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 | 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.