How dieting impacts your mental health……
Two years ago a friend of mine was standing in a health food store in Byron Bay. She’d been put on every diet known to man – the anti-candida diet, the paleo diet, the ketogenic, macrobiotic, GAPS, raw, celery juice, vegan, pescetarian, juice fasting, Ayurvedic diet – she was stressed, sick, exhausted and most of all FED UP!
She then realised she was really craving cheese – $60 later with a belly full of delicious camembert, she felt a deep sense of calm envelop her. The next day she decided to do the same thing – today it was strawberries – she bought 8 punnets and managed to get through 5 before she’d had her fill – again she felt satisfied.
It may have been that her body after all the dieting was craving lactose and vitamin C, but for me this story points to something much more fundamental. We have become so stressed out about our food choices that we have forgotten how to feel our bodies.
As a therapist this really got me thinking – are we really so stressed out by what we should be eating that we are disconnected from the cues our bodies give us? I mean after all food is there to fuel us – we are meant to feel nourished, sustained and empowered by it, so why are so many of us discouraged, confused and obsessive when it comes to our food choices? So many of us are so disheartened to the point that we stress and diet and when it finally comes down to it we are so hungry that we stuff the most fatty, sugary, salty thing we can find into our faces, only to suffer a stomach ache and a whole lot of guilt.
Nutritionists often talk about ‘body weight set point theory’ which poses that your body has a natural weight range at which it performs at its optimum. If this is the case then the social ideal body images of ‘heroin addict chic’, six packs, a gun show to rival Rocky or that Kardashian inspired booty really do need to take a hike.
‘We need to take the focus away from how food makes us look and concentrate on how what we eat makes us FEEL.’
To be this revolutionary in your food choices really isn’t for the faint hearted, it takes bravery to come back into your body and ask it what it really wants.
It means you may need to spend some time debating with that part of yourself that has decided to see food as the enemy at worst and at best, that thing that gives you amazing pins.
I’ll be honest with you, you don’t get it right all the time, I don't, but as you start to notice the associations between what you eat and how you feel and the need to be a size 8 will seem less important somehow. You will also notice much less stress when it comes to deciding what to eat. Trust yourself, go with it. It may take a little time to work out what’s best for you but enjoy the practice and whatever you decide to eat today I hope you do it with presence.
May your life be your masterpiece in progress, as ever we are becoming.
For more information around diet and mental health / emotional wellness head to https://youtu.be/bFlbsqV419Y
Lauran is a psychotherapist, mentor, speaker and writer who delivers an eclectic approach to wellbeing and mental health facilitating programmes using tools from her studies in depth psychology, Jungian analysis, affective state theory, creative arts therapy, post-modern spirituality and musicology to assist in healing and allowing her clients to become the truest version of themselves.
Working with people with various psychological presentations including but not limited to: complex trauma, anxiety, depression, self-harm, drug and alcohol addiction, eating disorders, PTSD, perceptual disturbances and ADHD she draws from her extensive personal history as well as her experience as mentor artist, songwriter and musician.
Lauran is passionate about the issues facing women and young people, working with individuals and groups allowing them to establish a sense of security and trust both within themselves, with their peers and the world around them. She uses this as a basis for healing, ultimately allowing her clients to move them towards psychological individuation.