by Linn Thorstensson | Apr 1, 2022 | blog, Healthy Treats, mindful eating, mindfulness
It’s been a really long time since I wrote a blog post here and I thought it would be appropriate to come back to blogging by telling you how I became a weight inclusive practitioner and why I practice through a non-diet, weight inclusive lens. If you want to read my personal story how I came to nutrition and decided to study Nutritional Therapy + a bit about my own complicated relationship with food eating on my body, it is here.
A few years into my new career it became quite clear that my passion is less so telling people what they should be eating, but rather helping people find their way back to having an uncomplicated relationship with food, so this means that how I work has evolved and changed over the years.
I learned through my own journey that dieting doesn’t work and that’s giving up the daily ritual weighing myself and handing over my power to the scales to let them dictate how I felt about and in myself allowed me to feel happier. Ditching the scales was the beginning of a journey to much more freedom and joy around food, and it also helped me developing more trust in my body.
Even with this personal experience I still believed that weight loss could be achieved without dieting. Now looking back, I am slightly embarrassed to say that my first set of business cards had the tagline “Lose weight without dieting”… But I suppose we all start our learning somewhere.
What I didn’t understand at the time, and I know that I am not alone in this, is that bodies tend to settle at a place where they feel happy once they are adequately fed, know that there is no more famine and we are at a place when we can meet our basic need of honouring our physical hungers.
The thing is that for some bodies this means they will settle at a place that is outside the “culturally acceptable norm”. This cultural “norm” is highly problematic and also as much a societal construct as anything else, and how we view and treat those bodies that deviate from this “norm” is equally problematic. Because my own body fits reasonably within this culturally accepted size, I realised how much I had been shielded, through my thin privilege, to the oppression, the blatant weight stigma and discrimination that those who don’t fit the culturally acceptable body size is experiencing on an ongoing basis.
Intentional weight loss pursuits does not work. At least not for the vast majority of people, long term. In fact, dieting is incredibly harmful and damaging to our relationship with food and our bodies, and it also harms our metabolism and possibly our physical health. Ongoing restrictions are not conducive to survival. That may be part of the reason why weight gain is typical after a period of dieting.
Research shows that going on a diet is the leading cause of people developing disordered eating and some of these people go on to developing full-blown eating disorders. I was lucky enough that I didn’t end up with a full blown eating disorder, however my eating and my relationship with my body was most certainly messed up for a long time.
Though I don’t feel like my initial foundational training was very weight centric (possibly because of the specific tutors I had), there was definitely some but because I wasn’t that clued in to it, I don’t think I noticed it as much. It was several years after my graduation that I came across the Health At Every Size (HAES) paradigm and taking a non-diet, weight inclusive stance. The idea that ALL bodies deserve respectful care, free from stigma is a given to me. However, I am learning that even the HAES paradigm is leaving some bodies outside the fold, it isn’t a perfect model by all means. However the early creators and fat activists who begun the movement decades ago, have paved the way for the immense work that is still there for us all to continue on today and into the future.
Over the years as I’ve become clear on my personal and professional values, it has become even more apparent that practicing from any other lens than a non-diet, weight inclusive one would be out of alignment with those values. I believe that all bodies (regardless of race, sexual orientation, religious background, size or health status) are inherently worthy and worthy of respect and respectful care. It wouldn’t be ethically to advocate for some behaviours that can be recognised as harmful for one population to be considered “helpful” for another. Furthermore, as someone who primarily work with helping people heal their relationship with food, eating and their bodies, it would be highly unethical of me to promote intentional weight loss, when this is often what has been the very trigger for their challenges.
In the past few years as I took the leap away from weight centric practice towards weight inclusivity I also learned that it is not just about helping my clients break free from the endless cycle of dieting, deprivation and bingeing but this has also opened the door to the much wider understanding of the harmful societal structures that allows for marginalisation, the roots fat phobia has in racism and even further over-arching structures such as the patriarchy and capitalism.
If I am going to be totally honest, these topics were not something that I learned about in nutrition college, but something I have learned (and continue to learn about) from peers, colleagues, books, blogs, podcasts etc.
The layers of complexity is vast and there’s so much nuance. I am far from an expert in this field, and because I don’t have lived experience of living in a marginalised body, I am immensely grateful to be learning from those that do, so that I can continue to learn and do better, in order to minimise any unintended harm + hopefully be part of the collective that chip away at breaking down these oppressive structures, whilst we are continuing to reimagining something new, that is fair and inclusive.
Diet Culture and weight stigma hurts us all, but they are even more harmful to those most marginalised where they can mean the denial of life affirming care. We can do better.
If you want to explore what it might be like working with a non-diet nutrition professional, find out more here.
by Linn Thorstensson | Apr 27, 2018 | blog, healthy living, Lifestyle, mindful eating, Nutritional Therapist
For this blog post I wanted to write a more practical type of post about a topic, being stuck in food ruts, that I often see people struggle with in my clinical practice and it is definitely not something I am immune to struggle with myself.
Maybe it is a completely human thing, to get stuck in ruts. With what we are eating, and how we are thinking and even behaving? Often we say thing like “You can’t teach an old dog new trix” and “He/she is so set in their ways, they’ll never change”. However this is actually not true. It’s a myth that we keep perpetuating by strengthening those neuropathways, telling ourselves that it is true…
Have you ever heard of the term Neuroplasticity?
The definition of neuroplasticity is: the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury.
This short video explains it really well. In short, it means that we do have the ability to change and adapt to circumstances and life events. Probably a good thing!
We also create change through intention. What I mean by that is that we need, using awareness, to work on intentionally creating new thought patterns, new behaviours which we want to engage in and of course new ways with food, if we want to get out of those ruts and make some new neuronal pathways.
So there, it definitely is possible to get un-stuck, but it may require a little intentionallity.
I think that because eating is a necessity, and when our attention and energy is focused elsewhere, the most natural thing is to default to our ingrained habits. Eating something, anything, is better than going hungry and of the irritability, mind fog and lack of energy that goes with that. Never anything wrong with honouring our hunger.
Don’t forget that we live in a culture and society where it completely possible to take care of your physical hunger needs without ever putting a foot in your own kitchen (or anybody else’s for that matter). So if this is how you are feeding yourself at times, no need to feel shameful about that. But maybe you’d like to change some of it as it could give you more choice and a sense of empowerment.
Here are my five tips on how to get out of food ruts. Whether it is wanting to cook more food in general, eating a wider variety of foods or just starting to think about learning some new recipes, I hope you find something useful from this list that will widen your lens a little and spark some new ideas.
Focus on colour
If you’ve been following my work for some time, you may have noticed that I am drawn to creating meals that are colourful. Eat a Rainbow, has to be one of the easiest nutritional advice to adhere to. By trying to incorporate something from each colour of the rainbow every day, you are naturally getting a more varied intake of fruits and vegetables. If you can vary the types of foods from each colour category, even better! Maybe you find some orange peppers and a yellow courgette to pair with some green spinach. Have fun trying out some different colours of your usual favourites. Variety and diversity seems to have many health benefits.
Have a think about Meal Planning
Sometimes I see people within Intuitive Eating groups shun the idea of meal planning and meal prepping. I do understand where they are coming from, since such a strong premise of eating intuitively is to “eat when you are hungry as well as what you are truly hungry for”. But life is rarely that black and white (plus that definitive way of thinking belongs to diet mentality anyway. Flexibility is the name of the game here!)
Just note that you making a plan for what you’d like to eat is not the same as slavishly following meal plan set by someone else. It can be incredibly useful to have some kind of structure, to take the stress out of making meals, especially if you are already ravenous when you start cooking…
One thing I encourage my clients to look at is to look at how their schedule for the week ahead looks like. Which days to you have time to cook something from scratch? Which days may you be eating out? Which days would you prefer to just heat some leftovers or put together a few bits and pieces for a simple meal? If you start here you may take some of the stress out of feeding yourself. It is totally cool to re heat some soup for dinner or a quick lunch, as well as having a smoothie, sandwich or salad (I actually have porridge in the evening too at times… Shhs, don’t tell anyone…) especially if you’ve eaten a larger meal during the day.
Ok, so I am not talking about those typical food prep pictures you see on social media where there are seven same type of meals in containers… And I’ve always wondered what that chicken, broccoli and sweet potato looks like on day seven… Never mind what it would smell like!
This blog post from Green Kitchen Stories have a nice take on Meal Prepping in my opinion. Their philosophy is more about having staples ready that can be made into different meal combinations throughout the week. This is often how I eat. It works well for a single person and it must work reasonably well for a family too as they have three kids!
Try a new food every week
Trying something new is an easy way of getting out of ruts. And luckily the variety of fresh fruits and veg that are available these days in our everyday supermarkets are so much better than what it used to be. So next time you are shopping and see a food you haven’t tried before, be brave and have a go!
Learn a new recipe once a week / month
This is something I did a few years ago. Where I intentionally picked up one of my cookbooks, and I have added many more to my collection since, to pick a recipe that I wanted to try out. Maybe it was a new combination of foods to try, or a recipe that offered a new skill. Or maybe a recipe to suit a new ingredient.
Even if you only own one cook book or if you rather use Google, this is a really good way to add new meal favourites to your weekly repertoire. Cooking is a skill that takes practice to master. Not all of us are gifted with it intuitively or got given the skills passed on from our parents when growing up. I also get that it is challenging if you actually have no interest in cooking meals from scratch.
Sometimes though what it takes is a change in attitude to the whole thing. That cooking for ourselves and spending time in the kitchen is a form of self care. You deserve to eat foods that are tasty and nourishing. I have seen these kinds of mindset shifts take place in clients and it has been revolutionary! Your kitchen can be your sanctuary. (Perhaps that’s a topic for another blog post?)
I hope you have found some of these ideas useful. Here is another article that I came across on my search, that speaks into this topic.
You can also get my Useful Kitchen Tool List + My Pantry Staples List <<— Click links & Download.
And sign up below for the Rainbow Bowl Ebook below, if that’s your thing.
by Linn Thorstensson | Feb 26, 2018 | blog, healthy living, Lifestyle, mindful eating
This blog post will contain some words from my heart, as well as lots of swirling thoughts captured in print. Whilst I have been working on putting together a post about how our experiences with food, eating and our bodies as it relates to our (hi)stories, childhood and so on influences our relationship with same today, I found that for some reason it seemed like a challenge to put it all into words. I am still not sure why, as I have previously shared my own story on this topic here.
Anyway, I decided to pause it and write a blog post about many of the thoughts that have been swirling around my mind for what now seems like ages. Maybe I just need to get some of these words out there, in order to peel back and to keep writing about all the things that I plan to write about this year. So yeah, please see this one as an overarching intention of what may be yet to come.
Life is a journey of unexpected twists and turns. And we are all constantly growing and learning…
Last week I had the privilege to get up and speak about the line of my own work within the field of Nutritional Therapy, even though I was excited the opportunity on one hand, I was pretty nervous about it too. Why? Well apart from the ever present inner critic and a touch of imposter syndrome I was a little apprehensive about my choice of topic too.
It is rare that we speak about the prevalence of Eating Disorders and disordered eating, as well as the harm restriction and dieting can do. Yet I feel strongly that within a profession where food is used as the healing modality, it is more important than for anyone else that we understand the dynamics around eating behaviour.
I apologies in advance if this blog ends up being somewhat scattered and incoherent (as I won’t do a lot of editing before posting) as I am trying to let some of the many threads that have been swirling around come together and weave an new picture.
My journey into Nutritional Therapy and becoming a nutritional professional has been windy and is ever unfolding. My professional path has become part of my personal path, yet when I was 20 this type of work was NOT my intention for my professional path. My personal struggle with food and eating eventually lead me to this profession when I was looking for other things to earn a living from, rather than shovelling horse shit for the rest of my working life…
I will be honest and admit that I wholeheartedly believe in the power of food as medicine with nutritional supplements and herbs to heal, repair and restore. It would be my personal preference to use natural medicine as much as possible, yet I feel we are lucky to have the opportunity of drugs as well as lifesaving surgery if this is what is needed.
Over the weekend just passed my other colleagues who also presented on the day showed us some incredible case studies of healing happening with the use of natural medicines, often in cases where the orthodox medicine had written off a restoration of health as impossible.
However in the area of health and healing nothing is ever black or white… It’s never one thing or the other, but usually more like an interconnected web of many layers that interplay.
Over the past two years or so my own work as has changed because I have learned new things and been exposed to new teachings and approaches. Much because of this I really want to take a stand this year and get cleared in my own message and with my own voice.
This is something I am continuously working on, and I definitely feel like I haven’t gotten it right, yet. Consider it a work in process. Hence these words from my heart are simply a part of this unfolding process.
In the presentation that I shared, one of my first slides where the question “Can we truly promote healthy eating without having a healthy relationship with food and eating?”
Personally I don’t think so. Using nutrition as a healing modality may require some dietary changes, often to improve quality, variety and nutrient density. That is all fine. Especially when it is done together with a qualified practitioner who works with you, and your body. The issues arise when people start to self-restrict without any particular reasons other than following the latest nutrition fads and trends. It becomes an issue when we follow strict external rules, regardless if it may be points or calorie / macro counting without honouring our own body’s specific cues and needs.
Because, we already have what we need. Our own inner wisdom. Yet if you look around the messages you see, literally everywhere, is that somehow our bodies are not trustworthy. (I often wonder how we got to this place of distrust in ourselves, as somehow we’ve evolved and survived as a species up until quiet recently without questioning it much… But that’s maybe a question for another post.)
Another issue is when the intentional pursuit of weight loss is used as a panacea to create health. Controlling the amount of food as well as the type of food, is used as a way to try to control body size, health and even life.
About two years ago I came across the Health At Every Size ™ movement. It has changed everything for me and learning to navigate this new information as well as this new lens to look through is much of what this year is all about for me. How do I integrate this info with what I know about nutritional medicine?
Health At Every Size or HAES for short, is a movement that values ALL BODIES, and that all bodies are worthy of treatment with respect and care.
It is also a paradigm which looks at health beyond nutrition and even beyond health behaviours. Through HAES we get to look at health through the lens of social justice. This is what changes everything.
Though I never prescribed any crazy diets to help people lose weight, nor was I particularly interested in weighing them, (I don’t weigh myself for God’s sake!), I were part of some well-intentioned weight loss programmes early on in my career. My first round of business cards even had the words “Lose weight without dieting” on them. (I since cut whatever few were left up in pieces. )This was before I knew that any intention of actively pursuing measures to alter our body size IS dieting.
Dieting is one of the most prevalent pre cursors to develop eating disorders. And if you don’t go on to develop a full blown eating disorder, you most certainly end up with disordered eating behaviours.
HAES not only shines a light on the detriments of weight loss pursuits and dieting, it also brings to light the social justice side of things, when it comes to health and how often the individual is blamed on failure to keep their body under control, if it does not conform to society’s norms, rather than looking at the larger picture of other Determinants of Health and inequalities in our society that contribute to our overall health and wellbeing.
From this journey of venturing into learning more about HAES, I am also learning more about weight stigma and fatphobia. Both which play such a big part in why intentional weight loss pursuits are a form of oppression. And of course, denying yourself to eat when you are physically hungry just because you have reached your limits on points that day is a personal attack on yourself. A mini trauma, which is sending a message to your body that it is not worthy of one of the most fundamental things for life – food.
When we zoom out and look at the other well-meaning nutritional interventions for disease preventions, very few actually talk about the inequalities. That not all people have access to good quality foods, not the skills or means to buy them in order to create nutritious meals for themselves and their family.
We are not necessarily thinking about the people who are fearful for taking a walk in their neighbourhood, when we ourselves are feeling guilty for missing a gym session… Yet the message portrayed when it comes to health pursuits is often that of personal responsibility, and those who are not doing things necessary of this pursuit are often seen as lazy.
Why is that?
Is it because the idea of thinness = health is so entrenched in our culture?
Yet it is simply not true. Which is one of the messages of HAES.
Our worth as a human being is not based on how we look or what we eat, surely? I think we can do better than that.
The other is the take home message that our inherent worthiness in not tied to our health or body size. I don’t think I have ever looked at someone and thought that it was. It is not how I was raised. Yet when you become aware of this insidious cultural insinuation, you can’t close your eyes to the message that it is so, which is everywhere. Why else would dieting be promoted all over the place? Oh yeah, aside from the fact that it DOES sell and is a multi billion dollar industry of course…
I also can’t see why prescribing weigh loss as a cure all is so prevalent? Aside from the fact that it doesn’t work, so many people are nutrient deficient and prescribing restriction seems counter intuitive to me. It is already hard to get what we need from our diets, so why would be want to restrict them further? What about prescribing diversity (if this is within the individual’s means) together with some curiosity and an explanation of the illusion of finding the “right diet” and the importance of listening to you own body’s response to the food you eat?
So really, what is my intention with this lengthy rant? Well maybe it is to state that no I don’t think we can promote ‘healthy eating’ without at the same time promote a healthy relationship to food, eating and body (I feel another deep dive will come on this topic in the future too) , it is also highlight the inequalities in our society and the injustice that is done when we hand out all the blame on individuals for “not taking care of themselves better”. That is just unkind and unfair.
Long story short; we can’t really get to the root of healing individual’s eating struggles without at the same time working on understanding the root cause of what’s driving this struggle, which is the Diet Culture that we all live in.
So the work, which is what I have now woken up to and to the visionaries and frontline warriors to whom I have the immense privilege to learn from, is to simultaneously dismantle Diet Culture.
And finally… (almost 2000 words later) what my ultimate message from this lengthy blog post is: It is to declare that I am dropping out of this Diet Culture. I don’t want to participate nor do I want to be contributing to this shame fuelled oppressive system.
To quote Maya Angelou, “When you know better, do better”.
So this is what I am trying to do now. When I do now know better.
by Linn Thorstensson | Jan 21, 2018 | Drinks, mindful eating, Recipes, snack
This year I have decide to try something different. Rather than focusing on moulding my life into the way I “think it should be”, I have decide to “take action without attachment to outcome”. Only a few weeks into the year and my life is already giving me plenty of opportunities to practice this intention. In reality letting go of attachment to outcome means you also have to be ok when you get a no, and as much as I am telling myself that I am ok with a no to some of my asks when I look a little closer I probably aren’t… So I just keep reminding myself of something Brené Brown said, “The courage is in the action.”
Instead I get to practice sitting with my feelings, of disappointment or even anger. I also get the opportunity to practice courage and trust. (Or should it be “the courage to trust”?). Amidst this experiment of trying to live with the openness to the FLOW of life, I found this article by Sharon Salzberg, on one of my favourite websites On Being. It spoke to some of the ambivalence I do feel in making a choice like this. Because if you are not actively pursuing your dream life are you letting yourself go and giving up? Or am I just trying to give up on the suffering holding on to an expectation of a specific outcome is giving me?
This train of thought lead me to another observation this week. One of my colleagues in one of the FB forums that I am in shared a great resource for other things to do when we notice a desire to eat even though we are not physically hungry. I definitely things it is great to have lists of ideas of other thing to do rather than using food as a coping mechanism, even though in the journey to make peace with food there still have to be an unconditional permission to eat. Otherwise we may still end up subconsciously restrict, which can then backfire into over-eating later.
The thing is though if we move directly from noticing that we are reaching for food, without pausing to check in for what it is we are currently emotionally experiencing and move right on to the next non-eating distraction, we miss the chance to see what’s underneath the habitual impulse to reach for food. In the pause we can notice what is there, and follow up with a questions of “What do I need right now?
Depending on the emotion you may discover a different need. Sadness may require the comforting from another human being, or a pet (they are my personal favourites). Happiness may require simply some revelling in, because it can be oh-so-fleeting.
Boredom is a particular interesting one.
To be honest, I’m not sure if dealing with boredom through distraction, eating or otherwise is the best strategy. If we can simply be with it, boredom can open doors to a whole world of inner discoveries. Or we may discover that it is simply a passing state and part of our human experience.
One day during this week I noticed my need for comfort. Not as a way to deal with a particular emotion, more like a way of taking care of myself. A self care ritual of sorts. Comfort eating get such a bad rap, because it is seen like a way numbing out, escapism and sometimes as punishment even. Which may be true. However to me it is only a problem if we comfort eat in a way that doesn’t leave us feeling comfortable and nourished by neither the food nor the act of eating.
This recipe is one that brings me comfort on wet, cold and grey January days. Especially when consumed in front of the fire, with a good book in hand, dog in lap (which is optional + a little risky considering the hot liquid…).
It is also one that I intend to include, or some version thereof, in my first recipe book. Which I have still no idea of how or when it will come out. Before the end of the year at least…!
So here’s to comfort foods and comfort eating that leaves you feeling comforted, satisfied and well nourished.
Spicy Hot Chocolate for Colder Days
Makes about 10 portions, depending on how much mix you use for your cup
5 tbsp raw cacao powder
2-3 tbsp coconut sugar or demerara sugar (or you can leave this out and sweeten with maple syrup / honey to taste when you have the drink made up)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp ground dried ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves – optional
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
Place all ingredients in a clean, dry glass jar and mix until they are all well combined.
To make your hot spicy chocolate drink;
Measure out your milk of choice (cow’s milk or plant milk). For practicality I tend to pour the milk first into the cup I intend to drink from, to get the right volume.
Then add the milk to a small saucepan. Allow roughly a tbsp. of chocolate powder per cup/ person. Add the chocolate powder to the milk. Whisk rapidly as you are gently heating up the milk.
Keep whisking to prevent the milk from burning at the bottom of the pan. Avoid boiling, as if you are using plant based milk it may separate.
Your hot chocolate drink is ready just before it reaches boiling point. If you didn’t add any sugar to your cacao mix, now is a good time to add it to the hot drink. Honey or maple syrup are really delicious.
Pour it back into your cup of choice for serving and enjoy!
I love marshmallows, so this time I piled them high. (Not homemade)
P.S I’ve invited Spring into my home. whilst waiting for it to take hold outside…
by Linn Thorstensson | Jan 14, 2018 | blog, healthy living, Lifestyle, mindful eating
This is not an easy blog post to write. In fact, even though I have a clear idea of what I want to write here, it doesn’t come all that easy. Maybe because I know that this is a difficult topic to write and talk about. It is also both counter cultural AND will most likely upset some (many?) people.
I have decided that this year, I am going to be braver and speak and write about what I stand for and what is aligned to my values, as well as my professional mission. After some deep dives into what is driving our eating behaviours, what the obstacles to having a healthy relationship with food, eating and body are and how we cannot pursue whole self health without also healing our relationship with the same, I am ready to share my thoughts, learnings, observations and resources.
This year, my intentions are to truly let this space evolve into a place where you can come and find some sanity from diet culture and hopefully inspiration on your own journey towards food freedom and body liberation.
Over the past 15 months or so I have spent a lot of time with colleagues who are doing very courageous front line work and advocacy for the right to health, respect and care of people of all shapes and sizes. It has opened my eyes in ways where it is now impossible to turn the other way… Hence why this post is only the first of many. Brace yourself!
My TRUTH is tugging at me to invite you to some exploration around how we see our own bodies, how we regard (or disregard) them. How we speak ABOUT our bodies and how we speak TO them. In order to heal our relationship with food and eating we also need to examine and heal our relationship WITH our bodies.
Beyond how we speak, think and perhaps judge our own bodies we also need to wake up to how we and society at large speak, think and judge other people’s bodies. But let’s park that conversation for now. I will definitely return to the topic of weight stigma and weight bias in the future, as the impact both have on not just emotional health but even physical health are new revelations to me, perhaps most likely so because of my own thin privilege.
Why is it important that we remove weight loss as the main focus when it comes to the desire for lifestyle changes and why can’t we heal our relationship with food and eating if we don’t let this go?
I have experienced my own fair share of body dysmorphia / distorted body image.
Looking back at my relationship with food and eating, I could see that much of my disordered eating stemmed from a trigger comment of the size of my body (which in fairness at the time was still well within what society is considering “normal” & “healthy”). And so it begins for many others, with disordered eating or eating disorders.
In the 7 Systems of Health we speak of the ROOT as the system of Safety, Survival and Trust.
How can we anchor ourselves in these, if we are constantly at war with our own body?
Not trusting that it is telling us what it needs, in form of food, rest, play and connection.
How can we feel safe if we are trying to force our bodies into some societal norms of what bodies “should look like”? Always trying to fix them and make them conform, so that we are acceptable and fit in. The desire and external pressure to do so is what is known as Diet Culture. It is a very insidious way of being bombarded from all angels that we are not good enough as we are.
Somehow our bodies are not trustworthy. They are unruly and need to be controlled, often at all costs. Regardless of what body size our bodies actually are, this message all too often becomes internalised and we decide to do something about it. I.e. diet.
Diets, by design are restrictive.
Often it is about cutting calories, or portion sizes. Or food groups. With the intention of trying to control the size of our body. Sometimes it is even disguised as something we do in the name of health. But as long as you are following a plan, set by someone else that has a bunch of food rules and is aimed at helping you lose weight it is a diet.
Here’s the thing; How can we move beyond surviving into thriving if we are not honouring our physical needs in the first place?
Is it really possible to establish a sense of belonging, if we are always trying to make ourselves and our bodies into something they are not? Yet this is much of the cultural messages we are constantly bombarded with…
Then there’s the real desire to lose weight. I get it. It is ok to want it. We all live in this Diet Culture.
Weight stigma is real. Internalised weight stigma too. And it has been shown to affect our health (and not in a positive way) Yet at the same time actively pursuing weight loss is such a futile, life sucking pursuit, which longterm is a pretty good predictor of weight gain.
We definitely need to acknowledge the internal voices of fat shaming we have going on, as well as what it is like for someone to live in a body where society feels like it has some right to judge and criticise based on a particular body size. Especially if this have never been our own lived experience.
We need to be careful with the words we use, because as we know words hold tremendous power…
Shame never helps or heals. Kindness does.
So perhaps if we want to begin with some healing at the ROOT, let the invitation be; to note how we speak, see and value bodies, our own as well as others.
To hold a safe compassionate space where ALL bodies are welcome to heal, worthy of care and to be blessed with health.
To let go of the oppression perpetuated by Diet Culture through actively pursuing weight loss.
When it is about health and not about weight, all of our behaviour changes hold merit and value, whereas when weight loss is the main focus and goal, it becomes all too easy to let go of these if the number on the scales doesn’t budge, or worse if it goes up!
So isn’t it better to pursue healthy behaviours rather than trying to shame yourself into change?
You are a worthy human being just as you are.
(Photos from Unsplash.com)
Do you long to let go of obsession around food, eating and weight? Would you like to feel freedom and peace around meals and beyond, but need some help and support to get there?
It would be an honour to walk with you on this path. Please email me HERE to set up a free 30 min consultation to explore how this may be possible for you too.
by Linn Thorstensson | Sep 18, 2017 | blog, healthy living, mindful eating, mindfulness
Without moral judgment…
I’ve been grappling with the headline for this particular blog post because part of what I also want to touch on is this; “To give yourself full permission to eat (all) foods is not the same as eating with abandonment.”
There are some challenging concepts when it comes to Intuitive Eating and Mindful Eating that I feel are both radical as well as counter cultural. And they can be very challenging to put into practice, yet I believe they are vital if we want to reach a place of peace with food and eating.
Many people seem to think that their main problem with “staying on the diet band wagon” is their lack of willpower, and if they just tried harder they could do it. Or if they weren’t such emotional eaters they wouldn’t have such an issue with food and (over) eating.
Here’s thing though.
When you are restricting you are fighting biology.
If your body is not getting what it needs, it will make sure that your brain become preoccupied with thoughts of food, your senses heighten so that you will ultimately feed yourself. Because this is fundamental for our survival.
Someone recently shared this famous study with me which was done back in the late 1940s called The Great Starvation Experiment. And when you think of it, it very much mimics the conventional dieting of today…
So the first focus of mindful eating is always to get to a place of tuning in, become aware of our hunger cues, as well as our fullness cues, so we can honour the need to eat.
This is where the permission to eat starts. When you notice you are hungry – EAT.
This is a kind act of self care. It sounds so simple, and it is. But not if we are used to eat according to plans, set by someone who does not live in your body, it may be a little challenging to start. Each time you honour your hunger, you are re enforcing your inherent self worth. Luckily most of us have access to food, so there is truly no need to fight hunger.
With this permission to eat, you open the door to explore how different foods affect your hunger and fullness, you may notice that it is useful to bring snacks in certain circumstances when you know that getting access to food can be tricky, and when you don’t want to end up in a ravenous state with limited choices. I can’t tell you how often I end up like this myself, even though I am so well aware of how it makes me feel, both to eat sugary foods to lift my blood sugar (though they may taste great for the first few bites), and how miserable I feel when I’m venturing into “ravenous” territory.
However, if I was supposed to be adhering to someone else’s plan with set amount of foods I most likely would have to be using precious energy and willpower to NOT eat, even though my body is telling me “feed me!” And truly, what message is this sending to myself? That I am not worthy of being fed?
Deprivation and restriction feed the binge cycle, so no 1. is to give yourself full permission to eat when you are hungry.
Great, now here’s the next permission slip; “Give yourself permission to eat ALL foods”.
Peace and freedom with foods comes from neutralising foods. Yep, you heard that right, that means letting go of the moral compass, and the labels of “good” and”bad”. Does it mean we throw nutrition out the window too? No.
It simply means we drop the moral judgment of ourselves (and others), according to what we eat.
It means I’m no different as a person, whether I eat a doughnut for breakfast, or have a green kale smoothie.
It means we can drop guilt from our diets, and any shame we hold about ourselves that stems from our food choices.
It means we have the freedom to choose, whatever will bring us most pleasure and satisfaction in that moment.
It means we are free to be with our direct experience of eating.
It means we can begin to embrace OUR OWN specific needs with kindness.
It mean we can eat with pleasure and satisfaction, for nourishment and self care.
And however and with whatever foods that brings us pleasure, satisfaction and nourishment, we have the flexibility to change this up as needed, because we are no longer tied to rigid dietary rules.
“But if I let myself have whatever I want I will never stop eating”.
“If I let myself eat whatever I want I will end up living on coffee and chocolate.”
Maybe…? Or maybe not.
This is what I mean with my statement above, that giving ourselves full permission to eat all foods, is not the same as eating with abandonment. Which all too often happens after dieting. This way of eating is actually a natural response to deprivation.
When you’ve given yourself full permission to eat all foods, and you bring kindness and curiosity to your eating experience, you are free to explore how different foods affect your body, as well as perhaps even your mind and spirit.
You have opened the door for choice. You don’t have to eat everything today, as there will always be another day to have that food again.
Most of all you have given yourself permission to eat and nourish yourself in a way that makes YOU and your body FEEL good.
And to re-enforce the message to yourself and your body, that you are worthy and worth it.
That may just be the taste of freedom that you are looking for.
Do you long to let go of obsession around food, eating and weight? Would you like to feel freedom and peace around meals and beyond, but need some help and support to get there?
It would be an honour to walk with you on this path. Please email me HERE to set up a free 30 min consultation to explore how this may be possible for you too.