What to Expect When You Work With Me
My job title suggests I write meal plans and prescribe diet plans, and when people first reach out to me, they often ask me for this kind of thing.
Earlier on in my career I often felt the best way I could help was to take the thinking out of the equation for people, to give them the know how and take out the ambiguity of what to eat to achieve the desired outcome. Diet sheets and highlighter pens used to be a must.
However, my career and life experience has taught me the drivers of our behaviour are a little more complex. What we think we need, or desire, is often our brain’s way of seeking a shortcut or simple solution because it is too full of other stuff to contemplate things a different way.
Diet plans or meal plans are always really appealing (and the diet industry thrives on reinforcing the belief that we absolutely need them) but without doing some more holistic work, often they are hard to stick to, and leave us feeling like it’s us that’s failing.
Why it’s Often More Complicated Than We Like to Admit
Food is just one of the things we must make decisions about every day and that can feel draining. We can’t avoid it completely though as it’s kind of essential to life. So, for many people, because of lots of competing priorities, it ends up being a slightly tempestuous relationship.
It may be the casualty of too much to do, with food decisions feeling rushed and knee jerk and not very nourishing. Or it might start to take on a different meaning, as our body and brain learn that food and our relationship with it, can form part of our armour to cope with life’s challenges. Whichever it might be, we often get a feeling when things aren’t gelling as well as we’d like and perhaps that’s what lead you to reading this.
Changing the Definition of Nourishment
I see time and time again it’s not what we eat that makes the most difference to our wellbeing. It’s often the how and why we eat that tell the real story. For me, starting there makes sense. We can’t talk about nourishing foods, if the circumstances or self-talk we are creating to achieve that so called ‘healthy’ diet are themselves not very nourishing.
Often our perception is that to be healthier requires more work from the willpower muscle. This is rarely the case and behavioural science research backs this up.
What Does Working With Me Look Like in Reality?
For me, I see the best outcomes when I am able to deepen someone’s understanding of their body and physiology; to take that scientific approach but to position it under the holistic umbrella of mindset and behavioural therapy. This enables us to look at the why, how and then the what.
I align with an intuitive eating framework, which works to support our physical and emotional health, irrespective of body weight.
Evidence shows this helps us to:
- Create healthy food relationships that support us to feel in tune with our bodies.
- Understand and improve daily habits.
- Create a nutrition and movement ethos that doesn’t feel effortful, but rather is in tune with our life and needs.
What About Support With Weight Loss?
If weight loss remains the main focus of support, it tends to come with a ‘diet voice’. It is harder to do some of the deeper work around our behavioural drivers and sense of self etc. when we’re caught up in a load of ‘shoulds’. Relying on someone external to our own body, calling the shots on what, when and how to eat, means our own internal validator doesn’t get heard.
Building trust in our bodies and the signals they give us sounds a bit vague, but actually it’s the cornerstone of healthy habits. In amongst the noise, both in life and our own heads, those signals get lost, misinterpreted or completely switched off. Finding them again and acting on them, is hugely empowering.
I am not anti-weight loss, but do not look through this lens as a measure of progress. Some of my clients do lose weight but not all. All, without exception feel better about themselves, and in turn their bodies and health.
Weight loss is not a behaviour at the end of the day, so if we focus on behaviours that lead to improvements in physical and mental health, weight loss may or may not be a by-product of that. There are so many factors, some of which are not even within our conscious control, so in my book, it doesn’t make sense to be so target driven at the expense of more therapeutic work.
But Hang On, How Do You Know What to Eat?
Nutrition is a constantly evolving science and one that’s full of misinterpretation and contradiction. As a nutrition professional, bound by a code of conduct, my duty of care is always to practise in an evidence-based way. Helping you make sense of those supermarket aisles and how that translates onto your plate, with less stress and more ease, is absolutely part of my work. I’m just not going to give you a load of rules to stick to. There is no evidence anywhere that can describe ‘the perfect diet’ – and understanding the nuance to all that is really key to our health and wellbeing.
Do I Recommend Supplements?
Supplements can form part of our wellbeing framework, but I think it’s important to take a food first approach. Supplements can often play on our insecurities. And they fuel the belief the answer to feeling better lies in a bottle or pill. Having said that, there is a place for some of them, in the context of all other forms of nourishment. I like to support people to choose wisely when it’s indicated.
The Individual at the Heart of it All
Everyone has their own unique lived experience and journey up until this point. There are many factors to consider. I will create a safe space to look at the whole picture. And I’ll apply both science and compassion to help move you forward towards nourishment for your whole self.
I hope that helps to give some clarity to my recipe for nourishment. Do get in touch if you’d like to chat about working together and the various ways in which we can do that. Or join my eat it real community for spoonfuls of nourishment in your inbox.