I’m delighted to share with you that my 6-week Nutrigal Pal Support Group for hormonal health and weight loss has taken on a personality of its own. What began as lessons in how to use food to balance hormones became sessions on self-care and self-love.
For those of you following me for some time you know I discourage self-hatred as a means to create changes (self-hatred meaning, for example, grabbing your stomach in the mirror and saying “I hate you”, or using the number on the scale or a clothing size as a weapon to mentally beat yourself up, “You’re too heavy!” “You look fat!”.) The question I pose to my Nutrigal Pals when I hear this type of self-flagellation or harsh judgement is, “If you heard a child using words of hatred toward a part of her body would you reinforce her self-loathing by reminding her about the extra piece of birthday cake she ate, or encourage her to do 10 hours of cardio and skip lunch for the rest of the week?” Hopefully not! You would find a way to be loving; tell her she is lovable no matter what. Your responsibility as an adult would be to provide healthy food and lifestyle choices for her. Ideally, you would get quiet and listen to her, offering no support and no power to her negative inner judge. This too is how we can treat our selves.
Somewhere along the way I internalized the message that the only thing that makes me lovable is the number on the scale. Advertising and consumerism reinforced this false belief. If I am thin and youthful my life will look like a beer commercial, all the men will love me, and life will be a bowl full of chocolate covered cherries that I’ll be allowed to eat! On some level I believed if I shamed, blamed or judged myself enough I would finally stick to my latest diet and achieve my desired number and then I’d be happy, then I’d be lovable, and then all my problems would melt away with the extra fat on my body.
It turns out weight loss and hormonal healthcare have more to do with nurturing myself than shaming myself. I need quiet time, time to feel, time to make mistakes without judgement, and time to listen to my body. I need to make food choices based on intuition rather than desperation. I need to share my feelings in a safe environment without fear of judgement from others.
In Nutrigal Pal’s week IV class we will discuss “good or bad” thinking. Our society has a dysfunctional perception when it comes to food, eating, dieting, and body image. Mindful eating specialist Michelle May says, “This a dilemma that plagues our culture’s approach to eating: good or bad, right or wrong, in-control or out-of-control.” In cognitive behaviour therapy this type of thinking is called “all or nothing thinking”. As a dietitian I still get stuck in the trap: this food is better for you than that food.
This “good or bad” distorted thinking, which often plagues the dieter, usually ends up in heart-ache as yet another diet fails. “Good or bad” thinking is the basis of boomerang dieting. You stick to the diet eating only “good” foods until you feel so deprived and starved that you give in to the so called “bad” foods and end up in a binge. Add guilt and shame to the mix and you have a recipe for depression, anxiety, and a state of self-hatred until you start another diet.
It’s been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. So what is the answer? How do we stop the insanity?
There are simple and complex answers. The simple answer is STOP DIETING and START LOVING! Take the journey of self-love. I say it is simple, but I know it’s not easy – that’s why I offer the Nutrigal Pals Support Groups. The longer answers involve reflection, mindful eating, authentic sharing, and learning to look after yourself as you would a child. Learning to live a physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthy lifestyle is a long-term process not a quick fix. Understanding how to make healthy food choices is helpful but if it’s applied to perceptions of “good or bad” it perpetuates extreme thinking and the inevitable boomerang diet. Learning how to make small adjustments combined with mindful practices leads to permanent change over time.
The following list provides insight into the world of healthy lifestyle changes:
- Take time to listen to your hunger cues: Do I feel a physical sensation? Is my stomach rumbling?
- Become aware and try to record your triggers for ‘hunger’ when you’re not hungry.
- Use nutritional information as a means to loving yourself not as ammunition to shame yourself.
- Choose foods that encourages variety, moderation, health, and pleasure.
- Take time to appreciate your food’s flavour, texture, colour and aroma.
- Focus on progress not perfection: Stop blaming, shaming, and judging your so called “bad” choices.
- Choose physical activities that brings you joy.
- Practice self-care when you experience uncomfortable feelings and stressors in your life.
- Challenge your “good or bad” thinking: Is there a middle ground decision you can make? We’re all in favour of shades of grey, are we not?
If you’re reading this and saying, “OMG that’s me – I wish there was a place I could go!” then you’re ready to take the next step. Nutrigal Pals meets every Sunday morning in the Beaches, Toronto from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Nutrigal Pals encourages women to take steps toward healing, self-care, and permanent lifestyle changes. The fee is $150.00 for seven weeks beginning November 25th. The early bird fee (if you sign up and pay by November 16, 2012 is $125.00). If you’re saying to yourself “Through Christmas?!” Yes. This is the time of year when we need the most support! The holiday season is wrought with overeating followed by those New Year’s resolutions to begin another diet. We will, however, take a break during the actual weeks of Christmas and New Year’s although online support will be available.
For those who are keen but cannot make the November start date Nutrigal starts a slightly more intensive 8-week course based on these same concepts in early 2013. This package includes a hormone focused nutritional assessment by Kelly Greer of Nutrigal. The fee for this group is $250.00. (Early bird fee for payment before December 17th is $200.00.)
For more information on Nutrigal Pal Groups or to book a private consultation please contact Kelly Greer at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wishing you all health and love.
Kelly Greer is a private practice Registered Dietitian with over fifteen years of experience in addiction and mental health. She specializes in hormonal health, menopause, maternity, anxiety and depression, autoimmune disorders, addiction recovery, and spiritual nutrition practices.