Monday, 8 June 2015

Seven things that are good for the soul!

So exams are finally over and that's my second year of university all finished which is really exciting, but also really scary thinking that this time next year I'll finally be graduating. Then it's going to be all about job hunting in that big, bad, adult world. Scary stuff.

Anyway, enough of the serious talk. Today I wanted to write a really light hearted post about self-care. Self-care is basically a term for doing things that make you feel good; things that are "good for the soul" or just keep you plain sane in times of stress (i.e. revising for exams). It's so important to look after yourself so you're less likely to turn to unhealthy habits to soothe any discomfort. Making the time to do little things for yourself each day can really add up and improve your mindset. 

With that said, here are seven of my favourite things I to do to look after myself:


1. Cook a New Meal
I'm not sure if it's just because I personally enjoy cooking and baking, but I really do think there's nothing more satisfying than cooking a new meal from scratch. There's something so rewarding about going out, acquiring the ingredients, following a recipe and creating an entirely new taste experience. It can take up as much or as little time as you want and the same of course goes for cost. You can cook for yourself, for your partner or your entire family, whatever you fancy. 
I've spent so much time in Greece I like to think of myself as an honorary Greek citizen and that of course means I love Greek food. This weekend I went to an amazing Greek restaurant with my entire family for a Greek banquet and the food was absolutely amazing! I've attempted a few dishes previously but have never made Beef Stifado, which is one of may favourites "When in Rome Greece" and it's now on the top of my hit list to cook next.



2. Tea
It might be a British thing, but the comforting feeling a hot cup of tea gives you can't be denied. Whether it's your typical English Breakfast tea or something more exotic; green tea, vanilla tea, peppermint tea etc. It really is like a hug in a mug. Put it in a pretty cup and saucer or your favourite mug and enjoy!
 Mine is a standard English tea, with lots of milk and a pinch (yes a pinch) of sugar, please. Oh and I'll have a chocolate Hob Nob with it if you're offering.



3. Do something that makes you feel good about your appearance
Of course I know that appearances aren't everything, but things like a bright shade of lipstick or a dress you feel amazing in can really brighten your day. Or even something like wearing beautiful underwear in the most humdrum, everyday-life situations. There's nothing more uplifting and slightly amusing than sitting in a lecture or at work knowing you're wearing the most spectacular underwear. No one is going to see it but that doesn't matter. It's not for a man or for anyone else, it's solely for you. Only you will know how exquisite you look underneath your clothes and that's enough to leave a little smile on your face and a spring in your step. Trust me and try it ladies. 


4. Reading 
It's hardly surprising this is one made the list with me being an English student, but I don't really sit around reading Shakespeare in my spare time...
I recommend that you find a genre you love and completely devour it. If for example you like Romance books, look on Amazon top sellers, buy three or four books and really get into them. I love books and always have because stories are such powerful things. They have the ability to take you to another world, but they also open your mind up to how other people think which is a valuable life skill.
I personally enjoy books on body image, women in the media and anything on "New Feminism". I've just started a book by Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project. The book itself is called "Everyday Sexism" and I'm only two chapters in but I really recommend it. This woman talks a lot of sense and I think that I'm slightly in love with her. I'm also thinking of writing a post about my favourite books on body image, eating disorders, anti-diets etc. so keep a look out for that.



5. Have an amazing bath, with bubbles, candles and music
 This can seem like a bit of an effort when you're short on time but make the time and make the effort, because you deserve it. Pick your favourite music, a scented candle, settle down and relax. 
I love Yankee candles and my favourite bath products are basically anything from Lush, because they're natural and most importantly they don't test on animals. If you haven't bought anything from Lush before I suggest a bubble bar!
If you have the time, turn that bath into a pamper session. After a bath I love smothering myself head to toe in moisturiser. I'm not talking about a light lotion here people, I'm talking about that rich body butter in a tub that leaves you so slippery you feel like a wet seal sliding around your bed. No really.



6. Take on a new challenge
As I write this, I've just got back from my first ever driving lesson. I figured at the ripe old age of 22 it was about time I started learning to drive. It was so scary but so exciting and it's all I can think about now. Starting a completely new challenge can be so refreshing and really give you focus. It can be anything you fancy, learning to drive, starting a blog, learning a new language, learning to cook etc. Just choose something you've always wanted to do, but is also fairly realistic, and get stuck in because you never know where it may lead.



7. Family, friends and pets
Now this is a cheesy one, but nothing makes you feel better than spending time with your loved ones. I don't care if you don't have a "nuclear" family, if you consider your friends to be your only family, or even if it's just you and your cat against the world. Spend time with those people (+fur babies) and cherish them. We live in such a fast paced world we're all guilty of putting other things before our loved ones but it's never too late to start appreciating others. When I'm a bit down or stressed having a good laugh with my family and friends is the best thing in the world.


 Also I'm sure you've guessed by now that I have cats. The number depends on if we've taken another stray into our make shift cat rescue centre, but that number stands at seven right now. 
This little man below is possibly the love of my life. His name is Teddy Bear in case you were wondering, but he goes by the name of Ted to those who know him best.




And that's a wrap.

I hope you guys enjoyed these tips. I wanted to include some more personal information about my life and the things I like to do because I don't want this blog to feel anonymous. I mean I'm discussing some pretty serious and personal stuff, like eating disorders and body image, and I want you to feel like you know a bit more about who I am.

With regards to future posts now I'm exam free (did I mention I've finished my exams?) I've got so many exciting ideas. I want to write articles about so called "plus-size" models, disparity in clothing sizes, books reviews and a lot more so stay tuned!

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Sorry!

Hi guys, this is just a really quick post to explain my absence these past few weeks!

I have two weeks left before the end of my Uni exams and I'm currently in revision hell. I'm a hermit: A dressing gown wearing, chipped nailed, greasy haired, stressed and slobby hermit.

I finish on June 2nd and I promise after that I'm all yours. I have so many ideas for posts and I just can't wait to write them, so watch this space!

H x




Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Are You Beach Body Ready?

So April has been a fairly interesting month for those of you interested in body image in the media. One particular advertisement really got my blood boiling, so much so I am now writing this blog post when I should be writing a 4000 word essay on Virginia Woolf for Uni (naughty). However I'm sure Virginia, being the legendary feminist she was, would totally understand...

Okay so the advertisement by "Protein World" was placed in underground stations across London. The image shows a woman in a bikini asking:
"ARE YOU BEACH BODY READY?"

Now it's not just me that has been outraged by this advertisement, there has been a number of protests and there are more in the pipeline, all with the aim to get these ads taken down. A lot of these protesters are claiming that this particular model and these advertisements as a whole promote an unrealistic and "unhealthy body image" (Guardian). However I think that's a bit extreme because for me personally it borders on "skinny shaming". I don't think we should shame any woman's body, even the model in this advert. She is a beautiful woman and I honestly think no less of her than I would of a "plus-size" model.
 I think these ads should be taken down because it's putting the message out there that only this particular body type is acceptable for all women. It also presents women with the ridiculous notion that you have to look exactly like this to go to the beach... For the record, anyone of any shape or size can go to the beach and wear a bikini. Just sayin'.

Below are some gems I found on the internet  of people opposing this advert.




The next image is my absolute favourite. Two young female bloggers, Fiona Longmuir and Tara Costellofelt so strongly about this image they stripped down to their bikinis in the middle of a London tube station.


All I can possibly say is well done ladies, you are truly inspirational.
Yes, these girls' bodies are different from the model but their bodies are also different from each other. That is the exact point. No two women are the same and that is something to celebrate. 

If you've been following my blog posts you'll know I have always been honest about how much my mindset has changed regarding body image over the years: When I was a 16 year old girl I probably would have seen this image and viewed it as "Thinspo" or inspiration to "get skinny". I now sit here typing this article as a 22 year old woman that truly loves her body. We all have off days and little moments of insecurity because that is human nature, but 99% of the time I love my bodyI love my body in a dress, in a bikini and shock horror, I love my naked body. I don't say that because I'm arrogant, big headed or whatever you want to call it, I say it because I made the decision a few years ago that I would not spend my entire existence hating the beautiful and incredible machine that will carry me through all my life. 

Going forward, I really hope these ads gets taken down, but sadly I don't think it is the last body shaming media campaign I will ever write about. 

With that said, here's my advice on how to get beach body ready:

Put a bikini on your body and go to the beach. Simples.


Saturday, 11 April 2015

10 Reasons to Stop Dieting Today

For those of you living in Britain, you'll know the weather has been pretty nice recently. The hint of sunshine has got me thinking about the summer to come. More specifically how women will soon face the "Shape Up for Summer" adverts and articles: AKA encouragement so start yet another diet, but as we all know - diets don't work. For those of you who are still on the diet/binge/hating your body merry go round, here's 10 reasons to stop dieting today.

1. Diets don't work
I've covered this topic a fair bit in previous posts, so won't go into it in a huge amount of detail again. That said, I think the following statistic speaks for itself: 97% of people gain back any weight that they lost (and then some) within three years after a diet. That's if you can even manage losing the weight to begin with because as I'm sure you know by now, diets are nearly always impossible to stick to. This leads me nicely onto reason number two on why you should ditch the diets.



2. Food is amazing
Come on let's face it, being on a diet is a complete bore because food is simply incredible. There is so much more to food than it just being a source of fuel for your body. Whether it's a tasty pub lunch, a slice of home-made cake or a very lovely full fat vanilla latte picked up on your way to a lecture - food is a hugely enjoyable part of life. At least it should be. 
Have you also thought about how big a part food plays in our lives. We celebrate the birth of our children with Christenings, usually followed by a party and lots of food and drink. When a loved one dies we offer food at the wake as a part of the mourning process. In-between the beginning and the end of a life we celebrate weddings, birthdays and anniversaries; all with food (specifically cake). To deprive yourself of food on such occasions is to deprive yourself a full life, of feeling; both the good and bad. We can eat to live, and live to eat simultaneously, despite what those crazy thinspo slogans tell you.


Baked by yours truly


3. You will stop binge-eating
When you give yourself permission to eat foods you consider "bad" or "naughty", basically anything that you consider to be off limits, all food becomes equal. Therefore foods you used to go crazy for lose a lot of their appeal. Let's use that story about naughty Eve in the Garden of Eden as an example; she only wanted the apple because she wasn't allowed to eat it. The same way you only want those Oreos because you don't allow yourself to have them on a regular basis. Then you go crazy and eat a whole pack because you know your diet will start again tomorrow and it's your last chance to eat them. So the cycle continues...


4. You will love your body
You diet because you want to lose weight which means you diet in order to change your body; essentially to change yourself. By dieting you are doing something with the aim to change who you are, not just what you look like. What this says is that you are not okay now, exactly as you are. For the record ladies, you are more than okay. You are amazing, right now, not 20 pounds from now.




5. You will realise other people love your body
I debated including this one as I'm a firm believer that the only opinion that matters regarding your body, is of course your own. However I recently saw a statistic that 4 out of 10 women are embarrassed to be seen naked by their partner and that makes me so incredibly sad. Your sexual partner, whether that be your husband or someone you're only seeing casually, should be someone who respects you entirely. Therefore being intimate with them should feel both comfortable and natural. Sex is one of the few free things in life that is there to simply be enjoyed. 




6. You will be more fun and have more fun
Everyone knows that incredibly boring person who is forever on a diet. If they're not explaining how this new diet works or why it's different from all the other diets they've done previously, they're snubbing tasty food and making you feel guilty for eating it around them. Chances are that if you're reading this, you could indeed be that person. I was that person and can honestly say that I have a lot more fun and actually enjoy my life, now that I am no longer constrained by dieting. Going for a tasty meal and plenty of cocktails with a friend is what life's all about. Believe me, letting your hair down feels good.






7. You will realise being thin won't change your life
When I'm thin I'll change my job. When I'm thin I'll feel sexy. When I'm thin that guy will finally fancy me... And so the list goes on. The thing is, the only person who's stopping you living the life you want to live today, is in fact you. Women of all different shapes are considered sexy, successful, clever, funny, beautiful. Despite what you have been led to believe, size actually has very little to do with other peoples perception of you. You can be the person you want to be today, not when you hit your ideal weight.
Hands up. I used to be so guilty of this one. Since I've accepted myself entirely I feel more confident, beautiful, capable and excited about life than ever before. I think letting go of the "When I'm Thin" myth is the most important thing you can do to heal your body image. A lot of the time, thin is a word that's interchangeable with happy
What changes do you need to make to your life to in order for you to feel happy? When you have identified what it's going to take to make your life one you want to be living, make those changes, today. 



8. You will focus more on present relationships 
Diets are the ultimate distraction from life. Adding up all those calories, points, syns and working out what you can and can't eat takes up a lot of time. That's half the point of dieting; filling your mind with how much you can and can't eat distracts you not only from major problems in your life, such as the fact you may hate your job, but also your relationships with others. Ordering cake with your coffee might be a pleasant distraction from someone who's company you don't enjoy. However such distractions stop you from questioning why it is you don't enjoy that person's company. Is every person in your life someone that values you, as much as you do them?
Also, think about how much time it takes you to input those calories into myfitnesspal. Are you missing out on your children playing, your friend's laughter, your Dad's bad jokes. Are you missing out on those seemingly insignificant moments in the pursuit of perfection? They may seem unimportant when you're main goal is to get to your ideal weight, but I bet that at the end of your life you would give anything to experience those little moments with loved ones again, not staying under your calorie allowance for 4 days on the trot in 2010.


9. You will question what you truly want out of life
I despise the "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"question, but just think about all the things you have promised to give yourself when you reach your ideal weight. What do you think would happen if you went for everything you wanted out of life, not when you're "thin" but right now? I know the answer to that: Your life would be amazing.
 How do I know that you may ask? I know the answer because I have walked the walk and talked the talk. Letting go of the "When I'm Thin" myth allowed me to identify what I wanted out of life. Before I did this my only hobby was dieting, my life goal was to be thin, my entire existence revolved around a dream. Letting go a few years back of this unhealthy obsession allowed me to identify what I want out of life. I have gained so much more from self acceptance than I ever have when I've reached my goal weight. So I dare you, do something today you have ever only dreamed about in your "When I'm Thin" dreams!


10. Life is too short.
Enough said.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Unwanted Male Attention

Unwanted male attention. It's something that pretty much every woman on the planet will have experienced at some point in their life. It's uncomfortable, it's awkward and it can even get scary. We can all differentiate between men approaching after you've maybe given out "the signals" and guys that enjoy your squirming as their eyes bore a very deep hole into your chest. I was lucky enough (please enjoy the sarcasm) to experience one of these situations last week and it got me thinking a lot about those unwelcome advances from the opposite sex.

Before I begin, I will say that this is not exclusive to men approaching women. It goes for women "creeping" on men and of course extends into homosexual relations. I'm just writing about men approaching women because that is something I have experienced and can relate to. Regardless of your sexual preferences or gender, it still comes down to the fact that no one has the right to make you feel uncomfortable and cross certain boundaries without your permission.

So with that said, I ask you to picture the following: 
It was Monday evening, I'd been at university all day and was happily strolling through a deserted campus, excited to get home to my warm house and a hearty fish pie waiting for me in the oven, when I hear "EXCUSE ME, EXCUSE ME!!!". 
I turn around to see a man approaching me and the conversation between us went a little something like this:


Guy: Excuse me... I like your look.
Me: Erm, sorry?
Guy: I like your look... You look like Cleopatra.
Me: Erm, thank you? 
Guy: Are you Persian?
Me: Erm, no.
Guy: Arabic.
Me: No.
Guy: So what's your heritage? Where are you from? 
Me: I'm from round here... (Thinking: Where is this conversation going? and I really can't be bothered to explain the breakdown of my Manx/Irish/Scottish/English heritage.)
Guy: Oh right, what are you studying?
Me: English and Communications, erm, and you?
Guy: I don't study here, I'm a pharmacist though.
Me: Oh right... Cool... (Thinking: Why are you on campus if you don't study here?) 
Guy: How old are you?
Me: 22... 
Guy: I'm 30.
Me: Oh right... (Thinking: Why are you on campus if you're 30, obviously not a lecturer and don't even study here?!) 
Guy: Can I take your number and take you for drinks some time?
Me: Erm... 


So let's pause there. 
I could have said a million things, whether they were true or not. I could have said "I have a boyfriend/Sorry but I've got to dash/Thanks but I'm not interested" etc. The thing is however, I wanted to be polite to this man because I didn't want him to feel uncomfortable. Yes the situation was a bit odd but I like to think of myself as a nice, friendly person and didn't want this man to take offence. 

It was only when he started to close in on me, blocking my way that I assessed the situation. His mobile was shoved in my face, ready for me to type my number in. As I looked around, it was getting dark, there were a couple of people about but the edge of campus where we were was getting a bit empty for my liking. I decided on giving a fake number and getting away ASAP when "slightly forceful guy" turned plain threatening.

Guy: I'm going to ring you now to check you've not given me a fake number. Ha!

Except there was absolutely nothing funny about it. 

I typed my number in, accepted his call and made my excuses to get away, reassuring myself with the fact I could block his number as soon as I was out of sight. Walking away from him, I was so angry at myself for not being firm and for not setting my boundaries. As I've already said, I didn't want to make another person feel uncomfortable but it was only afterwards I realised that this man did not extend the same courtesy to me.

My mum often says I'm too polite for my own good and she's right. I think it's something a lot of women struggle with in these situations. What kind of situations do I mean? I'm talking about the builder's wolf whistle, the drunken leery guy at a bar, the stranger sat opposite who's overtly staring at your legs. Where do you cross the line from a polite refusal to just being rude to someone?

 As women we're conditioned by society to believe we should accept this attention happily, that we should even be grateful for it. This encounter with the man who took my number, without even asking my name, got me thinking about how other females feel about attention from men they do not know. The responses I got from women I know were a mixed bag of opinions; some love it, some hate it.


So why is that? Why do some women enjoy sexual advances from men who know nothing about them other than how they look? Is it because we live in such an image conscious society that some women now seek approval that their physical appearance is socially acceptable. In a way, a wolf whistle says a lot. It almost says:

Well done. You are acceptable to society because you are a sexually attractive and therefore fulfilling your role as a woman.

I sit on the other side of the fence however, in that these encounters make me shrink into myself. I'm not saying I'm any Christina Hendricks, Kelly brook, or Nigella Lawson (insert your idea of an attractive woman here) but I've had my fair share of these experiences like most women and they have never made me feel "good" about myself. If anything they have made me feel incredibly self concious.


Whether male attention peps you up for the day or makes you feel mortified, I think a large part of a woman's reaction lies in both her personality and the severity of the advance. 

A wolf whistle would perhaps make me blush but I wouldn't feel particularly offended by it. A man old enough to be my grandfather touching my legs on a train journey whilst calling me "gorgeous girl" is another issue entirely (True Story Bro). 

Some people might say  "lighten up, you should be flattered if someone approaches you" but I have a huge problem with this sort of attitude. Why should women be grateful that a man approves of your "look" without knowing anything about who you truly are? This goes back to one of the biggest problems in our society, that too much of a persons worth is based on their appearance. For anyone that has ever been in a serious relationship, or enjoyed a long term friendship - you'll know that personality is without a doubt the most important thing about that person and your compatibility with their personality is the foundation of a good relationship.  


So with all that "The problem with society today..." stuff aside, lets get to the crux of the matter: As I pointed out at the beginning of this article, I am under no illusion that it is only females that fall "victim" to unwanted advances. I absolutely know that there are women out there who have intimidated a man they find sexually attractive, and consequently made him feel uncomfortable and awkward. I have seen it in practice and can safely say it is equally as wrong. Ultimately, what it comes down to whether you're a male or female in this sort of situation, is that nobody has the right to make you feel uncomfortable and nobody has the right to invade your personal boundaries. You have the right at any time to say politely but firmly, please stop that or to simply walk away as I should have done... and certainly will do next time. 

Monday, 26 January 2015

The Wake Up Call


A wakeup call. Officially defined as “something that makes a person realise they need to take action to change a situation that they are in”. What sort of situation I hear you ask? The situation of self-loathing and insecurity that so many women find themselves trapped in.

Did you know that women experience an average of 13 negative thoughts about their body each day, while 97% of women admit to having at least one “I hate my body” moment every single day? This disturbing statistic was definitely a light-bulb moment for me, but actually my real wakeup call came two months ago in the changing room of one of my favourite clothing stores.

Desperately trying to squeeze myself into a size 12 dress that not only made my bum look like a new planet, but was also so tight on my chest I actually couldn't breathe. I looked in the mirror and I could feel the disappointment and self-criticism sweep over me. This however was not a new experience for me. Having been on and off ridiculous diets since my teen years I was equally used to the feeling of victory when a size 10 zipped up as I was to not fitting into my “normal” size 12 clothes and facing the dreaded prospect of actually having to buy a bigger size. Looking at my reflection I took a deep breath, trying to prepare myself for the vicious tirade that I was about to give myself.

However, something completely different happened. Right there in that moment I realised that I had a choice. I had the choice to take action to change my situation and I chose to finally accept my body as it is. I stopped my inner mean girl in her tracks and asked her where all this self-loathing had come from? Where in my life had my brain decided the ridiculous notion that a size 12 was good and a size 14 was somehow bad?

This naturally leads to the big question: Why? Why do women berate and criticise both themselves and other women so harshly? The answer to that question is endless, but I believe unrealistic role models in the media, today’s celebrity culture and society’s pressure on women to forever strive for perfection all have a huge part to play in it. Inextricably linked with this pressure to look a certain way is of course the D-word; diets. Chances are that as a woman, you've probably been on at least one diet in your lifetime or will certainly know someone who has been on a diet, as recent research has shown that the average British woman spends 31 years of her life on a diet. There is now overwhelming evidence that diets do not work for 99% of people. In fact, the only results people seem to get from dieting are a feeling of failure, poor body image and disordered eating.

Personally, my poor body image was never serious enough to develop into an eating disorder but was certainly serious enough to risk both my health and happiness doing these ridiculous diets and punishing myself when I “fell off the wagon”. For many women the combination of fad diets and consequent harsh, judgmental view of themselves can and does lead to eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. More and more young girls and women are developing serious mental and physical health problems because of society’s demands of perfection.

Continually striving for perfection comes at a cost however and my own personal realisation that at the ripe old age of 21 I had actually spent most of my life disliking my body had a profound effect on me. Once the initial feelings of sadness and regret had subsided I could finally see my body for what it truly is. The body is an incredible machine; fine-tuned over millions of years of Evolution, the body has some amazing abilities. It functions all on its own, it heals itself, it has the potential to carry another life inside it and it allows you to do everything you need to do in your daily life, whether that’s feed your child or kiss someone you love. It may not be what society would call “perfect” but your body is yours and it is amazing. As women, we pinch and prod our bodies, trying desperately to mould them to the shape we believe they should be, often ignoring the fact that so many of us are blessed with a beautiful healthy body that doesn't need to be changed.

So when will you stop overlooking what you have as opposed to what you do not have, accept yourself and believe that you are loved for you; for being a mother, a sister, a daughter, a great friend? When will you choose to receive your wakeup call and start living the life you want to live?

I say now. Wake up and smell the coffee ladies.
                






Note: I first published this article on the a website called womenmakewaves on 23/09/2014. It's a really fantastic website for women, written by women so check it out.
Here is the link to my article: http://www.womenmakewaves.co.uk/wakeup-call/

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Does Intuitive Eating Work?


Is Intuitive Eating the answer to every woman's weight loss prayers?


So you're in diet hell, feeling crazy around food and looking for the solution to finally end your food obsession and lose weight. Then you discover "the" solution: Intuitive Eating, also known as Mindful Eating.

I'm not entirely sure if everyone is aware of what exactly Intuitive Eating is. So here is a brief definition from the very trusty source that is Wikipedia and I have also included some of the most common rules this way of eating encompasses.

So what is it?
"Intuitive eating is a nutrition philosophy based on the premise that becoming more attuned to the body's natural hunger signals is a more effective way to attain a healthy weight, rather than keeping track of the amounts of energy and fats in foods. It's a process that is intended to create a healthy relationship with food, mind and body, making it a popular treatment for disordered eating and eating disorders. Intuitive eating, just like many other dieting philosophies, goes by many names, including non-dieting or the non-diet approach, normal eating, wisdom eating, conscious eating and more".

"Rules"
1. Only eat when you are hungry.
2. Eat consciously and enjoy every mouthful.
3. Eat what your body desires not what you think you "should" eat.
4. Stop eating once you are satisfied.

My humble opinion
So I'll cut to the chase and just put it out there straight away, I'm not a huge fan of Intuitive Eating for a number of reasons, which I'll now go on to explain.

The way people approach Intuitive Eating is a huge part of why so many people have little success with it. When people stop dieting and begin to try and eat intuitively, whether or not they know they're doing it, they actually approach Intuitive Eating like another diet. By following this set of rules; only eating when you're hungry, eating slow, stopping when full etc. you're basically just practising another form of food restriction. To me, there is a huge difference between what I like to call the "Intuitive Eating Diet" and giving up dieting for good - in order to end food obsession and change your bad body image.

Now I do know that Intuitive Eating is how we are "meant" to eat. I have to acknowledge that it is an incredible wisdom within us that allows us to eat a sufficient amount of food in order to match our energy output. However, the fact this is how we "should" eat isn't a valid enough argument for me; one of the selling lines for the 5:2 or Intermittent Fasting diets were that cave men (and women!) ate food when they had access to it and would then "fast" until they could hunt and consequently eat again. This caveman example is also used for diets like the Paleo Diet which states we should only eat food our ancestors would have eaten - whole foods like meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts etc. In case you guys haven't noticed, this is the 21st Century; we don't live in caves any more and you're no Wilma Flintstone!

Okay, Flintstone jokes aside, this is something I'm really passionate about. People who have disordered eating and a bad "relationship" with food and their body are often advised to read up on and practise Intuitive Eating. It is held up as "THE ANSWER", the final  and ultimate solution to a problem you've probably dealt with for a large chunk of your life. Whether you've been anorexic, bulimic, a binge eater, a serial dieter, an overeater, an undereater or a hybrid of all of the above - you're probably sat here reading this because you use food for something other that fuel for your body and want to know how to revert back to the "original" attitude you had towards food as a child.

But here's the thing, are you ready for the truth? This reversal back to an entirely normal "relationship" with food is NEVER, EVER GOING TO HAPPEN, like Taylor Swift style never ever. Once you have used food for something other than what it is, you've created a "relationship" with food where there shouldn't be one. There is no such thing as a good or bad relationship with food, a relationship with food is still a relationship. "Normal eaters" or naturally intuitive eaters don't have a relationship with food. Food to them is just food, they enjoy it and it's tasty to them but they don't use food for any emotional reasons.

So what does all this have to do with why I'm not a huge fan of Mindful Eating?
One of the main reasons is because I believe this way of eating, the so-called "solution" to disordered eating, is just like throwing yourself in the deep end with regards to healing your relationship with food and more importantly, with yourself. I would estimate that Intuitive Eating probably works for about 5%-10% of people, in that it's probably a bit more successful than your typical diet due to there being no food groups restricted as such.
However, what do you think you get when you tell a person that is crazy around food not to eat until they're hungry? That they mustn't eat past a certain number on the "hunger and fullness scale"? That they should eat foods their "body" wants not what their "mind" craves? Then add to the mix that it's damn impractical for most normal people with busy lives to eat at snails pace.
The answer: A person that becomes even crazier about food.


So, does it work?
It depends what you mean by the word "work"; if you mean will I lose weight?
Well yes  of course you will, ONLY if you follow the "rules" to the tea because as I said, food restriction is food restriction. If you followed the Atkins diet exactly then you would also lose weight. However I guess if you're here reading this, it's because diets haven't gone so well for you in the past (do they go well for anyone?!).
However, if by the word "work" you mean; will I finally love my body, feel normal around food and stop obsessing? Some say Intuitive Eating is the answer but I'm not so sure myself.

So now you're probably asking:
If Intuitive Eating isn't the answer, what the hell is?
How much should I eat, when should I eat, how can I eat normally and live a normal life not chained to food obsession and bad feelings about my body?

All will be "answered" in my next post on Intuitive Eating so stay tuned!



P.S. I apologise for the excessive use of quotation marks in this article.