by Linn Thorstensson | Mar 15, 2023 | blog, healing, mindful eating
Have you ever heard the term “Last Supper Mentality”? I bet that even if you haven’t heard the term before, you have probably engaged in it, at least if you have ever prepared for any kind of diet.
“Last Supper Eating” is the eating that happens *before* intentional attempts of restriction. It can also be seasonal like Easter, when the chocolate bunnies are out in full force and you are gearing up for another diet to start a “get beach ready” diet as soon as Easter is done, which might mean that you end up eating more chocolate than what you had planned or what even feels good, just because in the back of your mind you know that chocolate will be off the menu for the coming weeks. So that means best to get in some extra now!
Like one of my recent Reclaiming Body Trust participants said “you do more damage in that anticipatory eating leading up to the next diet than when you are not restricting”. Revelatory!
Last Supper eating is part of the same Diet-Restrict-Binge cycle where backlash binges usually happens as soon as we finish the diet or when we can no longer keep up the restrictions. The same mechanisms are at play here – restriction. But in this case it is the anticipation of restriction that is driving it.
So how do you move away from “Last Supper Mentality” and this kind of binge eating?
My invitation to you is to explore this: What if restriction is not the answer?
What happens when you sit with this question? What comes up for you? What are you feeling in your body?
Restricting food, food rules, diet plans and any other variation of these often feel like safety. And it is really hard to let go of something that feels, on some level, that it would threaten our survival.
And… at the same time, at some point, we may arrive at a place where the cost of continuing dieting over and over, is simply too high and that it is time to do something different.
But if not Dieting then what?
For me I did arrive at a point where I could not put myself through that restrictive misery One.More.Time. As I stood on the scales for the umpteenth time and expected it to tell me that I deserved to be happy I had a lightbulb moment!
Why did I give so much power to this inanimate object? I didn’t have to wait to be happy until I weighted x kg /lb. It was something that I could give to myself now. Perhaps there where other ways to find happiness that had nothing to do with the scales?
Ever since that day I have been on a quest to find happiness that is not tied to what my body looks like.
Diet Culture keeps telling us that if our bodies just look a certain way, life will be good. And that’s not to say that living in a smaller body might not make life easier due to the privileges that can bring.
However, things that losing weight does guarantee us is this: health, friendships, intimate relationships, happiness, joy, contentment, creativity, freedom.
I get that the idea of giving up dieting can feel scary, especially if your eating feels chaotic right now.
Here’s a suggestion to start with: Take a sheet of paper, fold it down the middle and then write down all the benefits of being on a diet on one side and on the other side write down all of the costs of dieting.
Which list is longer? Are there any benefits that would be still beneficial even if weight loss was not the outcome main outcome? If so, are there ways to reach these that does not hyper focus on altering your body size / weight?
I hope this was helpful to explore letting go of those things that no longer serves you.
Disordered eating, dieting, restriction, and emotional eating is rooted in wisdom and the coping skills that came from it were helpful at one time, but they may no longer serve you now.
Separating the idea that your body must look a certain way to be worthy of care, food, love, belonging might feel new AND radical. That is because it is.
Living in a culture that places certain bodies in a hierarchy over others makes it radical to take up space and letting yourself live fully and unapologetically as you.
It doesn’t mean that a) You are not worthy to do so. You are worthy simply because you exists. And b) this is something that is only possible for others. It is possible for you too.
by Linn Thorstensson | Feb 7, 2023 | blog, healing, mindful eating, Nutritional Therapist
I have been thinking about this question for a while. In one way it seems like a really straightforward question. If you have gotten a diagnosis of an eating disorder, seems the most obvious time.
But it is not always easy to get a diagnosis. If you don’t meet the criteria, you may think that things are “fine”, or that you’re not “sick enough” and deserve support.
When we are feeling like our whole lives are consumed by thinking about food and obsessing about our appearance, and when this is holding us back from living our lives in ways we otherwise would, is the time to get some support with our relationship with food eating and your body.
Given that so much of our culture has normalised what is actually pretty disordered (due to fatphobia and weight stigma), this seemingly easy question is a bit more complex than expected.
One thing which is common is the idea that people who struggle with food and body image looks a certain way (young, thin, white and emaciated). This is not true at all.
People of all shapes and sizes and ages can struggle with many of (often normalised) disordered eating behaviours.
When I was in the midst of my own struggles, I kept searching for the “right diet” that would help me gain control over my eating. I tried all sorts. From hypnotherapy CD for weight loss, to Slim-fast shakes, Unislim (like WeightWatchers) and some other dubious things.
I eventually felt so out of control that I did reach out to a local dietitian but never got started with sessions. I also considered therapy around this time but again it never happened.
Life seemed to just evolve around food, dieting and binge eating. Feeling bloated, uncomfortable and down right miserable.
Around this time I also read lots of books, and eventually I must somehow made my way from the diet books to some type of non-diet approach, but I can’t remember any one specific title. However I did have an awakening and realised HOW MUCH of my self-worth I had tied up with the scales. It is incredible just how much power we can hand over to this metal subject…!
Eventually I got off the scales, which was the starting point for me (it might be something else for you) and began the journey of making peace with food, eating and my body.
A journey that will always be ongoing, however I am happy to say that I am now in a place where it sometimes feels alien to think back to how bad and painful things actually were.
I was never officially diagnosed with an eating disorder, but I may have met the criteria for binge eating disorder (BED) at some point when things were at its worst. But this was before 2013 and BED was not an official diagnose in the DSM-V at that time anyway.
Because what actually is dis-ordered eating behaviours but that our society has “normalised” when in comes to food and eating, I think it might be worth pointing them out.
It is also worth nothing that disordered eating exists on a spectrum and you may experience some of these and not all of them. And things might not be so severe that it ticks all the boxes for an official diagnosis, it doesn’t matter, you still deserve to be living your life free of food and body obsession.
Things that we DO NOT have to live with are:
- Constantly thinking about food 24/7
- Being on and off diets
- Weighing yourself daily and the scale dictating your mood and how the day goes
- Weighing foods to portion control
- Bingeing when you come off your diet / food restriction
- Feeling out of control around food and not trusting yourself and your body
- Not keeping certain foods in the house but still bingeing on them
- Feeling overly anxious if your food is not “clean” or whole foods only
- Exercising for the sole reason to burn calories and to compensate for food intake
- Not going out with friend and family because of food anxiety
- Avoiding events because of how you feel about your body
- Not doing things because you worry about what others think about your body
It really doesn’t have to be this way! Things CAN and WILL get better, and often we need a little support from someone else to get us there.
If this is where you are currently at it might be difficult to imagine that things CAN be different and get better. What waits on the other side of food and body concerns? Food Freedom, Body Trust 😊
This can look and feel like:
- Saying yes to lunches and meals out with friends
- Not being worried about travelling because you are comfortable eating whatever is on offer
- Wearing clothes that makes you feel good in the body you have now
- Being fully present with the people you love
- Having more brain space to engage in hobbies and relationships that has meaning and value to you
- Having more energy and feeling less anxious
Food freedom means having greater flexibility with food and eating and body trust means that we can trust ourselves and our bodies and to care for ourselves in a nourishing and supportive ways.
This is what I wish for you too.
Ready to explore what doing the work to take you there can look like? Between where you are now and where you can potentially get to there are steps and sometimes having some guidance and support alongside you on this journey can be helpful.
Please book in for a free 30min Exploration Call with me here to explore what support might be helpful for you
by Linn Thorstensson | Jan 4, 2023 | blog
For a long time, before I became a nutritionist I had my own struggles with food, weight and my body. I wanted it to be smaller. I wanted to lose weight. And it was not until many years later, with hindsight and more learning (and unlearning!) that I could see what it was I was looking for by trying to lose weight.
It was this messy, disordered relationship with food, eating and my body which lead me to this current career. But I wasn’t always firmly planted in the non-diet, weight inclusive camp. In fact, some of my early business cards had the tag line “Lose weight without dieting” on them. This was before I understood that, that concept in of itself is an oxymoron.
If we are pursuing weight loss intentionally then we are dieting by default. I am not against people who wants to lose weight, but I am against the harm that the Diet Industry and Diet Culture causes.
Many of my clients come, still, with the desire to lose weight, even though I am always up front saying that a) I have no idea how your body will respond when healing your relationship with food and b) It is ok to want to lose weight, but we are not actively going to work on making that happen as it is antithetical to healing your relationship with food.
I am guessing that you are not unlike many of the awesome people I have had the great pleasure of working with over the past decade that when asked what they are hoping to achieve by weight loss, or trying to maintain any weight lost (but struggling to do so) tends to be:
- Feelings of being successful
- Feelings attractiveness to the opposite sex
- Feeling confident
- Being healthy
- Improve levels of fitness
- Feeling happy
When we look the desire to lose weight through this lens it makes sense. This it is very much the message that we are being sold by Diet Culture and the multi billon dollar industry that goes with it. You are not bad or wrong for wanting any of those things.
It is just that when we are hinging our entire sense of self-worth on something as changeable as our bodies, we will always be in shaky ground…
When I asked people what their biggest fear of gaining weight was, it was:
- Fear of being judged
- What people might think of me
- In accessible clothing options
- Being shamed and feeling shame
These answers shows that the when the desire to lose weight is not about feeling successful or healthy it is about belonging to the group, about feeling accepted and not being outcast for being seen as different or “other”.
This also makes sense when held against a backdrop of worshiping thinness and explicit and implicit weight prejudice.
And then there is all of these that I also think you want when turning towards dieting:
- Feeling in control (when other areas of life is chaotic)
- Feeling safe
- Feeling loved
- Feeling like you belong to the group
- Escape from weight stigma
You then end up in this crazy and challenging double bind, as you are reaching for dieting and it isn’t giving you what you are looking for. And it sucks, of course it does.
Sure, maybe you do feel that elation when your body is shrinking, until you begin to feel miserable because you are trying to eat less than what your body is asking for. Lower energy, headaches, low mood, less ability to concentrate. And the rebound eating and weight gain (that inevitably happens) because your body is trying its hardest to keep you alive.
Oh and to top it all off, you probably also feel like it is all your fault. That if you just had more will power or tried a different diet, it wouldn’t be this way.
It doesn’t have to be this way. There is hope, but it won’t be found in another diet.
We can work several of the things that you are hoping that dieting will give you, without the need to restrict anything.
Want to work on health promoting behaviours? No problem. What can you ADD in? More colourful vegetables? Drinking more water? Taking some helpful supplements (or meds)?
Want to work on your fitness? What could that look like if you did that without making it about trying to shrink your body? Working on strength? Or flexibility. Or perhaps you have a goal of climbing a mountain or running a 5k / 10k / half marathon?
Want to feel more in control? Sometimes we can do this through planning and with structure. Perhaps you need to set some boundaries? Saying no, instead of yes? Sometimes life is just incredibly messy, painful and chaotic and what we need is to give ourselves grace, compassion and to do the best we can with what we have.
Wanting to feel loved and safe are basic human needs. Perhaps something needs to change in your environment? Do you need to walk away from a destructive relationship? Change job? Get support through therapy?
You deserve to feel love and to feel safe, regardless of what your body looks like. A diet might feel like a solution, as controlling food is something tangible. But it comes with unpleasant side effects (that few people like to talk about).
I have seen it, time and time again that people enter this work still with the hope of changing their body but leave with a newfound gratitude and connection to it. Body Trust. Body kindness. Instead of continuing to fight their body, they realise what it can feel like being on the same team.
Maybe this is hard to imagine from where you are right now, but things can be different.
This is what some of my past clients have said:
“A fascinating journey of self discovery and acceptance. There was a positive shift towards inner peace and perception. I feel I have a useful set of tools to move forward with courage and happiness. Sincere thanks to Linn for her support and insight.”
“Linn is patient, kind, and informative. For me she created a non-judgemental, safe environment during her sessions which allowed me to discuss my issues whilst also exploring potential remedies. I cannot recommend Linn enough, she was excellent in helping me.”
“I have really enjoyed my learning experience with Linn. I feel like I have a fresh, kinder, more patient perspective on how I am improving my health. Thank you Linn.”
“ I now trust my body, with my emotions, with my hunger and with food. This is a revelation and something that has enhanced my life no end!”
If you are looking to try something different, if you are looking for eating disorder recovery, or just want a different relationship with food, rather than just doing one more diet, then let’s talk!
I am inviting you to schedule a 30min introductory discovery call here to see how us working together could look like.
And also thank you for being here. Together we can build a new weight inclusive world.
by Linn Thorstensson | Dec 13, 2022 | blog
The fear of weight gain alongside the desire to lose weight is the most common thing I see in my clinical practice. Not everyone in my clinic wants to lose weight but almost everyone fears gaining weight. It is present in clients regardless of body size.
The fear of gaining weight is something that is incredibly important to explore and unpack as you are healing your relationship with food, eating and your body. I don’t believe that we can just work on our relationship with food without also looking at how weight and our relationship to weight / body size / fatness plays a role. This of course also means that we need to look at Diet Culture, and the deeper roots of Diet Culture.
So why are so scared to gain weight? And how do we get through that fear of weight gain?
The short answer: Weight stigma and internalised fat phobia
First of all I want to acknowledge your feelings, and second of all I want to acknowledge the fact that this blog post will fall short of all of the intricacies of this question, which is why I have listed a list of resources at the end to add to this and to invite you to go deeper.
Thirdly, I want to acknowledge my own thin privilege. Though I have held a lot of internalised fat phobia for decades, I have not lived in a body which has been discriminated because of size.
When I think back, I can remember times, even as a pre-teen being conscious of my body and what other people might think of it, and how thinking that it was too big. Where and when did I learn that?
Where and when did you learn that your body was a problem?
It is cited that girls as young as five are body conscious and by the time they are 10 they will either have dieted or is thinking about dieting. Where do they get this message?
As kids our developmental stages are such that we cannot easily differentiate between what is not about us and what is us. We make everything about us, because this is how our brain functions at that time in our life. There can be a lot of diet messaging in the family (common), and there is also a lot of sneaky subtle messages in kids’ books and films about how certain body types are more preferred and better than others, so no wonder we internalise this message!
Weight stigma hurts everyone, but it hurts people in larger bodies more. This is as a result of direct discrimination such as stereotyping, less chance of getting a higher paid job (despite qualifications), less or no option for comfortable seating in restaurants, hospitals, planes etc.
Others are things like: unsolicited comments on food choices when eating, or body comments simply for walking down the street. This is something people like me in smaller bodies tend to be shielded from, thanks to our thin privilege.
Typical stereotypes of people in lager bodies are: lazy, gluttonous, lack of willpower, stupid, less intelligent amongst a few.
Weight stigma hurts people in smaller bodies too, including those who have lost weight and is now live in a smaller body. If that is you a big part of why you might be afraid of gaining weight is that you if your body gets bigger, chances are you will now be treated like a fat person, which tends to be not very nice at all.
You might have been bullied about your weight in the past or you might have had well-meaning parents or relatives who decided to try and protect you from bullying and instead put you on a diet at a young age.
It makes sense that you will do what you can to try and protect yourself, or someone else from harm. However, dieting in itself is causing harm as it is the leading cause of people developing eating disorders or disordered eating.
Maybe your fear of weight gain is because of health?
Of course if (or when) your body changes, how you experience your body will also change. This is until your proprioception (how you experience your body in space) has adjusted. This tends to be more challenging the more rapid the weight gain is.
The of course there is the whole conversation about health and weight, which is another topic altogether but this article is a great place to start your unlearning about that.
So now what? Let’s look at some tips and strategies to help you navigate fear of weight gain, as it comes up for you on your journey to body trust and food freedom.
– Journal on: If you could eat anything you wanted knowing it would not affect your weight, what would you eat?
– Journal on: When did you learn that your body was wrong?
– Journal on: What would it mean if there was nothing wrong, and nothing to fix?
– Question the stuff that you have internalised.
– Be honest with yourself, are you prepared to spend the rest of your life focused on trying to lose weight or maintaining your weight if it takes over your life?
– Accept that bodies change. They are living breathing beings. Your body will not be a 20 year old’s body when you are 40, or 60.
– Diversify your social media feed to see bodies of all sizes. Body diversity is real, but it is not happening on social media unless you make it happen. Don’t underestimate how powerful this one strategy is to undo some of the internalised messaging around bodies and weight.
– Be kind and compassionate as you are navigating this. A lot of feelings will inevitably come up. Anger, grief, sadness, joy, liberation, and more. Go gently.
– Remember, you can trust your body and show your body that it can trust you too, by feeding it regularly and adequately, doing movement that feels good and rest when needed.
Further resources to read:
More than a Body by Lexie & Lindsay Kite
Reclaiming Body Trust – A path to liberation by Hillary Kinavey & Dana Sturtevant
Body of Truth by Harriet Brown
Fearing the Black Body by Sabrina Strings
What we don’t talk about when we talk about fat by Aubrey Gordon
And if you are looking for some 1:1 Support to navigate this and you relationship with food, eating and your body connect with me here
by Linn Thorstensson | Dec 7, 2022 | blog
So here we are in December and the holiday season is upon us. This time of the year can be a challenging time to navigate, especially if you are just in the beginning of your make-peace-with-food journey.
Food is in abundant supply and so is the media’s continued supply of mixed messages. If you open any women’s magazine you will most likely see a miss mash between “How to bake delicious cookies and sweet treats” to “How to beat the Christmas bulge and look fabulous in the little black dress”.
Years ago, long before I became firmly rooted in a non-diet approach, I both followed and gave out advice such as “ How to stop overeating at Christmas, to prevent weight gain and “How to avoid temptations” (insert face palm here…). Anyway, these days when I know better, I would like to rectify this past advice with something more useful and something that won’t backfire into deprivation driven eating or binge like behaviour, just because diet mentality is reinforced.
The Holiday Season can be challenging to navigate for many reasons, not just food alone, but dealing with family, in-laws etc. and the general stress of this time of year often have their own challenges and if the relationship with particular people are strained normally, the holiday season may not make it any easier. As a result we may turn to food (or alcohol) in order to cope. Don’t beat your self up about it, if this is the case, we all do what we in have to in order to survive.
The hallmark of diet mentality is this All Or Nothing thinking. It is either Good or Bad. Intuitive eating helps us live in the grey (though I prefer to think of it as a rainbow…), where choice and flexibility exists. Of course it may feel easier to roll with an all or nothing approach, sussing out all the nuances in between is so much messier. But it is here, in the mess and the nuance, that peace and freedom resides.
So actually, even though this time of year IS challenging to navigate, between family stuff, diet talk, overwhelm and perhaps fear of how to cope with it all, it can also provide us with rich soil for practice and growth.
These are my five suggestions for How To Navigate The Holiday Season As An Intuitive Eater.
- Give yourself full permission to eat ALL foods
This is the basic tenet of intuitive eating. In order to create space for choice, we have to first let go of all the rigid food rules we’re holding on to. If ALL foods are ‘allowed’ then there’s no reason for feeling guilty for eating anything. If you could have whatever you want of what is on offer, what do YOU want? Pick what you truly enjoy of the seasonal feasts on offer and feel free to say no to the rest. You are don’t have to eat something “just because”.
- Practice honouring your hunger and fullness ques (and don’t arrive to the party starving!)
Now is a prime opportunity to truly listen to your body. Of course there may be some overeating past comfortable fullness, that’s to be expected simply by the share amount of food that tends to be serves on Christmas Day alone. That is totally cool too. Your body knows how to handle it.
And if you are not “saving up calories” but continue with a practice of eating regular meals, there is less chance of inhaling everything in sight, just because you are Starving!
If you can let go of any idea starting (another) diet in January, it will be so much easier to relax into this and to let your body guide you. You are just respecting your body’s cues and that’s that.
- You don’t need to repent anything
Adopt this as a mantra if one of your struggles are with over exercising and/ or a fear of weight gain. Move your body because it feels good to do so. You don’t need to earn food, or burn it off. Not over the Holiday Season or any other time of the year for that matter. Trust that your body know how to regulate itself.
- Set boundaries
Say No, if you have to. Your body, your rules. If you are surrounded by diet talk, try changing the conversation or excuse yourself. Leave if you have to, in order to keep your sanity and if it is too triggering. Also unsubscribe and unfollow all the diet advice that may be still coming your way.
- Rest, Move, Socialise, Eat – Do whatever you need to take care of YOU
Allow yourself some time to do what feels best for you. This may be the greatest gift you can gift yourself. Oh and be gentle with yourself too. Self-kindness and self compassion is always a good idea.
Happy Holidays xx
(All images from Unsplash/ Rawpixels)