We are Eaters

I have always liked the idea that natural foods, plants and nature provide the best medicines for our health and wellbeing.  It makes the most sense as we are all connected to the world around us, right?  We can’t live without food.  Food needs the sun, atmosphere and soil etc. to grow.  Our bodies need what natural foods provide.  How long would we last without air?  We need to interact daily with others.  Like it or not we are all human, more connected and at the same time more vulnerable than we’d often like to think of ourselves as.

Well, I invite you to think about it just a little as you read this post, especially in relation to food and you as an eater.

Since starting my nutrition training I have been a fan and follower of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.  Their stated mission is to re-unite the psychology of eating with the science of nutrition.   I understand this to mean that you cannot consider the body’s needs without considering the needs of the soul.  ‘Soul’ meaning the individual person with their own unique body, needs, wants, experiences, emotions, senses, circumstances and responses to life.  My own observation [not judgement] with clients and people in general, is how our attitude to food and eating completely reflects our attitude to ourselves and life.

My experience is that some people view a nutrition qualification as a personal attribute.  As if acquiring this qualification has transformed one into someone who never lets an unhealthy food pass their lips … And, has now morphed into the role of watching and judging every bite others make, like the ‘diet police’!  Well, on both counts, that’s not me!  You may, of course, come across people who do take on and enjoy such a role.  No, I’m just like you but with an acquired knowledge and interest in the benefits of nutrition which I love to share.   I can be your guide, supporter or educator, but not your judge or savior.  I believe that healthier eating is a life-long challenge, a choice and a personal responsibility.  And, because eating is something you and I have to do each and every day, I see it as an ideal opportunity for growth and transformation.  That said, knowledge of food is for the mind but food and eating as an experience goes far beyond this to the very core of our being.

I came across this Instagram post by the_food_psychology_clinic in the UK.  It speaks poetically about how closely connected ‘eating’ can be to our thoughts and feelings.  For some it can often represent a huge internal struggle.   I have consent from the account owner to share it here.

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I eat because… I’m angry, I eat because I’m sad, I eat because I’m fat anyway (so what’s the point – I might as well be bad)… and have a brownie or five or 10 slices of cake, nobody will notice anyway… I eat because I’m lonely – I’m stressed at work – I’ve had a bad day Sometimes, I eat because I’m bored – I’m going to start my diet tomorrow, I’ll say – so I eat tons of chocolate and sweets…maybe I’ll start the diet another time diets suck – what’s the point – I give up I eat because I don’t get the attention I want – at least I can rely on cake to make me feel good today… But I don’t enjoy it anyway – this eating too much – I feel guilt, I feel pain, I feel shame…and yet I just can’t seem to stop -it is easier to put it off until another time – when I have more time, or less stress, or less work or more money to pay…. for a juice cleanse or a detox – maybe a nice retreat in Spain (I need a quick fix – I’m way too fat) it will be much easier this way Why is it so hard for me to be thin – I hate my body and life I’m a failure – I think to myself – every day But I like those two minutes of happiness I get – when I eat something tasty, something good and maybe I don’t want to give that up just yet because without food, I’ll have to deal with what really is not good in my life, in my world, in my heart, in my mind – and that scares me – to tell you the truth. I eat because… I’m hungry – but not for food that’s for sure Maybe I’m hungry for fun, for love, for companionship, for comfort, for a purpose – maybe I’m just hungry not to be fat anymore. #weightloss #weightstruggles #weightstruggle #weightstruggleisreal #slimdown #weightissues #fat #fatloss #weightloss #binge #bingeeatingdisorder #weightlosshelp #bingeeatinghelp

A post shared by The Food Psychology Clinic (@the_food_psychology_clinic) on

I’ve shared this because even though my qualification is the nutrition science bit and not eating psychology, I have found it is quite impossible in reality to separate the two.  I acknowledge everyone as an eater.  If we were purely physical beings, the knowledge of what to eat in the best interest of our health, would be enough.  Like how to put the correct fuel in your car….. petrol and a little oil in this one, but diesel and lots of oil in this other one.  The reality is we are more than physical beings and often our food choices are motivated by unconscious thoughts and feelings about ourselves.  The above Instagram post is about overeating but it could just as easily be about depriving yourself of food.  The point is, its really about negative thoughts and feelings wrapped around eating.  Yet, eating can be a joyous, satisfying, healthy, creative, not to mention completely necessary experience.

Have a think about what your relationship with food is?  Does it mirror how you feel and think?  If you recognize yourself in any of this, the knowledge of healthy eating will not be enough.  It might even become a stick for you to punish yourself with.  More bad feelings?  That won’t help!  The issue is not a lack of knowledge.  Practicing some mindfulness and self-inquiry around eating, or working with someone that has a greater understanding of eating behaviors, might help.

The food psychology clinic is UK based and you can make contact via the Instagram account. I am only aware of one Nutritional Therapist in Ireland who deals in this particular area of work.  Here: www.straightforwardnutrition.com

Finally, I can’t count the number of times people have told me stories like “Oh, so and so died…… and s/he was so into healthy eating”!  There is no promise of immortality in choosing to eat a healthier diet.  The point of dealing with food or eating issues is that you can feel better today, have a better quality life than if you didn’t and possibly live a little longer.  This is not without it’s challenges but it is within your grasp.  As human beings we know we are affected on many levels by factors other than by what we eat, but this is the one area where we can reclaim some personal power over our own well being.

© Limelight Nutrition 2019

The Magic Pill

The Magic Pill:  A Film Review

 

Source: Google Images

This film is about an hour and a half long.  The producer Pete Evans may be better known as one of the judges on the Australian ‘My Kitchen Rules’  series.  The film looks at the merits of the ketogenic diet. Ketogenic basically means eating a diet that is high-fat, adequate-protein and low-carbohydrate.  The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates.  The ketogenic diet was originally used by physicians in the 1920s to treat epilepsy but was largely abandoned in favour of new anticonvulsant drugs.  It is proposed that as a species this diet may better suit our biochemistry and, if done correctly, could be one way of alleviating or preventing chronic diseases and brain conditions.  Our brains are made up of 60% fat.  However, this turns the whole low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet on its head.  It pretty much turns the food pyramid up-side-down.  Governing health bodies believe the diet to be controversial, unscientific and a threat to public health.  The Health Professions Council of South Africa spent three years and hundreds of thousands of dollars prosecuting Tim Noakes, emeritus professor and scientist, with a charge of misconduct after he gave low-carbohydrate, high-fat dietary advice to a weening mother on twitter.

The film follows the progress of a group of indigenous people, the Yolngu, on a 10 day ‘Hope for Health’ retreat.   All the participants suffer from diabetes and other chronic diseases, unheard of among these people before their introduction to the western diet.  It also follows the progress of a young family with an autistic 5 year old girl, Abigail, an autistic boy, an asthmatic singer and two women moving fearfully into later life.  All the participants are on a cocktail of medications to keep their chronic conditions under control and all are ready to try the ketogenic diet. Could embracing good fats and drastically reducing carbs be the key to better health?  Is a radical re-think needed?  One woman featured, says the disappearance of her breast cancer tumour is due to the ketogenic diet.  A brave lady to declare this to a world that might not want to listen.

Easy viewing with no high-pitched drama, the film gently opens us up to the idea that perhaps we have moved away from our connection with the land, the nature of food and even our own natural instincts when it comes to eating.  Lost!!   But there is ‘Hope for Health’.  You will see that it is not easy to begin making dietary changes and that this particular approach really goes against the ‘grain’ 🙂 and the tide. You will be inspired by the results these brave people achieved in a relatively short time.  They share their personal stories to show others that they have found a way back to better health.

Abigail stole the show.  If you want to keep up with how she is doing now her dad made a blog to share their story.    You can find it by clicking here.

© AoS2018

The Fat Factor

When you hear the word ‘fat’ you don’t automatically think of the macronutrient ‘fat’.   Fat can also refer to fat in the body or to someone carrying excess weight.  We can distinguish carbohydrate and protein as food groups more easily than fat.  Protein is involved in muscle growth in the body but we don’t call it ‘muscle’. Talking about fat can therefore be confusing but from this point on, I am referring to fat ‘the macronutrient’ as a constituent of food!  In college we had an information sheet for clients called ‘Fat Phobia’.  Interesting title!  Before I read it I thought it must be about ‘a fear of becoming fat’.  It turns out the phobia is a fear of eating foods containing fat.  If you are now thinking ‘isn’t that the same thing’ then I hope by the time you have finished reading this blog your perception will have changed. This assumption that fat makes you fat is outdated and untrue.  You need fat!  The right fat!  There is not just one type of fat but many, and as with all food groups there is the good and the best avoided varieties.  It is vital to know the difference.  Fat phobia is real and many people are on a mission to eliminate fat in order to lose weight, not realizing how important it is for their health.  Choosing quality over quantity and making small dietary adjustments could make a big difference to your health.  Read on to learn more about your dietary fat factors!!

Continue reading “The Fat Factor”

Calories – the Good, the Bad and the Make Believe

Counting calories… Yes, I have done it too!  Until I learned that there is a healthier, more sustainable way to lose weight and keep it off.   There is no doubt about it, if you restrict your calories on an ongoing basis, you will lose weight.   That said, as soon as you stop restricting calories and go back to ‘normal’ eating, you will put it all back on again and more.  As soon as you even think about restricting calories you feel hungry, right?   Did you know your body has an inbuilt physiological response to perceived and actual hunger?   The response roughly translates as ‘hold on to that fat’!   It behaves like Old Mother Hubbard, she doesn’t want the cupboard to be bare.  Is your own body working against you?  Many of our innate responses are outside of our conscious control.  You don’t need to remind your heart to beat or your hair to grow.  We are hardwired to survive for a while without eating.  If your body perceives ‘starvation’ it holds on to its fat store (stored energy) to tide you over.  Thankfully, most of us do not face food scarcity or starvation, the opposite is more likely the case.  The challenge we face today is learning to understand how our body works, what affects our appetite and how to negotiate the modern diet for a healthy weight.  It is never a simple case of counting calories.

Continue reading “Calories – the Good, the Bad and the Make Believe”