10 Healthy New Year Resolutions (that you can ACTUALLY keep)

new year healthy habits

Moving from resolutions to intentions

As 2023 creeps in, so do the standard messages of “new year, new me”. Everyone seems committed to setting resolutions which are usually completely unachievable.

In fact, one survey found that only around 9% of Americans feel they are successful in keeping their goals by the end of the year1.

The reality is, making – or breaking – new year’s resolutions really isn’t the be all or end all it’s made out to be at the beginning of January.

Keep reading to find out our suggestions for some more fulfilling (and slightly more obtainable!) goals for the year ahead.

  • 1. Leave diet culture behind

Dieting is SO last year. At the start of 2022, 1 in 5 British people said they planned on setting new year’s resolutions, with 43% of these focussed on losing weight2.

However, these crash diets and trends just don’t work! Weight loss induced by dieting usually just leads to you regaining the weight you lost. Fad diets have been shown to be ineffective in the long term3.

So, this time around it’s worth ditching dieting and trying a new approach!

  • 2. Incorporate intuitive eating

Speaking of new approaches, intuitive eating is a much healthier lifestyle choice you could make this year, and we promise it’ll make you MUCH happier than any diet could.

If you’d like to learn more about this approach, we’ve got plenty of resources available, including more blogs like these, or you can contact Cassie or Ariana directly for one-to-one support.

  • 3. Detox your phone, NOT your body

As each new year replaces the previous, new fad diets and detoxes take over from the last. These so-called ‘cleanses’ claim to remove toxins and impurities from the body when we already have a built-in system to do this for us automatically!

Our liver and our kidneys do an excellent job of filtering out any harmful substances from the body. If they weren’t functioning correctly, you’d most likely need to see a doctor (not drink a detox tea!)

This year, filter out adverts from unscientific, uninformed brands, rather than purchasing products that claim to do the ‘filtering’ for you!

  • 4. Stay hydrated

Focus on increasing your fluid intake, by carrying a water bottle with you, eating more fruit, having different flavoured teas, diluting juices, or even keeping a journal of how much water you’re getting through. Hydration is essential!

  • 5. Practice mindfulness

Both the mental and the physical health advantages of mindfulness are supported by an ever-growing body of research. For example, one recent study found that mindfulness-based interventions could even help reduce stress and blood pressure in those with hypertension4.

And if you don’t have hypertension, mindfulness is still a great technique for reducing stress in your everyday life.

  • 6. Move your body for fun

Physical activity is not just good for our bodies, it’s great for our minds too. This could include anything from walking your dog, a quick bike ride or a swim, to attending your local gym, or playing a sport with your friends. It’s up to you, and what you feel is manageable.

  • 7. Buy clothes that fit you just the way you are

Unfortunately, people will often buy themselves clothes which are several sizes too small as ‘inspiration’, with the mindset that they will simply lose enough weight to fit into them.

This is an incredibly damaging behaviour to engage in as it sends the message to your brain that your current body is not good enough. We encourage you to buy clothes that fit comfortably to begin with, AND make you feel good about yourself – it’ll save yourself a lot of stress as well as money!

  • 8. Try something new

Forget new year, new you. This year, make it all about the new experiences! Whether that be trying out a new food, visiting a new location, or picking up a new hobby, try pushing yourself out of your comfort zone in 2023.

As the famous Wayne Gretzky saying goes “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.

  • 9. Embrace body neutrality

Body neutrality means you don’t have to completely fall in love with yourself – you just appreciate your body for everything it does and accept it as uniquely yours.

For some people, especially those who struggle with self-esteem; body positivity can seem almost impossible to obtain. Body neutrality, on the other hand, is something which we can all strive to incorporate into our lives, as it places less pressure on us to always love ourselves unconditionally.

  • 10. Be kind to yourself

You are good enough exactly as you are. You always have been!

The most important part of starting a new year is not to set unrealistic resolutions, or to try and change yourself in some way or another.

This year, go easy on yourself. Don’t set goals that are impossible to reach or restrict your eating unnecessarily. Steer away from forcing yourself into heavy exercise every single day of the week.

Instead, focus on gentle nutrition, balance, and body neutrality. This year is your year to find food and body peace, once and for all.

If you’re interested in finding food freedom in 2023, contact Ariana or Cassie to learn more about one-to-one coaching.

Written by Robin Wileman

EHL student intern

References

1  SPSP, 2017. Thinking of Changing Your Behavior in 2017? Try Moving First | Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Spsp.org. [Online] Available at: https://spsp.org/news-center/press-release/thinking-changing-your-behavior-2017-try-moving-first

2  YouGov, 2022. How many Britons have made New Year’s resolutions for 2023? Yougov.co.uk. [Online] Available at: https://yougov.co.uk/topics/society/articles-reports/2022/12/28/how-many-britons-have-made-new-years-resolutions-2

3 Sumithran, P., and Proietto, J., 2013. The defence of body weight: a physiological basis for weight regain after weight loss. Clinical Science, 124(4), pp. 231-241. [Online] Available at: https://portlandpress.com/clinsci/article-abstract/124/4/231/69118/The-defence-of-body-weight-a-physiological-basis

4 Marquez, P., et al., 2019. Benefits of mindfulness meditation in reducing blood pressure and stress in patients with arterial hypertension. Journal of Human Hypertension, 33, pp. 237-247. [Online] Available at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41371-018-0130-6

Why do I feel hungry after eating with PCOS?

PCOS diet

What to eat with PCOS

 

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, more commonly known as PCOS, is a condition affecting between 4-20% of women of reproductive age around the world1.

Among other symptoms, many women with this condition will also struggle with their weight: in fact, between 50 and 80% of people with PCOS are classed as obese2.

HOWEVER, and this is a big however… Most nutritional advice out there can be rooted in fatphobia, misinformed, and focuses on dieting to lose weight.

In reality, this unnecessary dietary restriction can actually cause more harm than good and can even lead to harmful disordered eating behaviours which can be difficult to overcome.

If you are someone who has been diagnosed with PCOS and have been struggling with an increase in hunger, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Keep reading to find out more about how this condition can influence your eating, and what you can do to optimise your nutrition with PCOS.

 

What is PCOS?

PCOS affects the way in which your ovaries work. The main characteristic of this condition is an enlargement of the ovaries, which develop many fluid-filled sacs – follicles – along their outer edge. These follicles can cause problems with your reproductive cycle, meaning you might experience fertility issues.

The other two main features of PCOS are irregular periods, meaning the ovaries do not regularly release eggs, and excess androgen in the body. Androgen, a “male” sex hormone, can cause physical side effects such as excess body hair, oily skin, and weight gain.

In some cases, having PCOS can increase the risk of other associated health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypercholesterolaemia, or high blood pressure3:

 

Why do I still feel hungry even after I have eaten?

PCOS is an endocrine condition, meaning it affects the body’s hormone systems – these are often closely linked, and can easily be thrown out of balance. In this case, our hunger hormones are also affected by the imbalances in other chemicals.

One example of this is the hormone cholecystokinin, or CCK, which tells us we are full after we have eaten. In one study, it was found that women with PCOS produced less CCK after a meal than those without, meaning they felt hungrier and struggled more with appetite regulation4.

Other hormonal imbalances at play in PCOS include insulin, testosterone, and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which can make it difficult to keep on top of your appetite and cravings. (Difficult, but definitely not impossible!)

 

Our 3 top tips for nutrition with PCOS

 

Eat consistently and without restriction

 Having regular meals when you need them is not only important for keeping you satisfied and fulfilled but can also help regulate blood sugar levels – especially when your body is experiencing an imbalance of insulin.

Make sure you are having meals spread out across the day, along with snacks in between, to avoid your blood sugar levels dropping and making any cravings stronger.

It is especially important not to cut out any food groups, despite what most misleading internet advice might tell you! Including sources of complex carbohydrates in your meals, alongside protein, unsaturated fats, fruits, and vegetables, will ensure you are not missing out on any important nutrients.

Unnecessarily restricting your intake is a one-way ticket for entry into an inevitable binge-restrict cycle – unless you allow yourself food freedom.

 

Incorporate low-glycaemic index foods

A low-glycaemic index (GI) means that a food causes your blood sugar to rise more slowly and steadily after consuming it, rather than high-GI foods which cause sharp spikes in blood glucose. Low-GI foods such as wholegrains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables, will make you feel fuller for longer and contribute towards improved blood sugar levels.

These foods can even help improve your body’s response to insulin, so are especially important to include in your diet!

 

Gentle nutrition, gentle movement, gentle on yourself

Living with PCOS can be physically and emotionally draining, so the last thing your body needs is for you to place even further restrictions on it. Nurture yourself with the food you need and allow yourself to find physical activity that you will enjoy and benefit from.

It is, of course, important to seek out the right medical treatment for you and your condition, as there are different ways of managing PCOS that you might want to consider with your doctor.

In the meantime, the best things you can do for yourself are to treat yourself with kindness, give your body food when it needs it, and move your body when you can. If you want more information on food freedom and holistic wellbeing, book in for a free discovery call with Ari or Cassie.

 

Robin Wileman

EHL Student Intern

 

References

1 Deswal, R., Narwal, V., Dang, A., and Pundir, C., 2020. The Prevalence of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Brief Systematic Review. Journal of Human Reproductive Sciences. 13(4), pp. 261-271. Available at:

https://nedc.com.au/eating-disorders/eating-disorders-explained/types/binge-eating-disorder/

2 Dudek, K., 2020. How are Obesity and PCOS Connected? Nabta Health. Available at: https://nabtahealth.com/articles/how-are-obesity-and-pcos-connected/#:~:text=Obesity%20is%20a%20common%20side%20effect%20of%20PCOS,seem%20to%20have%20more%20severe%20signs%20of%20hyperandrogenism.

3 NHS, 2022. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Nhs.uk. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos/

4 Hirschberg, A., Naessen, S., Stridsberg, M., Bystrom, B., and Holte, J., 2009. Impaired cholecystokinin secretion and disturbed appetite regulation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Gynecological Endocrinology, 19(2), pp. 79-87. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09513590400002300

 

What do intuitive eaters eat?

intuitive eating

If you’re relatively new to the world of intuitive eating and don’t know where to get started, Embody Health London is the place to be.

You may have just recently learned about intuitive eating as a concept but aren’t yet fully confident in trying it out for yourself. If this is the case, we will guide you so that you too can become an intuitive eater!

This blog post will discuss the sorts of foods that people who eat intuitively may eat, as well as a few top tips for what to do if you are considering becoming an intuitive eater yourself.

 

What are the benefits of being an intuitive eater?

Intuitive eating is something which, arguably, doesn’t really have any drawbacks! This evidence-based framework is centered around food and body autonomy; allowing you to prioritise your own wellbeing and personalise the way you approach food – in a way that feels good for YOU!

One of the main benefits of eating intuitively is that it has been shown to reduce the risk of disordered eating behaviour, as well as contribute towards improved psychological wellbeing, something which has been well demonstrated across many recent studies.

In fact, one group of researchers found that people who ate intuitively displayed lower depressive symptoms, higher self-esteem and a 74% decreased chance of engaging in binge eating when compared to the control group1.

Furthermore, a 2014 study found that those who eat intuitively are better able to maintain their weight, have lower cholesterol, and lower blood pressure than those who were not intuitive eaters2.

Overall, the research points to one key theme: intuitive eating improves your health – not only your physical health, but mental wellbeing too!

 

Which foods are included in intuitive eating?

To cut to the chase… Anything you like!

Following your intuition when it comes to eating is all about letting yourself be free to enjoy whichever foods you want, and not cutting anything out unnecessarily or restricting. If you are aiming for balance, variety and flexibility, then it’s not important which exact foods you do or don’t eat.

As we like to say at Embody Health London, all foods fit!

This could include a variety of wholegrains, beans, pulses, nuts, protein sources, dairy, unsaturated fats, fruits, vegetables and, most importantly, “fun foods”!

Basically, if you want that chocolate bar, go for it – nothing is off limits when it comes to honouring your physical, emotional, and psychological wellbeing!

 

Our top 3 tips for eating intuitively:

 

1. Forget diet culture

Unfortunately, society is still infatuated with new dieting trends hitting the market every other week. Fads which will try to tell you what you are “supposed” to eat in order to look a certain way.

Whether that’s intermittent fasting or keto, the Atkins or the carnivore diet, there’s always something new telling us what we can and can’t eat. Well, we’re here to tell you to ditch the diets and follow your intuition instead!

Societal standards for eating and drinking will, more often than not, just create feelings of fear, shame and judgement surrounding certain foods. Intuitive eating is all about food freedom and feeling good when you eat, not being ashamed.

After all, meals should be a source of pleasure, not guilt!

 

2. Trust your gut

Intuitive eating means listening in to your body’s signals and honouring them with no restriction. Our bodies are highly intelligent, and if they are telling us we are hungry, that usually means it’s a good time to eat!

If you are craving a certain food, this can sometimes mean that your body needs more of a specific type of nutrients. No only this, but our hunger signals are important! When we try to ignore or repress these feelings, it can just lead us into an unhealthy cycle of restriction and, in some cases, bingeing.

Maybe it’s worth believing in our “gut instincts” after all…

 

3. Have fun with it!

When you eat intuitively, all foods can become “fun foods”. Play around with things you like, or maybe even try new things that you once thought you would never like. The key to intuitive eating is to not limit yourself!

Here at Embody Health London, we specialise in intuitive eating, ditching dieting and smashing the stigma engrained in our society. If you’re interested in nurturing your relationship with food and your body, our 1:1 coaching could be a good place to start!

 

Get in touch with us now at hello@embodyhealthlondon.com to start your intuitive eating journey today.

 

EHL Team x

Robin Wileman, EHL student dietitian intern

 

 

References

1 Hazzard, V. M., Telke, S. E., Simone, M., Anderson, L. M., Larson, N. I., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2020). Intuitive eating longitudinally predicts better psychological health and lower use of disordered eating behaviors: findings from EAT 2010–2018. Eating and Weight Disorders – Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity, 26(1), 287–294. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40519-020-00852-4

2 Van Dyke, N., & Drinkwater, E. (2014). Relationships between intuitive eating and health indicators: literature review. Public Health Nutrition, 17(8), 1757–1766. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1368980013002139

The History of Women’s Ideal Body Shape

history of body ideals

Body ideals change but your worth never does

 

Throughout history, the ‘ideal body shape’ for women has been constantly and abruptly changing, with new trends around every corner.

Historically, women have been objectified, scrutinised, sexualised, and crucified for what they look like.

Society has continued to construct new ideals to strive for, ideals which, often, cannot even be achieved naturally. Interestingly, these socially constructed standards have been vastly different and polarising over time, meaning the ideal body type has never stayed the same for very long.

This article will take a brief dive into the history books to explore what the ideal body shape for women has looked like throughout the years, and what this looks like today.

 

2400-2200BC: The Paleolithic era

‘The Venus of Willendorf’ was one of the first pieces of art ever discovered, and a primitive symbol of the idealised woman of the time1. “Voluptuous and well-nourished” was the ideal, with this sculpture sporting large breasts, an emphasised stomach, and wide hips.

 

1100BC: Ancient Egypt

The Ancient Egyptians viewed a woman as being fertile and, therefore, more desirable, if she was slender and tall, with narrow shoulders and a high waist.

 

500-300BC: Ancient Greece

Ancient Greek philosopher Plato coined the ‘golden ratio’, a term used to this day for judging how beautiful a face was based on its symmetry. Plump, full bodies with ample bosoms, big backs, and thick thighs and arms were seen as the ultimate symbol of virility in Ancient Greece.

 

1400-1700AD: Italian Renaissance period

Famous Renaissance artists such as Michelangelo, Botticelli and Raphael would paint their ideas of ‘beautiful women’ at the time, whose bodies had rounded features and soft faces.

The Renaissance represented a transition of sorts, from women being seen less as objects of fertility, and more as objects of beauty and lust.

 

1837-1901: Victorian/Edwardian England

Women of the time opted for tight corsets and wide, bell-shaped skirts to emphasise their figures.

Charles Dana Gibson illustrated the ‘Gibson Girl’ of the 1890s, who had a cinched-in waist and a large bust; but was more on the slimmer side to previous eras2. This represented the beauty standards of the time, as women would try their hardest to mirror the curvy figure of the Gibson Girl.

 

1920s: Twenties era boyish figure

The twenties were, in a sense, an act of rebellion against the more feminine figure sought after in previous years. Women wanted slim, small frames with no curves, styling short hair and shorter hemlines.

Due to the invention of bathroom scales in 1917 and the rise of department stores with full-length mirrors, an obsession over women’s body types was ignited and fueled even further.

 

1930-1950s: Hollywood era hourglass

During Great Depression that followed the twenties, people couldn’t afford to worry as much about their figure. However, after this period ended, the hourglass figure made its peak, with bigger breasts, wide hips and a slim waist becoming popular once again.

 

1960-1970s: Swinging Sixties

Thin was officially back in. Women favoured petite, delicate figures and long, slender legs.

 

1980s: Eighties era fitness model body

During the eighties, a new fitness rage was sweeping the globe. The goal was tall, tanned and thin, but slightly athletic looking, with toned bodies, smaller waists and narrower hips popular among women.

This decade also saw a noticeable spike in anorexia, potentially due to the new infatuation with exercise regimes and workout videos. In fact, one publication even pronounced anorexia “the disease of the decade”.3

 

1990s: Heroin chic

A waifish, frail appearance was the look of the decade. The nineties showcased the thinnest female ideal in history, in comparison to most of the previous time periods leaning towards a fuller figure.

Women modelled themselves over skinny, androgynous, almost feeble-looking celebrities of the time, most of whom would’ve been using illicit drugs to maintain their thin frame.

 

2000-2010s: Plastic surgery revolution

The 21st century has seen a massive rise is cosmetic surgeries such as liposuction, Brazilian butt lifts, tummy tucks, face fillers, jawline fat-dissolving injections, breast implants and many others. The ‘ideal body shape’ for women has gradually become more and more artificially augmented, to the point where it is physically impossible to achieve through diet and exercise alone.

Plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures have increased in popularity at an almost exponential rate, with surgical procedures increasing by 54% and non-surgical procedures increasing 44% in 2021 when compared to previous years4.

 

2022: What next?

Beauty standards seem to have become more and more unrealistic, unattainable, and unrepresentative of the average woman as time has gone by. Over the years, the ‘ideal body type’ for women has changed and warped drastically, with new looks becoming the standard and replacing previous physical goals at a rapid rate.

No amount of squatting in the gym will get you a booty the size of Kim Kardashian’s…

(unless you have $30,000 to spend on a Brazilian butt lift!)

This just goes to show that perhaps we should be taking the ever-changing ‘ideal body shape’ with a pinch of salt, and that we shouldn’t be pressuring ourselves into attaining the unattainable.

It’s time to ditch the culturally ingrained standards and learn to love ourselves for who we are – normal, beautiful human beings.

If you’re interested in learning more about intuitive eating and rebuilding a healthy relationship with your body, we can help you out with our tailored 1:1 coaching. Drop us an email at hello@embodyhealthlondon.com to get started on your journey into embodiment, empowerment and embracing eating!

 

EHL Team x

Robin Wileman, EHL Student Dietitian Intern

 

References

1 Weber, G., Lukeneder, A., Harzhauser, M., Mitteroeker, P., Wurm, L., Kainz, S., Haack, F., Antl-Weiser, W., & Kern, A. (2022). The microstructure and the origin of the Venus from Willendorf. Scientific Reports, 12(2926). [online] available at: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-06799-z

2 Yellis, K. A. (1969). Prosperity’s Child: Some Thoughts on the Flapper. American Quarterly, 21(1), 44–64. [online] available at: https://doi.org/10.2307/2710772

3 Tredinnick, D. (2002). The Exercise Book. Meanjin, 61(4), 58–64. [online] available at: https://search.informit.org/doi/abs/10.3316/informit.220099324306013

4 American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. (2021). Procedural Statistics 2020-2021.  [online] available at: https://cdn.theaestheticsociety.org/media/statistics/2021-TheAestheticSocietyStatistics.pdf

Diet culture throughout history

history of diet culture

The history of diets

 

What is diet culture?

To understand the origins of diet culture, it’s important to first establish what is actually meant by the term “diet culture”.

Diet culture can be understood as a system of socially constructed and conditioned beliefs that thinness is synonymous with health and associated with a sense of moral virtue. It often offers a culturally prescribed body shape – an ideal that preaches an ever-shrinking, “skinny”, and sickly form, often only attainable through restriction and deprivation.

This system advocates weight loss as a method of attaining a higher health-status and sense of virtuosity, and consequently oppresses those who do not meet this thin-ideal. Certain foods and food groups are elevated, while others are demonised.

 

Where did diet culture begin?

Diet culture can be traced back to as early as Ancient Greek times, where moderation and regulation of food intake was promoted to attain “calmness”. It also represented a marker of supreme self-control – one of the highest virtues in Ancient Greece1.

Within Ancient Greek society, controlling food intake was utilized as a means for the individual to attain not only health, but an ‘aesthetically pleasing’ body. A healthy body was, within this historical context, a balanced body.

 

Anorexia mirabilis – holiness and starvation

Following the establishment of Christendom, many early Christians came to regard the body as the enemy of the soul. Founders such as St. Anthony, St. Augustine, the early Desert Fathers, St. Jerome, and St. Basil would engage in excruciatingly long fasts and self-deprivation as a means to attain communion with God and purify the body2.

This act, known as anorexia mirabilis or ‘holy anorexia’, could be understood as the basis for modern day diet culture’s association between virtuosity and dietary choices and the apparent morality of food (i.e. “good foods” vs. “bad foods”).

The idea of living in a larger body as being a sign of immorality and a lack of self-discipline persists in today’s culture.

However, in modern times this takes the form of self-proclaimed fitness gurus judging how “good” or “bad” clients have been based on how vigorously they’ve exercised, and how consistently they’ve stuck to a diet of plain chicken, broccoli, and rice.

 

The first diet book – Discourses on the Sober Life: The Art of Living Long

Despite the cultural revolution sweeping across the world in the 1500s, the idea of obesity and depravity persisted across society, with perceived gluttony still regarded as sinful.

In fact, Venetian nobleman Luigi Cornaro published the first diet book, Discourses on the Sober Life: The Art of Living Long, which was heavily celebrated at the time.

Cornaro began an extremely strict and restrictive diet from his 30s onwards, after previously indulging in a life of excess. It is even reported that he only ate approximately 100g of food per day, with the overall goal of attaining longevity3.

Subsequently, several other diet-related books were published throughout the 1500- 1700s. Therefore, Cornaro’s book, among many others, paved the way for 19th century dietary practices and the emergence of modern-day diet culture.

 

1800s – the emergence of modern diet culture and dieting

Throughout the mid to late 1800s, the ideal frame for both men and women was thin and determined to be romantic in a sickly way.

Clothing became very form fitting across both sexes – women were laced into bone-crushingly tight corsets, while men were trussed up in breaches, resulting in radical diets to try and maintain this silhouette.

For example, famous poet Lord Byron’s vinegar diet, in which he’d drink vinegar several times a day with water (does it remind you of the apple cider vinegar diet of today at all?).  Several Victorian women were reported to have died from imitating their romantic idol4.

Around 1850, the idea of “Victorian Anorexia” developed, where women would undergo self-imposed starvation to look as thin and frail as possible. As a result, it was during this period that the first real diet-retreats, calorie counting books and low-carb diets were produced and promoted to the masses as a means of weight-management.

This concept has even perpetuated throughout more recent years, with diet culture of the 1990s romanticising a ‘heroin chic’ physique, an extremely slender and feeble body type.

 

2022 – quick fixes & fad diet crazes

Fast forward to 2022: we’ve heard of, read about, tried (and probably ‘failed’ at) the Cabbage Soup diet, or the Grapefruit diet, Intermittent Fasting, the One-day diet, the Atkins, the MIND diet, the Russian Air Force diet, going Paleo, detox diets, the magic-bullet diets, keto, the 5:2 diet4, and many other flawed, quick-fix dietary protocols.

However, all these fad diets require some form of restriction, deprivation, and the demonisation of one or more food groups.

This dieting mindset is extremely toxic and harmful, especially when it is being advertised to an increasingly young audience.

Diet culture has been further amplified by advancements in technology over recent years, with apps such as MyFitnessPal to keep track of your activity levels and micromanage your calorie intake. It enables you to set yourself goals founded on a conditioned ideal, one that society has ingrained into us as being the ultimate achievement.

We can constantly engage in this endless cycle of self-surveillance digitally, in culmination with the little stomach pinches, prods, and body checks. However, it is vital to remember that weight loss is not the panacea to all mental and physical ailments.

 

How can we dismantle decades of disembodiment?

If we are to learn anything from history, it is that unrealistic body goals are always going to be unattainable, and that diets fundamentally do not work. If they truly did, why would we have been stuck in this timeline of ever-changing diet culture since the 9th century BC?

In a society fuelled by diet culture, there will always be a new goal or fad with the same harmful, unsatisfactory result – eroded trust with your body, slowed metabolism and inadequate nutrition, among many others.

Diet culture is a belief system, one which you can chose to stop believing in.

 Instead, re-direct all that wasted energy into believing in yourself instead: choose to believe that you are more than just a body or a number on a scale.

You always have the option to lead a life beyond the confines of counting calories and pondering portions.

If you’re ready to reclaim your body, dismantle diet culture, and practice a more intuitive approach to eating, email us today at hello@embodyhealthlondon.com.

We’d love to help you nurture and build a healthier relationship with food and your body. This is your birthright.

 

EHL Team x

 

 

References

1 Yanis, T (2009), ‘The historical origins of the basic concepts of health promotion and education: the role of ancient Greek philosophy and medicine’, Health Promotion International, 24(2), pp.185-192. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/heapro/dap006

2 Griggin, J and Berry, E.M (2003), ‘A modern day holy anorexia? Religious language in advertising and anorexia nervosa in the West, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 57, pp. 43-51.

3 Le Conteur, D and Simpron, S (2018), ‘90th Anniversary Commentary: Caloric Restriction Effects on Aging’, The Journal of Nutrition, 148(10), pp. 1656 – 1659. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxy146

4 Foxcroft, Louise (2011) Calories and Corsets: A History of Dieting over 2000 Years, Londone: Pinecroft Books.

Why am I still binge eating if I am eating enough?

why am I binge eating?

 

What is binge eating?

Contrary to what you might think, binge eating is not the same thing as overeating.

Binge eating consists of episodes involving eating large quantities of food in a short space of time, until you feel uncomfortably full or even sick. Those who binge eat usually do so alone, and will often experience feelings of shame, embarrassment, and guilt after an episode.

According to statistics, binge eating disorder affects up to 2.8 million adults across the USA, making it more prevalent than both anorexia and bulimia1.

 

What causes binge eating?

A mixture of several different factors can contribute towards binge eating behaviours – unfortunately, there is no single cause that can be easily addressed.

Binge eating is often linked with psychological factors such as stress, depression and anxiety. Several studies have found that stress and anxiety can significantly increase the risk for a binge eating episode2, evidencing the relationship between mood and food.

Dietary restriction is also a big factor that can lead to binge eating episodes.

Restricting your food intake makes these foods seem more desirable and rewarding, causing you to crave them more. Continued restriction will also make you hungrier, increasing the chance of binge eating.

 

But I’m eating enough – so why am I still binge eating?

As mentioned, binge eating does not always stem from biological hunger or cravings – a lot of the time, the root cause is more psychological.

You may be using food as a coping mechanism to try and deal with negative emotions such as stress or anxiety, even if you’re not biologically hungry.

When we eat foods we enjoy, our brains release a neurotransmitter called dopamine. This chemical is associated with pleasure and motivation, making us more likely to seek out whatever it is causing the dopamine release – in this case, food3.

Therefore, if you find yourself binge eating even when not physically hungry, it may be because your body is seeking a dopamine rush to negate negative emotions.

 

Our top THREE tips for avoiding binge eating 

 

1. Say goodbye to dieting and restriction

The key to breaking the cycle of binge eating is to let go of holding yourself back. Not only is constant restriction going to affect your physical wellbeing, but it will also take a toll on your mental health.

Even if you do feel like you are eating enough, you may still be stuck in the restricting mentality, which can be physically and emotionally draining. Shaming and guilt-tripping yourself for eating certain foods is not healthy – there is no such things as a ‘bad’ food!

Through allowing yourself to find food freedom, you can make the first steps in overcoming binge eating once and for all.

 

2. Tune in to your body and your mind

Becoming more in touch with your thoughts and feelings will allow you to get know yourself better, making you more adept at understanding what your body needs.

If you feel hungry, listen to those hunger cues, and allow yourself to eat. If you’re craving a specific food, tune in to those signals and let yourself have it. After all, your body knows you better than anyone else!

Similarly, if you’re experiencing a lot of negative emotions, try to understand why this might be, and whether you might need some extra support in dealing with them. Which brings us on to tip number three…

 

3. Seek out professional help

Recovery does not have to be a journey you embark on alone. If you are experiencing binge eating and feel that it may be stemming from a place of unmet emotional needs, there is no shame in reaching out for help. In fact, sometimes this is one of the most helpful things you can do!

Here at EHL, we provide tailored, 1:1 coaching to help you improve your relationship with food. For specialised support in your recovery from qualified healthcare professionals, get in touch with us today at hello@embodyhealthlondon.com

 

 

References

1 Hull, M. (2022, May 26). Binge Eating Disorder Facts and Statistics. The Recovery Village. https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/mental-health/binge-eating/binge-eating-statistics/

2 Rosenbaum, D. L., & White, K. S. (2015). The relation of anxiety, depression, and stress to binge eating behavior. Journal of Health Psychology, 20(6), 887–898. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105315580212 

3 Bello, N. T., & Hajnal, A. (2010). Dopamine and binge eating behaviors. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 97(1), 25–33. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pbb.2010.04.016

Why am I secret eating and how do I stop?

how to stop secret eating

Feel more in control around food

 

What is secret eating?

As you may have already guessed, secret eating is a form of disordered eating where someone will deliberately hide what they are eating, or how much they are eating, from other people.

This may involve finding a place to eat where they know nobody will see them, or only eating at times where nobody is likely to be around – for example, staying up late to eat after everybody else has gone to bed.

Secret eating behaviours can begin in childhood and continue long into adulthood, forming a vicious cycle that may seem impossible to break. In fact, one study found that 27.2% of children reported sneaking, hiding, or hoarding food1, while another study demonstrated how this figure may be as high as 34% in adolescents2.

In a further study, 54% of adult participants with diagnosed binge eating disorder admitted to secretive eating, separate to their binge eating behaviour3.

 

Why am I eating in secret?

Secret eating is often driven by psychological factors such as stress, guilt, shame, or feeling like you are out of control. Eating by yourself, on your own terms, is one way of regaining this control and avoiding perceived judgment from others surrounding your eating habits.

This behaviour can stem from early on in development, especially if you have been raised with a lot of negative associations surrounding food. This may be from your peers, diet culture in the media, societal standards or even from your own family.

In fact, the same study that found 27.2% of children engaged in secret eating also discovered that 57.5% of parents involved endorsed parental control of feeding.

If you have developed secret eating behaviours through guilt, fear, shame, embarrassment or simply wanting to be in control, this can be a tough habit to break. Luckily, we have a few pieces of advice that may help you get on top of your secret eating once and for all.

 

Our top 3 tips for stopping secret eating:

 

  1. Be compassionate and accepting towards yourself

The first step in overcoming secret eating is to show yourself compassion. Eating should never be something to be ashamed of or hidden – it is something that should be enjoyed and shared with others!

Being accepting of your eating habits and being kinder towards yourself about those habits is key to developing a healthier relationship with food. Diet culture has taught us to feel guilt and shame surrounding certain foods, but this mindset is extremely damaging and will only help contribute to the cycle of secret eating.

It’s important to remember that no food is inherently ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – food is nutrients, nourishment, and enjoyment!

 

2. Find alternative ways of regaining control

Eating in secret is not the only way of feeling in control – there are many other methods you can use which are not only more productive, but more empowering.

Finding something you enjoy doing can enable you to distract yourself from any negative emotions you may be experiencing, especially those which may make you feel driven to secret eating.

For example, many people find they get a lot of enjoyment from things like creating art, listening to their favourite music or engaging in physical activity. This might also help you to get that sense of control from something other than secret eating.

 

3. Speak to a qualified professional

One of the best things you can do to help heal your relationship with food is to talk to a healthcare specialist, such as a dietitian. They will be able to give you the support you need to break the cycle of secret eating once and for all, so you can finally find food freedom.

At EHL, that’s exactly what we’re here for!

If you’re struggling with secret eating and would like expert advice on how to escape this habit, we can help. Our team of registered dietitians are here to provide you with tailored, 1:1 coaching that will enable you to rebuild a healthy relationship with food and feel empowered, not ashamed of your eating habits.

 

Contact us now at hello@embodyhealthlondon.com for more information!

 

EHL Team x

 Robin Wileman, EHL student dietitian intern

 

References

1 Sonneville, K. R., Rifas-Shiman, S. L., Haines, J., Gortmaker, S., Mitchell, K. F., Gillman, M. W., & Taveras, E. M. (2013). Associations of Parental Control of Feeding with Eating in the Absence of Hunger and Food Sneaking, Hiding, and Hoarding. Childhood Obesity, 9(4), 346–349. https://doi.org/10.1089/chi.2012.0149

2 Knatz, S., Maginot, T., Story, M., Neumark-Sztainer, D., & Boutelle, K. (2011). Prevalence Rates and Psychological Predictors of Secretive Eating in Overweight and Obese Adolescents. Childhood Obesity, 7(1), 30–35. https://doi.org/10.1089/chi.2011.0515.knatz

3 Lydecker, J. A., & Grilo, C. M. (2019). I didn’t want them to see: Secretive eating among adults with binge-eating disorder. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 52(2), 153–158. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.23002

 

 

Why can’t I stop thinking about food?

why am I always hungry?

Feeling out of control?

 

Do you feel like you are thinking about food non-stop? Are you constantly distracted by fantasies of which snack you might want to grab next? Or do you seem to spend hours daydreaming about what your meal later may consist of?

If you feel like this describes you, then keep on reading to discover some potential reasons which might explain why you can’t stop thinking about food.

 

Are you eating frequently enough?

This may sound incredibly obvious – but when we think about food, it’s usually just because we’re hungry!

When our bodies go for long periods of time without food, hormones such as ghrelin are released to stimulate our appetite in response1. This is a natural survival mechanism, ensuring that we get regular nutrition and don’t starve.

If you find yourself bombarded by thoughts about food, try incorporating more snacks in between meals to help keep you going throughout the day.

 

Are your portion sizes big enough?

Another reason you might not be able to stop thinking about food is because your portion sizes are too small. Restricting your portion sizes to smaller amounts will make you feel hungrier throughout the day and may even increase your cravings.

In fact, one study found that people who went on short-term crash diets experienced significantly more cravings than those who didn’t diet2. So, if you’re not feeling full enough after a meal, this is your sign to increase your portion sizes.

 

Are you getting enough balance?

Sometimes, cravings for foods are your body’s way of telling you that you need more of something in your diet.

A balanced meal consists of a variety of different food groups, including carbohydrates, proteins, vegetables, fats, and dairy (or dairy alternatives). If you’re frequently missing out any of these key nutrients, it’s important to try and incorporate foods into your diet that can provide them.

It’s also vital to get a balance of essential micronutrients so that you don’t become deficient in specific vitamins and minerals.

 

Are you emotionally eating?

Sometimes, eating can be used as a coping mechanism to deal with unpleasant and unwanted emotions. This is known as emotional eating, and is much more common than you think, with about 40% of people worldwide reporting eating more when stressed3.

If you think your food habits may be more of a psychological response than a physical one, it may be a good idea to talk to a professional about your concerns.

 

Our top three tips for when you can’t stop thinking about food

  • One: consider what the reason might be

Thinking about the root cause of your food fantasies can help you to identify the deeper meaning behind them. You might realise you’re feeling hungry because you haven’t eaten in a little while, or because the last meal you ate simply wasn’t fulfilling enough.

If you’re worried that the cause may be something more serious than this, such as an underlying condition, it may be worth speaking to a healthcare professional such as a doctor or book and speak with one of our specialist registered dietitians.

 

  • Two: acknowledge your body’s needs

Your body is much cleverer than you give it credit for – it will let you know when it needs nutrients! If you’re constantly thinking about food 24/7, allow yourself the freedom to eat.

Restriction will only lead to an unhealthy relationship with eating, causing you to develop unnecessary fears and anxieties around food.

 

  • Three: practice mindful eating

Mindfulness is defined by being present, in the moment, with non-judgmental awareness. Mindfulness practices can help you become more in tune with your body and your mind, enabling you to experience food freedom once and for all.

When you start to practice mindfulness in other areas of your life, you might find that you’re thinking about food less than you were before, focusing on other aspects of your life that also bring you joy.

However, it’s still important to note that thinking about food is not a bad thing, or something to be ashamed of! Food is something that brings joy to everyone and this should be celebrated!

Here at EHL, we specialise in intuitive eating, mindfulness and embodiment, providing one-to-one coaching tailored to your needs. To learn more about this approach and exactly how we can help you, email us now at hello@embodyhealthlondon.com

 

EHL Team x

Robin Wileman, EHL student dietitian intern

 

References

1 Stensel, D. (2010). Exercise, Appetite and Appetite-Regulating Hormones: Implications for Food Intake and Weight Control. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 57(Suppl. 2), 36–42. [Online] Available at: https://doi.org/10.1159/000322702

 

 

2 Meule, A. (2020). The Psychology of Food Cravings: the Role of Food Deprivation. Current Nutrition Reports, 9(3), 251–257. [Online] Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13668-020-00326-0

 

 

3 Emotional Eating Definition, Treatment & Causes. (2020, September 30).  MedicineNet. [Online] Available at: https://www.medicinenet.com/emotional_eating/article.htm

 

What are the best foods to improve my sleep?

foods to improve sleep

Nutrition as one of the keys to a good night sleep

 

We all know that sleep is crucial, not only for our physical health but also for our mental wellbeing. Getting adequate amounts of sleep at night helps our body to rest and repair, getting us ready for the day head.

However, sometimes falling asleep isn’t all that easy – in fact, around 10-30% of adults across the globe report experiencing insomnia, with this figure being as high as 50-60% in some parts of the world1.

In this blog post, we will discuss some of the best foods for improving your sleep, as well as some other helpful tips on getting a good night’s rest.

 

Which foods should I eat for better sleep?

Unfortunately, there is no one food that is guaranteed to give you a good night’s sleep. However, there are a few foods that could potentially help you get better sleep when consumed as part of a balanced diet.

Research shows that, among other health benefits, oily fish can help increase our quality of sleep and improve our daily functioning.2 Consuming at least one portion of oily fish per week can also have cardio-protective effects and is highly beneficial for our brain health!

You may also find that nuts help you with your sleep – they contain melatonin, a chemical which regulates our day and night cycles. As well as this, they are packed full of essential minerals such as magnesium, zinc, and calcium.

Interestingly, kiwi fruit could also be beneficial. Kiwis not only contain plenty of vitamins, which reduce oxidative stress in the body, but additionally contain serotonin, melatonin, and folate, all of which have been shown to boost sleep onset and length.

Some other foods that contain a lot of sleep-friendly melatonin include tart cherries, milk, and mushrooms.

That is not to say that consuming any of these foods will guarantee you good sleep – if you think you are having serious problems with insomnia, it’s probably worth talking to your doctor about.

Overall, the best way to eat to help you sleep is to consume a varied, balanced diet containing all the essential nutrients we need to function. This includes plenty of protein, wholegrain carbohydrates, dietary fats, fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, pulses, and dairy or dairy alternatives. Plus, of course, adequate hydration is vital!

 

Is there anything I need to avoid?

Eating anything too spicy or acidic in the evening could impact your sleep by causing indigestion or acid reflux. This is definitely the cause for some people and tends to lead to a lot of discomfort, making it more difficult for you to get to sleep at night.

 

Our top 3 tips for a good night’s sleep:

 
One – cut down on caffeine

Drinking large amounts of caffeine will make it much harder to fall asleep at night due to its effects on the body as a stimulant. It can also disrupt our natural circadian rhythms, as evidenced by recent studies3.

Next time you find yourself reaching for that last cup of tea before bed, try sticking to decaf – your body will thank you for it!

 

Two – don’t eat too late in the evening

Eating late at night has been shown to have a disruptive effect on sleep4. Having food in the evening will force your gut to remain active during the night, when it would normally not be digesting anything.

Late-night eating can also lead to potential health problems such as impaired metabolism, glucose intolerance and even cardiovascular illness.

If you’re finding yourself hungry in the evening, it might be a sign that you’re not eating enough during the day! Getting adequate nutrition from your food will make you less likely to turn to midnight snacking, helping you get a more replenishing sleep.

 

Three – respect your body and relax your mind

The most important factor when it comes to sleep is looking after yourself. Prioritising self-compassion, practicing mindfulness, and allowing yourself freedom around food will help you to have much more restful nights.

Stress can also negatively impact the amount of sleep we get, so it’s important to make sure you are taking care of yourself! 

Here at EHL, we can help you to nourish your body and nurture your relationship with food. Get in touch with us today at hello@embodyhealthlondon.com for more information.

 

EHL Team x

Robin Wileman, EHL student dietitian intern

 

References

1 Suni, E., & Truong, K. (2022, May 13). Sleep Statistics. Sleep Foundation. Available at: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/sleep-facts-statistics

2 Hansen, A. L., Dahl, L., Olson, G., Thornton, D., Graff, I. E., Frøyland, L., Thayer, J. F., & Pallesen, S. (2014). Fish Consumption, Sleep, Daily Functioning, and Heart Rate Variability. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 10(05), 567–575. Available at: https://doi.org/10.5664/jcsm.3714

3 Burke, T. M., Markwald, R. R., McHill, A. W., Chinoy, E. D., Snider, J. A., Bessman, S. C., Jung, C. M., O’Neill, J. S., & Wright, K. P. (2015). Effects of caffeine on the human circadian clock in vivo and in vitro. Science Translational Medicine, 7(305). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.aac5125

4 Uçar, C., Özgöçer, T., & Yıldız, S. (2021). Effects of late‐night eating of easily—or slowly—digestible meals on sleep, hypothalamo‐pituitary‐adrenal axis, and autonomic nervous system in healthy young males. Stress and Health, 37(4), 640–649. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1002/smi.3025

How to repair my metabolism

how to repair your metabolism

How to undo the damages of dieting

 

What is metabolism?

Metabolism refers to the collection of complex chemical reactions that occur in our bodies 24/7 in order to keep us going. At rest, we need a baseline level of energy to maintain the normal functioning of our organs – this is known as resting metabolic rate.

Your metabolism is more dynamic than you think – it can be affected by a range of factors, from your physical activity level to the functioning of your hormones.

In this article, we’ll discuss the ways in which metabolism can be affected by dieting, and subsequent methods to help your metabolism return to a healthier level.

 

How is our metabolism impacted when we are in a calorie deficit?

Various studies demonstrate that when you start to restrict the number of calories you are putting into your body, your metabolism will begin to slow down over time1.

For example, imagine you are restricting your calorie intake to an amount that is smaller than your resting metabolic rate. Gradually, your body’s metabolism will begin to drop to below the number of calories you are taking in.

This is because our bodies don’t want to be burning up more energy than what we are putting in – that just wouldn’t be sustainable! Slowing down our metabolic rate means we will be able to complete the same basic functions but using less energy.

 

What are the long-term consequences of dieting for our metabolism?

Long-term dieting can have serious impacts on metabolism: your resting metabolic rate may remain low for up to months or even years, depending on how long you remain in a calorie deficit.

In severe calorie deficits, resting metabolic rate can become extremely low. This can put the body at risk of muscle mass depletion and even damage to organs, as it tries to break down its own tissues for energy.

It has also been found that dieting can slow gastrointestinal function, which in turn can affect the hunger signals we receive when we’ve not eaten enough, as well as causing other gut problems2.

 

How can I heal my metabolism?

Healing your metabolism starts from the inside out. Improving your metabolism might mean gaining weight in the process, but it’s important to know that this is okay!

We often hold on to a lot of internalised beliefs about weight and body size, mainly due to the overwhelming shame and stigma that still exists in society surrounding weight gain.

However, regardless of how many calories we supposedly ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ be having, our bodies still need energy to function. Here are just a few ways you can help get your metabolism back to what it was pre-diet.

 

Our 3 top tips for maintaining a healthy metabolism:

 
One: Nourish your body with adequate nutrition

Getting your metabolism back on track means trusting your body’s natural hunger cues and honouring your own needs.

Research shows that consuming regular, balanced meals is associated with weight management and metabolic health3. To maintain an energy-efficient metabolism, your body needs an adequate supply of nutrition throughout the day.

 

Two: Let your body rest

Although physical activity is great for your body and your mind, overworking yourself will negatively impact on your metabolism if you are already in a calorie deficit.

Taking rest is imperative for long term health and is an important sign of a healthy relationship with exercise.

 

Three: Say goodbye to the dieting mindset

For centuries, diet culture has told us that in order to be ‘healthy’, we must eat certain things so we that can look a certain way. Well, we’re here to tell you this isn’t true in the slightest.

Our bodies are all beautifully unique and complex, and health doesn’t come in one shape or size. Calorie restriction holds a lot more risks than it does benefits, especially when it comes to our metabolism.

If you’re looking to ditch diet culture once and for all, you’ve come to the right place. Here at EHL we can help you to cultivate a healthier relationship with food and your body, guiding you with one-to-one coaching from our specialist dietitians. Get in touch with us today at hello@embodyhealthlondon.com

 

EHL Team x

 Robin Wileman, EHL Dietitian Student Intern

 

 

References

1 Dayan, P. H., Sforzo, G., Boisseau, N., Pereira-Lancha, L. O., & Lancha, A. H. (2019). A new clinical perspective: Treating obesity with nutritional coaching versus energy-restricted diets. Nutrition, 60, 147–151. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2018.09.027

 

2 Seimon, R. V., Taylor, P., Little, T. J., Noakes, M., Standfield, S., Clifton, P. M., Horowitz, M., & Feinle-Bisset, C. (2013). Effects of acute and longer-term dietary restriction on upper gut motility, hormone, appetite, and energy-intake responses to duodenal lipid in lean and obese men. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 99(1), 24–34. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.113.067090

 

3 Alhussain, M. H., Macdonald, I. A., & Taylor, M. A. (2016). Irregular meal-pattern effects on energy expenditure, metabolism, and appetite regulation: a randomized controlled trial in healthy normal-weight women. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 104(1), 21–32. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.115.125401