Written by Nourished Not Deprived Practitioners

I know what to do, my problem is, I just love food

Does this sound familiar?

’’I know what to do, my problem is, I just love food too much’’.

To begin, the sentiment of ‘‘I know what to do’’ is something I here almost everyday at Nourished, which is a problem in and of itself, because I don’t believe many people know what to do or sometimes even know what they want, which makes my job both easy and difficult all at the same time.

So, let’s unpack this.

At Nourished during an Initial consult we always begin asking the person to dive deeper into their reasons for why they have sought an appointment with us, as well as what they are looking to achieve out of the session. This is an important part of our assessment as being a client-led Practice we need to know what you would like from us, not just assess you and decide what we would like for you.

In many individuals’ explanations (I would estimate around 80% of the time), ‘‘I know what to do’’ will be said. Sometimes I will pick at this comment initially, however a part of my job is also knowing when and when not to open my mouth. If I speak too soon, or argue with your viewpoints too early, I’ll lose you and won’t be able to assist any further, which is not going to help anyone now is it!

However, for those I believe won’t shutter at my disagreement at their confidence in knowing what to do, I will dig deeper.

Yes, of course the majority of us know that a healthy diet usually involves fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, some form of lean protein source, maybe some dairy and unsaturated fats. However, that doesn’t get us very far.

Let’s say you want to lose weight. Do you know how weight loss works? Do you know how to place yourself in a caloric deficit? Have you been able to do so in a maintainable manner so far in your life? Do you know how to eat in a caloric deficit and also eat well AND have it be maintainable and not leave you miserable?

I’m going to say, many of you would say no. So, perhaps you know what you want, and you know some general food guides, but you don’t actually know what to do, which is absolutely fine. This stuff isn’t taught in school (watch this space though… it’s on the bucket list..).

Second issue with this sentence is the denotation of having a love for food, being a problem.. ‘‘my problem is’’. A problem is defined as ‘‘a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome’’.

Loving food is not a problem. Oh no my friend, loving food is a blessing. The amount of patients I have seen who would give their left arm to find enjoyment with food again. If you are lucky, you have been blessed with the ability to taste, to find pleasure, to enjoy, which is something that some others cannot in this life. For instance, unfortunately my mother had a fall back in 2016 where she suffered a brain injury, leaving her unable to taste or smell, for good. For her, enjoyment of food is diminished forever. I am not telling you this to feel sympathy for her, I am however bringing light to this to allow you to recognise how very blessed you are to be able to enjoy something that some others cannot.

Further to this, in a clinical setting, if a patient reports apathy towards food, which is defined as ‘‘a lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern’’ with food, this is usually a sign of something that needs further investigation and is an abnormal response to something more sinister underlying.

This means that having interest in food, enjoying food through your ability to taste and being drawn towards certain food is a healthy and normal response that your body is physiologically primed to do. It is what keeps you alive. It is what brings joy to your life. It is what your body is supposed to do. So why would we want to diminish love for something that keeps us alive and joyful?

My last point on this is when individuals think this way, a few insidious things occur.

Two of which are judgment towards themselves for feeling hungry leading to constant belittlement of themselves or avoidance of the foods they love which causes:

a) removing enjoyment from their day,

b) overconsuming this food once they get their hands on it or

c) feeling guilty if they ever consume this food deemed off limits.

This common societal view that you are wrong for loving what gives us life, that it is normal to belittle yourself for enjoying something that tastes amazing, that pleasure must mean wrong and that you should suppress a bodily function that is responsible for keeping us alive is what is causing over 1 million Australians each year to become entangled in the perpetual cycle of an eating disorder.

Now, if you are getting to the end of this read and thinking ‘‘yeah that makes a lot of sense… but what can I do about it?’’. Well my friend you are much more powerful than you think you are, and your mind is a lot stronger than you think it is. So here is what I would like you to do if you would like to stop thinking this way about your eating and potentially help those around you stop feeling this way too.

1. Each time you are tempted to ban a food from your diet – I want you to think WHY am I banning this food type. Is this a logical thing to do, and would Bronte do the same. If the answer is no, then don’t do it.

2. Each time you feel a hunger cue and your innate response is to suppress that appetite eg. ‘‘I’ll just have a coffee’’, I would like you to eat instead.

3. Reconsider whether those appetite suppressants are doing you harm, or good.

4. Allow yourself to love food and eat the foods you love.

5. Stop taking nutrition and eating advice from Tik Tok and Instagram accounts that are obviously not qualified health professionals.

6. Remember how blessed you are to be able to enjoy food and have a healthy appetite.

7. If you are struggling with this, then seek out help, we are here and this is what we do best.

8. Recognise you might not know what you are doing, and with anything you are unsure of in this life, ask someone who knows better, for help.

Look, the truth is, you probably haven’t known what to do, because our society is full of confusing attitudes, beliefs and opinions around food, from people who know little about food and the body. Now this is okay, you just need to know who to listen to; and hey if you wouldn’t go to your aunty who works in finance about your car for mechanical issues; then you probably shouldn’t go to a random mechanic on Instagram about whether you should be banning chocolate.

Remember, food is allowed to be enjoyed by my friends. Start enjoying it.

Your friendly neighborhood Dietitian, Bronte.

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