Book alert! I think I just found a great one. It's by non-diet dietitian and eating disorder recovery specialist, Heidi Schauster, who I may have heard on the Food Psych podcast. It's a blur now. Her book came out in April of this year. It's called Nourish: How to Heal Your Relationship with Food, Body, and Self.
Here is what I have highlighted just from the intro and first chapter:
I tell prospective nutrition-therapy clients that I don’t do weight-loss counseling in my practice because I feel that it’s unethical.
Eating disorders don’t exist in third-world countries, where food is scarce and the aesthetic ideal is not thin.
If you fear and detest weight gain, you may not feed yourself well all day, only to find yourself binge-eating at night. If you wish to be thinner, you may make food choices that are about calories and not about your own body’s wisdom about what it wants at that moment. Then you feel unsatisfied and find yourself looking for the cookies later. By focusing on weight loss—instead of balance, health, and nourishment—you may promote the very weight gain that you want to abolish.
If we don’t get enough calories to meet our needs, we don’t just drop dead (at least not right away); the body just does what it does slower. That’s why many chronic restrictive dieters have irritable bowel and constipation on their problem list—slow-digestion problems. Those with severe anorexia nervosa have dangerously slow heart rates. Restrictive dieters’ hair might get thinner, and their menstrual periods might stop. When we’re not eating enough, our hearts keep beating, and our brains keep functioning. The calories go to the vital body functions, but they don’t go to the not-so-vital ones, like hair or fertility or keeping us warm.
Dieters often feel colder than everyone around them, or foggy in the head, or exhausted and fatigued all of the time. The diet industry wants you to believe that’s all about sugar or gluten or something else that you should eliminate. Food sensitivities (which we’ll visit in Step 9) are real for some people, but I can’t tell you how many times symptoms of sluggishness, fatigue, lack of focus, and slow digestion go away when clients simply start eating more food—any food, and especially carbohydrates, which diet culture vilifies.
What is a non-diet way of maintaining your own healthy body weight, no matter what body type you were born with?
Non-diet eating involves:
Listening to what the body needs
Responding to internal cues of hunger instead of external cues (sight, smell, the power of suggestion) most of the time
Not turning to food to deal with stress
Being personally in charge of food choices instead of being controlled by a diet prescription
Realizing that feeling healthy and taking good care of your body will make you more attractive than a diet will
Abandoning short-term weight loss for long-term and lasting self-confidence, health, and wellness
Having space for more nourishing pursuits and for what matters in life
This woman is speaking my language!!! There were times in my journey when I'd have agreed with everything she says, but been SO threatened by it. She must be wrong. She must have an agenda. She must be fat and not care. She doesn't understand me. I'm different. I need to restrict. There are times when it's necessary, people it works for...blah, blah, blah.
If anyone else checks it out, I would LOVE to hear your thoughts and have a discussion. I'll post more insights and highlights as I go.
Step 8 is about self-care practices. Some quotes:
Why do I use this word “practices” instead of “habits” or “routines”? I like the word because it points to the fact that you are trying something new and may need to keep at it for a while for that something new to become a new habit.
If you have a huge inner critic that holds you back from taking good care of yourself, I suggest you try the “I’m having the thought that …” exercise—not just once a day but several. Only then can it be more automatic and help you get unhooked from your negative, self-defeating thoughts. “I’m having the thought that I look fat today.” “I’m having the thought that I don’t deserve to make myself a good dinner.” “I’m noticing that I’m having the thought that I should eat less today.” Just because you have the thought doesn’t mean you have to do it. Some people with eating disorders like to identify the voice that says, “Don’t eat” as their “Eating Disorder Voice.” Whatever works for you to separate yourself from those self-defeating thoughts is worth trying!
It’s really not all about food. It never was. You heal your relationship with food, body, and self all at the same time by taking good care of you in the unique ways that you feel nourished. Take some spacious time to listen deeply, experiment, and discover what you hunger for.
Step 7 is on clarifying your values to live a life you love. When our core values are unclear or being neglected, we’re far more likely to get trapped in our heads and use food and exercise in painful and ineffective ways. The wrong things seem really important. She explains that food is a basic human need, so it’s no wonder it gets thrown into the mix when when we’re not attending to our core needs and desires. —- “As we clarify our values and get in touch with what’s important to us in our lives, the importance of being a certain weight or eating a certain number of calories or eating clean doesn’t matter that much. It all seems so insignificant when our values are justice or service or family or love.” —- This chapter includes a checklist of 60 or so core values and another table of universal human needs. The idea is to go through them and narrow it down to the values that really resonate with you. That was fun. A few of mine are mindfulness, curiosity, connection, flexibility, fitness, and humor. Fitness was defined as looking after physical and mental health and wellbeing. It’s interesting how my understanding of it has changed. It’s not a look, a weight, or a diet. It’s the health of your whole being. I recognized that really value spending time nature every day and spending time with animals. Nothing gets me out of my head and puts me in the present moment faster. It was fascinating to realize that baking is an exercise in mindfulness for me. You can’t go off into distracted story land while you’re measuring and following instructions or you’ll thoroughly mess up the recipe. You have to stay present the whole time. I think that’s one of the reasons I find it so relaxing. It shuts off the noise of the outside world, kind of like binge eating or diet planning used to. Lots to think about in this chapter!
What form of movement nourishes and feels good to your body and soul?
I like all different kinds of movement! Walking, running, jumping rope, lifting heavy-to-me things, stretching, balancing, dancing with my kids.
Do you like to move outside or inside—or a combination of both, depending on the weather? A combination of both. I love walking and running outside when the weather permits it. With more then half the year in deep freeze, outdoor time is limited. I like lifting heavy things, bending, balancing and stretching indoors. Walking, running and hiking outdoors.
Do you like to move your body alone or with others?
It depends what I'm doing. I like lifting and running by myself all the time. But I don't mind hiking, walking, bending, stretching and dancing with others.
Do you have more energy for physical activity in the morning, afternoon, or evening?
I either exercise in the mid morning (9-10) or mid afternoon (1-3). I used to exercise in the evening but I'm so glad my life has changed so that I don't have to do that anymore.
How does movement fit best into the rest of your life?
I'm honestly not really sure what this question means.... exercise is my time. The best way for me to integrate it into my life is to do my independent movement (lifting and running/walking) while the kids are napping and to do the other forms of movement (stretching, balancing, bending, dancing) with the kids.
Does vigorous or more gentle action really ground you? Or a combination of both—perhaps depending on the day?
I like a combination of the two. Gradually I've started moving based on how I feel.
I do yoga daily, because I genuinely look forward to it, and it's a nice way for me to start the day. I don't like to skip it. On days when I have to be at work early, I just do 5-10 min. in the morning because it makes my whole day feel calmer.
I love walking outside, and I try to walk places as much as possible now that I live in a more walkable area than my last location. Hiking is also great, I try to do that on weekends with my husband. For the past few years, I've been taking dance classes (various styles) and I really look forward to that, too. I try to make it to 1-2 classes a week.
I do short weights/res. band workouts a few times a week. I don't particularly enjoy it, but I feel like I need to due to my family history of bone density problems, and my back problems that I've been living with since early adolescence.
If I start forcing myself to do some kind of strength workout every day, I burn out quickly and then do nothing (although, still doing daily yoga, so that's not really nothing...) Then, my back problems and posture suffer.
I'm still figuring this out, but it seems that the less I force or require myself to exercise, the more I actually do. If it's always open and always an option, I'm more likely to choose to do it, but if I have to do it, or make some kind of goal, I resist.
Walking outside with a good podcast is my go to for any soul nourishing needs. If the weather is excellent, I’ll take my strength sessions outside too. I also like discussing work outs, but I prefer to do them alone. I like to think of it as “unobserved.” It’s a push for me to try anything new at the gym with people watching, but I love to give it a whirl in the privacy of my own bedroom. I am an evening exerciser. My favorite is to work out immediately after work, and eat right after that, but now I am eating as soon as I get home and working out about an hour later. That works too. I like mostly gentle or moderate work outs. If I’m doing a “hard” work out, it will be with heavy weights. This happens about once every week or two. I am not a huge fan of jumpy HIIT stuff just because it makes me feel bad. I also need a fair amount of yoga and mobility work. Mostly, I just try to keep moving. I love Katy Bowman’s work on moving your body in different ways and her correctives. I like to use several of these a day. I crave variety. I don’t want to do the same work out 4 times in a month, and don’t even talk to me about doing it more than that. That’s why I love Zgym so much. So. Much. Variety. She is a magician with abs and her upper body stuff is pretty great too.
I finished the Joyful Movement chapter. As you may have guessed, she's not a fan of Fitbits.
Here are some quotes:
I’m not entirely poo-poo-ing step-counters or the stairs-to-nowhere (well, maybe I am), but I do think they encourage people to move for the wrong reasons. If your efforts to be physically active are all about looking good, weighing less, getting a thumbs-up, or competing for the most steps with your co-workers, then, once the initial thrill of doing something new wears off, why bother? Physical activity is truly about being in your body (ideally, getting a break from being in your mind) and being in the present. If the workout feels good and is fun and engaging, you’ll be more likely do it again and again. Maybe for decades. If the exercise is tedious, exhausting, punishing, or completely attached to an external prescription (steps walked, calories burned, etc.), then it’s not aligned with what your body wants at that very moment. The movement might be boring or (worse) compulsive. In my experience, people who maintain regular physical activity throughout their lives do so because they like to move. They’ve found ways to move their bodies that feel good and drop them joyfully into the present moment. I call this “mindful movement.”
Many of my clients exercise compulsively. They can’t take a day off without tremendous guilt and self-flagellation. When I dig deeper, they often don’t even really like the exercise that they are doing. Running hurts their knees, or yoga makes them feel incompetent around all the young pretzel-types. Somewhere they got into their heads how much exercise they needed to do in a week. They stick to it religiously. That’s fine if it lines up with what feels good in their bodies and their life falls nicely into place around that schedule; but so often I hear about hours of sleep lost, social engagements declined, and injuries worsened because the workout program was literally in charge. The joy of moving the body gets stripped from the activity when it becomes compulsive.
Here are some questions:
What form of movement nourishes and feels good to your body and soul?
Do you like to move outside or inside—or a combination of both, depending on the weather?
Do you like to move your body alone or with others?
Do you have more energy for physical activity in the morning, afternoon, or evening?
How does movement fit best into the rest of your life?
Does vigorous or more gentle action really ground you?
Or a combination of both—perhaps depending on the day?
I love: Long walks with the dog for clearing my head and getting fresh air. Circus tricks and feats of strength for making me feel ageless. Intense metabolic workouts that are short and infrequent but give me a fabulous buzzy endorphin rush. Slow stretching with long holds and weird balancing poses. They make me feel bendy and alive. I like all forms of goofy dancing, particularly while preparing food. Very occasionally, I like to pretend I'm a ballerina.
I like both outside and inside. If the weather is icky, I don't stay outside for long, but I'm out there every day in all weather, for mental health as much as anything. Indoor workouts are dandy too.
Mostly, I like to workout alone. I'm really over the gym scene and fitness classes. I like to *feel* like I'm working out with others though. Zuzka is my workout partner. I also love discussing workouts with others who are doing them, either here or in the ZGYM.
I am a morning exerciser by a landslide. I basically never workout in the afternoon or evening,
I like formal workouts to be very short, 5-15 minutes, quick, fun, at-home. Then I have lots of energy for walking the dog, playing fetch, going to playdates, working in the yard, that kind of thing.
I need both really vigorous and really gentle activity, but the majority of my activity is medium intensity, totally doable, no dread. I don't follow written programs or set workout schedules anymore. I go by how I'm feeling that day and what sounds fun,.
I would love to hear anyone else's answers to the questions!
I loved this last point she makes in the chapter. It has been life-altering for me to move and eat based on the well-being of my whole person versus reacting to what my legs look like or what the scale says.
Oh, and one last point. Please, remember that your body is just one facet of your Self. A spirit, a soul is within you, and that is your truest nature. Your body (or the way you choose to adorn your body) may reflect your values and spirit, but your body is not who you are. When my clients become more whole-self-focused and less body-focused, they eat in a way that aligns with their own self-care, and they move in ways that feel right and feed their souls.
I meant to post this quote from the mindful eating chapter:
Because of the media hype and woefully inadequate information, too many people nowadays are deathly afraid of their food, and what does fear of food do to the digestive system? I am sure that an unhappy or suspicious stomach, constricted and uneasy with worry, cannot digest properly. And if digestion is poor, the whole body politic suffers. ~ Julia Child (1912–2004)
Catching up in this thread. I echo my earlier sentiment that this book sounds great! So many excellent points. I love the emotional hunger and fullness cues. I need to copy and save that somewhere for me to see regularly. I find it helps me a TON to pay attention to those kinds of cues...if I wait for solely physical cues, I often wait too long to eat and then overeat as a result. Also: I <3 carbs. :)
I think I need to pick up this book. It sounds great!
Sadly I can relate to some of those "signs" of not eating enough carbs. Definitely something to think about.
I held my breath as I got to chapter 5 - Mindful Eating with Nutritional Common Sense. So often the nutrition chapter is where these books go all wrong and inadvertently promote a bunch of crazy. What a relief to find that the nutrition chapter is basically an ode to carbs. She discusses other stuff, like the minimum servings of protein, carbs, and fat an adult needs to meet basic energy needs. This is just to give a dieter some perspective on what's "normal." Active people need far more than the minimums.
She talks about how she can often tell when clients aren't eating enough carbs. They're scattered and chaotic in their speech and demeanor and they can't stop thinking about food. She says that overeating often shows up when people significantly decrease their carb intake, particularly their grain/starch intake. A standard reaction to undereating carbs during the day is craving high-sugar, high-starch foods (cookies, chips, baked goods) at night. The body senses the deprivation and tries to make up for it. A standard reaction to carb deprivation is sugar cravings, as your body demands glucose.
She gives some things to look for if you think you might be eating too little carbohydrate:
You find yourself binge eating or compulsively eating high-starch or high-sugar foods, especially at night. You feel weak and tired. You have less energy for physical activity. You find that it's harder to physically exert yourself two days in a row. Your muscles take longer to recover than they used to. You have cravings for sugar or sweet grainy foods like cookies, muffins, and bread.
I love how she explains that meeting your nutrition needs and getting enough variety not only gives you energy and vitality, but resistance to overeating. What a concept! Chronic dieters have very little resistance to overeating. It's all they can think about.
Today, I was thinking about how I used to eat a whole pizza and a whole pint of ice cream at once. Always! I never do that anymore because I'm not that hungry and wouldn't want to be that full. But when you're underfed, wow! Inhaling high-calorie, high-reward food is pretty much all you can think about.
It hit me that I don't know how much I weigh or how many calories I eat. I don't have any food rules or off-limits foods. I eat chocolate and cheese at pretty much every meal. I drink real soda. I order fries with that...and yet I'm two sizes smaller than when I was eating clean, earning my carbs, tracking my macros, limiting this food or that food, moralizing about "junk food" and "processed crap," and weighing myself every day. The irony, it burns.
It all makes sense though. Dieting was fattening. That restrictive mindset kept me primed to overeat whenever the opportunity presented itself. Now, if someone asked me to help them gain weight, the first thing I would do is have them exercise an hour a day on a 1200-1600 calorie, lowish carb diet for a week or two. Then just wait. LOL
Every time I have gained significant weight or felt out of control around food, it has been preceded by just that kind of setup. I couldn't see the pattern while I was in it though. I blamed myself. I must have done it wrong. I should have tried harder. This time will be different.
I just put this book on hold at the library --- when I did a search on Nourish, the next book with that word in it's title was about paleo healing lol
ohhhhhhh I really like that chart! I find physical cues for the hunger scale difficult to decipher because of years of ignoring those sensations. This is something I feel I could have more success and less questioning with.
This is interesting. The book includes a pretty standard 1-10 hunger and fullness chart, but dieters and disordered eaters have often lost touch with physical cues and have a hard time identifying them. So, there’s also a chart of emotional hunger and fullness cues. 0 - Cognitive deterioration / numb 1 - Inability to focus / heightened irritability 2 - Preoccupied with food / urgency to respond 3 - Clear recognizable cues / food tastes good 4 - Slight hints of interest in food 5 - Lack of interest in food 6 - Fleeting thoughts of food 7 - Emotionally satisfied / eating is less enjoyable 8 - Decreased of no desire to continue eating 9 - Emotional and/or physical discomfort 10 - Profound distracting fullness I would have found that chart helpful when stomach sensations were a total mystery. I still find that the emotional cues are there and go right along with the physical cues at each level. Sometimes I notice them instead, like knowing I’m hungry because I can’t quit thinking about food, or knowing I’m done eating because my mind is on other things.
Here are a couple of great quotes, also from the Body Trust and Deep Listening chapter;
Ever wonder why you suddenly feel like you want to eat some fish? Or why a sandwich is more appealing than a salad some days but not others? Our bodies have lots of wisdom about what we need; we just have to listen. Setting up foods as “good” or “bad”—or always choosing the “healthy” or “low-calorie” option—overrides the body’s good judgment about what to eat.
We are all perfectly imperfect. So is our food. Eat what you like. Eat what makes you feel good in each very different moment. Some days it feels good to eat a hearty meal. Sometimes that same meal will feel too heavy and not right. Each time you eat and notice how your body feels, you learn something about what your body likes and doesn’t like. You learn about what foods feel good and what foods don’t.
Yes, this!!! It's why meal plans, flexible templates, and macro guidelines no longer work for me. You can't both honor what your body is telling you and eat what you're "supposed" to. When I didn't trust my body, I assumed it would only want grease and candy, or even if I managed to steer it toward healthier choices, it would always want too much of those. It would make me fat. Definitely. What a lightbulb moment to realize that restriction and denial are what made me want to eat as much as possible. Without them, only going by how I want to feel, grease and candy are totally self-regulating. It doesn't feel great to go way overboard on either. And that thing where we eat as much as possible of "allowed" foods? It's a non-issue if all foods are allowed. Instead of eating some bland diet meal and chasing satisfaction with more and more carrots or squash, we eat what we actually want, are totally satisfied by it, and genuinely don't want any more food. This is so crazy! It didn't happen when I was restricting because I was always somewhat dissatisfied with my choices, or stopping short of full, or forcing vegetables and protein I didn't want. The end result was always another trip to the kitchen. I'd eat everything I was supposed to, and then eat everything I wanted on top of it. Maybe it didn't happen right away. Maybe I'd hold it off for a day or two using willpower, but at some point (many points!) willpower would go missing and I'd start gasping for food.
Can you see how you might eat more in line with your actual needs when going directly for what sounds good, and eating it mindfully with the intention of feeling good afterward? Dieting puts all this weird food you don't actually care for up front, then you end up overeating what you do want on top of that.
I was afraid that if I allowed myself to eat whatever I want, I would never eat a plant again. That doesn't happen either. Plants are delicious and craveable if you take the moral judgment out of it and put fresh blueberries on your cereal, or bacon on your spinach salad, or butter and sour cream on your baked potato. Evelyn Tribole, one of the authors of Intuitive Eating, tells people she's a "dirty eater." I love that! It's not a choice between all "clean" and low-calorie or all fried and cheesy. The more you combine the two, the greater the satisfaction. I find that it balances out over time too. I may enjoy a burger and fries at one meal, and then really look forward to a salad and grilled chicken at another meal. Over the course of days, weeks, and months, it all works out. If I'm going by how I want to feel, I don't gorge myself or get a deficiency.
From chapter 4 about body trust: “Sustainable change sprouts from compassion and not loathing.” If I look back over how my thoughts affected my behaviors over the years, I was never more inconsistent than when I hated my body, was terrified of weight gain, and engaged in punishing behaviors as a “solution.” That is NOT sustainable. You’re always looking for an escape route. Mine was numbing out with mindless overeating. That both killed the painful thoughts (temporarily) and silenced my primal hunger (temporarily). But it was like throwing gasoline on the fire of my worst fears. So, I’d kick myself more, restrict more, and then eat even more reactively. If I stop that madness and focus on how I want to feel, I take much better care of myself. I enjoy my food more. I move in ways that are actually fun. I look forward to eating chocolate every day, standing on my head, and taking naps. Nothing about my body or food is dire. I’m freakishly consistent for years on end because I love what I do. Coming from a place of compassion and joy, it’s not possible to do anything wrong. I may find that I like some behaviors more than others. I learn from that, make adjustments, and things keep getting better. It’s amazing!
I just found this thread after reading about it somewhere else (maybe Skwigg's journal?).
This book sounds great. " That healthy body connection ultimately requires that we let go of the idea that our bodies are bad and need fixing. Then, and only then, can we make choices from a place of self-love, self-respect, and self-care instead of a place of “something’s wrong.” This is so true. You really can't escape the diet mentality until you stop thinking your body is bad and needs to be fixed. I know this first hand. I am trying to leave diet-land and all those nasty thoughts/actions associated with it, but I haven't yet been able to do so completely because I still feel like my body isn't good enough, isn't aesthetically pleasing and needs fixing.
This book sounds wonderful, @skwigg. The post about our bodies' reactions to restriction definitely resonated with me: digestive problems, feeling cold, missing menstruation, etc. Yep, yep, yep. Our bodies need to be cared for in order to thrive.
Quote: —- After an overeating episode, try saying, “Thank you, Mind. I hear that old story that I screwed up. Instead of being critical of myself, I will look at what happened. I don’t feel good right now about how I ate. Why was it that I overate? Maybe I can understand this better so that it is less likely to happen again. What can I do to take care of myself and prevent this from going on in the future?” or “Thank you, Mind. I hear you, but I’m choosing to be curious instead of harsh to myself right now.” It may feel alarmingly foreign, but I promise that, if you practice it regularly, you will change your default so that you turn less to criticism and self-flagellation. Instead, you will be more compassionate toward yourself, curious about your eating behaviors, and more prepared for making real changes. Even if you don’t believe what you are saying at first—even if you feel that you don’t deserve a more compassionate stance—try it. —-