The 30 day Health Challenge where you get to eat all the food you love!

Health challenges don’t need to involve cutting food from your diet.

In fact, there are many different ways we can take care of our health. This challenge (although it doesn’t need to be a challenge as such), is wholistic in the way it encompasses aspects of physical, mental and emotional health.

 

Here are a bunch of things you can focus on that will boost your physical and mental health over the next 30 days.

Please note: you don’t have to do all of these things in order to care for your health and the ability to do most of these requires a level of privilege where we have a choice, access, freedom and financial capacity.

  • Practice listening to your appetite and aim to eat when you notice physical hunger*
  • Whatever you do choose to eat, practise eating with some mindful awareness of how the food looks, smells, tastes and feels in your body.
  • As often as possible, eat food you enjoy the taste of and that leaves you feeling satisfied.
  • Aim to include some fruit and vegetables in your diet each day
  • Sometimes eat food just because it tastes good without worrying about the nutritional value
  • Cook or prepare more of your own food from scratch
  • Enjoy meals with family or friends a few times per week
  • Eat regular meals or try not to go more than 5 waking hours without eating
  • Aim to get enough sleep most nights
  • Find something you can do daily that involves moving your body in ways you enjoy
  • Do something each day that makes you smile or laugh
  • Offer kindness to a stranger
  • Find at least one thing each day to be grateful for

After all, health is so much more complex than what we eat or our nutrition. Unfortunately, many people sacrifice their mental and emotional health in  the pursuit of physical health. Physical health means little without mental or emotional health.

*If you struggle with this, that’s ok and fairly normal if you’re been dieting, have (or had) and eating disorder, or just aren’t used to listening to your hunger and fullness cues. Learn more about this here.

Excuse the click baity title…

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Want to learn how to nourish your body without having to restrict food? Learn about intuitive eating with our ebook Nourish.

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We need to stop confusing eating well and being active as a weight loss tool, because weight loss tools don’t work.

When it comes to health, we need to stop talking about weight loss and instead talk about health behaviours.

Being active and eating well are just two of many factors that influence health.

I am writing this after reading this quote in an article…

“Of course there are risks associated with weight loss but there are massive risks associated with not being physically active and healthy eating.”

It’s not difficult to construe this message as being active and eating well equates to weight loss. Even if you argue that’s not at all what is implied, if eating well and being active are part of what improves health, why do we even need to mention weight loss?

While the article makes it clear that diets for weight loss do not work long-term for most people, it does mention that there are some “success” stories of longterm weight loss – wait for it, drum roll – 10,000 Americans have successfully keep weight off (at least 14kg) for more than 5 years. 10,000 Americans is 0.00003% of the population!! Of course not every one is trying to lose weight, but even if we just counted the estimated 25-50% of Americans who are dieting at any one time, this is still only 0.0001% of the population. The fact that American stats are being quoted in an Australian article is that there is no record of longterm successful weight loss in this country.

The article also reports that “even a long-term weight loss of five per cent had health benefits”, while this may be true, in my almost 14 years of practice, I have not met anyone with a high body weight who is happy to just lose 5% of their weight. I’m pretty confident that the overwhelming majority of dietitians, doctors or other health professionals would attest to this.

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Of course there are many reasons why most people would not settle for a 5% weight loss, including (but not exhaustive);

  • Continued use of the (unhelpful) BMI scale
  • The media constantly pushing the “obesity = death” message; losing 5% of body weight is not going change most people’s BMI category.
  • New diets appearing all the time that promise they hold the key to weight loss
  • The multi billion dollar diet industry selling the weight loss dream
  • The media publicising the latest weight loss research and diets that go along with the new research, often from doctors or well known health experts.
  • The incessant advertising of weight loss programs and products on TV
  • The multi billion dollar pharmaceutical industry and its proliferation of weight loss surgery and drugs that promise (but often don’t deliver) signifiant weight loss.
  • A culture that equates thinness with worthiness, happiness, attractiveness, success and health.

As long as we talk about weight loss along side eating and activity behaviours, we continue to support the idea that changing these behaviours is about weight loss when it should be about health.

The non-diet approach is a paradigm that enables people to pursue health through changing behaviours without focusing on weight loss. The approach is not anti-weight loss, just anti the pursuit of weight loss through dieting; some people may lose weight as a side-effect, but some people may not. The non-diet approach is part of the Health At Every Size paradigm.

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Want to learn how to nourish your body without having to restrict food? Learn about intuitive eating with our ebook Nourish.

Click the banner to grab your copy today for $9.95

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If I could just eat less…

Thin people are not thin because they are able to take a few bites of food and leave the rest. They are (mainly) thin because that is their genetic blueprint for size.

Mistakenly, many thin people – and I used to be one of these – believe being careful with their calorie intake, is what keeps them thin or lean. Since practising intuitive eating principles I have stopped being unnecessarily careful with food and I am still thin. Pretty much everyone in my family is thin.

Last week I had a few clients express the idea that if they were just able to say no to food, or just able to have a few bites and leave the rest, they could be thin like their thin friends they see (sometimes) do this.

When we explored this further, my clients realised a few things…

Their friends are in thin bodies because; 

They have always been in thin bodies, as are many (if not all) people in their family. That said, families can have strikingly different genetic blueprints for size, where one sibling is naturally thin and another naturally bigger based on their parents genetic blueprint.

I am not saying with people with a genetic blueprint to be thin can eat whatever they want and never gain weight. My point is that perceived self control is not their reason for being thin.

And yes, there are some people who keep themselves thin by eating very little, but they are the minority. 

We also discussed their perceived “superpower” of being able to just eat one piece of chocolate and we decided this might be because…

A) They’ve never tried to restrict it

B) They do eat more when they feel like it and without any anxiety or guilt

C) They have a positive relationship with food where they know they can eat what they’re hungry for, whenever they’re hungry for it, without judgement from themselves or others 

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This message is really important because if we keep expecting everyone to be able to achieve a similar body type through managing their food “better”, we are seriously misguiding people and setting many up for a lifetime battle with food and their bodies.

dietitian melbourne

 

 

Want to learn how to nourish your body without having to restrict food? Learn about intuitive eating with our ebook Nourish.

Click the banner to grab your copy today for $9.95

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The last supper effect

Have you ever found yourself having constant thoughts about, or strong cravings, for certain food just before you start your next diet, or in the days leading up to an appointment with the dietitian?

If you said yes, you’re not alone. This is called ‘the last supper effect’ and almost all my clients experience this before coming to see me – even though they’ve read on my website that no food will be restricted. They do this because the normal human response to the thought of deprivation or scarcity, is to stock up. I had one gentleman recently tell me he considered a glass of wine at 11am in the morning (his appointment was 1.30pm) as he thought I would tell him to stop drinking!

Another client today mentioned how every time he planned for his next diet in his head, that day on the way home from work he would stop by the supermarket and buy all sorts of foods, many he never even usually ate, and eat all the food that evening. One of the things he realised recently, was how often he did this and never even went on the diet.

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One of the most ironic aspects of dieting or restricting food in the name of health is that planning to diet or restrict your food often leads to behaviours that are not great for your health. Even if you don’t experience the last supper effect, dieting or restricting food very often leads to over-eating or going nuts around food at some point in time. Rather than blame the restriction of food, you blame yourself for lack of will power of self control, you do this because that’s what our diet culture has taught you. However, if you truly want to escape the cycle of feast or famine, of restriction followed by bingeing, you need to stop restricting food. A non-diet approach and intuitive eating can help you do this.

If you take a moment to reflect, are there any foods that you allow yourself to eat freely, with no sense you shouldn’t be eating it, that you feel you can’t enjoy in moderation? If so, please leave a comment on Facebook as I’d be curious to know.

dietitian melbourne

 

 

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Want to learn how to nourish your body without having to restrict food? Learn about intuitive eating with our ebook Nourish.

Click the banner to grab your copy today for $9.95

non-diet haes dietitians Melbourne

There is so much nonsense and fear mongering when it comes to food and nutrition and it needs to stop.

If bread and pasta really were evil, how have France and Italy managed so well with these as staple foods?

If rice was so void of nutrition or an issue weight wise, why hasn’t a high rice consumption affected the billions of people in Asia and India who eat rice as part of their traditional diets?

If sugar really was to blame for increasing BMIs and diabetes, why do Switzerland and Germany, the biggest consumers of chocolate in the world, have some of the lowest rates of people with high BMIs and diabetes?

If cheeses and deli meats were so unhealthy, why don’t countries such as France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland have much higher rates of diet related disease?

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The answer is relatively simple, none of these foods are the issue. When populations experience higher rates of illness or body weight, along with a genetic component, there are a myriad of other lifestyle, social and economic factors that are influencing these changes.

If we keep blaming the food, and the individuals for eating the food, the bigger picture of what it means to have a healthy population will never properly be addressed and continue to be swept under the carpet.

In my practice, seeing these foods as the issue has only led my clients down a path of disordered eating where they find themselves obsessing over food and (usually) weight. This obsession ultimately results in feeling miserable about food and themselves and in many cases results in bingeing on the foods that have been restricted.

There’s a good chance you* would benefit tremendously from taking a deep breath and just chilling the heck out when it comes to thinking about food and nutrition.

*Please note: if you experience anxiety or emotional distress around food, chances are, chilling out will not be straightforward and you may benefit from talking with a non-diet psychologist, dietitian or other health professional.

You can find us here:

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Food is neither “good” nor “bad”

Eating sugar does not make you a bad person and enjoying a brownie is not going to harm your body in any way. Just as drinking green smoothies or munching on activated almonds is not going to make you a better person or give you the key to health.

Food can be eaten for nourishment and pleasure, or it can be eaten just for pleasure.

Thinking about food as either “good” or “bad” is so engrained in our thinking that it’s almost impossible for many people to enjoy some types of food without feeling guilt or shame that they’ve done something wrong. You should only feel guilty if you do something bad or hurtful, for example stealing the brownie or punching someone to get the brownie. We experience shame when we feel bad about ourselves. Why should we feel bad about eating something that tastes wonderful and gives us pleasure?

A large part of what drives this notion of some food being “bad”, or at least “not good enough”, is our culture which is obsessed with the idea of health being a slim or lean body and a level of virtuousness with our eating. Green smoothies, “superfoods”, quitting sugar and elaborate salads are all examples of the virtuosity that surrounds our health obsessed culture. It’s not that any of these foods or ideas are wrong, it’s that they take what it means to eat well to the extreme, and while this may work well for some, for many it’s way too time consuming, doesn’t fit in with a busy work and/or family life and in some can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food. Or, if you’re like me, the idea of a green smoothie or quitting sugar may be totally unappealing. A meal of steak, potato and regular vegetables can be just as nutritious as a fancy salad with sprouted grains, cultured vegetables and activated almonds – no I didn’t just make that up – these meals exist. Our culture’s obsession with this type of eating has lead many of clients to feel that many traditional basic meals aren’t good enough or that one of the world’s most nutritious foods – the potato – is somehow bad for health. You can read my post on potatoes and potato chips here.

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We must stop labelling food as either “good ” or “bad”

Surely it can’t hurt to call some food “bad”?

While intellectually you may be able to recognise that enjoying, let’s say ice-cream, is ok, continuing to label such food as “bad” or “unhealthy” can elicit the feeling of guilt and shame around food choices as discussed above and will only continue to fuel the widely held, but misplaced, belief that certain food is “bad” or should be avoided. While some people can brush this off, many find themselves in negative and obsessive thought patterns about the food and themselves. When we feel badly about ourselves and when we are consumed with thoughts about food, we are less likely to take the time to tune into our true needs and desires and treat our bodies with care. We are more likely to fall into the diet mentality trap of “who cares, stuff it, I deserve it, I’ll be good tomorrow”. This diet mentality trap inevitably leads to overeating the so called “bad” food and may be followed by feelings of guilt, shame and unhappiness with self and often swearing to never eat that food again! This is what I mean by an unhealthy relationship with food.

What if chocolate (insert other sweet or fatty food) was just chocolate, much like a carrot for most people is just a carrot. What if you chose to eat chocolate simply because you felt like the taste of chocolate in that moment. How much would you need to eat to satisfy your taste for it and feel truly satisfied afterward? This is something you may need to experiment with and I know there will be people reading this who are thinking “but I’d eat the whole block”. If this is you, I suggest you take some time to sit and savour a whole block of chocolate (or other food you’re prone to overeat), consider the smell, flavour and texture of each piece as you go, how does the chocolate taste and feel in your body the more you eat? However, before you do this, you need to loosen your grip on the idea chocolate is “naughty” or a “guilty pleasure”, because as long as you continue to place a moral value on the food, you’ll run the risk of the “forbidden fruit” effect – the natural human desire to want what someone tells you you shouldn’t have. While all this sound easy enough in theory, actually changing your mindset can be very challenging and this is where you may need help from a non-diet approach dietitian.

Is it ok to refer to some food as good?

This really depends on the context. If you’re using the word good to refer to good quality produce or just tasty food, then I think it’s ok to say good, but if you’re using good to mean the food is nutritionally superior and you’re a better person for choosing it, then we run into trouble. All food offers some nutrition and choosing to eat a salad over a cupcake does not make you a better person. Also, if only certain types of food are labelled good, then it’s natural that some food will be seen as “bad”, or not so good. While this may seem fairly benign on the surface, it advances the diet mentality mentioned above and sets up the unhealthy relationship with food that can lead to disordered patterns of eating, and even eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder.

For example, if you find yourself thinking “I was good last night” because said no to dessert, should the following night you go out for dinner, you may find yourself more prone to overeating. This overeating occurs as you feel you “deserve it” having been “good” the night before; so why not go the whole hog tonight? The outcome; you overeat more for the sake of overeating than really enjoying the food, this leaves you feeling not only uncomfortably full, but upset with yourself and saying, “I’ll be good tomorrow” or “I’ll start again on Monday”. This is a common cycle that people with a diet mentality experience over and over and over and over…

You can start to let go of the negative feelings you experience with food by starting to change the way to think and talk about food. One important step is to change the language you use. You could try using the word nourishing to replace “good” and fun food or play food to replace “bad”. Note; many foods people consider bad, such as burgers, pizza, chips are also very nourishing as they contain fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Typically nourishing food is the food you choose to eat when you are physically hungry; fun (or play) food you might choose to eat primarily for the taste and hunger may not present. It must be noted that even fun or play food provides some nourishment, it’s just that if we only ate these foods, we would miss out on some important nutrients and we would probably feel a little sickly after a period of only eating chocolate, ice-cream, cake, lollies, crisps etc.

Eating can be and should be both a nourishing and pleasurable experience.

Bon appetit!

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