This is a guest post by Sarah Tamburrini. Read About the Author below to learn more about her work.
As a life and wellness coach I work with women who want to stop feeling out of control around food. As you can probably imagine a lot of my work involves helping my clients quit the diet mentality. It’s my belief that dieting isn’t a successful permanent weight management strategy nor does it help develop ‘healthful’ behaviours around food.
I would know because I used to be a self confessed ‘pro’ at dieting. I’ve made it no secret through my work in this field that a few years ago I was obsessed with how my body looked because I thought that ‘skinny equals success, beauty and happiness’ and was what the pursuit of life was all about. If I couldn’t control my career, relationships, finances etc I’d control myself in what I thought was the most effective way: through food. While I didn’t really know this at the time (or perhaps I did but wasn’t ready to face the whole ‘ugly’ truth) dieting was essentially a coping mechanism for the difficulties I was facing in life.
There was one diet, a sugar free diet, that ‘broke’ me more so than any of the others I tried. Probably because this sugar free diet shamed some of the ‘only’ foods I was at that point allowing myself to eat (i.e. fruit, dark chocolate, maple syrup, sweetened nut milks).
….Maybe it was because I cried on the bathroom floor after eating an apple
….Because I wouldn’t eat soy sauce because it had ‘sugar’ in it
….Shopping with a calculator became totally ‘normal’
….Fruit was seen as candy (albeit natural but that didn’t matter)
That period of my life would soon turn into the most significant period of hitting rock bottom I have ever felt in my ‘dieting’ history. I watched my food fears escalate to a new level and watched friendships I valued tether away because of my toxic mentality around food. I believed I was what I ate and because there was only so long I could grasp the reigns of ‘restriction’ before plummeting into a box of chocolates, I was constantly riding the diet- binge- self loathing rollercoaster that became more and more toxic each time.
Therefore, I haven’t got a glowing testimony of losing weight, my skin being brighter, my mood lifting and my cravings being ‘done and dusted’ like most diets flaunt. Instead what I do have is an honest perspective of what it looks and feels like to suffer the brutal affects of shame, guilt and self loathing which resulted from my attempt at quitting sugar specifically.
It goes a little something like this:
“I graduated from an 8 week ‘sugar free’ program feeling more scared about food than I have ever felt in my (then) 28 years of life. When I once gobbled an apple with enjoyment, fulfillment and appreciation, I wound up staring the apple down, cutting it into small pieces to try to break up the sugar molecules. After I eventually ate a small piece I ended up laying on my bathroom floor crying.
I’d scrutinize products that were once ‘no big deal’ as now ‘sugar bombs’ (sultanas, mango, honey etc), which I’d dare not let slip past my lips.
I went shopping armed with a calculator so I could work out the number of teaspoons of sugar in food and would avoid at all costs going round to a friend’s house for dinner in the event that they used a product that contained sugar (even an amount deemed almost negligible was a big ‘no no’).
Life got boring, obsessive, controlling, rigid and restrictive. Everything that I did not want when I paid a decent sum of money to improve my ‘health’ and ‘wellness’.
What’s living, having a clear head, feeling free and energetic when you scrutinize food, fear fruit and are taught various tricks like managing a naturally occurring sugar craving with a tablespoon of coconut oil? Or to repent your ‘sugar sin’ by sweating out the ‘toxins’, ramping up your exercise the next day and flushing your body with a liquid diet?
How is one happier when they are having to consciously justify eating 1/3 of a (‘sugar bomb’) banana in your smoothie, being reassured that the sugar in your toothpaste is ‘ok’ or that the sugar in lactose isn’t anything to ‘worry’ about?
Funnily enough the people who facilitate this program I did don’t see this as a ‘diet’. Say what????
Of course this is a diet….It’s based on restriction, rigidities and rules which essentially is what makes up EVERY diet. You’re not taught to eat from a place of permission, flexibility, intuition or compassion around food which after all is HOW ‘dieters’ essentially WANT to eat and connect with their food.
And here’s my personal favourite comment when it comes to why we should quit sugar: apparently we as complex human beings who have managed to get ourselves to space, create planes and explore the depths of the ocean are apparently not intelligent enough to manage the biological craving that sugar ‘has’ on us…pfft. I call BS here.
To conclude I didn’t feel anything the program said I would ‘feel’: I didn’t feel free. It didn’t feel organic and I certainly didn’t feel like my health was in order. I didn’t get clear skin and I certainly didn’t get a clear head. While it was in fact delicious for the most part, it wasn’t worth the unsatisfying taste it left in my life.
Now that my ‘mess’ has become my message, I instead encourage people who are dieting to understand why it is they are seeking a diet in the first place (which in my opinion is largely due to body image issues in disguise).
The next step is to start to open your mind up to the possibility that diets don’t create permanent ‘healthful’ behaviorus around food, nor are they a ‘successful’ weight management strategy. But I would be missing the bigger issue if I didn’t mention that you are worth more than how your body looks, which goes to say that food or your body shouldn’t get to determine how you get to feel about yourself. You are worthy regardless of the size of your thighs, whether you have a toned stomach or not and how you look in a swim suit. Diets do not make you any more loveable. It’s now my mission to help women to love and accept themselves as they are, right here, right now.”
If you want to know more about how I beat the diet mentality and regained my sanity around food head on over to Practise Glow where you can download 2 free gifts: my Ebook ‘Be Free’ and my 4 part Audio series ‘Body Glow Love’.
About the Author of The Most Honest Sugar-Free Diet Testimony You’ll Ever Read
Sarah Tamburrini, is a life + wellness coach, informally known as a rule breaker, lifestyle rebel and a food freedom warrior. As a recovered self diagnosed control freak, Sarah helps women all over the world dial down their crazy dietary obsessions so that they can make peace with food and their bodies and get back to living amazing lives. Her work is grounded in the belief that transforming your mindset changes everything.
Her online digs, Practise Glow is a place where health and happiness is measured in belly laughs instead of belly fat, self- love matters more than self-denial and you get to flex your ‘food-freedom’ muscles every day. What you won’t find is fear-mongering and all-or-nothing dietary propaganda.
When Sarah’s not authentically and un-apologetically living and breathing her message you can find her enjoying dessert (containing fructose), spending far too much time on Instagram, watching re-runs of MasterChef and packing her suitcase for her next getaway. She’s swapped her food obsession for her partner Chris, self- love and a whole lot of compassion and she wouldn’t have it any other way.