Yesterday, we reposted an article about women who make peace with eating and food by Lisa Claudia Briggs. In Lisa’s practice, she sees two eating styles that women take on when they get to a better place with food and their bodies: those who treasure simplicity and practicality, and those who evolve into so-called foodies. Today we are discussing the former.
Q: It would seem that there is a much smaller percentage of individuals out there who can simply eat for energy and nutrition and forgo the pleasure of food or, even more interesting, not feel that pleasure is an important piece of eating for them? Do you feel that many of your clients believe they SHOULD look at food in this way?
A: I believe that especially when somebody is in transition from some way of eating that has taken up lots of emotional energy, created deep sources of shame, or contributed to an identity that is mostly negative or painful… that they should eat in whatever way brings them the most relief and peace. It may not be a long-term choice, but when they are moving out of patterns that have felt unmanageable, it’s essential that the choices they make feel intuitively right for them and that can evolve as they get to know themselves better. My clients know that I am not a “diet coach.” They come to me for a perspective that they can live with and to create “daily essentials” that don’t put SO much emphasis on the food. Everyone has specific preferences and those should be honored. I believe that we are sensual beings and that clients will be happier when connecting with any aspect of their life from that perspective.
Q: Do you think when they don’t like to introduce new, sexier foods, into their diets, they may be restricting themselves?
A: Truthfully, I think it depends on the individual. For somebody with a very restrictive approach toward food and other areas of their life, giving themselves a broader sense of “permission” may be more important than for somebody else. For another client, avoiding certain things can be seen more as “protection.” Different clients will have different challenges around this. I am not sure that everyone can get to the point where they can eat everything. I believe our chemistry varies, food sensitivities, and even beliefs around what feels unsafe or triggering need to be considered or explored carefully for each individual. I try to help each client to sense where the balance is.
Q: Do you have any worries about the diets of women who favor the “simplicity” approach?
A: Sometimes. Again, if somebody has a more perfection-driven style and is sticking to the same 10 foods over and over because of fear of exploring, that would be something I might question. If simple translates into “restrictive” then we’re talking about something else, which can be a setup for more disordered eating, restricting or binges… as reactions to limitations or boredom.
Q: Do you feel cooking burn-out or feeding-the-family burn-out could also be a factor that causes people to revert to routine and be less motivated to invest time in preparing foods?
A: Yes. Not everyone enjoys cooking or preparing food and everyone understands the end of the day energy challenges after work to then transition into home life. I think it’s helpful to have a few standby things that you can feel comfortable preparing, or to have your own versions of “fast food” meals that you can serve up quickly. And also to give ourselves permission to be less “fixed” around what dinner or other meals have to look like. Not everyone loves cooking or being creative about it. I want women to make peace with where they are on that continuum so they can make choices that work for them, without the judgment.
Q: In what ways do you help the client who has a very repetitive eating pattern branch out enough to get variety in order to meet nutrient and phytochemical needs without upsetting the order of their routine too much?
A: In small incremental ways. I think most food plans, attempts to change eating or lose weight backfire usually because somebody takes too big a leap too fast. It’s too uncomfortable, not sustainable. In my intensive mentoring programs, daily emails are one of the features that clients find the most powerful for these kinds of changes. They can try new things and get support to make small changes, acclimate and then make another one. Some things that help:
- Try buying one new kind of produce at the market each week
- Scope out and make one new recipe from some of the great online food blogs
- Make a green smoothie or change up the ingredients in your usual blend
- Ask yourself what 3 changes you might be willing to make
I also believe that as somebody begins to fill up with more of the “daily essentials,” the pieces that we customize for them around filling up with more beautiful life-giving practices, the food begins to shift in an organic way.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Q&A next week.