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5 Rules I Break As a Food and Body Image Coach

01/16/2016 09:45 am ET | Updated Jan 16, 2016
  • Sarah Tamburrini Life and Wellness Coach specialising in body image and disordered eating.

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When I tell people I'm a food and body image coach who helps women find peace, sanity and freedom around food, I get asked a lot of questions about how to eat without feeling "crazy" around food:

Is it possible to eat what you want and not put on weight?

How do I eat cake and not feel guilty?

What's the secret to ending the fridge and pantry binges?

Is it possible to eat candy without devouring the entire bowl?

How do I avoid the bread basket?

Having experienced disordered eating, I know what it's like to feel out of control around food. From yo-yo dieting, to diving head first into a jar of cookies, to living off juice cleanses, to feeling guilty after eating an apple because of the "sugar." Is sugar bad or is it gluten? Am I better to eat vegan or paleo? Full-fat or low-fat? Should I cook with coconut oil or olive oil?

Eating has never been so complicated.

Now that I've managed to turn my "mess" into my message, there were some "rules" I had to break, all in the name of health, wellness and importantly sanity. Here are some of the "rules" I've broken along the way that have completely transformed my relationship with food and my body:

1. Follow meal plans and diets. The phrase "diet's don't work" hasn't been pulled out of thin air -- there's now a barrage of research telling us that an overwhelming number of people who diet will regain the weight in the long term. When I read research on the pitfalls of dieting I knew that I'd have a far better chance of achieving permanent weight success adhering to anything but a diet.

One of the biggest game changers was realizing that diets were likely to be making me "fat"/ keeping me "fat." In other words eating in a way that was rigid, restrictive and rule based was not beneficial in keeping the weight off. It was time to do the "real work" which involved improving my relationship with food rather than 'fighting' food.

2. Sugar is "poison."Truth be told I eat sugar -- gladly and regularly. Why? I believe and have experienced first hand that when something is off limits it's only a matter of time (and human nature) before we're diving head first into the food that we're trying to control. No amount of willpower, self control and motivation can starve off the biological response that kicks in when our body feels deprived. Key message: Food will only have power over you if you give it power.

3. I weigh myself. Along time ago I realized something very important, which ended up saving me from disordered eating: My self worth, in other words my strengths, qualities and attributes, can't be weighed. I made a decision to never again let a number on a piece of machinery dictate how I get to feel about myself. The best advice I can give you is to throw away the scale or do what I did: Take to it with a sledge hammer.

4. Exercise for weight loss. Whenever I ask my clients why they exercise they tell me it's because they're afraid they will get fat/ remain fat. Duh! This tells me that many people (like I used to), exercise out of fear of gaining weight. The day I decided to prioritize feeling revitalized, happy and nourished from exercise rather than prioritizing weight loss as the goal, was the day I actually started to enjoy exercise again. Using how I wanted to feel as a 'guiding light' I was able to say 'no' to what wasn't serving me and a 'hell yes' to what I intuitively knew was going to make me feel good. Oh and the best thing: Going about exercise this way makes exercise second nature (no more 'fitspo' quotes needed!).

5. I'm obsessed with yoga and meditation because it works for "everyone else." Ah "comparison-itis" -- the modern day 'unclassified' disease! Currently my yoga mat is collecting dust and my meditation pillow is a decorative cushion on the sofa. While I tried super hard to be a yogi I decided it was a whole lot easier to be proudly myself despite potential judgments from others (which means I'm currently sitting yoga class out). I also gave various types of meditation a go, however didn't 'gel' with any of those either. Today I choose to see meditation to encompass every day actions that I consciously undertake with presence, passion and purpose (which means cooking, eating and hanging with my man is my kind of mediation).

For more information on how you can stop feeling like a slave to food visit www.practiseglow.com and download my free eBook 'Be Free: A Heart Centred Guide to Change Your Relationship With Food and Your Body'.

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