Rose White, a nutrition and intuitive eating coach, has a wonderful ethos around eating and nourishing ourselves that has absolutely nothing to do with diets. And because we can get so knotted up around what we eat and drink and how that affects how we feel and think I knew she would be great to talk with.
In this episode we discuss:
Pressing Pause Episode 91 Food, feelings, getting hangry and toxic diet culture with Rose White
Welcome to Pressing Pause. I’m Gabrielle Treanor, a mindset and positive psychology coach and writer, exploring how we can create, find and feel more calm, ease and joy in our daily lives.
Welcome to episode 91. If you came across me or this podcast through social media, or my radio show on Yowah Radio, or perhaps you found me through somewhere I write or I’ve been featured like the Happy Newspaper or Psychologies magazine, welcome, I’m thrilled you’re here with me.
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Now, my guest this episode is Rose White, a nutrition and intuitive eating coach. I’ve known Rose for several years through Instagram and I love her ethos around eating and nourishing ourselves that has absolutely nothing to do with diets. And because we can get so knotted up around what we eat and drink and how that affects how we feel and think I knew she would be great to talk with. And of course she was…
[00:00:00] Gabrielle: Hi, Rose. Thank you so much for joining me today.
[00:00:03] Rose: Oh, thank you so much for inviting me, I’m looking forward to it.
[00:00:07] Gabrielle: I wonder if you could tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do please.
[00:00:11] Rose: I can indeed. I am Rose and I am a nutrition and intuitive eating coach, and I have a special interest in supporting individuals to repair their relationship with food. So that might look like overcoming chronic dieting. Yo-yo dieting, erratic, or restrictive or emotional eating behaviors. I also have a special interest in selective eating in children.
So, quite often our children go through fussy eating stages, but sometimes families and children need a bit more support to, to work through those times. I’m mum to three, two teenagers and a preteen now, and I’m very addicted to books, eek, and pens.
They’re my two true vices, my never shrinking book stack and forever segwaying into Paperchase. They’re my problems.
[00:01:02] Gabrielle: I love that – books and stationery, you are a woman after my own heart.
[00:01:08] Rose: Kindred spirits.
[00:01:09] Gabrielle: Yes, indeed. One of the reasons I really wanted to talk with you is because I think that what we eat, how we eat, our attitude to eating, meal times, all of that can be a great source of calm and joy. It can be a great comfort.
We can get such joy out of sharing food with loved ones and it can absolutely take away our calm and joy, especially when we’re dealing with children with selective eating or, we are telling ourselves we shouldn’t be eating this or shouldn’t be eating that there’s a lot tied up, isn’t there, in how what we eat and drink and how that affects how we feel, not just the nutritional value of it, but our whole attitude towards it, our thinking and feeling about it all. So what are the top ways that you see what we consume getting in the way of our calm and joy?
[00:02:06] Rose: you kind of articulate it really well, there when you said the should and the shouldn’ts, I think that plays a really big part in it. There is so much noise around food these days. And I probably hear, again and again from clients, the words, I don’t know what or how to eat anymore. Because we are told all the time that, well, this is the way you should eat, or you shouldn’t feel hungry, or you should be able to ignore your hunger, or you should follow keto or you should, don’t have carbs under after 6:00 PM. So there’s a, there’s a lot of noise there. And I think we also inherit a lot of food rules and beliefs that lead us to become disconnected from our bodies and our natural biological cues around things like hunger and fullness and in it’s that disconnect, that means that we can find ourselves eating in a very erratic way.
And that erratic eating whether or not that might look as simple as well I’m going to be really good today. I always talk about, I’m going to be a little bit Gwyneth Paltrow, and I’m going to have my green juice and I’m not going to have anything bad. And that’s another part of it, that language that we have around food, that very dichotomous language that has a moral framework.
That means we automatically push against, our natural cues to eat or, you know what, we should be all in a very balanced way. So yeah we get fall into these patterns of where we may restrict and then find ourselves at 6:00 PM having eaten a family size bag of kettle chips and sunk half a bottle of pinot Grigio because you know, we’ve fallen into this blood sugar roller coaster.
So part of it is we have these inherited beliefs and food rules. That mean that we become disconnected to on natural biological cues around hunger and fullness. And we feel that we have foods that we should, and we shouldn’t eat. And that in turn wreaks havoc with our blood sugar and throws us into what I call dietary chaos.
And why that takes away from our calm and our joy is because when we’re on that blood sugar rollercoaster and we don’t eat enough during the day, our body produces cortisol, which is the stress hormone, and it will prime us to want to crave something very high in sugar. So I’m thinking I’m being good I’m being good and then you go into the kitchen at work and someone’s left a big tray donuts for someone’s birthday and you might eat two of them. You get a big spike in your blood sugar. Again, your body pumps out insulin to mop up all that excess sugar. And in that process of mopping it up, your blood sugar, then crashes again, and your body releases more cortisol.
And so it actually traps you in this cycle of feeling as a natural response to that chaotic eating, very anxious and stressed, and then it becomes harder to regulate our emotions. And then when it’s harder to regulate emotions, we then find it harder to bring our awareness to, or unpick whether or not we’re eating for meeting emotional needs or physical needs.
And then we feel guilty and that’s something that diet culture kind of relies on a little bit is that we feel guilty because we’ve eaten a doughnut. We’ve got the donuts in the bad category in our heads. So we try to be good again. And we restrict and we throw ourselves into this cycle that then becomes a bit of a tornado.
And, um, Yeah. we have this very interconnected relationship then between our feelings around food, our thoughts around food and how our body then responds to us eating in that kind of erratic manner. And as I said, it becomes much harder than to regulate ourselves and feel calm and feel joy around food. And feel socially connected around food because you know, all these food thoughts then get in the way of fun stuff.
[00:06:10] Gabrielle: Yeah. So I’m thinking it’s not even like a double whammy or a triple whammy. It’s like a multi, multi whammy,
[00:06:16] Rose: Absolutely.
[00:06:18] Gabrielle: It’s so interesting and helpful to know what is going on inside our bodies, because that then it’s not, just, I’m not dealing with this situation well enough. Oh, actually there are chemical things happening inside of me. This is why I’m feeling this way. This is why I’m thinking this way. And it’s just all so knotted up. So how do we deal with this, Rose?
[00:06:40] Rose: How do we unknot it, where do we start?! Um, to be honest, we start and I always use the phrase putting stabilizers on the bike. The reality is that that disconnect because we try and ignore, cause we’re taught to ignore our natural hunger cues.
So what do we do? How do we, how do we address it? Um, the first thing we have to do. Is to actually stand on physiologically steady ground. And that means taking ourselves out of dietary chaos. So one of the first steps I take with anyone irrelevant of how tangled up their emotions are with food or the food beliefs they’d come with or the food rules they’d come with is actually working with them to balance their blood sugar. Because when that foundation is in place you are much better placed to then be able to helicopter up and kind of unpick where some of that stuff might be coming from. But whilst you are eating in an erratic way and the body’s pumping out that cortisol and your blood sugar is all over the place, we can’t unpick it, we can’t untangle it. So for me, that would be recommending that you eat every three to four hours. Because we need that’s our body and we can only store energy lycogen in our liver for around four hours. So we need to be replenishing our energy levels on a regular basis. So that would be eating every three to four hours.
And that would look like three meals and two or three snacks, a day balanced meals and balanced snacks. So that’s how we combine our foods so the energy is released nice and slowly. And then when we are stood on that steady ground we’re able to regulate our emotions and think more clearly because that’s the other thing half the time when we’re not eating enough, it’s very hard to concentrate.
We have brain fog, we’re tired. We’re exhausted all the time. When those things are addressed, we can begin to look at the relationship we have with food, and it’s a much easier place in which to make changes.
[00:08:46] Gabrielle: We’ve got the phrase hangry, in you’re angry because you’re hungry. Also there’s the, acronym HALT, if you’re struggling, use the word HALT to think, am I hungry? Am I angry? Am I lonely? Am I tired? Again it’s the hunger, isn’t it? We know what a difference it makes and yet here we still are. You said, that, we’d learned to ignore our hunger cues.
[00:09:10] Rose: Yes. Yes.
[00:09:11] Gabrielle: Where do we learn this from? When do we learn this?
[00:09:14] Rose: Where do we learn all of these things? I think the reality is if we all think back to early on to eating at home, what went on at home? What went on around that kitchen table? What language did we hear? What did we see modeled for us? That’s where a lot of this starts.
Sometimes clients will come to me and they have a history of watching their mum in every slimming club. And they would all sit and eat cottage pie, but mum would be there with a black coffee and a crisp bread with some tuna on it and was constantly not eating or moving away from food. Or quite often clients come to me and they’re kind of, fearful of hunger or fearful of eating because they were taught to clear their plate and not waste food.
So they get caught in a pattern of overeating and then feeling guilty because they feel they can’t possibly leave anything on their plate then they’re uncomfortably full and then they restrict and it goes on. So that’s an example of kind of the language that we may, inherit. But also it’s embedded by diet culture.
We’re told to ignore hunger, you know, chew gum, have a glass of water, but if I said to you, every time you needed a wee. Which equally, like hunger is a natural biological cue. Just have another glass of water or stand on your head, you know, and have two pieces of chewing gum. You would inevitably wet your pants that is, the consequence of ignoring your natural biological cue and the same happens with hunger. So we’re kind of taught to hold our breath and swim a length under the water, but be surprised that when we get to the other end we’re gasping for air, it’s the same thing.
I think it’s a lot of diet culture noise and diet culture relies on us buying into that story, that narrative.
We know from multiple studies that dieting doesn’t work, that, any kind of weight management that relies on restriction will result in weight regain or weight cycling within two years. And that’s a pattern that lots of people will be familiar with, but why the industry likes us to be caught in that cycle is it means it drives us back for more.
So it will put that responsibility for failing on that diet on you. You failed, you didn’t have the willpower to only eat the calorie intake of a toddler. Some of these diets do some of these diets, are suggesting calorie intakes that your equivalent of what a three year old needs to eat. And then when we can’t sustain that, obviously for very clear reasons and we fall off the wagon, we then feel guilt, we then feel shame and then we’re driven to go and buy into another product. And it’s that cycle that keeps us trapped. And the reality is that if diets worked well, some of these very famous diet clubs would be out of business wouldn’t they?
[00:12:17] Gabrielle: That’s a very good point. Yes, indeed. And again, we’re back to like the multi whammy in that it’s coming from all directions and The people that we grow up with don’t necessarily have any awareness whatsoever of the impact that they’re having on the younger people around them, because actually that’s how they grew up and how they grew up and how they grew up.
And so you marry that with everything that’s going on in society, all, the magazines, what you see on television, as well as just blatant diet company advertising, it’s pretty hard to avoid any of it, isn’t it?
[00:12:54] Rose: No, it is. And I think, there is this moral framework around food that some how you, are a better person. You have more resilience. You have more willpower. If you can do this thing, you’re more successful. If you can look this way and they’re magic bullets sold to us by shiny people and shiny clothes with shiny teeth, who have, it’s not realistic, they have, you know, lots of people have, the people selling us this story have a genetic privilege. They have teams behind them. They have someone cooking their food and they’re training four times a week. And, but it’s, it’s also this selling of the thin ideal, which is an unrealistic body image that we are sold.
You know, the reality is if you and I ate exactly the same way and did exactly the same amount of movement, we would still look completely different.
[00:13:48] Gabrielle: Yeah.
[00:13:48] Rose: But we’re told it’s not as simple as that. We’re told buy my meal plan you’ll look like me.
[00:13:53] Gabrielle: But that’s the thing. It is as simple as that, and that is such a simple and clear message that I think we could all do with remembering every day. In fact, when we’re looking at the people, in the supermarket and at the school gate, as well as the people on the television and the people in the magazines. Yeah, absolutely.
[00:14:12] Rose: And part of that, if you don’t mind me sharing, I think, is exactly that the word beauty actually means rare. And nowadays, because we are saturated with images through the media and through social media, all the people who fit this ideal, we’ve come to normalize that image. When in fact, these people who fit that kind of very beautiful aesthetic they’re rare.
In terms of the natural humanity and who we are, that’s rare, but because we’re saturated with these images, we come to think that that is normal and accepted. And I had this discussion with my teenage daughter recently. And, um, I said to her, let’s go into town when we’re in town I’d like you to point out one person who looks like this woman that she had been comparing herself to on Instagram.
And we spent a few hours in town. She came back and she said, mummy, you’re right. I didn’t see one person. I said no, but we’re led to believe that that is the norm and somehow we are the exception, but that’s not the case.
[00:15:30] Gabrielle: That is a great exercise to do with anybody, whether it’s your children or your friend. Yeah. And I did not know that beauty means rare. That’s good to know. Thank you for that. Um, there’s a word that I’m hearing being used more and more interoception. And, you used it on a Instagram story or post, and we had a little conversation about it because it’s something that I’m finding really interesting.
So in case listeners haven’t heard the word, I think you will be hearing about it more because it’s suddenly coming up a lot more around me. Essentially my understanding is that interoception is the ability to recognise the bodily symptoms, which are a result of our thoughts and feelings. How do you see this interoceptive awareness helping us to eat well and feel good and therefore have more calm and joy?
[00:16:26] Rose: I think initially from my clients that journey looks like reconnecting with those natural biological cues. So interoceptive awareness also refers to things like being aware in the body of how fast your heart’s beating or how fast your breathing. And those things in your body may be a consequence of what’s going on upstairs in our minds. So part of that journey is beginning to reconnect with the more subtle signs of being hungry that we have learned to disconnect from. And the problem with the disconnecting is that we have two, we have hormones in our body. We have leptin and ghrelin and leptin is the hormone that lets us know that we are full and ghrelin is the hormone that lets us know that we are hungry.
But when we have ignored those signals from our body for long enough, our body kind of gets to the point where it says, I just can’t be bothered to send those out anymore because they’re not being listened to so they can go out of whack. Okay. So it makes it harder to reconnect with the body. So I like to describe it as a bit like a fuel gauge as we talk about hunger and fullness, and that disconnect is like having a needle on the fuel gauge is broken.
And you don’t quite know whether or not you’re full and you don’t know whether or not you need petrol. And it’s the process of learning to tune back in to those subtle signs of hunger. And that takes time and it takes building pauses in, and it takes building a mindful moment in to take ourselves out of our thoughts and into our body.
What sensations am I feeling? Because more often than not, we wait until those sensations are primal, our hands are shaking. Our stomach is growling. We feel a bit sick. We’ve snapped our husbands head off, and then we go and eat something. And then our choices then are driven by the biological need to get that sugar back up or by cravings rather than consistently nourishing for feeling well and having energy. So taking that moment to stop, or sometimes it’s as simple as having to retrain ourselves and set a timer, the alarm to check in what’s going on for me. And for example, for me, the more subtle signs of hunger, tend to be, I can’t concentrate.
I’ll be writing an email and I don’t actually know what I’m writing anymore and I’ve gone off a little bit you know, in my head, that’s a sign that actually I need to attend to my hunger. So bringing our awareness back into those, those physical sensations. And then when we know we’ve attended that we’ve attended hunger.
When those times come. Where we’re in front of the fridge and we’re stood there and not really why, know why we were there. We were just looking at an email from our boss that we didn’t really want to get. And then actually we find ourselves in the kitchen, stood in front of the fridge. We can check in and say, am I hungry?
Am I experiencing these sensations? Or am I here for a different reason? And that pause then allows us to make different supportive decisions about what we do whether or not we lean into what’s in the fridge because we actually genuinely hungry, which is great eat. But if we’re not, if there’s something else I can do to support myself in this moment.
[00:19:49] Gabrielle: Um, yeah, so it’s, yeah, it is all about awareness, isn’t it? It’s about checking in with yourself, stopping for a moment and just asking yourself, how am I feeling? What is going on with me? What is my feeling in my body, as well as what is going on in my head? And sometimes I guess there will be times when you think, do you know what I really don’t know?
And therefore you’re going to have to take a bit of a guess and see whether that is what is going to help you, because like you said, when you don’t know what your fuel gauge needle is doing, you’re not always going to be able to go, oh, I knew exactly what I need in this moment. There’s going to have to be some guesswork at the start, isn’t there?
[00:20:24] Rose: Yeah. And that’s where putting stabilizers on the bike is important because it takes time to re-attune with those biological cues. It takes time for your body to, reinvigorate your appetite or appetite sensitivity. So you know how, when you’re full and you know when you’re hungry, it takes practice.
And part of that practice is using our knowledge. And saying, okay. I might feel hungry, but I also know it’s been four hours since I last ate. So I need to try and eat something now. And as you say, it’s that process of supporting ourselves from a physiological point of view, to give ourselves the opportunity to then practice and learn what some of those sensations in the body might actually for us.
[00:21:08] Gabrielle: With reference to food or not, what is giving you calm and joy at the moment, Rose?
[00:21:13] Rose: What is giving me calm and joy as a mum of three teenagers well two teenagers and one almost teenage, and self-employed and constantly spinning plates. For me, I love these, these are really funny things, but I have to find these small micro moments in my day. Okay. I have to find them because life is busy.
So I love listening to nature sounds whilst I’m pottering. So I put on things like birdsong on the Alexa. I just find that really calming. Hiding my phone. So I am hiding that deluge of external stressors, just literally removing it from my space that helps me find calm. And, my yoga mat, because I’m really, I’m not very good at meditating, but a sacred 30 minutes of yoga practice every day where I have to concentrate on not falling over. That is enough to help me come in inward and kind of, um, reconnect with myself and feel calm.
[00:22:14] Gabrielle: Mmm, and that reconnecting with yourself is going to increase your interoception and connect you with, your hunger cues. It all comes full circle.
[00:22:24] Rose: Exactly. It all comes full circle. Exactly. As any practices we can do that, help us come back in to our bodies. Definitely.
[00:22:32] Gabrielle: So my final question for you is what are you going to do today to give yourself a moment of calm and joy?
[00:22:39] Rose: I have a non-negotiable 30 minutes planned into my diary, highlighted in pink to do my yoga practice. It doesn’t matter if the house is a tip or what’s going on that’s my 30 minutes. So I’ll be leaning into that later on today.
[00:22:54] Gabrielle: I love that it’s in your diary because if it’s in your diary, if it’s on the calendar, it is so much more likely to actually happen rather than if it’s just an idea in your head. Yeah, absolutely. So where can listeners find and connect with you, Rose?
[00:23:07] Rose: You can go to my website, www.liveawelllife.co.uk, or find me @liveawelllife on Instagram and all the other social media platforms. But mostly you’ll find me hanging out on Instagram. So yeah you can connect with me there.
[00:23:23] Gabrielle: Brilliant. Thank you so much.
[00:23:25] Rose: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
I could have continued chatting with Rose for hours, there’s so much to talk about on this topic and I hope that you found our conversation interesting. If you did and if you enjoy Pressing Pause can I ask you to leave a rating or a review on iTunes please? It only takes a minute and it really helps for this podcast to be found in the huge ocean of podcasts out there.
For the show notes and links mentioned in this episode 91 go to gabrielletreanor.com/podcast. And as I mentioned at the start, you can find lots more to help you feel more calm and joy in your daily life including my free resource library, and sign up to get my emails, at gabrielletreanor.com/free.
Thanks again for listening, until next time, lovely people.
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