it off long term (dieting). It could...

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Losing weight without dieting – is it really possible?

Losing weight without dieting – is it really possible?

Losing weight without dieting – is it really possible?

KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian

30th December 2018

Put your hand up if you have made a New Year resolution to lose some weight?

Now have a think to how many weight loss attempts you have made in 2018?

If it’s more than 1, you’re certainly not alone with this! One in 4 adults are trying to lose weight most of the time (1).  

And I get it. As a New Year emerges, we suddenly feel: 

  • a resurgence of excitement to improve our health 
  • that we have a clean slate to get rid of those “bad” habits  
  • motivated to start that new diet or “lifestyle” 

The start of a New Year certainly is a good time to start from fresh, and re-set ourselves for the year ahead. I am not trying to ruin the fun here. However, do think through your resolutions very carefully. Because unfortunately, when it comes to weight loss, studies show that the majority of people will regain weight after trying to diet, 80% of people in fact (2).

So, you may be wondering whether this is there another more sustainable way? 

Firstly, let’s be clear what a diet is. I know you are more sensible than following juice cleanses or celery juice diets, but there are some hidden demons. 

A diet is any kind of eating plan undertaken for the purposes of losing weight. 

Diets can be disguised as: 

  • Offering ‘balance’ or ‘lifestyle’, but still tell you to restrict/control. 
  • Tracking calories or counting points. 
  • Choosing low calorie, fat or carb foods to be safe. 
  • Cutting back in preparation for a special event. 
  • Making up for what you ate yesterday by doing more exercise or eating less. 
  • Passing by hunger with coffee/diet coke/water. 

 

A diet is any kind of eating plan undertaken for the purposes of losing weight.

So, what’s wrong with just being a little sensible and trying to cut back?  

Changing your behaviours for the sole purpose of trying to lose weight, backfires for the majority. Whichever way you try it, even if it’s a ‘sensible’ way. I guarantee you’ve experienced this for yourself too. If diets or restriction worked then we would all be thin!  

Why? Well, we are fighting biology. You can read more about this in my article why diets don’t work. In essence, diets are making us work against ourselves and paradoxically, we end up achieving the exact opposite of what we wanted in the first place. Argh! 

Also, it’s estimated that 75% of women suffer with some form of disordered eating. That includes some common behaviours such as banishing carbs and skipping meals, feeling anxious around food, having a constant hang up with food and body weight, being strict around food and attaching self-worth to body shape and size (3). Dieting or restriction exacerbates this. 

Even the Australian Government Guidelines have accepted that the majority of people will regain weight after trying to diet (4). And further research shows that at least one third of people who start a diet will actually regain more weight than they lost (5).  

It’s not all bad news though.  

What if I told you that you don’t have to make another “weight loss” type resolution again?  

What if you could stop dieting, improve your relationship with food and your overall health another way?  

I bet you’d be pretty excited to know how, right?  

Well, let me tell you there is a way.  

It’s called Intuitive Eating. This is about working with your appetite rather than in fear of it. It is an evidence-based, mindful practice that is associated with: 

  • A lower BMI (678) and you can read more about the specifics of what and how “to do Intuitive Eating” (link to IE article here). 
  • Lower blood pressure 
  • Lower cholesterol 
  • Less disordered eating 
  • Improved body satisfaction  
  • Improved self esteem 
  • A higher likelihood of taking part in physical activity  
  • Improved general wellbeing (9) 

If you feel ready to start practicing Intuitive Eating, your experiences and relationship with food will change for the better. 

As we approach the new year and you see more adverts trying to sell you the next big weight loss tool, just remember that it is complete BS. We know that any form of food deprivation and chronic restriction can lead to cravings and binge eating. We know that Intuitive Eating can help stop this and improve your relationship with food to increase your overall health and wellbeing.  

So, if you decide that you still need to make a resolution for 2019, then make it that you’re going to break up with dieting for good.  

For more on managing food problems like this check out my FREE download. This will guide you through some of the first steps of intuitive eating to help resolve your food problems.

  1. BBC News (2004) Many people diet most of the time [Online]. Available from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3454099.stm [accessed 18th December 2018].
  2. Anderson, James W., et al. “Long-term weight-loss maintenance: a meta-analysis of US studies–.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 74.5 (2001): 579-584.
  3. UNC School of Medicine (2008) Survey finds disordered eating behaviors among three out of four American women. Available from: http://www.med.unc.edu/www/newsarchive/2008/april/survey-finds-disordered-eating-behaviors-among-three-out-of-four-american-women [accessed 18th December 2018].  
  4. Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). (2013). Clinical Practice Guidelines of Overweight and Obesity in Adults, Adolescents and Children in Australia. Retrieved from https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/n57_obesity_guidelines_140630.pdf 
  5. Mann T, Tomiyama AJ, Westling E et al. (2007) Medicare’s search for effective obesity treatments: diets are not the answer. Am Psychol 62, 220–233. 
  6. Tylka TL. Development and psychometric evaluation of a measure of intuitive eating. J Couns Psychol. 2006;53(2):226-240.  
  7. Hawks S, Madanat H, Hawks J, Harris A. The relationship between intuitive eating and health indicators among college women. Am J Health Educ. 2005;36(6):331-336.  
  8. Denny KN, Loth K, Eisenberg ME, Neumark-Sztainer D. Intuitive eating in young adults. who is doing it, and how is it related to disordered eating behaviors? Appetite. 2012 
  9. Schaefer JT & Magnuson AB. (2014). A review of interventions that promote eating by internal cues. J Acad Nutr Diet; 114: 734-760.  

 

Hitting Diet Rock Bottom

RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD Hitting Diet Rock Bottom KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian January 23rd 2019 There will be a time in your life where you will eventually feel that “enough is enough” with trying to lose weight and keep it off long term (dieting). It could...

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How to be healthy without obsessing this Christmas

How to be healthy without obsessing this Christmas

RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD

How to be Healthy Without Obsessing this Christmas

KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian

12th December 2018

It’s been a busy year. You’re exhausted and you’re ready to take a well-deserved break.

But you’re also feeling slightly anxious about the upcoming festivities – mainly because being merry often involves eating and drinking. Perhaps you are worried this could “undo” the progress you’ve made this year in your nutrition journey.  

But fear not. I’ve compiled my favourite tips and strategies to help you enjoy the holiday period (and all other times of the year!) without being concerned with weight or “out of control” eating behaviours.  

Tip #1 – Make the buffet your friend 

Buffets can be extremely overwhelming and cause much anxiety when it comes time to filling up a plate. With so much choice and food available it’s hard to know where to begin. What should I have? Should I have sweet or savoury? How much of each thing should I have? Can I go back for seconds?  

What can you do if you find yourself feeling anxious?  

Give yourself permission to eat all foods. All of the dishes that are presented on the buffet tables are there for you to enjoy – in as much or as little quantities as you desire. The food does not control you, but rather, trust yourself that you can figure out exactly what food you need that will truly satisfy you. 

But how? 

  • First, pick up a plate and wander around the buffet.  
  • Ask yourself “what looks good and what do I really feel like now?”  
  • Prioritise what you would like to REALLY eat now.  

Go for fewer options to have quality, rather than a little bit of everything. This can lead to a very full plate filled with foods that you may not really feel like eating. Being mindful in this way will help you to choose something that will truly satisfy you. This will help avoid any deprivation, which we know can lead to binge eating and guilt later on.  

A few things to remember when you’re doing this exercise: 

  • The food that you see will be there tomorrow. 
  • The food that you think you might crave later can be bought later. 
  • If you’re still hungry after your first plate, you can go get more food!  

“Choose something that will truly satisfy you and avoid any deprivation, which we know can lead to binge eating and guilt later on.

Tip #2  You can have great time with or without tipples 

There can be a lot of pressure at holiday events to always have a drink in your hand. You are your own person and you can make your own decision about what and when you would like to drink. If you are feeling overwhelmed, perhaps make a plan about which events you’d like to have alcohol at and which ones you don’t. Having a strategy over the festive period could mean fewer sore heads in the morning and happier holidays!  

What can you do at the events to manage how much alcohol you drink?  

Alcohol can be a tricky one, and when you’ve had a few drinks, listening to your intuition and tuning into your hunger tends to be a little more difficult. This is something to be mindful of. 

If you would like to drink more consciously, here are some things to consider. Before you head out, perhaps have something to drink before you leave the house to quench your thirst. This may prevent you turning up to an event thirsty and dehydrated which could lead to less conscious drink choices.  

Once you’re there, try to tap into your body signals to figure out what it is that you’d really like to drink. Similar to when we eat mindfully, ask yourself what is it that will truly satisfy you right then and there. If it’s a non-alcoholic drink, then choose that!  

If you’re not sure about what to have, have a glass of water while you decide. If you enjoy a cheeky cocktail, then go get it! But then don’t feel pressured to have multiple cocktails one after the other. Feel free to have a soft drink in between. 

Tip #3 – Don’t let people drag you into negative diet talk  

We know we live in a world that is obsessed with weight and the latest fad diet that promises to “improve health”. Well I’m here to tell you that diets do not work for the majority – whether it’s in the form of a fast, a cleanse, a wrap or a clean eating lifestyle change.  

All of these diets need to be given the flick because robust evidence shows that at least 80% of the population who diet cannot sustain long term weight loss (1,2).

Why? Because our bodies are biologically driven to hold onto fat stores and slow down metabolism any time we deprive ourselves or restrict food. No wonder we have such intense cravings and end up binge eating when we diet! And not only that, dieting leads to poor selfesteem, disordered eating, loss of hunger/fullness cues, rebound weight gain, slowed metabolism, preoccupation with food … need I go on? Dieting needs to be voted off the island. Pronto. 

So what can you do if you find yourself in a circle where negative diet culture or body shape/size is the topic of conversation?  

You can either remove yourself entirely from the conversation or if you’re feeling bold you could suggest “I am sure we have more interesting things to talk about other than weight loss… Carole, how’s [insert interesting topic here].” And if that doesn’t stop the diet talk, remove yourself from the conversation. You do not have to engage in diet or negative body image talk!  

Hopefully these tips help you stay on track with your body positive and intuitive eating journeys through the festive season. (For more in depth information about intuitive eating, feel free to have a read of this article which goes through fundamentals of this mindful practice). Just remember, there is no such thing as eating or drinking perfectly and it’s normal to feel as though you’re going “off track”.  

Use this time to reflect on how far you’ve come and celebrate your wins. Trust in yourself that you have the control and wisdom to know exactly what your body needs at this time of year. Honour your internal cues. You hold the key to knowing what your body truly needs to be nourished and satisfied.  

I hope you have a wonderful festive season and spend this time doing the things that make you happy with the people you love most. 

If you need a little something to help you through this Christmas period without getting sucked into diets, diet talk and obsessing with food and your weight, check out my FREE download. This will guide you through some of the first steps of intuitive eating to help resolve your food problems.

References: 

  1. Ikeda J, Amy NK, Ernsberger P, et al. The National Weight Loss Control Registry: a critique. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour. 2005;37(4):203-205.
  2. Anderson, James W., et al. “Long-term weight-loss maintenance: a meta-analysis of US studies–.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 74.5 (2001): 579-584.

Hitting Diet Rock Bottom

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What is Intuitive Eating?

What is Intuitive Eating?

RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD

What is Intuitive Eating?

KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian

10th December 2018

Whether it’s a detox, counting calories, fasting or “healthy eating” where you only consume “clean” fruit and vegetables, it is well established that restrictive eating (aka dieting) does more harm than good.

Dieting and restriction for the purposes of weight loss, doesn’t work for the majority. 

Robust studies show that restrictive eating can increase disordered eating, make us gain weight, binge eat, become totally preoccupied with food, lower our selfesteem and decrease our overall mental health (1). You will likely have experienced some of these yourself.

So why do we do it?  

Because we live in a world where it is considered normal to diet and pursue weight loss to be healthier and better. Stopping dieting can be hard, but I promise that there is a way you can stop … and that is through Intuitive Eating.  

So you’ve heard about this Intuitive Eating … but what is it really?  

Intuitive Eating is not a diet. It does not pursue weight loss and it does not control or restrict food intake. It’s an approach to help you get out of your head, and more into your body, removing the should / shouldn’t voices that constantly sit on your shoulders.  

Intuitive Eating includes mindful eating practicewhere we eat in a ‘present’ state, free from distraction. That means putting away our phones and laptops, which can be hard I know! By fully tuning in to what we’re eating means we can listen to our hunger and fullness cues which is another important part of this practice.  

This practice is also about honouring our body’s physical and psychological needsAsk yourself, what do I really want to eat NOW? If you feel like a slice of cake, eat the cake. If you feel like a Caeser salad, order the salad. By honouring your body’s needs and not depriving yourself of the thing you really want to eat means you’re more likely to feel satisfied! Hurrah.    

Finally, this practice is about taking weight out of the equation and allowing our body to settle at its natural weight once eating patterns normalise. This practice is all about learning how to enjoy food and feel satisfied, and therefore decrease binge eating and increase our overall health and wellbeing.  

Some 70 published studies have confirmed that many psychological and physiological benefits can arise through this practice (2). As such, Intuitive Eating has become a buzz term in the social media world as many people discover it can help stop dieting and reduce binge eating episodes. But sadly, it has been misinterpreted by some as being yet another potential tool for weight loss, which it is NOT. 

“Intuitive Eating is not a diet. It does not pursue weight loss and it does not control or restrict food intake.”

So how do you actually do this?  

Developed by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in 1995, Intuitive Eating is evidence-based with 10 principles underpinning it (3). The principles and how you can get started include: 

1. Reject the Diet Mentality  

Unfollow any social media accounts that promote weight loss and push unrealistic body standards. Toss out diet plans, magazines and books that once graced your bookshelf. It’s time to break up with diet culture for good so you can allow Intuitive Eating to become part of your life.  

2. Honour Your Hunger 

Nourish your body with the right amount of energy to avoid going into starvation mode. Allowing yourself to become excessively hungry triggers a natural intense desire to eat, often leading to unintended binge eating. Try not to skip meals or have long gaps in between eating which can leave you feeling ravenous! 

3. Make Peace with Food 

Give yourself permission to eat ALL food! No single food is going to make you healthy or unhealthy, and restrictive eating can often lead to extreme feelings of deprivation. This often leads to binge eating which can fill you with guilt. No food should be “forbidden”.  

4. Challenge the Food Police  

Stand up to the Food Police in your head who create unrealistic food rules (e.g. no sugar, dairy, gluten, eating after 6pm, counting carbs). The Food Police often let you think that only healthy eating is good and eating cake is bad. It’s time to give these guys the flick!  

5. Respect Your Fullness  

When was the last time you stopped eating when you were comfortably full? Feeling BETTER for eating? When stuck in the diet mentality, we can often swing from being overly hungry (through restriction) all the way to being stuffed.

With intuitive eating, no foods are off limits and there are no rules. You can therefore feel safe in the knowledge that you can eat as much as you need to feel comfortable right now, and eat again when your body is ready for it. 

6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor  

Eating rice cakes, kale crisps and low-calorie cereal bars probably aren’t going to leave you feeling satisfied. If you’re out at dinner and feel like ordering the chips, order themIf you deprive yourself of the thing you really feel like most, you are fuelling the restrictive diet mentality, which at some point will likely lead to feeling out of control around food.  

7. Honour Your Feelings Without Using Food 

Emotional eating is perfectly natural and is usually an act of self-care. It should not fill you with guilt. As you move through the intuitive eating journey, honour your hunger and remove the forbidden of foods, emotional eating can dissipateHowever, if food is still your only or main coping mechanism, we can work together to identify other ways to soothe your emotions that aren’t just with food. 

8. Respect Your Body  

It’s time to accept that your body shape and size is special and unique. Your genes are set in stone, so being critical about something that you can’t change is not a helpful exercise. Focus on all the wonderful things your body can do or has done to help rediscover self-love.  

9. Exercise – Feel the Difference 

Find movement that you love and do it as much or as little as you wish. Ditch rigid exercise plans and certainly don’t pursue activities that you don’t enjoy. If you find movement that you makes you feel good, you’ll automatically want to do it more often without even realising!  

10. Honour Your Health  

There is no such thing as eating perfectly. It is about making progress to consuming a variety of foods that make your body feel well and also satisfy your tastebuds. It turns out that most people find eating a nutritious balanced diet feels good! And it is about doing this consistently over time.

So you are ready to give Intuitive Eating a go, but feeling scared? 

 Embracing Intuitive Eating can be more of a challenging process than just being given a diet plan or set of rules. But it’s a way to find true freedom so you never have to go back to diets again. Of course, diets and the scales will always be there to go back to… 

Here are some answers to common fears: 

Fear that you may never stop eating 

 As result of years of chronic dieting and under-eating it can be hard to trust that you will ever stop eating. As you move through intuitive eating there may be a short period of time where you eat more than you desire. This is totally normal, and a natural response to restriction. When you start learning to trust that food is ALWAYS available, and there are no weird conditions on this, you will start to trust that you will only eat as much as you need.

You don’t know what or how to eat 

When you actually stop and pay attention to what you are eating, you may realise that you don’t even enjoy those foods! But rather than being concerned about what to eat, use intuitive eating to explore different kinds of foods and flavours. This is a great opportunity to figure out what you like to eat rather than what you think you should eat.  

Fear of loss of control 

Imagine if said you can eat whatever you want all day, every day. You may think you would never stop yourself eating chocolate chip cookies, wine, cheese, crisps and all the foods you consider ‘bad’. Let’s see what happens if I give you an endless supply of cookies.   

  • Day 1, you would eat a lot.  
  • By Day 2, you may still eat a lot, but less than Day 1.  
  • Day 3, you’d most likely eat less than Day 1 and 2.  
  • After a few days, you will start to crave other foods.  

This process is called habituation and is another key part of the Intuitive Eating practice.

At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember about Intuitive Eating is that it is not about eating a perfect diet – there is no such thing! The goal is to eat a variety of nutritious food with some ‘play foods’ that truly satisfy you. To remove the noise in your head and make peace with food and your body, so you can move on with other things that matter more in life. 

For more on how to get started with intuitive eating, check out my FREE download. This will guide you through some of the first steps of intuitive eating to help resolve your food problems.

This article is not intended to provide individual advice, and it’s important that you seek support from a qualified professional. 

References  

  1. Bacon L, Aphramor L. Weight science: evaluating the evidence for a paradigm shift. Nutr J. 2011;10:9 
  1. Tribole E, Resch E. The Intuitive Eating Workbook: Ten Principles for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship with Food. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications; 2017 
  1. Tribole E, Resch E. Intuitive Eating, 3rd ed. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press; 2012 

Hitting Diet Rock Bottom

RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD Hitting Diet Rock Bottom KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian January 23rd 2019 There will be a time in your life where you will eventually feel that “enough is enough” with trying to lose weight and keep it off long term (dieting). It could...

read more