Over the past few years, I have become very vocal about my struggles. Over the course of my life, I have lost some 300kg in total. In the past, I went from one extreme to another. From binge eating meals of 7000 calories to restricting to 300 calories per day. I have been at both ends of the spectrum and everywhere in between too. The struggle is real. Eating disorders are so hard to deal and live with and my main aim for 2020 is to raise awareness and help as many people as I can.
Three years ago I needed to find out why I was successful at everything in life except for weight loss. That is where I finally learnt I have an eating disorder. As a pharmacist, I get ashamed it took me so long to realise – as a human it makes me understand how difficult eating disorders are to accept and navigate. We need more awareness about what these disorders are all about.
After having done every diet under the sun I have realised that diets DO NOT work. Humans are not made to follow rules and with a diet, you need to internalise a set of rules and make them your own. However, as humans, we all have a relationship with food. So what we eat is influenced by how we are thinking and feeling. How many times have you felt like you lacked willpower? I know I blamed myself for this for so long! Today after learning about how the brain works I understand how no amount of willpower could override the primal part of my brain that is triggered to eat.
But for today’s article, I want to talk about what can happen when you go on a diet.
We see so many before and after pictures online. This is how this journey actually started for me with a before and after picture. I quickly learnt that success stories are the exception, not the rule but it does happen in a tiny percentage of cases. I have maintained the majority of my weight loss but not because of the diet. I actually yoyo’d for a while throughout this journey as well. The reason this time its different for me is that the mindset is different. This is not about the food anymore but about my relationship with myself and food.
You may be motivated enough to stick to the diet for hours, days, weeks sometimes even months – maybe you even hit you goal weight but at some point, most people will throw off the shackles and resume eating, usually more than before and usually with a sense of feeling out of control until you find yourself back at your starting weight or higher.
And lastly, you restrict and maintain your restriction through tolerating the conflict of wanting to eat but not allowing yourself to. This one can be dangerous because it’s the feeding ground of eating disorders. In anorexia tight restriction is maintained but at enormous cost. Perhaps you manage to restrict but with periods of bingeing, well this is a slippery slope into binge eating disorder and once you start making “amends” for bingeing (purging, exercise, laxatives, fasting) you slide into bulimia territory. You may also manage to restrict and become obsessed with clean eating leading to orthorexia. What a complex relationship we have with food right?
You may be thinking this all sounds a bit hopeless. What are you supposed to do if dieting isn’t the answer? In order to change how we eat, we first need to reduce our own conflict and emotionality around food. I know you want to jump straight into making the changes. Of course, you do, this has become so incredibly important to you but the challenge may be to make it LESS important. This is why ditching the diet mentality is crucial. It’s not just about not dieting but about shifting the mentality. This is the mentality that you carry around day-to-day and it influences every single food choice you make and turning food decisions into a minefield.
When working with clients we spend the first few weeks examining how the brain works – where you are at the moment and how to rewire new healthy pathways in the brain to form new healthy habits.
Like a spiders web, the more you struggle, the more stuck you become. We need to end the war to find peace and then rebuild from the debris. This means surrender, not destroying ourselves through trying to win against our appetite for it is a fierce and non-compromising opponent. Get in touch if you would like to know more about what I do and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Facebook.