Am I addicted to sugar?

Am I addicted to sugar?

RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD

Am I addicted to sugar?

KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian

1st May 2019

I am often asked by clients whether sugar addiction is a real thing and if so, whether they should go cold turkey to quit. 

Quitting seems logical solution, given that it is often the advice for someone with drug and alcohol addiction. In this article I am going to break down what sugar addiction is, why you crave sugar and some tips to overcome feeling like you have a sugar addiction.

Firstly, what is addiction?

This is a complex question because the definition of addiction is controversial.

In short, you can have two categories of addiction:

  1. A substance addiction such as drugs, alcohol or tobacco
  2. A non-substance behavioural addiction such as gambling

It has been suggested that some foods with “addictive agents”, such as salt, fat and sugar, could result in people showing the same symptoms as someone with a drug addiction. There has even been media reports suggesting that sugar addiction is a thing, and that it’s as addictive as heroin and cocaine. But the reality is that there are not many studies that have examined sugar addiction specifically in humans – the studies that do exist have been carried out in rodents. 

Sugar addiction – is it the same as being addicted to drugs?

Chances are that you have already googled this. After reading a ton of contradictory information, you may think sugar addiction and drug addiction manifest the same symptoms.

Well let’s look at it in detail.   

If we were to go by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), it diagnoses a Substance Use Disorder (substances such as tobacco, alcohol, drugs) based on 11 symptoms. These can be grouped into four categories:

  • Impaired control: symptoms relate to cravings and a strong desire to use the drug or failed attempts of cutting back on drug use.
  • Social issues: symptoms relate to situations where the person’s work, home and social life is disrupted due to continued drug use.
  • Risky use: symptoms relate to a person’s continued use of the drug despite the known negative consequences.
  • Drug physiological effects: symptoms of tolerance (the body requires more of the drug to produce the same effect) and withdrawal (the body shows withdrawal symptoms when the drug is no longer in the body and a tolerance has developed

So could some of those symptoms occur with a “sugar addiction”? After reading this, you may think so!

For example:

  • Do I have cravings and a strong desire to eat sugary foods? Yes!
  • Have I repeatedly attempted to cut back or “quit” sugar? Yes!
  • Do I feel so “out of control” with food that I’m not in the mood to attend social events? Yes!

But let’s pause for a second. For a substance use disorder diagnosis, the symptoms need to cause “significant impairment or distress”.

And anyone who is experiencing significant distress such as this related to eating patterns, is more than likely going to be diagnosed with an overall eating disorder, which is very different to suggesting that someone is addicted to sugar in the same way that someone is addicted to drugs.

Another key part of a diagnosis, is that the symptoms produce physiological effects. Drug taking can cause people to develop withdrawal and tolerance symptoms. The good news is that there has never been a human study to show that sugar (or any nutrient for that matter, except for caffeine) produces tolerance or withdrawal effects. 

So if “sugar addiction” isn’t a thing, why do I still crave it?

Because

1) Restriction

The root cause of feeling out of control around food is restriction, not food addiction. We know this because as soon as we deprive ourselves from a food, we want the food even more and there a number of studies to support this (see my recent article with the research on how to stop food obsession). We subsequently eat more of it than we would have if we’d just allowed ourselves to eat in the first instance! Following food rules that restricts intake of our “forbidden foods” can lead to excessively focussing on those foods which just exacerbates disordered eating.

You may have heard that in animal studies, sugar is addictive. However, these studies fail to emphasise, that the animals have actually been deprived of sugar. So of course they ended up “bingeing” on it when they were allowed it again. The group of rats that were deprived, actually ate the same amount of sugar in a 12 hour period compared to a group of rats that weren’t deprived over a 24 hour period. What’s the moral here? Eat the sugar!

2) Food is pleasurable (which is not a bad thing!) and needed for survival

Whilst animal studies might show that the brain reacts in a similar way to when drugs are taken, they fail to recognise that food is something that is needed for survival. Sugar is not a drug – it’s the most basic fuel source we need to stay alive! It is therefore supposed to bring joy. Our brain needs glucose to make sure we can carry out all the required biological functions to keep us alive. So how could we be addicted to something that we need to function?

The same centres light up when we have sex, when we stroke a puppy or even when we win or anticipate winning money. Does that mean we are addicted to sex, puppies or money? No.

Where does that leave us?

Studies in this field are still in their infancy, and of the research that does exist, it is limited to animals.

Also, it is difficult to confirm that sugar, as a standalone nutrient, is addictive as we rarely consume this on its own. Sugar is in starchy foods such as potatoes, breads and pastas as well as in fruit, vegetables and dairy products. Things we usually eat in conjunction with many other things!

In saying all of this, I do not want to lessen the struggles that some people may feel they have around food. It is still possible to feel “out of control” around sugar and overeat sugary foods, but it is unlikely to be addiction. It’s more likely to be rooted in restriction.

If you feel this is you, Intuitive Eating is a gentle evidence-based approach that doesn’t require going cold turkey. This framework has helped people reduce overeating or binge eating because it teaches how to identify hunger and fullness signals without restricting food.

Intuitive Eating requires time and patience, but also the right support from someone qualified. A Registered Dietitian and Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor is a good place to start. If you’d like to know more about what you can start to do today to overcome your difficulties with feeling addicted to sugar, check out my free 20-minute audio download below. 

Please note: if after reading this, you think you might have an eating disorder, I encourage you to visit your GP to discuss this.

References throughout text.  

Am I addicted to sugar?

RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD Am I addicted to sugar? KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian 1st May 2019 I am often asked by clients whether sugar addiction is a real thing and if so, whether they should go cold turkey to quit.  Quitting seems logical solution, given that...

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How to stop food obsession

How to stop food obsession

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How to Stop Food Obsession  

KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian

April 17th 2019

Obsessing about food is all too common. It’s often seen as part and parcel of being a human being. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. In this article I am going to cover; what food obsession is, how it comes about, and how to stop food obsession.

What is food obsession? 

Food obsession can be: 

  • Always thinking about, talking about and planning your next meal 
  • Only allowing yourself to eat certain foods and labelling them “good” and “bad” 
  • Not being able to concentrate on tasks if you know the “bad” foods are in the house 
  • Using “bad” foods as a reward if you’ve been “good” 
  • Feeling anxious if you’re not in control of your meals (e.g. at a restaurant or a dinner party) 
  • Not enjoying social occasions if there are “bad” foods present 
  • Declining those social occasions in the future, because of the stress of not knowing what you can eat. 

You might identify with one, some or all of these. This can feel debilitating and wreak havoc on trying to have a social life! 

So where does food obsession come from?  

Food obsession can occur if we have rigid rules around our eating, whether these are self-inflicted rules that we’ve picked up over the years, or from an external source (e.g. a diet) (1).  

Restriction can be physical or emotional.  

  • Physical restriction: when the food is “forbidden/not allowed” and you physically are told to not eat it (by yourself or others). E.g. no lunch before 12 ‘clock, no carbs after x time, a points, calorie or meal limit.  
  • Psychological restriction: when certain foods are labelled as “naughty” or “bad” and we carry guilt and anxiety for wanting to eat them, or actually eating them.   

If you’re in the latter, chances are that diet culture has taught you to label foods as “good” and “bad”. This is where we feel “good” for eating a salad, and “bad” for eating a cookie. Placing a moralistic value on foods can interfere with our relationship to food in a negative way.  

What happens when we restrict as a result of these food rules?  

More often than not, food restriction leads to deprivation which leads to binge eating (2). Before you know it, you’re in the  continuous restrict/binge cycle that looks like…  

 

The food rules which make us restrict mean we become totally obsessed with that food.  This food obsession can cause a bucket load of different emotions too.  

Food obsession affects our mood and our relationships. It can affect our energy levels and desire to exercise. It can cause tainted memories of special occasions because you weren’t able to truly enjoy yourself because the food that was present controlled you. It is time consuming. It can make you feel alone, lost and helpless.   

It can make you feel as though there is No. End. In. Sight.  

This is no way to live.  

So how can we stop food obsession?  

Eat the “bad/forbidden” foods, and stop placing a moral value on them. No single food is “good”, “bad” or going to make you “healthy” or “unhealthy”.  

It’s time to unlearn the food rules that have dictated which foods are “good” and “bad”, so that you can finally enjoy all foods in the that makes you feel good. This sounds scary, I know. The biggest fear is that we will just eat ‘junk food’ all the time if we eat our ‘forbidden food’. Whilst it may feel that is the case in the short term, this dissipates as time moves on. This process is called habituation (3) – it’s a scientifically proven thing!  

I am going to use a non-food example to explain habituation. Imagine buying a new top that you love. When you first wear it, it feels exciting! Maybe you even wear it more than normal at first, however, after time it heads into the draw with all of your other clothes. It still feels nice to wear at times, but you’re not obsessed with it like you were at first. The same happens with food. When we allow it in, we get used to it and whilst it may still taste good, it becomes less exciting. 

Let’s look at an example… 

Say chocolate is your “forbidden” or “bad” food that you feel obsessed with. You need to be specific about the brand, type and flavour of chocolate. Because if you’re introducing chocolate buttons, chocolate biscuits, chocolate toffees, chocolate icing all at once it will take you 4 x as long to become habitualised to it. Be specific about the brand a flavour!  

Next, plan out when you would like to practice eating it whilst giving that chocolate your undivided attention. Perhaps at a time when you’re not too vulnerable (I.e. stressed, tired or hungry). 30-60 minutes after a meal is a good time. Practice eating that food paying attention with all the senses. As an intuitive eating coach, this is where I guide my clients through a mindful eating exercise. It’s amazing to hear what flavours, textures, smells and emotions people notice when they pay attention. Eating mindfully and without judgement allows my clients to identify firstly, whether they actually like the food, and secondly, how much of that food is necessary for them to find the point of satisfaction.

Stopping food obsession can take time, but it’s possible when we stop restricting ourselves. It takes time to feel comfortable allowing “forbidden” foods back into our life – particularly if we’ve been a victim of diet culture for many years. It’s not something that has to be perfect or done all at once. It is a process to help you realise that you can trust your body and realise that food doesn’t have to control you. Once you stop restricting, the food obsession will diminish and you can start to enjoy all the fun things in life again.  

References 

  1. Polivy, J. (1996). Psychological Consequences of Food Restriction. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 96(6), 589-592. doi:10.1016/s0002-8223(96)00161-7 
  1. Derenne, J. L., & Beresin, E. V. (2006). Body image, media, and eating disorders. Academic Psychiatry, 30(3), 257-261. Retrieved from https://link-springer-com.libraryproxy.griffith.edu.au/article/10.1176%2Fappi.ap.30.3.257
  1. Epstein, L. H., Temple, J. L., Roemmich, J. N., & Bouton, M. E. (2009). Habituation as a determinant of human food intake. Psychological Review, 116(2), 384-407. doi:10.1037/a0015074 

 

Am I addicted to sugar?

RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD Am I addicted to sugar? KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian 1st May 2019 I am often asked by clients whether sugar addiction is a real thing and if so, whether they should go cold turkey to quit.  Quitting seems logical solution, given that...

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How To Start Intuitive Eating

How To Start Intuitive Eating

RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD

How to Start Intuitive Eating

KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian

March 20th 2019

Just the other day I found myself talking to someone in a coffee shop about how to start Intuitive Eating. She was not a client or someone I knew, but just a very nice lady who wanted to know more about my work as an Intuitive Eating Counsellor, and how I help people break up with dieting. This lady had experienced firsthand, that diets don’t work. She asked me quite simply, “so how do I start Intuitive Eating?”  

It was a simple enough question, but it caught me off guard because usually I have a little more time to answer this in detail during my 1:1 consultations with clients.  

As there are 10 principles that guide Intuitive Eating, I wasn’t about to go through each one detailing the research and theory behind it (our coffees would have been cold by that point!)… so instead I discussed with her five practical steps she could take on how to start intuitive eating. 

And now I’m sharing these with you too in a little more detail.  

Step 1: Detox your social media feeds 

As we already know, we live in a world where thinness is preferred and as such, our social media feeds are usually dominated by thin, white, privileged people perpetuating the thin ideal.  

Research tells us that we need to avoid or challenge this type of imagery because of the association between being exposed to unrealistic, thin-idealised images and body dissatisfaction (Tiggemann, 2015). 

So, it’s time to get ruthless and unfollow anyone who: 

  • Promotes a balanced diet but say they need to “burn off the calories” after eating pizza  
  • Gives nutrition advice but does not have appropriate qualifications  
  • Talks about “tracking macros 
  • Tells us that sticking to a diet just requires “willpower” 
  • Categorises food as good and bad 
  • Uses terms like “eat clean” or eating whole foods” 

Now that those people are no longer popping up on your screen, it’s time to start following body positivity superstars who are changing the conversation.  

Accounts like @bodyposipanda @themilitantbaker @yrfatfriend @mskelseymiller @isabelfoxenduke @thelindywest @calliethorpe @nerdabouttown @bodyimagemovement@sofiehagendk @bodypositivememes @glitterandlazers 

Step 2: Stop labelling foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ 

This can be really hard to do when we live in a diet culture where food is given a moralistic value.  

That is, foods that are seen to be associated with thinness and guiltlessness = good.  

And any food that doesn’t fall in this category = bad.  

And that’s where we start restricting and forbidding the “bad” foods … which ultimately leads to deprivation.  

This leads to biological cravings for said forbidden food. 

Which leads to a bingeing episode, guilt and starting another diet to be “good”. 

And so, the cycle continues.  

To create a healthy relationship with food, we have to stop describing food in moralistic terms. Because you know what? There is not one food that will make us thin or fat, healthy or unhealthy. 

Does this sound familiar? 

Step 3: Stop trying to control your weight

 

We know what the evidence says about this. It says that dieting and restricting food for the purposes of controlling weight does not work long term. There is not one scientific study that shows this.  

Why? Because of the set point weight. This is the weight that our body works very hard to maintain (usually within a range of 4-5kgs) to carry out all the necessary functions to keep us alive. When we’re not swinging between doughnut land (i.e. being bad), and diet land (i.e. being good), our weight settles at it natural set point. This weight range is already pre-determined, largely by genetics. In fact, it’s estimated that our weight is about 70% determined by our genetics. 

If we start messing with our set point weight through dieting, it starts to put a strain on our body and impact on how well it can do its job. Lynda, a lifestyle coach, explains this analogy really nicely in a short 3-minute video here 

There are a few ways your body does this: 

  • We have internal body cues that tell us when we’re hungry and full to ensure that we eat according to our needs.  
  • Our metabolism slows if our body senses starvation to conserve muscle and energy stores 
  • Biological chemicals (Neuropeptide Y & Ghrelin hormones) are released more rapidly to drive us to eat when our bodies are in famine.  

So, as you can see, when we try to lose weight in a restrictive manner (and drop below the set point weight range), our body works damn hard to put that weight back on asap.  

In essence, diets make us work against ourselves and paradoxically, we end up achieving the exact opposite of what we wanted in the first place. Argh! 

Step 4: Find movement that you love and that makes you feel good 

It’s time to ditch the rigid exercise plans and start moving your body because of how great it feels! Now it doesn’t matter if you’re not immediately jumping out of bed wanting to strap your joggers on again. 

If exercising has never been joyful, it may be for a few reasons: 

  • It was often associated with dieting. And when the diet failed, so too did the exercise. 
  • You had bad experiences as a child being made to exercise when you didn’t want to; and/or 
  • You were always pushed by others to exercise and therefore have always rebelled those people.  

To help you get back out there, here are a few things you can do to change your mindset: 

a. Focus on how exercising makes you feel, rather than thinking about the calories that are being burned.  

Think about how you feel after exercise – Energy levels? Confidence? Stress levels? Sleep? Note how you feel when you exercise and when you do not exercise. The positives you feel after exercise is often enough to get you back out there, because why would you not want to do something that makes you feel so wonderful! 

b. Separate exercise from previous weight loss attempts 

It is well established that physical activity provides positive health benefits over the long term. It has positive impacts on metabolism and preserving lean muscle mass, yet doesn’t really have much of an impact on weight loss. So, if you’re attempting to lose weight solely by exercise, it can be easy to lose motivation when you don’t see “progress”. It’s time to start viewing exercise as beneficial for improving quality of life and stave off disease, rather than as a weight loss tool. It increases bone strength, improves heart and lung function, decreases blood pressure, increases metabolism, improves cholesterol levels, improves satiety cues, improves mood, reduces chronic disease risk and delays cognitive decline associated with ageing (Chaput et al, 2011).  

c. Make exercise fun 

Find something that you enjoy and start out slowly. There is no need to follow a rigid exercise plan that forces you meet certain physical activity targets. You just move when you have the time and when you feel like it! Whether it’s going for a walk around the block while listening to your favourite music or podcast, walking to a bus stop that’s one stop further away from your destination or dancing around the house. Whatever it is, it all counts towards exercise. And when you start your joyful movement, also remember to have rest days if your body feels tired. The last thing you want to is to experience burnout, which is another side effect from dieting world.   

Step 5: Honour your biological hunger 

One of the most important steps to break free from dieting and food worry, is to recognise when you’re hungry. To really start listening to your inner body signals, get into the habit of asking yourself, “am I hungry?” each time you go to eat. You could even keep a little diary like the one below. 

If you’re allowing yourself to get to a point where you’re simply too hungry, of course you are going to have the urge to want to binge, or eat past the point that feels comfortable. At this point, we think we can’t stop binge eating, or that we need emotional eating help, when in fact, it’s just biological hunger.   

Think about on a scale of 0-10 how hungry you are, with 0 being starved to 10 feeling completely stuffed (aka Christmas lunch, need-to-loosen-belt stuffed). If we’ve been victim to previous dieting attempts, it’s highly likely that you were told to mask your hunger by drinking coffee or diet coke. Well now it’s time to pause and tune in to where you sit on the scale which looks something like this… 

1) Beyond Hungry (not even hungry anymore) 
2) You would eat anything put in front of you.  
3) Hungry – the urge to eat is strong 
4) A little hungry. You can wait, but need to eat soon.  
5) Neutral. Not hungry, or full.  
6) No longer hungry. You sense food in your stomach, but could definitely eat more.  
7) Comfortable, could quite easily stop here. 
8) Not too uncomfortable, but definitely very full. 
9) Moving into uncomfortable. 
10) Very uncomfortable – Christmas dinner stuffed. 

As a starting point, see if you can figure out what a 3, 4 or 5 level of hunger might feel like. It might be more than just tummy rumbling, as hunger can affect energy levels, cognitive function and mood (we don’t use the term ‘hangry’ for no reason!)  

In fact, you could feel one or a combination of the following: 

  • Stomach growling 
  • Mild gurgling or gnawing in the stomach 
  • Feeling lightheaded or faint 
  • Foggy brain – difficult to focus on work 
  • Uncomfortable pains in the stomach
  • Irritability 
  • Headache  

It usually feels good to start eating at a 3 or a 4, but explore for yourself, keeping a little diary like the one below.   

 

Well that’s my top 5 strategies on how to start Intuitive Eating. It’s not about getting any of these things perfect, but instead chipping away so that barriers start to come down. Be kind to yourself and allow plenty of time to see how you can apply these steps each day. This is about making progress towards healing your relationship with food, not striving for a perfect diet (which by the way, doesn’t exist).  

If you would like more information on how to stop binge eating, how to stop food obsession, how to stop emotional eating, and how to start intuitive eating, check out my free audio recording. It provides you with 7 actionable steps on how to start intuitive eating, with an actionable workbook.  

References 

Chaput, J., Klingenberg, L., Rosenkilde, M., Gilbert, J., Tremblay, A., & Sjödin, A. (2011). Physical Activity Plays an Important Role in Body Weight Regulation. Journal of Obesity, 2011, 1-11. doi:10.1155/2011/360257 

Tiggemann, M. (2015). Considerations of positive body image across various social identities and special populations. Body Image, 14, 168-176. doi:10.1016/j.bodyim.2015.03.002 

 

 

Am I addicted to sugar?

RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD Am I addicted to sugar? KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian 1st May 2019 I am often asked by clients whether sugar addiction is a real thing and if so, whether they should go cold turkey to quit.  Quitting seems logical solution, given that...

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My journey to becoming an Intuitive Eating Dietitian

My journey to becoming an Intuitive Eating Dietitian

RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD

My journey to becoming an Intuitive Eating Dietitian (i.e. not selling weight loss). 

KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian

January 10th 2019

I’ve been a Dietitian for nearly 6 years (and studied Nutrition for 5 years)… That’s almost 11 years in the Nutrition Industry. You may be wondering why only recently have I started going (what looks like) against the grain and stopped selling “weight loss” – however you jazz it up. 

How can someone just switch like that?

Well it’s been a journey, and quite a rocky one! I totally understand why it’s hard to get your head around not focusing on weight loss as a main goal, when we live in a culture that’s telling us left, right and centre that we need to be thinner to be healthier, happier and more successful. It’s taken me a year and a half to get my head around, and I’ve done degrees in this stuff! 

As a Dietitian, part and parcel of the job is to continuously reflect on my learning, keep up with, and critically review the latest research and maintain flexibility in my practice. That’s exactly what I’ve had to do.

This is what I’ve learnt…

For the last 5 years, I have supported clients through weight loss (amongst many other conditions) both in the NHS, and privately. They were never sold or promised a diet, rather it was about making small ‘lifestyle changes’ to improve health. However, weight was nearly always at the centre of the conversation about health. 

Of approximately 200 clients, I would say 90% of them succeeded at achieving their goal… pretty incredible. They were sold beautiful tailored plans to stick to. The weight would fall off, and they would feel amazing.

However, as time went on (weeks, months and even years), the weight would come piling back on. They would feel out of control, and didn’t know what to do about it. They blamed themselves for lack of willpower and not being able to ‘stay on plan’ again. They of course would come back to me. The person they could trust. The person that helped them do it the first time.

As this happened more and more, I knew there must be something else going on. So I delved into the research, and linked up with various other professionals. That’s where I discovered a whole new area of non-diet nutrition. New research papers, new ways of practicing, and other professionals who had been through the same experience as me. Unfortunately, the non-diet Dietitians voice is not as loud as the weight loss message.

At first I felt confused and decided to shut out this whole area of dietetics. It went against a lot of what I knew and preached, and would discredit a lot of work I had done with individuals. But I couldn’t ignore it. It was on my shoulders, haunting me. The more I read into it, the more I freaked out and went back to what I knew and was comfortable with… that was weight loss and telling people what to eat or not eat.

I feel a little angry that I hadn’t learnt about this sooner. How could I obtain a first class degree from the top UK University in Nutrition Dietetics (King’s College London) and a distinction in my Masters in Clinical Research, but had never been opened up to this? 

I now understand that it’s because most of this work is being done in the USA, Australia and Canada. It’s soon to seep into UK university courses. 

As we look at the research to date, there is not one single study that supports sustained weight loss. Take that in for a moment… not one single study! 80-95% of those who lose weight, regain it within 5yrs, and 30-60% of those people, end up at a higher weight that first started.

So putting weight loss at the centre of changing health, is really like fighting a losing battle, and it can actually make peoples health worse. It’s ineffective, and unjust. I no longer feel comfortable supporting people through (what I now know) is such a painful and unnecessary journey.

You can read more about why diets don’t work here.

So what do I do instead? 

Non-diet nutrition is not about neglecting health or suggesting a ‘free for all’. It’s about improving physical and psychological wellbeing, without putting body weight at the centre. It does this by:

  • Putting your weight on the back burner, tackling your food problems, and letting your weight do its thing. Your weight will settle where it’s most happy. Usually the place where your weight falls back to in between diets. 
  • Getting back in touch with your natural body signals (which are there – albeit buried somewhere), to help you determine what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat.
  • Encouraging body acceptance (rather than spending a lifetime trying to fight biology).
  • Encouraging exercising for pleasure (rather than hitting to gym to burn off the cookies you at yesterday).

This is taught by an evidence based approach called Intuitive Eating. This approach is associated with a number of health benefits which include; lower Body Mass Index (BMI), weight stability, improved dietary variety, improved blood fats and blood pressure, and improvements in self esteem and depression.

I help you:

– Find peace and enjoyment from all foods, free from rules and restrictions.

– Get rid of the battle in your head around what you think you should/shouldn’t be eating so that you can have a normal relationship with food.

– Get back in touch with the best tool to tell you what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat… that’s your own body! Yes – it can give you ALL the information you need. A bit like how your bladder tells you need to pee or not to pee. You have all of these tools, I just help you find them again.

– Improve your physical and mental health, without trying to manipulate your weight, no matter your shape or size.

– By providing the most simple, up-to-date nutrition information to empower you to make changes to your health. We factor in all the other things that impact us, like stress, sleep, planning, socialising etc.  

I am not anti-weight loss. I am anti-pursuit of weight loss. I believe it’s important for professionals to be transparent in order for you to make an informed decision. I am disagree with:

  • Professionals promoting that ‘non-diet’ but sell weight loss.
  • Professionals that sell weight loss, without informing you from the side effects that will likely occur (binge eating, rebound weight gain, loss of muscle mass, disordered eating, shame, guilt and anxiety when the weight comes back on). 

Despite this being a more difficult journey, I do not for one minute regret the shift in my practice. When you turn the lights on in the room, and see a new perspective, it’s impossible to go back. So I am in this to truly help you heal your relationship with food and your body, so you can get on with things that matter in life.

Am I addicted to sugar?

RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD Am I addicted to sugar? KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian 1st May 2019 I am often asked by clients whether sugar addiction is a real thing and if so, whether they should go cold turkey to quit.  Quitting seems logical solution, given that...

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Does eating organic food lower your risk of cancer?

Does eating organic food lower your risk of cancer?

NONSENSE STRIPPING

Does eating organic food lower your risk of cancer?

KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian

29th October 2018

Do any of the following sound familiar?

– You always buy organic food where possible. 

– You buy organic food when you can afford it because you’ve heard it’s healthier. 

– You’re not really sure whether you should be buying organic, especially when they can cost 10% to 100% more than food grown under conventional conditions.

Last week in the headlines, the Mail Online, The Sun, and The Times (to name a few) stated that eating organic food could reduce our risk of cancer. This headline came off the back of a recently published French study. The media took the findings at face value without acknowledging other factors that could have potentially influenced the results. 

In this article I am going to offer the truth about organic food and cancer, so you can make an informed decision. 

What does ‘organic’ actually mean?

Organic food is any food that is produced by an overall system of farm management and food production that complies with a set of standards set out by European LawThe EU standards are currently under review. The standards vary across the world, but in general they combine practices that promote ecological balance, conserve biodiversity and strive to cycle resources. The use of pesticides, fertilisers, irradiation and food additives is usually restricted.

Organic production plays two main societal roles. On the one hand, it provides for a specific market and responds to consumer demand. On the other hand, it delivers publicly available goods that contribute to the protection of the environment and animal welfare, as well as to rural development

“Foods may be labelled “organic” only if at least 95% of their ingredients meet the necessary standards.”

What was the research?

The large French study questioned 69,000 French adult volunteers on their consumption of organic food and followed them over 4.5 years to see how many developed cancer. Other studies have identified the potential benefits of eating an organic diet, such as lowered level of pesticides in urine samples. However, few studies have looked at the potential link with cancer. That’s what made this study so exciting to the media.

Data were collected online, via a website based platform. The study participants were asked to provide information on how often they ate 16 labelled organic products. They were also asked to complete three 24-hour food recalls (writing out what they had eaten in the last 24-hours).

What did they find?

In total, 1,340 (2%) of the study participants developed cancer. The cancers developed, included breast cancer (34%), prostate cancer (13%), skin cancer (10%) and bowel cancer (7%). More specifically, significant (notable) links were found between postmenopausal breast cancer, lymphomas overall, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma specifically.

Consumption of organic food was more common among:

  • women
  • those with a higher education or occupational status
  • those who did more physical activity and who had healthier diets in general

The researchers found that people who ate the most organic food, had a 25% reduced risk of cancer, compared to those who ate less.

 

What does this mean?

Despite the encouraging media reports, this study does not prove that eating organic food will protect you against cancer.

Why?

Although this study used a large sample size there were a number of limitations deeming the results not as positive as the media make out.

1) There are a number of potential factors that could explain this link that could be interfering with the results. Other important factors such as high income or physical activity level are especially important when studying the health benefits of organic food, because eating organic is associated with lots of things that also help you live a longer, healthier life. 

In other words, people who regularly eat organic food tend to have other lifestyle factors and habits that could easily lower cancer risk as well. Even within just this one study, high organic food consumption was associated with higher income, having a better job, being more active, eating more fruits and veggies, and eating less meat and processed food.

Those are all things that make you more likely to stay healthy than those who can’t afford to take such good care of themselves.

2) The study results were based on volunteers who are already pretty health conscious individuals. This makes it difficult to transfer the findings to other groups of people aside from middle-aged well educated French women who already exhibit healthy behaviours.

3) There are limitations to self- reported food intake. The intake of foods was not actually measured, rather it was reported on an online survey. Also, organic food intake was recorded at a single point in time and self-reported. This may be inaccurate and not reflect lifetime habits.

4) Observational studies (which observe groups of people over time) such as this, are useful for exploring potential links. However, they can’t prove a true cause and effect, as other health and lifestyle factors could be having an influence.

5) Cancers still developed among people who ate the most organic food – it’s just there were fewer cases (269 vs 360 among those eating the least amount of organic food). So even if there is a direct link, eating organic food is not guaranteed protection against cancer.

In summary

The researchers conclude: “A higher frequency of organic food consumption was associated with a reduced risk of cancer. Although the study findings need to be confirmed, promoting organic food consumption in the general population could be a promising preventive strategy against cancer.”

This study is a valuable investigation into potential links between eating organic food and cancer risk. However, the author’s conclusion may be a little premature. Other large and high-quality research has identified no association with overall cancer incidence. This study alone cannot prove that eating organic food will prevent you from getting cancer.

So, if you prefer organic food that’s fine, but there is no strong evidence that it makes a positive difference to our health. There is however, strong evidence that they make a dint in your monthly bank statement! 

References – in links throughout the text. 

Am I addicted to sugar?

RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD Am I addicted to sugar? KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian 1st May 2019 I am often asked by clients whether sugar addiction is a real thing and if so, whether they should go cold turkey to quit.  Quitting seems logical solution, given that...

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Juice & Detox Diets – All you need to know

Juice & Detox Diets – All you need to know

RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD

Juice Detox Diets – All you need to know

KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian

19th November 2018

When trying to lose weight, it may feel like an easier option to go for the quick fix of a detox diet or juice cleanse for a few days.

Whilst they aren’t particularly enjoyable, there may be some pros. 

1) You get to take time off work and do nothing, because the headaches, fatigue, irritability, and potentially messed up stools mean you will not be wanting to leave home!

2) You drink less alcohol, caffeine, and more water! You also probably eat more fruits and vegetables than normal.

That’s about it! 

The reality of how the Detox Diet cycle goes:

1) You feel bad about your body/self

This feeling can occur when you’ve overindulged over a holiday period (e.g. bank holiday, family holiday, Christmas, birthday, easter), OR, you have an event coming up like a wedding, holiday, party, or just summer in general and want to feel better.

2) You decide to go on a detox diet as you believe this will make you feel good

It’s also quick, easy to follow, and way more exciting than “everything in moderation” that you may hear from a registered dietitian or healthcare professional. 

You sift the internet or speak to friends/colleagues about what juices/cleanses may have worked for them. In fact, 20% of young people head to YouTube for nutrition advice these days, and apparently, if it’s backed up by a health blogger, then that’s all the evidence needed – sigh! You then buy overpriced supplements or juice cleanse packs that are not backed up by science.

Examples of the fads… 

3) Restrict and deprive yourself for a period of time

This could be 5 days, 10 days or more… it depends on which detox plan you get your hands on. It’s not expected you will be productive, be able to concentrate or be a nice person during this period! You will spend much of your time irritable, with headaches, or asleep!

 

4) Break the diet, or emerge from your cleanse, overeat or eat anything but is in the boundaries set in your diet

You emerge from your hibernation from food, with a little less fluid and muscle mass than you did at the start. You learn that chewing food actually feels quite good, it’s sociable, tasty, and gives you the energy and nourishment you need to be your best!

 

5) Feel guilty/ashamed/distressed about this whole cycle, which may feed back into point number 2…and the cycle continues. 

Once you’ve broken the cleanse or diet, you feel a failure… not ever considering that the diet actually failed you!! You may then start the cycle again at point 2, or if you have done this enough times, you reach out for some proper advice. Something realistic, tailored, and sustainable!

 

If you are fed up with battling with your weight, or binge eating, emotional eating, stress eating, yo-yo dieting, 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. 

Useful links:

The Truth About Detox Diets 

Am I addicted to sugar?

RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD Am I addicted to sugar? KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian 1st May 2019 I am often asked by clients whether sugar addiction is a real thing and if so, whether they should go cold turkey to quit.  Quitting seems logical solution, given that...

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