Intuitive Eating: The Anti-Diet Approach to Eating and Losing Weight

In my last article, I explained why diets don’t work, and how they can actually do more harm than good (from causing weight gain to contributing to the development of eating disorders).  But if diets don’t work, and you really want to lose a few pounds, what will?

The answer is lies in looking at the ingredient missing in most diets: your relationship with food. In order for your weight to change, so do your thoughts, feelings and actions around food.  Intuitive eating, an approach developed by Eveyln Tribole and Elyse Resch, helps you do just that.

What is Intuitive Eating?

Intuitive eating is an approach that teaches people how to become more attuned to their bodies’ hunger signals, rather than keeping track of calories.  The process focuses on developing a healthy relationship with food, mind and body.

The basic premise is that we all contain an inner wisdom that knows exactly what we want to eat, and how much to eat at any given moment.  Skeptical?  Think of how a baby or small toddler eats: when they’re hungry, they know it (and so do you!), and no amount of pushing and prodding can get them to eat when they aren’t.  However, somewhere along the way many of us lose touch with our body’s hunger and fullness signals. Food rules learned at home or at school (“finish your plate!”), or being given food as a treat or a comfort, can eventually distort our natural relationship with food.

Intuitive eating is a non-diet approach that can help reverse this distortion.  It is also sometimes referred to as conscious or mindful eating.  However, it is also much more than that.

The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating

In order to embrace this […]

By |June 3rd, 2010|Dieting, Intuitive Eating|0 Comments

Dieting: The Worst Way to Lose Weight

It’s a familiar scenario.  You wake up on a Monday morning after a weekend of overeating feeling sick, bloated and disgusted with yourself.  The first thought that crosses your mind is, “That’s it, I can’t do this anymore.  Time to change my ways!  Today I’m going on a diet, and I swear I’ll stick to it this time!”

With renewed hope and optimism, you start your day off with a tiny bowl of fruit and pack a lunch with some raw veggies and lean protein. But by 3 or 4 o’clock you’re famished, and the battle begins. “Should I or shouldn’t I?” The vending machine calls to you, and after struggling with the impulse to resist for what seems like an age, you make a mad dash for a bag of chips.  On your way home, you stop for a burger and fries – because who cares, you blew it anyway.

Before going to sleep, you tell yourself that tomorrow is another day, and you’ll start fresh again…

Let Go of the Struggle

If you’ve tried every diet out there, from faddish to more sensible, you know this routine all too well. And you know that it never lasts.  Sometimes you’re “good” for a week, sometimes you don’t make it past breakfast.  And if you actually manage to stick it out long enough to lose a decent amount of weight, somehow it eventually seems to creep back on.

And here’s the sad truth: 95-98% of all diets fail. If your doctor recommended a treatment with that kind of failure rate, would you eagerly rush in?  Somehow, I don’t think so.

It’s so easy to blame yourself for this neverending yo-yo cycle. After all, it’s […]

By |May 6th, 2010|Dieting, Mindful Eating|0 Comments

Shedding Layers: The Key to Bringing Out Your Best Self

With spring in full swing, many people are ready to shake off the heaviness of winter. Yes, it means you can now go outside and play, but it also means you can’t do it while hiding behind your winter clothes.  Shame, self-loathing, and a sense of panic to lose weight NOW are only further fuelled by those ads urging you to “get ready for bikini season.” Well, what if you didn’t have succumb to those pleas to “melt away layers of fat” – what if there was a better way?

Now is the perfect time to start thinking about shedding more than just your winter coat and that extra weight. Instead of focusing just on losing weight, think about the internal layers that need to be shed so that your inner “happy and healthy” self can break free!

The Layers that Keep Us Stuck

Here are some of the different levels of layers that make us who we are (from the outside in):

Physical layers:

* Stuff: a lot of household clutter is a sure sign that you’re hanging on to a lot of “stuff.” The things we keep are often tied to the past and future, not the present.  We either can’t get rid of an item because it reminds us of something from our past, or hold onto it because it might be useful in the future (“I’ll get around to it some day!”).  Either way, you end up feeling buried and trapped by it.

* Clothing: our personal sense of style (or lack thereof!) makes a statement about how we want people to see us.  We can either let our beauty shine through, or stay hidden behind drab, lifeless or baggy clothes.

* Weight: […]

By |April 8th, 2010|Beliefs, Change|0 Comments

Top 10 Barriers to Self-Growth

Change can be scary as we feel new things, entertain different thoughts, perhaps leave old ways behind. Often, resistance to change can rear its ugly head whenever our egos feel threatened by some change in the status quo.  This resistance can take many forms, and is sometimes difficult to recognize in ourselves.  Here are 10 obstacles that can hinder self-growth.

1. Denial. It’s difficult to grow when you don’t see the need. Listen to the quiet voice inside and to what your loved ones are saying. Get the support you need to see the truth, because ultimately it’s the truth that will set you free.

2. Seeing yourself as a victim. If you’re always one-down, you can’t become the empowered person you are meant to be.  Staying trapped as a victim robs you of the opportunity to take charge and change how you react to a situation.

3. Substance abuse. Whether you’re self-medicating with food or alcohol, or seeking escape, the problems just don’t go away without the willingness to face them.  In fact, the problem only gets worse, because a new problem is created–like excess weight, or addiction–that takes the focus away from the root cause.

4. Self-loathing. Nothing banishes self-hatred faster than self-care. Choose in any moment the kindest path.  If a friend came to you with the same problem, what advice would you give her?  Use the same advice for yourself, and do it with love.

5. Blame. If we always point the finger at one another, we never see our own role.  Be willing to take responsibility for your part in contributing to the problem.

6. Defensiveness. This is a racket we swing against anything that suggests we might be at fault. Try to see “faults” […]

By |March 4th, 2010|Anger, Change, Emotional Eating, Tips|0 Comments

The Importance of Self-Love

The legend of Narcissus tells of a young boy who, upon seeing his reflection in a clear fountain with water like silver, fell hopelessly in love with himself. Unable to tear his gaze away from his reflection, he could not eat, could not sleep, until finally, he pined away and died.

Unfortunately, the myth of Narcissus is too often our concept of self-love. We believe that if we love ourselves, we are selfish and self-centered, that falling in love with self means conceit and self-absorption. In fact, the opposite is true. Self-love is an honoring of the self that requires a high degree of independence and courage. The love we give others will be enhanced by the love we give ourselves.

The Problem with not Loving Yourself

A lack of self-love is a sign of low self-esteem or self-worth and shows its face in many ways: a refusal to enjoy life, workaholism, perfectionism, procrastination, emotional eating, guilt, and shame. Those who lack self-love avoid commitments, stay in destructive relationships, and fail to experience true intimacy with anyone. They practice negative self-talk, compare themselves with others, compete with others, caretake others and fail to take care of themselves. Unlike Narcissus, when they look in a mirror, they turn away.

The primary difference in those who practice self-love and those who don’t is their belief about themselves. “Of all the judgments that we pass in life, none is as important as the one we pass on ourselves, for that judgment touches the very center of our existence,” said Nathaniel Branden in his book on self-esteem, “Honoring the Self.”

The Gift of Self-Love

Unable to love ourselves, we are our own harshest critics, fault finders, nay-sayers and naggers. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No […]

By |February 4th, 2010|Beliefs, Emotional Eating, Tips|0 Comments

Why Therapy? Exploring the Strengths of Seeking Help

Long before there were therapists, there were family members. Grandpa and Aunt Jane listened, or gave us advice, or sometimes just told us to buck up. If family couldn’t help, there were friends or a clergy member. But most likely, we were also warned not to broadcast our troubles, and many people suffered their emotional problems silently.

Times have changed, and so has society’s acceptance of seeking help. The old stigma of being seen as weak or incapable is largely gone.  This has been helped tremendously by many well-known writers, actors and politicians being open about their struggles with, and treatments for, everything from depression to chronic shoplifting. Going to a therapist is now seen as a sign of strength and willingness to take charge of one’s life.  Rather than proof that someone is “sick,” it is a sign of good health to make a commitment to change.

What Makes Therapy Different?

You might be wondering what talking to a therapist will do that you can’t get from talking to a dear friend or family member. “Therapy is a unique relationship and what makes it valuable sets it apart from friendships, working partnerships, family connections and love affairs,” says Carl Sherman, author of How to Go to Therapy: Making the Most of Professional Help.

In his book, author Sherman describes therapy as a balance in which two people are “collaborating on a single project: helping you deal with your problems and achieve the change you want. There is no other agenda.”

It’s the simplicity of that agenda, combined with a structured schedule, confidentiality and trust, that make this unique relationship work so well for so many people. What’s more, the “unconditional positive regard” that characterizes all good […]

By |January 7th, 2010|Change, Tips|0 Comments

“Virtual Tour” of my new office

Now that I’m nicely settled into my new office, located in the Clinique Psy-Sante, I’ve taken a few pictures to share with you. I truly enjoyed planning out the space, and filling it with furnishings and decor pieces that I feel create a warm, inviting, and zen-like atmosphere.

Space is very important, especially in the work that I do.  It’s important that both therapist and client feel safe and “enveloped” by the room around them, as this room is the place where pain is shared, and hope is born. Let me know in the comments what you think!

By |December 6th, 2009|News|0 Comments

15 Tips for Holiday Eating Without Weight Gain

by Michelle May, M.D.

Do you anticipate the holidays but dread the “inevitable” holiday weight gain? Do your holiday events revolve around eating more than the meaning, people, presents, decorations, or travel?

Avoiding holiday weight gain and eating healthy during the holidays can be a real challenge unless you have a great strategy.  These 15 holiday eating tips will help you avoid holiday weight gain and enjoy the season more while eating less.

1.  It is easier to get distracted from signals of physical hunger and satiety at social gatherings, especially if food is the main event. Make an effort to pay close attention to your body’s signals.

2.  Be a food snob. Skip the store-bought goodies, the dried-out fudge and the so-so stuffing. If the food you select doesn’t taste as good as you expected, stop eating it and choose something else. Think of how much less you’d eat if you only ate things that tasted fabulous!

3.  Think of your appetite as an expense account. How much do you want to spend on appetizers or the entree? Do you want to save some room for dessert? Go through this process mentally to avoid eating too much food and feeling uncomfortable for the rest of the evening.

4.  Pace your eating prior to the event so you’ll be hungry but not famished at mealtime. But please, ignore the old diet advice of “eat before you go to a party so you won’t be tempted.” That is absurd! You want to be hungry enough to enjoy your favorites.

5.  Socialize away from the sight of the food. People who tend to overeat are “food suggestible” so just hanging around food […]

By |December 3rd, 2009|Emotional Eating, Food, Mindful Eating, Tips|0 Comments

The Makeover Show: Post-Show Update and Pics

A few weeks ago I participated in The Makeover Show, which was a great experience.  Besides being loads of fun, it was great to connect with so many wonderful people who are into “makeovers” – especially of the personal growth kind.  I had some fun giveaways, including fridge magnets, green apples that “matched” my table, and a raffle to win a copy of my favourite emotional eating book, “Breaking Free From Emotional Eating” by Geneen Roth. Check out the pictures below:

Me at my table, with my freebies and giveaways.  I loved the way my “Makeover” banner turned out!

Kudos to my sister (a former event planner) for helping out with the colour scheme and decoration!

Deep in conversation!

By |December 1st, 2009|News|0 Comments

The Benefits of Yoga: Good for Mind and Body!

You’ve certainly heard time and again that yoga is good for you. All that stretching and breathing calms you down and makes you feel better. But other than “making you feel good,” what are the health benefits associated with practicing yoga?

More often than not, we tend to perceive yoga as a meditation practice that helps us physically – to balance, to stretch, etc. But yoga is also a practice that improves the well-being of our mental state. In fact, “yoga” is derived from the same root as the word “yoke,” referring to the process of yoking the mind and body together.  It is in combining both of these that the most benefit is derived from the practice of yoga. 

Physical Benefits
* Breathing: most of us breathe very differently than we should. As infants, we breathe in by expanding our bellies, and breathe out by retracting our bellies. As we age, we actually reverse this process, and we tend to breathe in a very shallow manner.  In fact, we very rarely truly give any thought at all to how we breathe. Pranayama, a yoga breathing exercise, actually helps to give thought to “how” we breathe and teaches us how to do it properly.

* Muscle tone and strength: many yoga poses require you to support yourself and balance on your limbs. This in turn increases your strength. Thus, more strength equals stronger, leaner muscles.

* Pain prevention: whether or not you have pain to begin with, yoga can help treat both current chronic pain and prevent future pain that can occur as we age. Back pain, for instance, is a very common as most of our everyday lives are spent sitting in a car or at a […]

By |November 5th, 2009|Exercise, Fitness, Tips, Yoga|0 Comments