“Why would I spend my life unhappy, when I can go to therapy?”

Mary J Blige

 
So…I’ve officially been certified as a Nutritional Therapist.
As a discipline, nutritional therapy differs from nutritionist or dietician practice in a number of ways. Nutritional therapy explores and identifies imbalances in body chemistry and helps to correct or re-balance deficiencies through diet and lifestyle changes. It is a complimentary discipline that I can use with my clients as a health coach and PT, rather than a clinical practice of diagnosing and treating patients.
I so enjoyed being a student again, even if it took me quite a considerable chunk of time to finally get through the course. I studied on-line, while I was still working as a full-time teacher, and I went at my own pace (if any of you are familiar with how I run, my pace is hard to predict at the best of times. Sometimes I drift steadily and slowly and others I pump through and surprise myself with record times!) but I’m pretty proud to add this feather in my health coaching cap. And I’ll tell you why:
I’ve realised, and just keep realising, lately that nutrition IS therapy.
What I have learned on my journey through disordered eating, recovery and study is that food IS the key to healing.
Be it emotional, physical or spiritual in-balance: In food, you can find a cure.
As a (branch of) nutrition student, and now a practitioner, I believe that you can use food to help relieve the symptoms (and sometimes eliminate the causes) of certain diseases and discomforts. But, as someone who looks for balance in life, I also know the value of seeking medical treatment be it Western or Eastern. Conventional or alternative.
I know from real life experience that food lies at the centre of changing your body and the idea of weight loss, weight gain and weight maintenance. BUT, I also know that movement and exercise is part of that treatment plan, too.
As a personal trainerand amateur athlete (oh bloody hell, I think it’s hilarious calling myself an athlete – but if I’m running marathons, I guess that’s what I am…) I know that you can use food to fuel and recover and build your body. Of course, you also need training and consistency and a good relationship with a massage therapist!
But I’ll tell you what I know for sure. Without doubt: about nutrition and therapy.
You can ONLY use food to heal and transform your relationship with food. Nothing else will do.
I realise now that for people who might be seeking help on their health journey, who might feel that they need support to heal their relationship with food, using my skills as a (albeit rookie) nutritional therapist might just be like seeing a couples counsellor. For their relationship with their diet!
I don’t mean to patronise, but I really do see it that way.
Along with exploring what to eat, how to move and the importance of building a self-care plan, in my role as a health coach I help people close the gap in communication between themselves and their food!
Because in food, I have totally and wholly healed my relationship…with food.
In the years I was experiencing disordered eating habits and a truly toxic relationship with food, I looked for healing in so many other places. Obsessive exercise, reactive emotions, self harm and social isolation. I could not escape my food demons, because I was not facing the beast head on.
Like any connection you have with a person who features significantly in your life, I know for sure, It’s in the “getting to know you” that you finally find the “I love you” with food
It’s when you stop fighting food, and start to learn about it and co-operate with it, that results in your health, weight, skin and other symptoms become noticeable…and long lasing.
So, while it might seem a little strange (and very much like a typical therapist homework activity) I’ve penned an open letter to food. Who I have been in a life-or-death relationship with from the start, and will be until the end.
Oh food, how do I love thee; let me count the ways:
For brussel sprouts and asparagus spears
For eggs and avocado mountains
For garlic, and turmeric, and cinnamon, and chai
For caramel, Shiraz and goats cheese
And for those towering chocolate fountains
For clean water and broccoli that is cooked, but still has that sexy crunch
And Oh my god, for coffee. And when you get to have two lattes with brunch
For salmon and pasta and pesto
And walnuts
And beetroot
And figs
For prawns and rice and chilli
And for ginger
And musk sticks
(Sorry, I couldn’t resist a little Shakespearian slant to set the mood!)

Thank you, food. For being all these things

Thank you for feeding me. Fueling me. Keeping me alive and making me grow. Even from the start.

I am in love with you and I love every second we spend together.

But we both know this wasn’t always the case.

 

I’ve tried to control you before, and I’ve turned my back on you

I wanted everything AND nothing to do with you, all at the same time

And I’ve manipulated you

But always came back for more.

And, yet, there you always were. Waiting for me to return.

I feel safe around you now

And equal

I respect you

And when I put my clothes on, or look in the mirror, or go out for a run

I can feel how much you respect me.

And, yet, there you always were. Waiting for me to return.

I feel safe around you now

And equal

I respect you

And when I put my clothes on, or look in the mirror, or go out for a run

I can feel how much you respect me.

That’s what I love the most.

Helping you become your best potential.

I love it when you turn from vegetables into a green smoothie. I think it’s funny…like the incredible hulk!!

And I love when you rise up into pizza dough but still let me punch and poke you and roll you flat afterwards!

ps – do you think its odd how I only ever seem to use the right amount of yeast when I’ve had a wine or two and don’t care about measuring! I always make the fluffiest dough when I’m a bit tipsy…my husband thinks that’s a sign that pizza and wine are meant to go together. I think it’s because you don’t like to be measured. I don’t like it either.

I love watching you turn from a little into a lot! And I love when we work together to make other people happy! Like when you make my brother happy on Sunday nights, after he comes over for dinner and we eat sweet potatoes in all different ways that he has never tried before.

And last week, when you made my husband and I sit right next to each other at that Italian cake shop, instead of the opposite side of the table, so we could eat that lemon tart and pistachio cookie off each others fork without dropping it everywhere. That was nice of you, to bring us closer together. Thank you!

I know that I can work with you to make other people happy too!

I can show people now, not to be afraid of you…but freed by you!

And I can teach them to dance with you

And be respected by you.

And that their bodies will actually love them for it.

You’ve inspired me to help people see the good in you. All of you.