Category Archives: Reality Checks

How Health Coaches Are Contributing to A Diet Culture Full of Fear and Confusion

If you go to the market and have these thoughts: “Oh, those tomatoes look so good. Thank goodness, they’re organic! Oh, wait, tomatoes are nightshades. I probably shouldn’t eat them. Oh and they’re so acidic, should I be eating more alkaline foods? And I better not eat them raw, aren’t tomatoes better for you when you eat them cooked? But cooking destroys so many nutrients, I should probably invest in a dehydrator. Screw it, I’ll just not get them.” then diet culture and the coaches you follow may be failing you.


Two weeks ago I talked about how dieting shouldn’t be our normal state and some of the normalized things that go on in our culture that contribute to entire generations of women being obsessed with getting and staying “small”. This is a huge subject and one that I’ve only scratched the surface of. In this post, I want to talk about another aspect of it and something that may seem a little strange considering my job title.

I think some health coaches are unintentionally contributing to diet culture and might be doing more harm than good.

Before I get stoned by my peers, I want to say that not all coaches are doing this and of those that are doing it, I know it’s mostly with good intentions and in all honesty, I fell into this category when I first started out too.

 

A little bit of backstory.

Several years ago, I gave up traditional dieting in favor of a healthy “lifestyle” because after a decade plus of dieting I just couldn’t do it anymore. Dieting had turned me into someone who had frequent binges and a lot of shame around my body and food. Embracing a whole foods healthy lifestyle meant I lost weight and had an easier time keeping it off without feeling crazy or deprived. I felt much better eating “cleanly” and I really came to believe that a whole foods based diet and eating as little processed food as possible was the way to health. My health coaching practice and social media reflected this.  I still eat this way for the most part but I have become much more flexible as to what I view as “healthy” and it has more to do with where my head is at than what specifics I’m eating.

If you’ve been following me from the start of my coaching career, you may have noticed that I’ve posted very little about actual food specifics the last few years. Gone are the whole food based detox programs, I rarely post photos of food I eat and it’s only on the odd occasion that I share a recipe, whole foods or otherwise. I don’t share much information about pesticides in our foods, how to sprout your own lentils and which health conditions need to avoid cruciferous vegetables. I now push intuition, body and self trust / knowledge, joyful movement and other things that sound really wishy-washy but really matter to someone who wants more peace with food.

 

Hypocrite or Evolving?

As my own relationship with food has evolved over time, I realized that some of what I was teaching and recommending in my early days of coaching conflicted with where I really want to take people – and where I wanted to be myself. I want and I want others to feel confident in themselves as their only guide to making food choices. I want people to feel less fearful about food and more relaxed around it (and just so you know this does not necessarily mean disregarding nutrition or health). I feel a little hypocritical when I look back at some of my early work but Marie Forleo says that if you don’t look back at your early work and cringe a little, it means you’re not growing (so at least I’m growing)! Growth is good.

 

Diet culture wants you to feel scared and confused so you keep buying.

One of the things diet culture thrives upon is keeping people confused, keeping them scared of making choices and teaching us that we can’t trust our bodies. If we’re scared and confused, fearful about our health and our bodies, we will run out to buy whatever it is they’re selling – shakes, exercise programs, food plans, supplements etc. If we’re not scared and confused, if we trust ourselves as smart creatures who have always known how to feed themselves, there won’t be much we have to buy.

A lot of well meaning coaches are constantly sharing information that the general public may not be aware of that the coach believes we need to know in order to feel motivated to make better decisions about health (how bad sugar is for us, how glyphosate increases gut permeability, how animal products cause cancer, how our phones are causing brain tumors and increasing ADD etc). The problem is that when we share so much of this kind of scary health information we are making people afraid of food and adding to the confusion that is already out there. After a while, this kind of information sharing creates a feeling that we can’t trust anything and we end up in a food choice paralysis.

 

More confusion and fear around food is not helping people make better choices.

Feeling afraid of food helps you develop eating disorders (fyi – aiming to eat perfectly clean and healthy all of the time and feeling ashamed and stressed when you can’t or don’t is called “orthorexia“). Feeling confused around food makes us dependent on diets and diet gurus to tell us what to eat when really we should be dialing down into listening to our bodies hunger and satiety signals, paying attention to the way individual foods make us feel, learning about what foods our ancestors ate (it’s in our DNA) and being flexible to change.

In the world of emotional eaters and chronic dieters (where my viewpoint is), fear and confusion is the last thing health coaches should promote. Two of the main lessons we learned in coaching school was that the client has their own answers inside of them and that we have to respect something called “bioindividuality” – the idea that people know what’s best for their bodies and the way of eating that works for one person may not be right for another. I see a ton of coaches instilling fear in people because they believe one specific way of eating is correct. I know it has to be hard to coach people towards their own needs when you are a die-hard vegan or strict paleo, but being that rigid about what people should be eating is moving away from coaching territory and into something different (and depending on your state you may need additional certifications to do that). It’s really not our jobs to tell people what to eat in such strict terms.

I’m not knocking all coaches – I’m still a health coach and I have a lot of health coach friends who I respect and I know they are sincerely doing work that is going to change the world. Health coaching has been incredibly helpful for tackling my eating struggles and I have a lot of tools that have helped me make peace with food (and helped me teach my clients the same). As a whole I believe the profession’s goals are to help people live healthier so that they can do more amazing things in their lives. This is a good thing but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some big problems! The intent in the health coaching community is good but sometimes the way we go about encouraging change is diametrically opposed to actually being healthy.

 

Health Coaches with Strict and Extreme Views

There is a faction of coaches who practice extreme vigilance about food and the ideas some these folks teach contribute to deeper entrenchment into diet culture. In addition to sharing lots of scary and over complicated info, they promote products and programs that perpetuate us not trusting our bodies to tell us what to eat (powdered shakes, special containers and super specific and rigid meal plans etc) and others that have such high and restrictive standards of what constitutes healthy eating / healthy lifestyle (for example, raw food only, vegan only, paleo only, organic, local, non-irradiated, soaked and sprouted etc) that by the pure challenges of following everything they recommend, we are set up to fail and become more confused and scared of food.

Let me illustrate how insanely difficult and impossible the way we seem to expect people to eat is (according to the things coaches share on social media). I personally have every opportunity to make this unrealistic healthy food movement come to life in my American home.

I have the knowledge to prepare food the “healthiest” way possible.

I have the time and ability.

I work from home, love to cook and I’m a good cook.

I also have the financial means to buy organic, free range, local, grass-fed etc foods.

We prioritize food in my house over many other things.

And I don’t have children who pull at my pant legs and beg to have heavily processed chicken nuggets and hot dogs for dinner (just a cat who is a finicky eater).

This is not a brag, this is to show you how my life and I am well suited to make this inaccessible and perfect food stuff work. I legit have all the means necessary to make foods the way people are preaching we need to if we want to be healthy and yet even I find I get fucking tired of it, overwhelmed, apathetic and annoyed and sometimes I wish there were take out places nearby. I’ve sometimes thrown all my food edicts out the window and eaten a frozen pizza (yes, even dairy and full of gluten and processed) because I can’t deal with checking all the damn boxes for another day and I want it easy. This is coming from someone who dearly loves food and nutrition.

If I can’t do “it” every day of my life and I’m the perfect candidate, then how can we expect people in other more complicated situations to get in line?

This is not really working guys!

Having a zillion rules about food, how it’s sourced, how to prep it properly and more causes stress, panic and eating disorders. It does not actually make someone healthy. How can you not fall into some type of eating disorder when you no longer know what is SAFE to eat? And if we have to depend on another person more educated than us on food to give us guidelines (that change constantly), then we will never be free and never be healthy.

An overly puritanical “healthy lifestyle” can lead you down an unhealthy path of being overly restrictive with food just as much as the average diet can and all in the name of health, energy and clear skin.

If you’ve had any food struggles in your life, learning to trust yourself and re-engage with the wisdom and intuition we had as babies and toddlers is a better path to health.

Worrying about food all the time is not healthy.

Worrying if you’re making the right choices is not healthy.

Still feeling like crap even when you’re doing all the “right” things is not the picture of health.

It is much better to trust your body, feel safe with your own knowledge and listen to your body to tell you what it needs. This leads to better mental health – and when we’re well on an emotional and mental level, we make physical choices we can feel good about too.

I’m not saying that health coaches need to throw out everything they’ve learned about nutrition, health and how food is produced in this country, but we really need to start asking ourselves if what we’re sharing and recommending is helping people to feel empowered? Is it helping them to feel secure, relaxed and confident? Is it truly making people feel well on an emotional level?

Let’s ease up and help people get back in touch with those answers we know they have inside of themselves.


How did you like that rant? Do you want to learn more about feeling confident in your relationship with food? Do you want to learn to trust yourself and discount the confusing messages in our media? If so, click the image below and grab my copy of “You Have What it Takes“, a guide full of questions to help you improve your relationship to food.

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How Our Beliefs Form and What Causes us to Question Them

Have you ever started to question what you believe? What was going on in your life at the time?

Have you ever started to question what you believe? What was going on in your life at the time?

It’s just a few days after the inauguration of a new US President, and just a few days after over 3.7 million people gathered for Women’s Marches all over the US, just a few months after the end of an incredibly exhausting election season and something I have noticed is that no matter how loudly or frequently you are sharing your opinion about it all, the only person whose mind you’re having a real impact on is your own. Which, when you think about it is kind of funny – because I think most of us are hoping to convince someone of our way of thinking when we talk about this stuff!

Don’t worry, I’m not going to make this a political post (though I may use a few political examples because it’s topical) – I promise! I want to talk about how beliefs work and what needs to happen in order for us to start questioning them.

We all have beliefs – beliefs about the new President, the outgoing President, beliefs about how the country should be run, what should be legal or illegal etc.

We have beliefs about other things too, lots of things. We have beliefs about whether we believe in God or not (and also what we believe about God).

On the smaller scale, we have beliefs about what kind of day we’re going to have when we wake up. We have beliefs about whether it’s best to have breakfast as soon as we get up or that skipping meals prolongs our lives.

We have beliefs about the people in our lives – you may believe that someone has a good heart, someone else is a meddling gossip, another person is reliable, and another is selfish and manipulative.

We have beliefs about the way the world works, about what we deserve, what we’re entitled to, we have beliefs that ours are the right ones, that other beliefs are wrong.

We have beliefs about the best type of music, the best way to raise our kids, the best food to cure a hangover and the best way to spend a vacation (lazy beach? busy sightseeing?). If you live in New England, you probably have really strong beliefs about who the best football and baseball teams are.

We have beliefs about what clothing style looks best on us, what hair color and length is most flattering. We have beliefs about what’s pretty, what’s a desirable body size or shape.

We have beliefs about how an adult should carry themselves, beliefs about the kind of people we want to surround ourselves with.

We even have beliefs, lots of beliefs, about who we are at our core:  do you believe you are valuable and worthy? Or do you believe that your value and worth is conditional? Do you believe that you are creative and talented? Or do you believe that there is something wrong with you? Do you believe you are deserving and capable of love? Or do you believe that no one could ever love you?

If you really take a minute to think about it, we have beliefs about everything in our lives. I bet you could jot down 20 things you believe deeply, right now.

All beliefs really are, are a thought that we have thought over and over and over again. And the more you think about that thought, the more firm that belief gets. Beliefs are just thoughts that we have chosen to think. That’s it. We can always choose to think something different.

We have the beliefs we do because of frequent exposure, whether that exposure is because of someone else sharing with you, teaching you etc (like parents teaching their children their own beliefs about God) or because of your own focus on that belief (like thinking over and over about what is wrong with your body). When you’re exposed to an idea, regardless of what it is, we either discount it as not important or false (because it doesn’t jive with our already existing beliefs) and it doesn’t become a belief or we go out and collect evidence that reaffirms our belief by giving us more “proof” to support it.

So when we broadcast our political beliefs at family dinners and sharing news articles that agree with them on social media is reaffirming our own beliefs and cementing the beliefs of others who already agree with us, and firming the beliefs of others who already disagree with us. The same goes for when we stare in the mirror, pinch our belly fat and tell ourselves how fat we are. You’re just making sure that you’re going to feel fat that day. The same goes for when we keep telling ourselves over and over that we can’t do something, that we’ll never make money doing what we love or that we’ll never find a romantic partner who appreciates us. Beliefs are strengthened by repetition.

The only way we change our opinions or beliefs is if we feel called to question them.

Questioning your beliefs only happens under very specific circumstances (and no amount of broadcasting our opinions will get someone else to do that if they aren’t already open to it).

People have to be ready to question stuff. They have to be in a place where change is absolutely necessary for them to move forward.

To use myself as an example – me, “broadcasting” my “beliefs” about emotional eating and body image here on my blog and on facebook, week after week – I’m really only going to reach the people who agree with me and are ready to hear that message because they’ve  been questioned their beliefs about food, about their body image, about dieting etc. If you don’t give a crap about those topics or this stuff doesn’t affect you in any significant way, you’re not going to understand why I write about it week after week. Your belief is that it’s not an important issue and that I’m wasting my time, while for me and other women who struggle with it, it’s one of the biggest issues in our day to day life and an important source of information.

Do you see where I’m going here?

Why and when do we question beliefs?

Again, I’ll say that it doesn’t matter what the belief is – we could talk about your political, religious, social beliefs (but I said this wasn’t going to be a political post) or we could be talking about what you believe about yourself, your world, your calling, your occupation etc.

We’re usually only willing to question our beliefs when we find that the belief is preventing us from achieving something, causing major pain (even potential loss of our lives) or reducing our quality of life to a point that is unacceptable to us. When our beliefs act as a roadblock and when we’re are faced with facts that we can’t ignore any more, that is when questioning happens and change can take place. Beliefs and questioning them are a very personal thing.

I’ll use an example of this that my regular readers will understand.

If you have been walking around your entire adult life believing that your weight is preventing you from having the life you want, you will believe that until you have sufficient personal reasons to see otherwise. Everything in your life – your job, your love life, social experiences, and even your inner thoughts will be reflected back at you because of this belief. If you don’t get a job that you were hoping for, you may believe that you would have gotten the job if you were thinner. If you get dumped by a new romantic partner, you’ll tell yourself it’s because you are overweight. If you have a crappy week, you might believe that if you were thin you’d never have a bad week.

In some cases, you may take this belief and use it to encourage yourself to lose weight (in fact, a lot of people start using these thoughts in the hopes that it will do that – I promise you that is not a good long term tactic). Let’s say you finally decide to lose weight so that you can have the life you’ve been dreaming about. You’re successful at it – you lose all the weight you were hoping to.

What happens now? Well if you truly believed that it was your weight that was holding you back from living the life you’ve always wanted, you may find that you’re incredibly disappointed.

All the things that were “wrong” with your life are still “wrong”, other than the weight thing. Job interviews are still rough as hell and the job you want doesn’t materialize out of thin air. Jeffrey Dean Morgan (or any other hottie on your list) doesn’t knock on your door and profess his undying love to you. And you don’t suddenly have nothing but good days. You still wake up feeling grumpy sometimes, in fact, just as often as you used to.

Confronted with reality – with facts about your “new” life, you may finally begin to question that long term belief you’ve always held, that your weight was preventing you from having the life you wanted. With time and with some thoughtful analysis, you may come to recognize that it wasn’t really the weight that was holding you back, it was you using the weight to prevent yourself from taking real risks at work, in love and elsewhere (that’s not a criticism, just an observation love!). You realize that the belief that your weight was the issue, wasn’t really the issue and that if you’re going to have the life you want, you’re going to have to start looking at things differently. Cracks in our beliefs form when we can no longer argue with reality. Shit just got real.

A shorter example, and one that relates to my political themed opening – we have seen politicians who have built long careers being vehemently opposed to gay marriage, abortion or the legalization of marijuana turn around and reveal that they are changing their stance after their son or daughter came out to them as being gay, or after their wife had to undergo an abortion due to a major medical issue or because they have a loved one whose seizure disorder has only been helped by medical marijuana.

In these cases, that person’s beliefs are confronted with something in their personal life that calls the belief into question. To an outsider it may seem that the person is flip flopping for “no reason” but in their life, it’s a big reason, something they had no choice but to rethink their position on. It’s a lot easier to ignore when it doesn’t affect you personally – but when it’s going to affect your world in a huge way, we can’t just keep repeating the stuff we’ve been repeating for decades. We are forced to think about another side of things.

If you want to change your life, if you want to lose weight, repair your relationship with food, if you you want to have a more well rounded social life, you want more free time, more money, better health etc. If there is anything in your life that you want that you don’t have right now, if there is something you think you’ve been working at for a long time but really haven’t made progress with – the first step to changing any of it is to take a look at your current beliefs in those areas and question them.

Let’s say you struggle with money – you feel like you don’t have “enough”, you’re always scrambling to pay your bills and you can’t resist a sale. Is it possible that you have beliefs around money that are holding you back from earning/living the way you’d like to?  Do you believe you don’t deserve it? Do you believe you’re not capable? Examine your thoughts and beliefs around whatever subject/area that you feel you are held back in.

In all honesty, you’re probably reading this because you already have a belief that you are questioning in some way (and I will repeat myself one more time and say it doesn’t matter if it’s a big picture belief or something smaller on scale . . .these things ALL affect how our lives go!). You’re questioning because you’ve been confronted with something you couldn’t ignore anymore. My guess is that if you’re one of my readers, you’re here because you’re struggling with a life or body image / eating issues.  🙂

So where do you go from here?

You keep questioning. You question deeper. You ask yourself why you believe what you do, how you got to where you are and where you want to be. And then you think about the steps you will have to take to get there. And you start taking them. And when you take steps to where you want to be, you’ll find that believing something new about yourself, about your world, about the possibilities out there, becomes easier. You’ll find yourself thinking about where you want to be more often than where you were. Over and over. And that is how your new beliefs will form.

If you’re just beginning to dabble in wanting to change your life – especially your life with food, I encourage you to get out a pen (or pencil) and your favorite notebook and spend some time jotting down the answers to the questions below.

  • What situations in your life are not going the way you’d like? What role are you playing in that situation? Are you being passive or active in changing it? What actions are you taking? What actions could you take that you aren’t taking?
  • What beliefs do you have about the situation?
  • What beliefs do you have about your ability to change it?
  • What beliefs are hurting you or preventing you from achieving what you want?
  • What beliefs do you have that are knowingly holding you back in life? In love? In your social relationships? At work? Creatively? Emotionally?
  • Where do you think these particular beliefs came from?
  • If you could snap your fingers today and feel differently, what would you rather believe?
  • What beliefs do you have that have helped you accomplish or receive positive things in your life?

Now that you’ve spent some time exploring your beliefs in an area that is troubling you, keep an eye out for when your original or long held belief pops up in your life. It’s one of those things, where once you notice it, you’ll notice it everywhere!

For example, people who believe they are a victim in an area of their life usually find once they take a deeper look, they have that kind of thinking in many areas of their life. People who believe that they have a right to keep eating what they want despite health issues, will start to see that they have a belief about wanting to do what they want at work, in their relationships etc. People who believe that there is only one right way to do the dishes, probably have singular beliefs about how to do everything else in life too! Sometimes we aren’t aware of how our beliefs color our whole life. They really do – and that can be a great thing or a really bad thing, it really goes back to how you think about it (and how often you do)!

Lastly, if you are questioning a long held belief, know that is totally ok. It’s expected. It’s part of the human experience and a sign that you are growing, evolving and changing as you learn in life. It can feel awful, scary and confusing, but it won’t always feel that way. Hang in there love!


Have you gotten my newest free guide You Have What it Takes? If you’re an emotional eater, overeater or longtime dieter who wonders if she has what it takes to change her relationship with food, then this for you. And it’s free. Click on the image below, then enter your name and email and it’s yours!

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Getting from Point A to Point Z. (You can’t skip over the points in between).

Think of changing your habits like purchasing a train ticket to go across the country. Trains get us to and from our destination usually with a lot of stops in between. You may be able to buy an upgrade for a fancier seat or wifi but there's nothing you can do to get there any faster. Settle in for the ride.

Think of changing your habits like purchasing a train ticket to go across the country. Trains get us to and from our destination usually with a lot of stops in between. You may be able to buy an upgrade for a fancier seat or wifi but there’s nothing you can do to get there any faster. Settle in for the ride.

One day you wake up and decide that this is it – you are TIRED of being overweight, of overeating, of making food choices that make you feel awful and you’re going to fix it NOW.

You are rolling with enthusiasm. You want to get started immediately and you want results yesterday. You decide that the only way for you to keep momentum is to go ALL in. You will eat as cleanly as possible, as strictly as possible and work out as hard and as often as you can.

Sounds like a recipe for success, right?

All goes well for a bit. The first couple of days are hard but you know it will get easier as soon as you see results! The scale goes down a bit, but you’re so hungry you can’t stop thinking about food and you don’t really have enough energy to do the workouts that you planned to do.

Pretty soon you are so frustrated that you find yourself ordering a pizza and eating almost the whole thing by yourself. And too bloated the next morning to workout. And too ashamed to eat the light breakfast you planned so you hit a drive-thru on your way to work. And it goes downhill from there.

What started off strong and ambitious, screeched to a halt when the progress you made didn’t match up with your expectations. The effort you were putting in didn’t feel equal to the results you were getting back.

You feel like a failure but you are not a failure, it’s just that the way you went about it failed. There are 1000 ways to do everything and the surefire way to fail at weight loss, changing your relationship with food or any habit change is to go at it with extremes.

When we attack life changes with gusto, a part of us feels like we can get from A to Z faster that way. If we go at it hard, fast and ferociously – totally committed, we’ll have faster results. We think we can skip over B, C, D etc and still make it to Z.

But we can’t do that.

If it took you 10 years to gain 50 lbs, it won’t come off in two weeks. If you are a decade in to an overeating or bingeing struggle, you won’t be able to reverse it in a month. If you’ve been running away from your feelings your entire life, you can’t expect it to be easy after trying it once or twice.

If we want to reach point Z, the end goal . . .we have to be willing to tackle all the steps in between. We have to do the work, all of it. There is no skipping over any of it.

We want to, but we can’t.

Every time we try to go at these changes hard, we’re attempting to skip over some of the hard parts. We know this is true, because our intention is to use whatever momentum and enthusiasm we have in the beginning to propel us forward as fast as possible. Otherwise, there would be no rush. But we know (from past experiences) that our enthusiasm will fizzle when stuff gets hard – and so we think we are doing ourselves a favor by moving quickly in the beginning.

You’ll get no judgement from me on this. I know exactly what that feels like. I can’t tell you how many times I got pumped up researching and planning how I’d lose the weight finally “this time” and how urgent I had to get started. That urge to fix stuff RIGHT NOW. That feeling of disgust that we feel when an item of clothing doesn’t fit the way it should. The way you wish you could snap your fingers and be the person you want to be. It feels overwhelming – like there is a massive, crushing weight holding us back from experiencing life the way we want to.

The reason we feel a crushing weight holding us back is because of our own resistance to feeling things as they unfold. The more we push away and resist, the heavier it feels.

Just like we’re uncomfortable with feeling our uncomfortable feelings in our day to day life, we’re also uncomfortable with change, with being present and with not being in control.

Change is hard. Being present is hard. Not being in control can feel hard if you’re used to holding tightly to it. But if it was all easy, would the reward be as great? Probably not.

If you seriously want to make it from A to Z, take your time. Be patient. Experience each step along the way fully. Resist the urge to rush it.

Habit change takes time and the body takes time to adapt and change. No one goes to the gym once and comes out with a fit body. It takes a long time, a lot of commitment and showing up daily. Why not settle in and make changes in a way that you can sustain long term? Not only are you more likely to make it to your goal (there is nothing to fizzle out when you’re not running on momentum alone) it will also be less painful getting there.

As a side note, something awesome that happens when you submit fully to each step in the process of changing your eating habits is that over time, your daily thoughts become less about your weight, food, and your relationship with it and more about living your life. You start to find yourself choosing food and enjoying it with less drama, less stress. Your weight becomes more stable. Periods of overeating become less frequent and less severe. You judge yourself less. It really does become less of a big deal. So yeah, it takes more time and it’s not sexy going slow, but it’s so much more worth it!

Listen to your intuition. You already know what to eat and that you should get some physical activity regularly. You have the knowledge. You do not need another quick fix or another 21 day weight loss program. What you do need is to learn the lifelong skills and habits you will need to eat the way your body needs you to and practice them. Daily.

I know you can reach your goals. You can lose the weight you’ve put on. You can stop overeating so often. You can have a healthier relationship with food. It doesn’t have to be such a rush.

Will you do all the work it takes day by day?

Can you settle in and not skip over steps along the way?

What can you do today that will gently push you closer to your goal?

What will you do tomorrow to continue moving toward it kindly and sustainably?

Who in your life can support you in making these changes slowly?


Could you use some support in this area? Schedule a free consult with me here.

You can also download a free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!). It’s my starter tool pack for those who want to begin changing their relationship with food. One of the recipes you’ll get in that download is my Mango Mandarin Green Smoothie (below) which is full of Vitamins A & C, potassium and iron. And it’s delicious!img_2162

 

Realization: I Still Try to Make Others Laugh at My Body

I've always made my body the joke to protect myself.

I’ve always made my body the joke to protect myself.

Earlier this summer I arrived at a family cookout and one of my relatives said to me “Oh, look at your nice figure”. I was wearing a long fitted henley sun dress. Instead of just saying “Thank you.” I said “oh, it’s because I’m wearing too tight clothes! haha.” I cringed the second it came out of my mouth. The dress isn’t even too tight. It fits me perfectly and I love wearing that dress.

I have a tough time accepting a compliment without making a joke about my body or me. It’s what I do, what I’ve always done.

But it’s kind of a problem since I, you know, work with women who have emotional eating struggles and because I’ve come so far with my own. I’ve changed a ton but from time to time behaviors come to my attention that make me go “whoa! what is this?”

I’ve learned so much about myself the last couple of years. I finally feel like I’ve figured out how I can eat normally, how to not overeat, which foods work for me (and which ones don’t), how to move my body with exercise that I enjoy (instead of just whatever will burn the most calories).

I’ve become hyper aware of all the routines and habits I had created that kept me stuck in the same cycle of overeating and dieting. I no longer try to go as long as I can on as few calories as I can so I can eat a ton at night. I can sit comfortably with uncomfortable feelings without needing to eat to comfort myself. The negative self talk about my body that used to be a never-ending commentary in the background hardly ever shows up at all anymore. It’s quiet now.

I feel more confident in my body.  Enough so that I find myself doing things like taking off a sweat drenched tank top in the middle of a busy NH state park parking lot after a hike, and switching it out for a clean one, without worrying who might see me in my bra or might see my belly. That probably doesn’t sound like a big deal but when you’ve spent most of your life changing in shower stalls or bathrooms so you didn’t have to have your body seen naked in public view it’s a big deal. A really huge accomplishment. I can go to the beach now and wear a bathing suit and not worry about my pale thighs or belly rolls. I’m there to have fun, not to look like a model. I’m sure some of that comfortableness comes with getting older and just not giving a fuck but I know a lot of it comes from the work I’ve done in coaching.

All of this isn’t to say, wow, look at me, I’m doing so well. This is so easy! Everyone can repair their relationship with food on their own! No. All of this stuff is awesome and I feel great but, what I’ve noticed, is that as far as I have come, and as more “real” as this feels as any of my previous attempts at a normal life with food and my body, is that sometimes shit I thought was behind me still comes up from time to time.

Occasionally eating more food than I needed? Not a big deal, especially when it’s an incredible meal at a restaurant that I’ve been dying to check out. Occasionally choosing to eat foods that don’t have any nutritional value? Really not a big deal, especially when I’m choosing to eat it because I really want it (and not because I need to hide from some feelings).

Something I thought I was over, that keeps popping up is saying negative stuff about my own body to other people!

If I see someone I haven’t seen in awhile and they tell me I look great, I tend to wave it off by saying “oh, thanks, but I’ve actually gained a couple of pounds.” If someone tells me I look like I’ve lost more weight, “thanks, but I’ve really been slacking lately!”. I’ll whine about clothing stores having weird sizing and billowy styles and how at Lucky Jeans I have to buy a size Small shirt, even though there’s no way I’m a Small! If someone tells me I’m getting skinny, I say things like “Nah, I weigh about 157 lbs!” (as if it would be impossible for someone at that weight to be slender or fit looking).

In my head, I feel good about my body. I wear clothes that I feel comfortable in. I think I look pretty fit.  And I’m at a sustainable and healthy weight. But outwardly, I find myself projecting the thoughts that I may no longer consciously be having, but were a part of my repertoire for decades. Like tree ring patterns, the ways I navigated through my world have left a record of my history that can’t be washed away so easily.

I’ve always had a self-deprecating humor and made fat or ugly jokes about myself. When I was a kid, people would make jokes about my size in my presence and it stung, a lot. I remember playing the game “Taboo” once with my sisters and some of my cousins. Taboo was a game where you had to use words to get the other players to name a word on the card without using the 4 or 5 other synonym or related words on the card. Sort of like a riff on charades or pictionary but with without acting or drawing.

One of my cousins was trying to get us to say “fat” or “chubby” or something like that. I don’t remember what the actual word was. He was struggling to come up with words to give us hints because things like “obesity”, “overweight”, “large” were off limits. So, what he finally said was “Andrea”. My sister’s and cousin’s looked confused and shouted out things like “blonde?”, “girl?” and then finally someone said “fat!” and my cousin said “ding ding! That’s it!”. I was totally mortified (and pissed! This cousin had a bit of a weight issue at the time himself.). It certainly wasn’t the first time someone in my family had referred to me as fat but it was the first time it became clear to me that that was how most people would see me. That was how they would describe me. It was what I was leading with, even if that’s not who I saw myself as.

I think I started to make the jokes myself with the idea being that if I made sure everyone around me knew that I knew that I was fat, anything they may say or think about my weight couldn’t hurt me. That rational didn’t work out so well, it still hurt, but I adopted the practice as a form of armor. If they’re going to laugh at me, I’m going to be in on the joke dammit! They’re not going to laugh behind my back – they’re going to laugh with me!

Making these jokes about my body, in response to anything and everything was just how I operated. It became a part of my personality in a way. So much so that most of the time I don’t even know I’m doing it. It’s just “me” now.

The summer after my junior year in college I worked for the University’s department of housing. It was a physically demanding job – we worked long hours in sweltering heat painting dorm rooms and carrying heavy furniture up and down many flights of stairs. I remember a few of the other kids always wanting to be my partner in carrying furniture. I was strong and I made carrying steel bedframes feel easy for the other person, because as a “fat” person, I thought it was my duty to take on more of the weight, more of the work. I could handle it. Even the guys would rush to carry with me. And it felt good to be wanted. It felt good to be seen as useful and valuable. For once my fatness was a positive, not a negative. I made jokes about being built like a “brick shithouse” or I’d hold flex my biceps and say “Have you seen these guns?” and everyone would laugh. They thought I was so funny and down to earth and “real” (something that seemed rare on a college campus). I said what everyone else was already thinking. My roommates and I became regular hosts of parties at our apartment that summer for our coworkers. My fatness was valuable at work and the humor I used to detract from myself also made me a riot and people loved to party with me. I could drink almost everyone under the table. It was a joke but also a sense of pride that I took at the time being able to pound 12 beers with the guys on my work crew. I may be fat, but I can party! The fat strong funny girl was a party animal too. The more attention I got, the more the jokes came. I couldn’t stop.

I’m not that girl anymore. My life is really different from my college partying days. I can’t drink anyone under the table anymore (and nor do I want to). I’m still strong but you can bet I’ll let others do their share of the hard work (but I’ll still ask that you admire my biceps). I still make jokes, about my body, but also about really morbid stuff. I have a really dark sense of humor. I’m step over the line a lot. But I don’t want to be that person who makes negative remarks about their body all the time.

She’s still there.

And it’s really annoying because the negative self-talk about my body isn’t there so much anymore. I can walk by the bathroom mirror naked and look at myself and not think much of anything, other than “that’s me”. I don’t recoil in disgust.

In general, I don’t necessarily want to change things that are part of my core personality. I know that a lot of that stuff is what makes me “me”. It’s even part of how some people know me. Who am I without this stuff? Who am I if I don’t make these kind of jokes? Could I be someone who just says “thank you” to a compliment?

I’m not even sure what I’m trying to say with this post.

I guess just that even as far as I’ve come, there are still things that come out sometimes that surprise me. I thought this was behind me. I thought I was healthy enough to not crap on my appearance publicly and regularly. I have clients who get upset sometimes at old behaviors that they still find themselves doing sometimes and to them I say “I know how you feel”. I feel like a failure when this stuff pops up. How can I preach “self-love” and body acceptance when the moment you complement me I have to make a joke about the size or shape of my body? Ug. That’s horrifying.

I have come really far and I don’t see myself ever going back to the unhealthy place I was in in the past but there are still some things I’ll need to keep my eye on.

I have to work at doing this differently. Knowing that I have this behavior isn’t enough to change it. Awareness is a start but I have to keep going and do more. This was something I actually forgot that I did. And now that it’s on my radar, it’s my job to actively work to do better.

If this hits home for you, here are a few questions to explore for yourself. I’d love to hear some of your answers if you want to share them with me:

  • Is there something that you’ve discovered about your personality or behavior that you believe is a result of your history with your weight or eating struggles? How does it impact your life? How does it impact how you view yourself?
  • Why do you think you developed this trait or habit?
  • Would you like to respond differently? If so, what would that look like?

Like this? For more, download your free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!).

Losing Weight Requires Feeling Uncomfortable

Losing weight is uncomfortable.

Losing weight is uncomfortable. Be willing to feel discomfort and it won’t be so difficult.

Raise your hand if you want to lose weight without feeling deprived, hungry or feeling uncomfortable? Raise your hand if you think losing weight shouldn’t be difficult?

If you are raising your hand, I swear no judgements will come from me, because I have spent most of my life trying to figure out how to do that too, how to get into the body I want without feeling any pain or discomfort for even a moment.

We want to lose weight without feeling uncomfortable

I got very clever at doing this. Calorie counting for awhile helped me to eat lots of food so I wouldn’t feel hungry – while still eating low enough calories that I could still lose weight. I’d swap out higher calorie foods like cream for soy milk or rice milk. I’d eat rice cakes for breakfast so that I could eat 3/4 of a pizza and a bottle of wine for dinner (and call it a day). Never ever go hungry.

Later, running 25 miles a week meant I could almost eat anything I wanted, anytime I wanted. I didn’t have to ever go without a cupcake, a beer, or greasy takeout if I wanted because I knew I’d be working off the calories the following week. Never ever feel like I was deprived.

Later, bingeing when uncomfortable or confusing feelings arose was a way to fill myself with comfort so I wouldn’t have to face what I was feeling. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to keep up my running schedule (too many recurrent foot injuries) and calorie counting had long stopped (I just couldn’t deal with the constant mental math) and bingeing brought me back to a painful weight. I was so uncomfortable being heavy again that the only thing I could think to do was to put more food in my face. It felt better than facing what I had done. Never have to face uncomfortable feelings.

In the last 3 years, wanting to lose weight, yet again (can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been down this road – I have lost track), I knew I needed to do something differently. I was never going to win this battle if I didn’t figure out why I couldn’t seem to keep my desire to eat under control.

I know I’m not the only woman who thinks this way about losing weight.

We don’t want it to be hard. We don’t want to feel at all like it’s a struggle. We don’t want to feel like everyone else can enjoy social events without worrying about how much they want to overeat while we can’t. We want what the thin girl has without eating as light as her. We want what the fit girl has without working as hard as her. We think that a 10 day diet should help us lose the weight we gained over 10 years.

Ultimately we don’t want to be uncomfortable. I didn’t want to be uncomfortable. All these years of trying to find diets that “work”, exercise routines that work with the least effort and really the solution was staring me in the face. I had to let go of the idea of trying to control it all and instead try to understand it. If we have understanding, we don’t have to worry so much about control.

Today I want to talk about two of the ways our avoidance of discomfort interferes with weight loss progress – choosing to comfort ourselves with food and telling ourselves that going without is deprivation.

Stop choosing food as comfort

The urge to overeat often comes from a desire to comfort ourselves. Comfort from what, is your call, it might be a crappy day at work, overwhelming anxiety, general dissatisfaction from our life circumstances or a difficult conversation with your boss. We’re all trying to comfort ourselves from different unwanted feelings, uncomfortable feelings. Instead of allowing the negative feelings to come over us, we rush to stop ourselves from feeling or acknowledging them.

One of the easiest ways we can avoid our feelings is with food. Why is it so easy? Well it’s abundant, socially acceptable and affordable. Turning to food numbs us, feels familiar which we interpret as comforting and it gives us the distraction we’re after for a little while.

But why do so many of us do something so destructive (overeat) in order to avoid something so normal and benign? Overeating is destructive. Having feelings and letting them run their course is benign. I know it doesn’t seem that way but it really is! I promise you that if you let yourself feel whatever it is that you are feeling, good or bad, you will be ok. You will get through it. You can survive any feeling you are having.

When my mother was sick, I really couldn’t deal with it. I would go to the hospital and do what I needed to do to support her and my family but emotionally I was totally checked out. I didn’t have the emotional bandwidth to think about what I was feeling. I couldn’t let myself feel those feelings. Then, when my mom passed away, I thought there was no way I would get through those feelings too, in fact, there are whole months of that time period that I don’t even remember. I thought there was no possible way I would survive the loss.

But I did. Each time something “awful” has happened in my life, or each time I have had an awful feeling – I’ve gotten through it.

I’m still here.

Because I’m still here and I’m functioning, productive and have a good life (and I still miss my mom), I know I have proof that I can get through any uncomfortable feeling. Do I always handle it well? No, but that’s not the point of this example. Think about the absolute worst thing that has ever happened in your life. Did you make it through as horrible as it felt/feels? What was the worst feeling you’ve ever endured? If you’re reading this, you survived it. You were able to feel those feelings and live.

If you know you can handle any feeling that comes your way, you won’t need to turn to food for comfort. Your urge to turn to food will be lessened because there is nothing to run from. You won’t need comforting because uncomfortable feelings are merely sensations in the body that last for a little while and not something that warrants comfort.

You’re going to feel uncomfortable, even painful things. That is par for the course for this thing called life. Let yourself feel them. Don’t resist them. Don’t push them away. Don’t fight against feeling them. Just feel them. If that means sitting in your car and crying, so be it!

A few questions to ask yourself if you find you get most of your comfort in life from food:

  • When you sit down to comfort yourself with food, what does it feel like?
  • When you finish eating for comfort, how do you feel?
  • Why are you choosing to comfort yourself with food?
  • What or who else could you receive comfort from instead of food?
  • When an uncomfortable feeling arises, what can you do instead of eat?
  • What is it that you need to comfort from to begin with?

We aren’t being deprived

Another way we try to avoid discomfort is by telling ourselves we have to keep eating or overeating certain things in order to not feel “deprived”. We view most food plans as “depriving” even when they’re well rounded and allow us treats. We think that if we have to eat less or if we can’t eat ice cream in the large quantity we want to every night then we are being deprived. We want to lose weight without ever feeling deprived.

But let’s look at what deprivation is for a second:

Deprivation actually means (from Merriam-Webster) “the state of not having something that people need or “the act or process of removing or the condition resulting from removal of something normally present and usually essential for mental or physical well-being”.

Read that again. Do you see what it’s saying? Not overeating or choosing to not eat things that derail our progress is not deprivation. We do not need daily cheesecake. We will not die without chocolate. Double orders of cheesy nachos are not essential to life. There are only a few things that are essential or necessary in life and yes we can argue that food is essential. Food is something we need. But excess food is not required for our survival. Junk food in excess is not essential. Telling ourselves that by going without cake, cookies or other junk or that by eating a little less is depriving ourselves is completely unhelpful and will cause you to want to rebel against an imaginary adversary who is holding your treats hostage. No one is doing that.

We are not being deprived. No one is taking away anything that you need. If you are overweight and have weight to lose, there is no way you are being deprived of food. You eat breakfast every day. You likely eat lunch, dinner and snacks too. You have enough. You are not being deprived. Please stop believing you are.

You want cake. You want ice cream. You want beer. I get it. I have wants too. And sometimes I go ahead and satisfy my wants. But I no longer tell myself I’m being deprived because I’m not.

If you choose to eat cheesecake, chips or whatever your food of choice is, choose it because you want it and enjoy it, not because you feel like it’s something you need for survival.

Not eating your favorite junk foods isn't deprivation.

Choosing to skip the bread at dinner once in awhile in order to lose weight isn’t deprivation. It’s only deprivation if you aren’t getting what you need. We don’t need bread if we’re eating a 6 course meal.

From another angle, let’s say you still feel “deprived” even though after reading this you know you technically are getting what you need – what then? Well, then I’m wondering what is so awful about “feeling” deprived? Go back to the section on comfort where I talk about feeling your feelings. Feel them. Let yourself feel deprived (if that is what you choose to feel). It will pass like any other feeling and you will survive it. Know that just because we feel something doesn’t mean we have to act on it.

A few questions to ask yourself if you can’t seem to make any progress because of a fear of deprivation:

  • Why do you feel deprived?
  • Why are you choosing to feel deprived?
  • What would feel better than feeling deprived? How would you have to eat and live to feel that way instead?
  • What are all the ways in your life that you are not deprived? Where do you feel rich, full and satisfied?
  • What necessary / essential things do you truly have enough of?

Losing weight isn’t comfortable

Losing weight isn’t comfortable. It’s not always going to be a soft, easy ride.

But think about anything you’ve accomplished or created in your life – maybe you’ve given birth and raised a child, maybe you earned a college degree, maybe you’ve started a business or competed in a triathalon. Whatever you’ve accomplished, I’ll bet it was work. I’ll bet that it was uncomfortable, possibly excruciating at times – but OMG, it was worth it, so worth it, wasn’t it?

A really minor accomplishment that most of us have tackled that I like to think of to compare to this, have you’ve ever done a really hard lower body workout? You know the kind where you worked your legs so hard that just standing up on them when you get out of bed makes you yelp? That soreness, that muscle pain is certainly uncomfortable – and for a few days makes everything a bit more challenging, but while it’s painful / uncomfortable, it’s also satisfying. Discomfort doesn’t have to be bad. Discomfort can be where the good stuff is. Where growth is (not just muscle growth!).

To lose weight, you’re going to have to let yourself feel the discomfort of hunger. Sometimes you’ll have to pass on cheesecake, cannolis or extra bread. You may have to squeeze in a workout on a morning when you’d rather sleep in. Exercise, sweating and breathing heavy, might be uncomfortable, especially at first. Prepping healthy food might be uncomfortable (and certainly time consuming). You will have to go to social events and focus on interacting with people instead of snacking at the food table and it will feel foreign. You’re definitely going to have to feel uncomfortable feelings, sometimes frequently.

It’s not our birthright to feel happy and good all of the time. Good feelings are great but part of the reason why they feel so good is in contrast to the moments when we feel bad. Life is a mix of all feelings and we can’t successfully go through life trying to pick and choose which feelings we will feel. We’re going to feel anxiety, anger, jealous, nervousness, stress, fear, lonely, grief, boredom, frustration, confusion, apathy and guilt along with joy, love, pride, creative, confident, playful, excitement and hopeful. You’re going to feel it all and if you don’t feel it when it comes up, you’ll feel it later in other ways.

Feeling your painful and uncomfortable feelings is going to bring you discomfort, but that’s ok because you now know you can feel anything.

It’s all worth it. I promise it is. The discomfort that we feel while going through these changes is nothing compared to the discomfort we will feel if we don’t take steps to get where we want to be. Be willing to feel anything, especially the uncomfortable stuff and you will get there.


Have you gotten my newest free guide You Have What it Takes? If you’re an emotional eater, overeater or longtime dieter who wonders if she has what it takes to change her relationship with food, then this for you. And it’s free. Click on the image below, then enter your name and email and it’s yours!

 

The Toll Overeating Takes On Us Physically

Think it's just about your weight? I hate scare tactics but sometimes we need a reality check.

Think it’s just about your weight? I hate scare tactics but sometimes we need a reality check.

Everyone knows that eating too much, too frequently can make us fat.

And that seems to be the main motivation most people have to not overeat – they’re worried about the effect eating too much has on their waistline.

But did you know that there are a lot of physical problems that can develop if we overeat too often?

When I decided to finally lose weight, after topping out at 225 lbs, my motivation was part “I want to be skinny and hot” and part “I don’t want to die young like my mom.”

My mom wasn’t grossly overweight, but I know a big part of the reason she isn’t here today was due to lifestyle choices (smoking, not exercising etc) and I knew my lifestyle choices were going to take me down a similar path. Diabetes plagued the maternal side of my family. My mom, Aunt, Pepe and Meme, all died young, all partially from complications due to type II diabetes.

Diabetes doesn’t just affect overweight, sedentary people BUT, I knew that if I remained sedentary and didn’t change my eating habits and my weight, that the diagnosis would be a guarantee with my family history. I also had high blood pressure (another genetic gift from my ancestors!) and worried about my heart, my lungs (I had asthma too) and how every other system in my body was affected by my weight.

I knew my binge-eating, overeating, chronic dieting and being in the “obese” category would contribute to my long term health – but at the time, other than possible cardiovascular disease and diabetes, I didn’t realize how many health conditions can arise because of our eating habits.

I was motivated to change my weight out of fear of death. Sounds dramatic but that’s where my head goes.

I was motivated to change my eating habits because of a fear of health complications while I was alive.

I was able to make both those things a reality when I started to see the payoff in my health (more energy, clearer skin, better asthma control, lower weight, less illness etc).

I was able to maintain those changes (finally) after a lot of trial and error but what finally made it stick, was the internal emotional and mental work I talk about so much on this blog.

Some of us overeat out of boredom, because it’s habit (our families ate a lot so we do too), because we’re out of touch with our hunger cues, or because we’re trying to satisfy an emotional hunger. Regardless of the reason you might be overeating and regardless of where you are in your journey . . .maybe you need to hear this.

Maybe hearing me wax on week after week about getting to know yourself and tuning in to your body instead of dieting aren’t cutting it (for you), maybe you need to hear something else.

I’m not a fan of scare tactics but sometimes we need a reality check, right?

If you don’t care about having a good relationship with yourself, with food and your body, maybe what you need to hear today is all shit that can go wrong with your body if you continue on the path you are on today. If you keep overeating, if you keep bingeing, if you keep playing this game of restrict and consume – well, there are a few things you might have to worry about that go beyond just going up a size, that go beyond your family predisposition to diabetes.

The emotional stuff of food is important and really, in my opinion the key to lasting health, but you can’t get there if you don’t recognize the role your daily habits have in all of it.

So let’s get into it.

What other physical health problems can arise when you don’t listen to your internal cues about when to stop eating?

Here are just a few that you might not be aware of:

Teeth
It’s well known that people suffering from bulimia and anorexia are likely to have tooth decay issues, from stomach acid during the purging process (in the case of bulimia) or from a lack of nutrients (in the case of anorexia) but did you know that people who binge-eat can also have tooth problems arise from the habit?

Our teeth are made to withstand a certain amount of wear and tear over many years but eating far more than our bodies need, and doing so frequently can physically wear down the teeth faster than normal. All that extra chewing and chomping can also cause damage to the gums.

Eating extra food frequently also exposes the teeth to more of the acidic foods that wreak havoc on tooth enamel! One of the worst offenders is sugar and those of us who have a history of bingeing love our sugar-filled foods. Another common way your teeth can suffer from eating too much is if you have serious heartburn (such as in the case of those with GERD) – the acid from your stomach can enter the mouth and get to that enamel again!

Dental work is expensive, painful and time consuming, and healthy teeth and gums are supremely important to your overall health – it’s really not just cosmetic. If you want your teeth to last into your twilight years you have to take care of them and in addition to brushing, flossing, getting regular check ups, it also means avoiding habits that speed up damage – of which, frequent overeating, is one.

Check out this article from Sept 15, 1948 in the Chicago Tribune. It’s old news that overeating is bad for your teeth (and apparently we should remember to take off our lipstick before we go to the dentist – haha!).

Gastrointestinal Upset and Disorders
If you’ve ever overeaten to the point where you need to go put on a pair of comfy sweatpants to allow for the expansion of your belly, then you know what it feels like to have your digestive system at maximum capacity! You may have experienced gas, cramps or even heartburn (that one can also affect your teeth as mentioned above). It doesn’t feel good!

Overeating once in awhile is normal and it isn’t a big deal but when we overeat on a regular basis, we’re putting extra stress on the organs in our digestive system – stomach, gallbladder, intestines, liver, kidneys etc. They work hard each day to digest and process our food and waste so that we have energy and all systems in our body receive the nutrients they need, but when you fill up your stomach with a ton of food at one time, and do it repeatedly, everything gets clogged up. Tired. Slows down. Can’t keep up. Chronic overeating can increase your risk of constipation, diarrhea, gallbladder disease, diverticulitis, pancreatitis and in some cases, cause the stomach to rupture.

One of the first places we “feel” things whether intuitively or physically is in the gut. Overeaters tend to override those signals because of the comfort eating gives us. Tune back into your body – if you are feeling frequent discomfort in your gut, it’s trying to tell you something. Don’t ignore this stuff.

Deficient in important nutrients
What? I know it sounds a little crazy but it can be a real issue. You’d think that if you’re consuming large quantities of food that you’d be consuming all the vitamins and minerals that you need but think about the foods that most people binge on – sweets, fried food, crunchy processed junk food etc – high sources of calories but low nutritional content. When we overeat, we overeat chips, cookies, candy, breads, cakes. No one is overeating lettuce, carrots and pomegranate seeds!

Heavily processed foods are usually lacking in important phytonutrients (flavonoids, chlorophyll, carotenoids etc) because the high heat or high chemical processing they go through destroys them. If you are consuming a lot of these processed foods in favor of fresh food, you’re not going to get valuable nutrients that can help protect you from disease.

This is not just a problem for those of us in the US. Even in places New Zealand and Brazil they are noticing the effects of low nutrient content and the wide availability of heavily refined products. Increase the amount of colors you eat in your daily diet and you’ll get a wider range of nutrients (and I’m not talking about colors provided by food coloring).

Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a condition where the liver accumulates excess fat which in severe cases can cause inflammation, scarring and in serious even liver failure. Doctors aren’t 100% sure what causes NAFLD but we do know that risk factors include obesity and many conditions that can be triggered by obesity. Overeating is a behavior associated with the disease.

By no means am I suggesting that if you have gallbladder disease, NAFLD, GERD or anything else that I mentioned here that you must be a secret binge-eater. And no, I don’t assume that if you’re overweight that you are doing these things either (people of all sizes struggle with this shit). Obviously there are MANY causes for all of these conditions – but if you stay on the overeating path long enough you majorly increase your risk of all sorts of complications.

What would motivate you to change? Is is something on the outside – your appearance or weight? Is it health worries like I talk about here (and something that motivated me)? Is it the internal stuff, like feeling confident in your skin and being at peace with your choices? Is it having more energy? Sleeping better? Not being in so much physical or emotional pain? Only you know what that pain point is for you.

For me, I couldn’t sleep at night because I was worrying so badly about my health. I needed a reality check to finally make changes – maybe you do too.

This isn’t to fat shame you. I believe some people are overweight, healthy and not doing things to harm their health. But you’re not healthy if you are overeating frequently regardless of your size.

Where do you begin? Baby steps. What is one healthy thing you can do for yourself today? Here are a couple of ideas to get you started.Newsletter Sign Up for Bottom of Blog Posts - 1-2016