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.