No Wellness Wankery

70: Sophia's Real Story "I'm scared to buy bread because I will binge eat"

July 25, 2023 Lyndi Cohen
70: Sophia's Real Story "I'm scared to buy bread because I will binge eat"
No Wellness Wankery
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No Wellness Wankery
70: Sophia's Real Story "I'm scared to buy bread because I will binge eat"
Jul 25, 2023
Lyndi Cohen

Eating disorders can affect everyone, and in today's Real Story, we meet Sophia, who knows this all too well.

Sophia's journey towards recovery has been truly remarkable, starting from her use of food as a means of control during infancy, to being admitted to the hospital for not eating, and to collecting memories of passing comments about her food intake from family members. Despite suffering deeply from an eating disorder, she even faced rejection from an eating disorder clinic due to being at a healthy weight.

Navigating the rough road to recovery isn't easy, and Sophia has come such a long way from the depths of her eating disorder. However, her life can still be influenced by food rules, and she often faces the temptation to diet.

Do you know what's healthier than kale? A good relationship with food and your body.

This chat highlights the significant role of supportive relationships and the power of positive affirmations in breaking free from disordered eating.

Weight loss isn't the ultimate goal; it's about creating a healthier relationship with food. Lyndi debunks calorie myths and discusses the significance of adopting healthier habits over time rather than obsessing over immediate results.

💜 Want help with binge or emotional eating? I think you'll get a lot of value from my free 5-day course, in which I teach you strategies that helped me to skip the cravings and feel in control around food. The course will be delivered via email straight into your inbox.

❔ Are you a binge or emotional eater? If you feel out of control around food, or can’t stop eating once you start, take my free quiz. I promise to hand over helpful guidance to help you create a normal relationship with food.

Want to feel more in control around food? Check out my Stop Struggling With Food Guide, currently on sale for 40% off.
You’ll also find 50 of my favourite recipes to get you inspired!

Get my Free 5 Day Course to help you stop binge and emotional eating. 

Try my Back to Basics app FREE for 7 days.
It's got everthing you need to be healthy without dieting at your fingertips.

Looking for more support to feel in control around food? I'd love to support you in my Binge Free Academy


Come follow me on the gram at @nude_nutritionist (no nude pics, sorry).

Want to share some feedback or have an idea for an episode, I'd LOVE to hear from you - hit me up at hello@lyndicohen.com

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Eating disorders can affect everyone, and in today's Real Story, we meet Sophia, who knows this all too well.

Sophia's journey towards recovery has been truly remarkable, starting from her use of food as a means of control during infancy, to being admitted to the hospital for not eating, and to collecting memories of passing comments about her food intake from family members. Despite suffering deeply from an eating disorder, she even faced rejection from an eating disorder clinic due to being at a healthy weight.

Navigating the rough road to recovery isn't easy, and Sophia has come such a long way from the depths of her eating disorder. However, her life can still be influenced by food rules, and she often faces the temptation to diet.

Do you know what's healthier than kale? A good relationship with food and your body.

This chat highlights the significant role of supportive relationships and the power of positive affirmations in breaking free from disordered eating.

Weight loss isn't the ultimate goal; it's about creating a healthier relationship with food. Lyndi debunks calorie myths and discusses the significance of adopting healthier habits over time rather than obsessing over immediate results.

💜 Want help with binge or emotional eating? I think you'll get a lot of value from my free 5-day course, in which I teach you strategies that helped me to skip the cravings and feel in control around food. The course will be delivered via email straight into your inbox.

❔ Are you a binge or emotional eater? If you feel out of control around food, or can’t stop eating once you start, take my free quiz. I promise to hand over helpful guidance to help you create a normal relationship with food.

Want to feel more in control around food? Check out my Stop Struggling With Food Guide, currently on sale for 40% off.
You’ll also find 50 of my favourite recipes to get you inspired!

Get my Free 5 Day Course to help you stop binge and emotional eating. 

Try my Back to Basics app FREE for 7 days.
It's got everthing you need to be healthy without dieting at your fingertips.

Looking for more support to feel in control around food? I'd love to support you in my Binge Free Academy


Come follow me on the gram at @nude_nutritionist (no nude pics, sorry).

Want to share some feedback or have an idea for an episode, I'd LOVE to hear from you - hit me up at hello@lyndicohen.com

Lyndi:

Hello everyone and welcome to today's episode of no Wellness Wanker. It's so good to have me and Sophia in your ear holes. That's where we are. Sophia is my real guest today. We're having a chat because perhaps, like you, she grew up on way too many diets, grew up hating her body and I hope today's chat is really helpful for you and for Sophia and for myself. I'm really into it. Sophia, thank you so much for joining me on today's podcast.

Sophia:

Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to be here.

Lyndi:

I'm so happy to have you here because you sent me an email detailing that you started having a tricky relationship with food when you were really young. Can you start us off and explain when it started, how it started?

Sophia:

Well, I mean, I suppose I actually started having a relationship with food, using it emotionally, before I'm even too young to remember. Like the first time it happened, I think my mom said I was about two my dad went away for work and my emotional response to that was to just stop eating. So I ended up being put in hospital on a drip. I don't remember any of that. Obviously, the first time I remember it was when I was about five or six. I was quite, I think, probably what it was, as I was unhappy at school, but you don't kind of connect that. At the time I stopped eating for months. The only thing I would eat was one banana yogurt a day for like five months, and so that was my way of using food emotionally. It wasn't about a weight thing, but it was that. I suppose it's a form of control. I think when it first became a weight thing was probably in my early teens, when I stopped I felt like I couldn't eat in front of people.

Lyndi:

Is that when you started to feel like there was something wrong with your body.

Sophia:

I honestly think I've probably always thought there was something wrong with my body. I've grown up in a household with lots of sisters, and I would be the big boned one, the chubby one or the one that suffers with a weight a little bit ever since I can remember, so I think that I've always been aware of my body.

Lyndi:

So here you were. A teenager, you started becoming more preoccupied by food, using it as a control method. What happened from there?

Sophia:

So when I was younger, the reason that I didn't eat? I was scared of swallowing. It was like a fear of swallowing and then, as I got a bit older and more aware of it, it was a fear of eating in front of people. I felt like if I ate in front of people I wasn't comfortable with as in not my initial family then people would see me as greedy and so I didn't eat at school. I used to throw my lunches away. I suppose probably what happened was I'd come home from school and then I'd be so hungry that I'd eat and then, actually, being someone that struggles with my weight a little bit, I probably became a bit of a chubby teenager. I was always a bit chubby, anyway growing up, but it was that fear of eating in front of people that I wasn't comfortable with.

Lyndi:

So there's really much a fear of judgment. Where do you think that came from?

Sophia:

Yeah, I think it is the kind of you talk about it all the time, but it's that generational thing, Like my grandma would say things to my mom and my mom would say things to us and we would just have that language that was not intentionally hurtful, but just normal language that we had as children in that generation, that I just was aware that I was less comfortable with my body than what my sisters were.

Lyndi:

We do talk about it on the podcast a lot because so many people can relate to it. For me it was very much pulling your tummy. Should you really be eating that? Do you really need seconds? One time I got into an argument with my mom because she thought I should be full by that point and I wasn't. And I ordered a cup of tea and she's like how can you still be consuming food? That seems crazy to me. Was it as out in the open for you?

Sophia:

You know you have your old school VHS home videos. We had one. I think it was maybe my little sister's birthday. All the family were around, we were all having cake and somebody and I can't even remember who it is, because it's somebody on camera it was either more and more sister or grandma or something says something about I'm stuffing my face with cake. On the home video that has always always stuck in my head that someone was commenting on meeting the cake and nobody else in the room. It's like little things like that.

Lyndi:

It's wild to me to think about also how many times little comments like that would have been said off camera, that were never captured, that would have informed how you felt about your body. You can always talk about this. The generation before us they really thought that they were trying to do good by helping us and making these comments, but they really do contribute to that noise in our brain. I think most people with an eating disorder history or a disordered eating or poor body image, all of that stuff, is going to have at least one story where you can kind of remember your dad making a comment like your bum looks really big and that, or your aunt saying you've got thighs like big thighs like the rest of the family, if you're listening right now. But you can recall your story about what your thing is and these stories they stick in our head and they've replay and they kind of add fuel to our current eating.

Lyndi:

I think it's really important when we're unwinding an eating disorder, recovering from it, that we are kind of digging back into this past and going what are these little trauma moments that create not even little trauma moments? They have very big impact. I don't want to undermine them, but they really do have a huge impact for us. It sounds like you've got one on camera, but there would have been a whole bunch that perhaps you don't remember that were still happening. Can you continue telling me your story from here on what happened?

Sophia:

I think in my teens I was even more self-conscious by the fact that I kind of developed early. I had really big boobs. People commented on them. So I was just always so self-conscious of my body, no matter what it looked like. I was just aware of it all the time. I then after school was in quite a abusive relationship. During that time I actually gained quite a lot of weight. They commented on my body a lot in a really negative way. Then, when we split up, I went on some really extreme diets. I did a diet that was meal replacement only, like those shake diets. I did it for a few months. I lost a significant amount of weight. I lost a lot of hair, my skin was peeling. I was freezing cold all the time and then I think that just started the extreme from there.

Lyndi:

And I bet at that point, once you'd lost all this weight, society was telling you good girl, good job, you've done great.

Sophia:

Were they? So after I'd done that extreme diet, I kind of that's when I started to take a lot of laxatives. And that's when it started to happen Like the less I ate, the more laxatives I took, the more people said you look amazing, you're looking really good. So I just kind of ignored the fact that I probably knew it wasn't right, but it was okay, because people said it was okay.

Lyndi:

And they didn't know that they were endorsing the very habits that were destroying your health. I always think that the health world's all about this is is very happy for us to sacrifice a huge part of us so that we can weigh less. Sacrifice our entire health so we can weigh less, and then we get rewarded for it. It's very sinister. So, after this abusive relationship had ended, you went on these extreme diets. You'd severely, you lost a lot of weight and now were you stuck in this yo-yo cycle of binge eating and extreme dieting.

Sophia:

Yeah, I mean, I think during that time I don't even think it would have been binge eating, I think it would have been. The goal was always in a day, what's the smallest you can eat and the most amount of laxatives you can take so that you feel empty. It was just that need to feel empty all the time. It was like as soon as I felt full I had this panic that you know I was going to gain weight again. I think the hard thing around that time is that, even though all the friends and people around me were kind of saying how good I looked, I think that's when my family started to realize something was up, but they got to the point where they couldn't say anything because I'd just fly for the handle about it. I sort of felt like I had finally got to this kind of thin goal, but then they were kind of being negative about it.

Lyndi:

Oh yeah, like the thing that they'd kind of suggested you should try and aspire to you had now achieved, and yet they were now unhappy with that.

Sophia:

I think. I mean, I suppose it's like that's kind of a, that's the kind of brain of how I felt at the time looking at it. When I look at I mean, I've grown up in a really loving family. I don't think anyone ever told me I needed to be thin. It's just those underhanded comments that just make you aware that you're not the same as your sibling. But I think really, all they ever want me to be is healthy, and so they just could see that I was not healthy.

Lyndi:

I love that they came. They said this is enough. And was that a turning point for you?

Sophia:

No, it took. I think it took probably six years of really extreme before the turning point happened, and that was actually. I lived with a friend at the time who was aware of what was happening and I think mine and her relationship became really difficult. We kind of fell out and she ended up telling my mom exactly what was going on. I knew I wasn't hiding it, but you can't hide it when someone's completely told somebody what had happened. And at the time I just met my now husband and I think I was in a place where I had started to admit to myself that I needed help and I needed change, but I didn't know how to go about it.

Lyndi:

What happened?

Sophia:

I think I actually had been to see a couple of GPs and had had no luck at all, but I finally went to see someone who referred me to an eating disorder clinic. It was just such an awful experience. So I went to the clinic and they basically looked at me, weighed me, asked me what was going on and told me I was in normal weight. So they weren't going to refer me for any further treatment.

Lyndi:

This makes me so sad because if you're listening, you might not realize that to be diagnosed with an eating disorder, there's lots of criteria that you need to take, and for something like anorexia nervosa it's BMI dependent, and we know BMI is bullshit. We talk about this all the time, and this is just another example of how you fell through the cracks, clearly very much struggling with an eating disorder, but they weren't able to diagnose you by ticking those boxes, and so you were sent away and denied treatment and kind of left on your own right.

Sophia:

Yeah, and I think it was kind of what it's done. What that experience did is that I felt like I had at that time in my life, with my family and my partner, like a lot of support to be able to try and tackle it on my own. I just I don't feel like a lot of people are that lucky. And the thing is, is that even now so that would be 10 years ago even now, where I kind of I'm at a place where I understand and I'm kind of healthy, I still have really bad imposter syndrome about all of this.

Sophia:

And I think that was really the tipping point to me with that, because it made me feel like, oh, maybe I'm not that sick or maybe I don't have an eating disorder or maybe I'm okay. And then it kind of still that comes back into my brain constantly is like every time I feel like I'm uncomfortable in my body or I'm struggling with my weight a little bit, it's like, oh, you know, you could just lose weight. You know. It's that feeling that doctors say to you where it's like your weight's healthy or you just need to lose weight, as if it's that easy. And I think it's given me that mentality constantly ever since that appointment of. Oh well, maybe I didn't really have an eating disorder, when actually I was very sick.

Lyndi:

Yeah, absolutely very sick. And you know in my books I would say well, you can't be diagnosed with an eating disorder. I would say you had an eating disorder and I do think that there is value in getting a diagnosis. I know for myself how powerful it was to feel like I struggled with an eating disorder and therefore I could kind of be a bit more compassionate to myself. And even if you don't have a diagnosis of an eating disorder, knowing that you're struggling with severe disorder eating on anywhere along that spectrum can maybe help you be a little bit kinder to yourself. So here you are, supported by your family, your partner, now on the crusade to go. I have permission to start recovering from this. What did you do? How did you do it? What did that look like?

Sophia:

I mean, I suppose I love food and so my kind of I've used it as a positive. So I love cooking, I always cook, I'm a really good cook and so I suppose I just lived in a environment with my partner that I could cook for both of us and it was part of our day to enjoy food together. I think it took a long, long, long time before that food wasn't controlled, and I still think I have rules which I'd love to eventually not have. But I mean, I think they're quite good rules now, but I think it's been a process. It's been a 10-year process of just gradually starting to understand what works for me, what doesn't, what I like to eat, what I can cook and what you know, all of that kind of thing.

Lyndi:

Can we talk about your partner for a moment, because I think it is very interesting. The intimate relationships we have can have such a profound impact on ourselves, our self-esteem, our relationship of food. Let's say you're hanging out with friends and they're all disordered. You know, we know that disordered tends to hang out together. I know when I met my partner he was the first person to say it doesn't matter what you weigh, I don't care, you are worthy to me, and having someone else say that was incredibly powerful. Do you think that having a partner who you knew had your back, that was going to support you through this, was an important thing?

Sophia:

Yeah, definitely, because I think it's just just having someone that you feel completely comfortable to be completely yourself with. I think until I met him I don't think I'd ever told anyone all the struggles that I was going through. Like, I've got one really close friend and I think just before I met him I opened up to hear about it. But I realized at that time in my life a lot of my friends, they didn't know what was going on either. I had different friends for different things and nobody really understood what was happening. So it was having someone that I could be completely open with and that kind of accepted me and accepted it and understood it and helped me throw it.

Lyndi:

An incredibly what an incredible opportunity to reduce the shame, like to actually verbalize it and say what's happening. It stops being this big secret that you have to carry alone and it's something that can be shared, and I see how that was really important. What tools did you use on your recovery and where are you now?

Sophia:

I think, up until this year, up until I kind of really decided it was time to face this properly and you know I read your book, which has been amazing I think that I've gone through phases where I'm like really relaxed, going really well, and then it's like, okay, I need to do a detox or I need to do this extreme thing because I'm not feeling good.

Sophia:

I think I had a light bulb moment at the beginning of the year because things have been going on you know, other stuff in my personal life and I just suddenly thought that every time something goes wrong or I'm stressed or I'm going through a difficult time, it goes back to the food and the body stuff and I lie in bed and I lie there and I think, why did you eat that today? You can't eat anything tomorrow, and it's that like devil angel going around in my head and I thought that like this was the year that I had to try and tackle that, because as much as I feel like I'm have a good relationship with eating now, it doesn't mean I've got a good relationship with my body, because it kind of comes back to that. So I'm still. I'm still on the journey and I think I've given into the fact that I probably will always be on it. Now you know, it's just about bringing the positive affirmations rather than negative stuff.

Lyndi:

I personally think that just because you've had an eating disorder in the past doesn't mean you'll ever have an eating disorder. Will you be someone who wakes up every morning and be like I love my body? Maybe not, but you might get to a point where you like your body most days and there are a few little moments where you come back and you put it on mind yourself of what you know. But I really think that 40 year old you is going to be a very different person where food does not dictate your, your life, because just in the last three decades you have come an immense way since then, in a very short period of time, and I think I just want to highlight to you how much you have changed, because to me it is so obvious. I just want to remind you as well that this falling off the non-diet bandwagon is incredibly normal. This is the way, and if you've been dieting for decades, it's gonna take longer than a few months reading one book. You know even years of recovery before we get to the point.

Lyndi:

And I think what I always find very interesting is that it's very easy to start a diet. It gets harder and harder to maintain a diet. This approach is the opposite. You're in the hardest phase right now. It is so hard to get started.

Lyndi:

It is so hard to fight past that feeling like I just need to lose weight. If I lost weight I would be so much happier. It's so hard to fight past that. Rules are so much easier to stick to. What if I just followed a meal plan and I could just know exactly what I should be eating? That is very hard to just go. I'm gonna start eating intuitively and you were working through my mental shifts with all of this and see where I get to. So I just want you to know you are in the hardest phase. So if it feels very hard, it's because it is. That is very normal and that's just yeah. I want you to know that. First up, can we talk about intuitive eating, which is something I talk about in the book. It's something that you know anyone with the history of disordered eating should be doing. I think everyone should be doing where you are with intuitive eating.

Sophia:

I think I struggle a lot with that now. It's almost like I have to eat these meals at this time and like it's almost like my routine and I think it stops me being an intuitive eater. The one of the things I need to do is not eat in front of the TV, but that's a hard one for me because I think that was the first thing that me and my partner did together was we'd come home from work, I'd clock and then we'd watch a show that we were really excited to watch together, and so that was kind of my relaxed place.

Lyndi:

So actually removing that is quite hard for me, I bet but I wonder if that is one of the more important things you know. In the book I talk about the hierarchy of healthy habits and, in terms of the habits stack, I think that's pretty high up on the pointy end. So I think that's one of the refinement points that we can make, because it sounds like when you're watching TV and eating, is that spiraling into a binge, a total out of control binge, or are you just probably eating more than you would have liked?

Sophia:

yeah, I'd probably say eating more than I would like, but probably more the times where I'm doing it on my own. I think not when I'm having my dinner with my partner cool, okay.

Lyndi:

So then this dinner with partner watching TV, that it that sounds like actually quite a nourishing supportive act at this point. So let's park that. That can kind of sit out, because that's a non-issue. Let's talk about the rules around it, surrounding food, because you mentioned that you think you have some good rules around food. I'm keen to know what you think those are well, I think.

Sophia:

I mean I seem to have this psychological thing that I always have to have something green on my play, but I now realize that it's just what you like. I'm trying to switch it from it has to be something green to just crowding it with vegetables, and I do eat a lot of vegetables. I like only vegetarian for years. I'm more relaxed with that. Now I'm not a vegetarian. I do eat a bit of me, I do a bit of fish. I try and have variety. The carbs thing has been a big one for me over the years. I'm starting to have more of that again like, but it's, I wouldn't have it. My rule would be like not every meal or you know, I still have rules around it, but I'm gradually being able to relax around it a bit more.

Lyndi:

Okay. So you are very aware of them. I think they're having something green on my plate every single day. That is, it feels like you're crowding, but it's a restricted. It is a restrictive food rule because I barely have something green on every single one of my plates. I can have porridge for breakfast and there's no way that I'm smuggling anything green in there. A sandwich a peanut butter sandwich in the right context, can be super healthy, just as healthy as a green smoothie and an ice cream can be healthy in all these different contexts.

Lyndi:

And I think what we need to aim for first is we need to before adding in healthy habits. What I think is very essential is that we create a base of a healthy relationship of food and then, once you're at that point where you go I eat when I'm hungry, I stop when I'm full, I feel comfortable, I don't feel that huge desire to diet then we can go right. Let's start adding in those healthy habits, and that might be something like crowding. So, on the hierarchy of healthy habits, crowding pretty high up there. Let's start with a little bit of the lower ones. I think destroying the rules about carbohydrates is a very important one. You can have carbohydrates for absolutely every single one of your meals and still be very healthy in doing that. But I think we have to start to challenge those rules, because this is the very thing that is unhealthy. Is the unhealthy mindset you mentioned before that you kind of have an idea of or some rules in your brain about when you should be eating. Can you explain that a little bit?

Sophia:

Well, it's not necessarily about when I should, it's when I want, it's like. You know, now I have this thing that like, oh, I am someone that can eat and enjoy three meals a day, so I have to do that. You know, it's like almost like I've got to a place where I can do it, so now I must, rather than kind of that intuitive I don't feel that hungry right now it's like, no, it's lunchtime, I have to eat.

Lyndi:

I think this is the next frontier for you. I'm going to call this. This is what I'd like you to work on this idea that you know now that food is always available to you. Do you think you trust that it really is always available to you? Like, if you wanted to eat right now, you can go eat something, or if it was 12 at night, you could go eat something. Do you believe that?

Sophia:

I think maybe around certain foods. No, I think there are still certain foods that it's like. I will binge them because I know I'm going to stop myself eating them at some point, and it's probably bread.

Lyndi:

Okay, talk to me about bread. Talk to me about the last time that you remember eating bread. When was that?

Sophia:

Yesterday.

Lyndi:

Okay, cool, so you had bread in the house yesterday. What meal was it? Did it turn into a binge? What happened?

Sophia:

No, and so I think it's interesting because you talk about this a little bit in the book as well Like I'm on holiday right now, so I'm more relaxed. I'm not even really thinking about those rules because I'm not getting off, I'm not going to work, you know, it's all that kind of thing, whereas I think when I'm at home. If we buy bread on the weekend, I'm worried I'll binge bread throughout the weekend, but I'm on holiday right now, so I'm not even thinking about it.

Lyndi:

We binge on foods and we often think it's the food, but it's the thoughts. And I think what we need to realize is if we change our thoughts, we change our behaviors. So right now, you're trying to change the behavior. Behavior is I'm not going to buy bread, because if I buy bread, I can't stop eating it. And, as a result, that doesn't actually work because we haven't changed the underlying thought, which is I shouldn't eat too much bread.

Lyndi:

I'm allowed a little bit, maybe in your mind, but I can't have it too often and I can't have too much when I do. And it's that thought, not the presence of bread in your house, that's the problem. So what I really want you to do and in my Keep it Real program, which is designed for helping you with binge eating, I talk about this is the thought exercise that I want you to do. Next time you feel, next time you're eating bread, I want you to get out the notes app on your phone and I want you to start jotting down exactly the thoughts that are in your brain, word for word, like don't paraphrase, don't be like. Whatever I want to know is if there's any inkling of thinking like oh, I should only have one slice, or even if, while you're making the food, I'm only allowed two slices right now, because that's what a serving size is and that is what is okay.

Lyndi:

Now compare this to when you're on holiday, where, if there's bread, you're going to go oh, I'm on holiday, I'm allowed to eat bread, and what happens? You don't binge on the bread because it's fully allowed. So we need to change the thoughts around bread and what you're going to notice is that behavior changes and you don't need to avoid bread. You can keep bread in the house. You know, I believe by the end of this year, you'll be keeping bread in your house and it won't be an issue, and I think it's going to be a really huge thing. Do you think at the moment, you have a bit of a restrictive mindset around bread? While you're eating it, you're trying to reduce how much you're eating so it doesn't turn into a binge, and then it is turning into a binge. Yeah, I'd say so.

Sophia:

I'm still the kind of like two poached eggs but one piece of toast, so we need to drastically change what you perceive to be a healthy enough meal.

Lyndi:

So when you wrote to me to before this chat, you talked about this idea of not knowing how much you are allowed to eat, this idea of what does a normal meal look like, and can you talk to me about that? Do you have in your mind if you've done diets, you probably do a whole bunch of allowed meals Like this is what a snack looks like, this is what a meal looks like, and that deviating from that makes you feel uncomfortable and you've messed up.

Sophia:

Yeah, well, I think my brain goes back to that calorie counter. You know, I've used the calorie counter apps in the past and I always have them set to a thousand calories a day and my goal would be to go as below that as possible. And so now it's like I kind of mentally try and start adding things up in my head and I think I'm trying to not do that because I know that some of the foods that I want to eat are high calorie, but, you know, for good reasons. But I think I'm, quite like, still conscious of adding it up as I go throughout the day.

Lyndi:

Yes, okay. Now I want you to become really mindful of that habit because I'm like you. When I was young, I learned the calorie amounts of absolutely everything and it's like the brain cannot forget how many calories are in an apple or a piece of bread, and we need to progressively forget. And the way that we do that is you notice, when you are doing a counting calorie act, and this thought process. This is what we need to halt. We don't need to change what you're buying. You know keeping in your in your house will make you feel better. And when you're in your house, what we need to change of the thought process like okay, why then? I think I ate like 500 calories and that's not, that's too much, or whatever it is. This is the problem, not the calories you consume.

Lyndi:

Can we quickly talk about this idea of calories? Firstly, calories are an incredibly inaccurate metric of how much energy you are consuming. Any calorie amount on the back of pack is wrong within 25% of inaccuracy, so it's completely inaccurate. And then, on top of that, based on how much you are going to metabolize and absorb, is going to be very different. So let's say, I had a brownie and I had a nut bar and the nut bar has way more fiber. Even if they have the same amount of calories, I will absorb them completely differently. Therefore, looking at the calories is completely useless. Intuitive eating is accurately going to help you eat within 50 calories of how much energy you burn that day, and I think that is such an important thing.

Lyndi:

I think we're so often trying to control because we have an arbitrary number of how many calories we think we're burning. That number is grossly inaccurate, so inaccurate. And so your body, it's job is to keep tabs of calories. That's why you have appetite. That is the essence of appetite. And so, getting back to that, and if that means you three pieces of bread for lunch, you have a huge amount of vegetables. You just find it just so hungry and it's still not turning of your hunger. And that's how many calories you needed. Your body was famished, your body needed way more fuel, and when your body turns off that hunger and you feel fullness, your body goes work with the calories. So there is no need for this working out how many calories you consumed or need to consume, because your body is doing that work for you All the time. And so when you notice that calorie counting brain coming in. I want you to notice that thought and then I want you to try and see if you can switch off that thought, and it might require some kind of counteracting sentence, something like Calories are inaccurate and they don't determine how healthy I am or I don't need to count calories. That's does more harm than good. Whatever it is a finding a sentence that's going to work for you so that we can count of that thought. Change your, change the channel in your brain which you often you be talking about as a radio station. Change the channel and then we're going to move on with something else.

Lyndi:

Ask yourself the question I talk about this book Am I physically hungry and am I emotionally hungry when I'm emotionally hungry and I'm emotionally full and I'm emotionally satisfied? So today I had a sandwich and it had avocado and mayo and two pieces of bread and there was butter on the outside and I found it incredibly emotionally and physically satisfying. In fact I spoke to my husband about it was a wish land, physically satisfying, and we laughed to each other and I. This is how I want you to finish a meal. Sometimes I have a salad and it doesn't emotionally satisfy or it doesn't physically satisfy.

Lyndi:

You need to find the thing that's going to do that, and sometimes it will be ice cream and sometimes it'll be a sandwich. But once you're able to do both physical and emotional satisfaction, it doesn't matter how many calories were in it, because now that need that nori need to eat more has been switched off, and, as a result, eating a little bit more calories will likely cause you to eat a little bit less calories over the long term, and so think of it as a bit of a sacrifice. So if you avoid a binge by eating more calories, you win. That's great, that's what. That's what we want. So how does that sound?

Sophia:

it all makes sense to me it's definitely something I'm going to try using now.

Lyndi:

Okay, cool, let's talk about exercise for a moment, because when you wrote to me you mentioned about. You know, try to be kind to yourself and not using exercises punishment. Where are you at right now with movement?

Sophia:

Yeah, I struggle with that because I think it always used to be a thing that I would do is that I would like lie in bed at night, and it would be. You have to go out and you have to run this much in the morning because Really really bad today. So now it's almost like I'm kind of allowing myself to not go for an as punishment, but then I don't do the exercise. So I find it Really hard to kind of balance between the two of like being kind to myself and not forcing myself the wrong reason, but also knowing that it's going to do me good if I do go.

Lyndi:

Totally. I know exactly where you're at. When I recovered from my eating disorder, there was a point where I don't think I exercise for a few years. Honestly, it felt like every time exercise it just made me think that I was so linked with weight and it was so felt like punishment to me. And I did get to a point where I now exercise often because I love it and it is so easy and enjoyable for me, and I think a part of that is one embracing gentle movement and I think this idea of what constitutes as an as exercise needs to completely shift. It's probably not a run right now for you. Maybe one day you'll build up to the point where you see run as completely detached from weight, but for now maybe not. I think it sounds like it's still a little bit tied in. But do you think you see go to a yin yoga class as exercise, or is that not enough?

Sophia:

I am starting to get there. So, like yesterday, I did do a pilates class at home and I do that, but I forget that that's exercise. You know, that's something that I enjoy doing, but I haven't worked out because I haven't you know, I haven't burnt anything off. That's how my brain still thinks.

Lyndi:

You don't have to sweat and you don't have to hurt in order to move your body into exercise, that all gentle forms of movement count. A yin yoga class counts, pilates counts, a very gentle walk walk counts, stretching counts. These all work. And then let's talk about this other idea of discomfort. First, punishment and pain, because I think it's quite hard to work out, because when exercise is used as punishment and pain, when you start to do something that feels a little bit outside your comfort zone, it can kind of go is this disordered? Is this a healthy habit? I want to be kind to myself and I think there is a huge difference. So things shouldn't be painful or feel like punishment.

Lyndi:

But you are allowed to feel a degree of discomfort when moving your body. Now, when you're studying, you exercise and you haven't done in a while, you're going to feel Unfit and soaring your muscles and it's going to be tricky and it's going to be hard and there's going to have to be some mental talk and I think that's okay, because I think Discomfort is change and if we don't feel discomfort, we're not changing. So we need we need a bit of discomfort. Once again, this is not pain, this is not punishment, but there is discomfort in something like Turning up to go and exercise when you would prefer to sit on the couch and watch TV, and it's an uncomfortable thing to do and it's okay for it to be uncomfortable. And I think that's the inflection point you're at right now where it's like, well, it shouldn't have to be any form of unenjoyment and it's not unenjoyment, but it can just be something that you set up and go.

Lyndi:

This is gonna be a hard thing. I'm gonna do a hard thing and I'm going to go for a walk after work every day and it's gonna be a 15 minute walk and it's gonna feel icky to get out there and go and do it. There's a discomfort of getting there, but I'm just gonna do a mini experiment and I'll do it for a week and if I hate it I won't do it, but I think, trying to navigate a little bit of discomfort there and you're gonna find that you probably feel pretty good from it. I know this is icky, a bit weird to navigate because it's such a fine line, but how does that sound?

Sophia:

Yeah, that sounds like something I can do and I think it's also for me it's not kind of buying into the social media fitness stuff that you've talked about as well, because I think, when I think about what I do, I do actually do I do move, I do do pilates at home or go for a walk and things like that, but I think it's that I look at things on social media and I'm not going to those high intensity workouts so I'm not working out, even though I am.

Lyndi:

Exactly. You're totally working out and, with time, if you wanna increase intensity, you do, and if you don't, you don't, but you're moving your body and that's that mental health movement that you're getting. I sometimes feel like you know, as you've been telling me your story, I wonder are you underestimating how much you're already doing, how far you have already come? I think sometimes perhaps that voice in your brain is telling you that you need to do more, you need to push further, but it sounds to me that maybe the opposite is the case, that maybe you just need to let go, relax more, strive less. You've done a lot of striving in your life for fixing this and optimizing that and improving this and dedication here, and I feel like there needs to be a little bit less of that, a little bit more sinking into what feels good, with a degree of discomfort, but less control, because, as you said, this is all about control, isn't it?

Sophia:

I have to try and remind myself, like how I am now from how I was then, but just know that I kind of keep thinking about it and don't kind of forget it as well.

Lyndi:

And just one last thing to throw out there, a question you can ask yourself as you kind of move up the hierarchy of healthy habits, as you add in different things, remember to ask yourself the question if I didn't lose weight, would I still do this? I just think that's such an important thing to keep coming back to, because a healthy habit is something that you do because you enjoy it. Sure, there might be discomfort in it, but it makes you feel good and you like who you are when you do it, so you're still gonna do it. And if you said no, I wouldn't do this if I didn't lose weight, then don't do it. It's a very easy way to work out. Is it wellness wankery or is it a healthy habit? Sophia, I know we're about to wrap up this conversation, but do you have any other questions you'd like to ask me?

Sophia:

I think the only thing I was gonna ask you I mentioned it when I wrote to you is like how do you go about so? One of the things that I do struggle with a little bit is that I do just for some health reasons, like it would be good for me to lose a little bit of weight, but I wanna do it in a way that's healthy and that doesn't trigger some of these feelings again. How do you go about that? If you know, for a health purpose you should, but then also you don't wanna fall back into that again.

Lyndi:

Yeah, it's the golden question and I think it's such an important one. I'm gonna try and answer it as honestly as I can. If you're currently binge eating, striving for weight loss is probably gonna make you binge more and that's probably gonna make you gain weight more. So, especially what we need to do when I say well, we need to create that base of a healthy relationship of food, what I mean is you have to postpone that idea of wanting to lose weight because the chasing it is probably gonna make you gain weight. And you're gonna say I know, but it's for medical reasons. I really should dedicate myself, but we can't fight the system. The system is your body thinks it's in survival mode and trying to lose weight is just gonna make you gain more weight. So that's the first thing. Once we're then at this point, we're going hey, you know what I am eating. When I feel hungry, I'm stopping. When I feel full, I'm at this point which, by the way, that is the next thing I really want you to work on. I want you to practice.

Lyndi:

Getting out of the routine of this is when I have to eat and there are no set meal times. I want you to wake up tomorrow morning and can you do this for me? Or even today, it's morning for you in the UK Today. I want you to go how hungry am I right now? And just wait and wait until you feel hunger. It's okay to feel hunger during the day. Once we've had a history of disordered eating, it can feel really scary to feel hunger during the day, but it's comfortable hunger. It's not uncomfortable hunger. That's different from exercise. And then I want you to eat until satisfaction emotional and physical and then simply become curious about when you're going to be hungry, when you're going to be full and hungry next, okay, then, once we're at this point, we're intuitively eating. We're doing it.

Lyndi:

This is when we kind of add in those healthy habits. So you might go hey, listen, I am exercising pretty regularly already or I want to add in something else. Maybe I want to go a little bit more intense, maybe I'm craving feeling a little bit stronger Once again. Would I still do this if I didn't lose weight? Now, you might want to lose weight by doing it, but would I still do it even if I didn't lose weight? That's really important. So if you might go, I might start running again. Yes, but am I doing it if I didn't lose weight. I can't stress that enough is absolutely essential. Now we do this multiple times.

Lyndi:

You add in different things, add in different habits, things that are feeling good, you've prioritized sleep there are hundreds of different things that you can add in and you build this up so that after a year you might turn around and be like you naturally lost weight in the process of doing this and even if you didn't, you are far healthier as a result.

Lyndi:

So you might get that aesthetic benefit, but you're certainly going to get that health benefit that you're craving.

Lyndi:

And, honestly, I am very interested in this topic and so I do talk to a lot of people who have lost weight and lost weight and don't regain it and just have totally changed it. And every time I'm speaking to them, this is kind of the process that they're going along. It's a very slow process and that's the hardest thing is to resist the temptation to just go on a diet and lose weight quickly, because that kind of stumbles us back and takes us back a few steps, but to hold strong and be like, no, this healthy relationship of food cannot be compromised. I will build in those healthy habits one by one and then, as I said, in a year from now, in five years from now, when you are 40, you are going to be a completely different human and your relationship with food will be something that other people will look up to, and you will not pass this down to anyone else, and I'm excited for you for that, sophia, thank you so much for having this chat with me.

Sophia:

It's been awesome. Thank you so much.

Effects of Dieting and Body Image
Navigating Recovery and Intuitive Eating
Overcoming Restrictive Mindsets Around Food
Navigating Exercise and Self-Kindness
Creating a Healthy Relationship With Food