Like many women nutritionist Michelle Yandle once had a fraught relationship with food. Buying into everything the diet industry told her, she continued to see imperfections even when the weight came off physically.
Struggling with the mental burdens of feeling unloveable, imperfect and terrified the weight would return; she tried every diet out there until she realised how to change the way to look at food and quit restricting herself forever.
She shares her journey in The Empowered Eating Handbook, a manual to empower women to trust their bodies again and feel physically, mentally and emotionally well.
We asked Michelle how she realised she could get off the dieting roller coaster…
What was your relationship with food like growing up?
When I was younger I watched my sister and my mother struggle with their own dieting roller coaster ride. I think it would have started for me around the age of 9 or 10, as I can vividly remember asking my mother around that time if I would get fat if I ate too many oranges.
I then hopped on the roller coaster myself and didn't manage to get off for a very long time. By the time I was 14 I had been on as many diets as I was old - Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, SlimFast, Richard Simmons (my personal favourite) and all of them in between. I grew up hating my body, and the teasing at school didn't help. Being 'different' meant years of bullying, further propelling me into the downward spiral of dieting.
I pretended these diets were just healthy eating, but it became obsessive, I began to fear certain foods and over time my health suffered. I didn't realise it because I was just eating healthy!
I think I am eating healthy, but am I really on a diet?
I encourage you to ask yourself these questions when determining whether what you’re doing is a diet or not.
- Do I feel restricted in any way?
- Can I have my favourite foods on occasion?
- Do I have less energy, do I feel yuck?
- Does it leave you feeling anxious about social events where food is served?
- Do you feel like you've broken a rule when you eat certain foods or eat at certain times? Does it make you feel guilty or shameful?
- Does eating this way feel like a struggle?
- Are cravings for other foods increasing?
If you've answered yes to any of those questions, chances are your healthy eating plan is just another diet. Any way of eating that encourages you to ditch your favourite foods completely (unless you need to for medical reasons), is unfortunately, just a diet.
So how did you, a chronic dieter, heal your relationship with food?
My “ah-ha” moment didn’t come until I was studying nutrition, when I wrote an article called, "When healthy eating goes too far". I wanted to educate people on what can happen when we become obsessive. I read the story to my husband, who said to me "So, you're writing about yourself?" Though I didn’t realise it at the time, those words changed my life for the better. I realised we've made something so inherently natural as eating utterly confusing.
These days we have lost our natural ability to listen to our body’s messages. There was a time in history when we are all eating ‘instinctively’, and that's what’s missing when it comes to people suggesting we eat 'ancestrally'. It’s the missing piece of the puzzle, especially when our physical, mental and spiritual health is at stake.
A healthy diet involves a healthy mindset. I'm not perfect, I'm a work in progress, but as long as I continue to take the steps needed to be in charge of my thoughts and actions, I'm heading in the right direction and so can everyone else - that’s why I wrote The Empowered Eating Handbook.
What is Empowered Eating?
I have tried, tested and evolved in all kind of different ways to find what I believe is the key to helping others and myself. The idea behind Empowered Eating involves so much more than what we eat and how we eat.
It’s learning to listen to and trust your body again, living the life you want to live. Otherwise, we will crave food as a source of happiness (even if it is short term). That means taking care of yourself, getting that massage, haircut or a new pair of jeans. Do it now, not 5 kilos from now.
The more we learn to take care of ourselves and respect ourselves the more likely we will be want to take care of our food choices as well. For so many, this is a hard thing to do. The book takes you through this, my gift to anyone who wants to feel liberated without any risk to their health or wellbeing. I've compiled action steps that have helped both me and my clients to learn to eat instinctively, to live a vibrant life and to get a healthy body back for a lifetime.
The Empowered Eating Handbook is available now RRP $25 or $11 on Kindle through amazon.com
For more information visit www.michelleyandle.com
FB michelleyandlenutrition IN @michelle_yandle_nutrition
No coward soul is mine. Emily Brontë, 1846
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