Why I reject diets and love what I do

As a naturopath, I decided to specialise in weight loss because the greatest gifts and the greatest grief in my life have manifested through the way I eat.  Feeding myself was my most basic need and the most significant way of expressing self care.  It’s also a fabulous way to punish myself.

So in my pursuit of the perfect body, I’ve journeyed to many different places.   The roller coaster ride has taken me to crushing self-hate, extraordinary frustration, devilish envy and deep inadequacy.  It’s also taken me to elation, great courage, exquisite pleasure and now, a level of self awareness and emotional maturity that I am really proud of.

And I’m not done yet!  I recently found myself exploring the depths of grief, tears, the whole drama, as I acknowledged deep-seated disappointment in my life.

I’m grateful for it all.  I don’t regret any of it.  I’m pleased to have had my heart cracked open so that the love and the light could get in.

On this profound journey I have learned many things about what my mentor calls deep, unshakeable peace with food.  In designing programs for my clients I have managed to encapsulate what I’ve learned into 3 key approaches, which I’d like to share with you.

Eating for nourishment (not weight loss).

It takes a mindset shift to stop doing things with the intention of losing weight (that includes exercise) and to do them for reasons of self-care, self-kindness and self-nourishment.  To treat myself with tenderness took many years to achieve.  I kept going to the wrong people to help me and diets never worked.

As a nutritionist my approach to guiding people in what to eat has moved entirely away from calorie counting, low-fat food and the “suck-it-up princess” mentality to being hungry.  What if you ate to nourish your cells and feed your starving body?  What if the things you ate gave you such deep pleasure that a little really was enough? What if your body really could speak for itself and what it wants is clean, nutrient dense, sensual, exquisite food eaten with deliberate intention and patience?

When I’m running my Ditch the Sugar Workshops my goal is to shift people to this approach.  Food wise, that means avoiding low-fat dairy products especially milk and yoghurt.  Have the full fat version – it’s what you really want! It also means eating more avocado, coconut oil and organic butter.  Also switching flour and wheat products to buckwheat, quinoa, brown rice, sweet potato and other unprocessed carbohydrates. It also means swapping sugar for honey and other natural sweeteners and completely avoiding artificial sweeteners.

The hardest thing for me is convincing people to have the patience to follow this approach.  They tend to get impatient, pull the plug and whack themselves on some quick-fix diet which unfortunately soon becomes a quick-no-fix!  Kindness is slow, kindness is patient, and kindness has faith.

Making your biochemistry work for you

We forget that our biochemistry, our biology, is directly related to what we eat.  The body isn’t ethereal.  It’s physical and therefore it requires these building materials: vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids, saccharides and other elements found in food.  Other than breathing, the only way to get those building materials into our bodies is through food.

When we eat “food-like substances” – processed, modified, artificial, toxic food – it messes up our biochemistry.  Not rocket science!

We don’t know that mercury has squeezed out zinc in the mitochondria of the cell or that margarine fats have displaced healthy fats in the cell membrane causing loss of integrity of the cell.  No!  We don’t know that’s what’s happening.

What we see are signs and symptoms – excess weight, thyroid problems, fatigue, digestive discomfort, infection, poor sleep, acne, high blood pressure, PCOS, and so on ad infinitum.

We can interpret these signs and symptoms as indicators that you are not eating properly.  Whether that’s because you wolf down your food before you’ve had a chance to chew it, or your body is so nutrient deficient that it manufactures insufficient hydrochloric acid to digest your protein or, in fact, your dietary choices are misguided and you’re not getting the nutrients you need.

Beautifully, the universe has provided us with a huge range of herbs, foods and other nutrients that naturally, organically correct these issues.  You can make your diet therapeutic! You can super charge your foods. You can reduce your nutrient requirement by slowing down a little.

There are plenty of nourishing strategies that can be applied to our particular set of symptoms.

Getting permission from the CEO – your mind

The grand poobah approach is, as it is with all achievement in life, our mindset; our beliefs, our emotional and spiritual intelligence.

And, as we’ve all experienced when we find ourselves in our own way, this is quite challenging to change.  In my experience, impossible to change on your own.  But change it we must.

Like many other women, I grew up with a mother who dieted and struggled with her weight.  I learned from her (it’s one reason why I hate diets!).  I sat in front of the television and absorbed our cultural messages about what success meant.  I learned from that.  I read Dolly magazine as a teenager and admired the skinny girls and I learned from that.  None of us are immune.

But at some point in our life we’ve got to review our indoctrination and ask ourselves “Are these beliefs working for me?”  If they are not, then, like me you’ve got to do the work of re-indoctrinating yourself!

I find coaching to be extraordinary at this and in particular I like ontological coaching – working with “being” rather than “doing”.  I find this to be “shortcut” coaching as our beingness is the source of our behaviour and consciously or unconsciously determines our actions.

I speak to so many women who know what they should be doing but for some unknown reason they don’t do it.  There’s absolutely no point in telling these women to eat more protein and reduce sugar!  They know that!  What they don’t know is why they sabotage themselves every time they get close to their goal, or they have a bad day, or some disappointment comes along to knock them off their perch.

Here, we’re working in the realm of the unknown, which is why we need to work with someone. Every person who’s learned to get out of their own way and has gone on to achieve their dreams has had a mentor.  That can be God, a guru, a personal development program, a self-aware friend or a coach.  It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you get it.

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to comment please do so below.

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Brenda Rogers

With over 25 years experience as a corporate trainer, naturopath, yoga teacher and wise woman educator, Brenda is the head clinician and coach at Quintessence Health.

"A healthy mind and body simply ensures you have the time and energy to fully express and manifest your life’s purpose – it facilitates the unfolding of joy."

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