How to make friends with food even when you hate your body Print

#EDAW2017 – Struggling with your weight or an eating disorder? Do you have a poor relationship with food?

Feb. 1 to 7 is Eating Disorder Awareness Week. For the many clients we see in our nutrition counselling practice with anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating disorder, orthorexia and other disordered eating patterns, food and weight preoccupation are common topics of discussion. Guidance on how to establish a healthy relationship with food and working toward body size acceptance is also one of the most frequently discussed topics for our overweight clients and those who have spent a lifetime of yo-yo dieting.

The common struggle with a poor relationship with food and your body

Andrea Holwegner as published in Calgary Herald Newspaper

I brainstormed with our team of dietitians at Health Stand Nutrition Consulting (Deb Lounsbury, Richelle Tabelon and Sherene Sieben) on the most common food and body relationship issues and negative beliefs we observe in our clients.  Do any of these resonate with you?

  1. The number on the scale today will determine what and how much I am allowed to eat.
  2. I feel stressed about eating. I watch other people eat and wonder how they find joy and pleasure when I see food as the enemy.
  3. I feel shame and judgment if I eat ice cream or chips in front of others.
  4. I am only allowed to eat when and if I have exercised today.
  5. I am always second guessing my choices and have forgotten what it is to eat “normally.”
  6. I get anxious if I have to eat in front of other people or at places where I don’t know what is in the food.
  7. There must be something wrong with me that I barely eat and still struggle with my weight.
  8. I am a careful eater and avoid eating until I am full or satisfied.
  9. I have lost touch with knowing when I am hungry or full since I have been stuffing or starving myself for a long time.
  10. I have so much noise in my head about eating and my weight that I miss out on many social things and life opportunities.
  11. I see food as good or bad and eating as all or none with no middle ground.
  12. I hate my body and I know life would be better if I could only be smaller.

How to nurture a healthy relationship with food

Rekindling a healthier relationship with food and your body is no easy task, but the good news is if you don’t like how you feel right now you can change that. Here are some strategies from our dietitian team to begin learning to rekindle loving kindness for yourself:

  1. Learn to trust others until you can trust yourself

Feeling better about food and your body takes time and support from a dietitian and therapist that body mind soul spiritspecialises in eating disorders and emotional eating. Dietitian Sherene Sieben suggests that her clients often have so much anxiety, fear, guilt and shame about food, eat sporadically and approach things in an “all or nothing” way. Many of her eating disorder clients have acknowledged that recovery began to improve when they began to trust that she had their back and that she was not trying to make them fat.  Trusting your dietitian to initially drive the answers to the questions about which foods your body needs and the portion sizes required for good health is the best way to learn to trust yourself.

 
  1. You are worthy of eating no matter what

Dietitian Deb Lounsbury acknowledged that many people use the number on the scale to decide what and how much they are going to eat today. It makes her sad to see external factors have so much power over addressing the internal basic need to eat. Regardless of what you weigh, how much exercise you did today or how badly yesterday went, you are worthy of nourishing your body for health and energy. Honour and respect your body with enough nourishment to live your best life. Eating is a basic need, not a reward.

  1. Start with mechanical eating before moving to intuitive eating

While many of our clients want to be intuitive eaters who make flexible choices and to listen to their hunger and fullness cues, it is often hard to trust these cues without first resetting what, when and how much to eat on a basic level. Dietitian Richelle Tabelon teaches her clients to first focus on mechanical or structured eating with three meals and likely snacks in between.  She also helps her clients understand portion sizes and achieve nutritional adequacy, stop dieting behaviours, obsessive weighing and unnecessary food restrictions.  In time, she helps people begin to distinguish hunger and fullness cues to move toward true flexibility and intuitive eating.

One Final Note …

The most universal discussion point that came up for all of the dietitians on our team was the need to acknowledge that there are no good or bad foods. Food is just food. Learning to eat fully is about finding the balance between healthful foods and soulful foods chosen for fun, taste and enjoyment.

Perhaps dietitian Sherene Sieben said it best when she came up with her favourite word for embracing imperfections which is “ish.” Move toward making your eating “healthy-ish” (striving for healthy, but never perfect).

Article originally published in the Calgary Herald

If this article resonated with you, and you would like to address your relationship with food, or need help embracing the “ish”,  contact us about starting a nutrition counselling program.

 

About Andrea Holwegner

CEO, Registered Dietitian, Counseling Practice Director & Professional Speaker

Andrea the «Chocoholic Nutritionist» is founder and CEO of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. since 2000. She is an online nutrition course creator, professional speaker and regular guest in the media. Andrea is the recipient of an award by the Dietitians of Canada: The Speaking of Food & Healthy Living Award for Excellence in Consumer Education....Read more

Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. Andrea and her team really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Andrea is an excellent teacher and motivator. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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