What would I say to my teenage self?
I would say three things.
1) Love and respect the body you have.
2) Nourish yourself with nutritious food and energise yourself with exercise.
3) Don’t spend years obsessing about weight, food and diets and focus that energy on something better.
Dieting at 15
I was 15 when I first started dieting because I perceived that my thighs were too big.
Looking back now I realise that was ridiculous, and I wish I had appreciated my body more and not criticised it so much.
What followed were diets that restricted my eating, only to have a backlash of bingeing after a few days because I couldn’t sustain it.
If I ever lost weight, it went on twice-fold with the eating I did in reaction to the restriction.
Physically my body was crying out for more food, so it was never a lack of willpower that made me fail, but actually a biological impulse for me to ease the primal hunger I felt.
But psychologically as well, as soon as something wasn’t on the diet, it became even more tempting and felt even more forbidden, so food also became a way of me rebelling.
Food became my outsource for every emotion
It became less and less about fuel and I became more and more disconnected with my body.
Years on, I now coach others to learn to connect with their body, and like me, they have been on a diet cycle which has meant they have a poor relationship with food.
Trusting your own body and learning to respond accordingly to its hunger and fullness cues is not intuitive for everyone.
We work on creating that interoceptive awareness again, and touch on emotional eating, challenge all the conflicting diet voices we have developed over the years and work on acceptance of their bodies, self-love and self-care.
It’s not a quick fix, but all these elements are so important for a happy and healthy relationship with food.
I can only say that the best path for anyone wanting a happy and healthy relationship with food is to respect, love and listen to your body.
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