Updated: Jan 14
I started studying nutrition because I learnt my lesson about the value of nutrition the hard way.
In 2009 I was overweight, 6 months later, I wasn’t.
In a short period of time I had managed to cause damage to my digestive system, and created an unhealthy relationship to food.
When you lose weight, people want to know ‘how’, especially when you have lost it quickly. I didn't want other people to make the same mistake so I spent some time learning the better answers to give.
Everyone wants a quick fix but the truth is that it takes time to gain the weight and create the habits that took us there and so it will take some time to learn new habits and behaviours and create a new lifestyle that will take us to where we want to be.
I took some time undoing the damage. Not all of it can be undone, just managed.
My gall bladder was removed, some years later I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. This is now managed through nutrition and managing my stress levels.
What is important to me is that I help others on their healthy journey, helping them to identify one that is sustainable, one that focuses on nutrition. A lifestyle that allows them to live the life they choose, in a body that is healthy and that they feel confident in.
What I love most is when clients tell me that they have found a ‘new normal’.
Lifestyle changes take some time to embed. As a coach I know when the new changes have 'stuck' when they have a couple of days eating differently and tell me that they are looking forward to ‘getting back to normal’.
As part of the Thrive programme we look at how we understand nutrition and our relationship with food and drink as part of our 'Physical' self improvement. We talk about how we see food, how we think about food how we use food as fuel but also to meet our needs.
Whenever I post about nutrition, either within programmes or on wider social media forums it is always interesting to see the diversity in answers and how people see food so differently.
This is why nutrition coaching cannot be a one size fits all approach, we all have different thoughts and experiences as well as different visions and goals as to what we want to achieve.
The principle of 'the journey' may look the same but the route and destination will be different.
Here is a summary of some of the posts and responses:
1.Food be thy medicine, medicine be thy food.
While the quote relates to eating well resulting in a healthy body and mind it was interesting that comments on this post related to self-medicating with food and not in the positive sense. We can self-medicate with the foods our body needs to physically function well but often we choose to self-medicate with foods that satisfy us mentally or emotionally.
What memories do you associate to certain foods? Are these positive or negative? Does it stop you from eating them now or does it mean you turn to certain foods at certain times? Do you associate emotions or feelings to certain foods? Are they positive or negative? Does this influence what choices you make and when?
3.What demand are you feeding?
Food, security and love are all basic human needs. It is not uncommon for the three to be mixed up or joined together. Food is a nutrition source but is often used to ‘feed’ security or love demands rather than a fuel demand. Are you satisfying a physiological or psychological need when you eat?
4.The right obsession?
How often do you think about food?
Is this because you need to, because of the job you have or perhaps the industry you work in. This is a positive obsession, for example, thinking about food and flavour combinations and presentations. It may be that you are an athlete and you have to make sure that you have the right amount and type of fuel for training.
It may however be a more negative obsession. I remember a time where I would think about food all the time. What I was eating, what I could eat, what I should eat, what others were eating, what food was around me, when could/would I eat next.
It is incredible the amount of stress this can cause and something that can be quite complex to understand and work to improve.
I often get comments on posts or in groups about how much people see food as a social and enjoyable element of our lives.
Food is often linked with happy memories, family members and social occasions.
Preparing and providing food is often perceived as a way to show love and give comfort.
If you are a recipient of this it can often feel that if we decline the offer of food we are refusing the offer of love and comfort not the actual food item. This can be very challenging for some people but learning to manage these conversations in an assertive way can help.
These are just 5 of the themes that have come up within the posts and discussions. Most of us know what we should be eating more of, what we should be eating less of. Making it happen and making sustainable changes is the more complex part of nutrition.
If you were to keep a food diary for a week and captured food choices how many would be on the grounds of:
Satisfying physical hunger, food being fuel
Satisfying mental or emotional hunger
Force of habit
Keeping a diary may help you become more conscious of some of the decisions you are making. Planning ahead can also prevent this.
Remember when making changes keep it small – small and consistent is the key!
Change is not easy but it is worth it.
I took the more complicated path. My quick fix actually was far from a quick fix at all! I learnt the lessons and I learnt about nutrition so that I can motivate, educate and support others on their journey.
Don’t worry about what other people are doing, or what is working for them, focus on you and what works for you.
If you would like to improve your nutrition there are a number of ways you can start your journey: If you are unsure what is the best option for you then why not book in a clarity call and we can talk through what you want to achieve and how you can best be supported.
Published: May 2018
Revised: March 2019