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Guest Post: Holistic Nutrition Counselor Laura Burkett on Intuitive Eating

This next guest post is by Laura Burkett, a holistic nutrition counselor and eating psychology coach in West Michigan who works with local and national clients. I actually met Laura the summer I was learning and first experimenting with raw food. She came to speak at a nutrition workshop/seminar at Gazelle Sports in Grand Rapids, and I met her in her office a few months later to discuss holistic nutrition. Even with the very few times we talked, I was very interested in what Laura did for a living so I hope you all can learn a bit about what she has to offer about intuitive eating.

Hello friends.  I am happy to be here with you. Thirteen years ago, I sat on the bathroom floor of my college dorm bathroom alone, bawling, stomach distended, after having binged, and knew deep within myself that part of my soul’s journey would be learn how to heal eating struggles with the deepest of integrity and would teach others to do the same.  I was certain we were still in the Dark Ages when it came to how to thoughtfully and elegantly work with the areas of eating, weight, and health.

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Time to Change: Adding New Food to My Diet

I think I’m ready for change. I’m ready to take the next step to eating “normally” among society. I’m ready to get out of this rut.

It’s weird how those feelings suddenly come; when you realize the food you deemed “fattening” was only so because it became a rule in your head. The voice whispers to you day after day that you must eat perfectly, that you cannot mess up, that if you do mess up, bad things will happen.

And suddenly, I dared myself to change, dared myself to face my fear, because as scared as I am to move on, I know I must move on; that the only thing scarier than staying in one place, is thinking that you may stay in one place forever if you don’t do something about it.

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Hungry to Speak

You ask me why I eat in secret.

I wish you couldn’t see me eat. I wonder how much you think about what I eat. I decide what I will eat next to make it look like I am not eating too much. I wait until it is noisy enough in the room so that you may not notice how much I am eating when I grab more food.

I sit there acting like nothing is wrong because I don’t want you to notice I am screaming inside. I don’t want you to know how embarrassing this is for me.

You ask why I can’t have more self-control. I tell you, it is because I used to have all the control in the world.

You ask me why I take food out of the trash. I tell you, it is because I used to spit my food into it.

You ask me why you find food wrappers, empty cans of vegetables in strange places around the house. I tell you, it is because I pushed food away for so long–and now there is a shaking, anxious girl inside of me that is terrified she will never have enough.

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Self Worth: How Have I Learned to Love Myself More?

Q: Self worth – How have you learned to love yourself more?

I believe that self exploration helps us to find our self worth. Without knowing ourselves on a deeper level, we can’t learn to appreciate who we are.

I thought that after admitting to my mom that I had an unhealthy relationship with food, everything would improve. I thought I had gotten it all out, that I would just move on and lose weight again, get back on track, and try to forget all the bingeing that had been a result of restricting for so long.

Not exactly.

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Doesn’t Every Woman Have An Eating Disorder?

It’s amazing how many of us are obsessed about our weight. This does not, of course, exclude men (men getting eating disorders, too), but it seems typical–almost normal–to see nearly every woman out there on a diet, attempting to lose weight, or at least never feeling satisfied with their body. It’s an unfortunate truth, and it’s a big problem in our society. With all the fat-shaming, and especially a bias against women (see just one of many articles about the subject here), it makes eating disorders that much more common.

We can’t just blame the media, either. Eating disorders are not caused by the media, but media images/pressure can act as a ‘trigger’ to someone who may be predisposed to developing an eating disorder. It wasn’t like one day I looked at a skinny woman on a magazine and thought, I want to be skinny as her, and developed the eating disorder.

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Why Did I Binge? Raw Food Diet Journal Entries Analyzed

Now that I’m “all grown up” in my nutrition and cravings knowledge, I thought it’d be interesting to look back at my old food journal entries to point out “what went wrong” during those binges and intense cravings (for all the raw food journal entries posted on the website, go here). Why did I feel so out of control? What was I missing?

A whole lot, some of you say. You shrug. “Raw food. Not enough nutrition.”

Sure, to an extent. Raw food provides great nutrition from all the fruits and veggies, but I was definitely missing out on important parts of the raw food diet because of my restrictive tendencies (well, eating disorder); I was still too scared of calories (“I shouldn’t eat too much fruit!”), and my fear of fat prevailed (“limit the nuts, seeds, and especially the oils!”).

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What I Learned About Binge Eating, and How I Stopped

In the summer of 2010 I thought I could exert all the willpower in the world. I could restrict, could hold back on my deepest food desires. Not to say it was easy; it was difficult, but at least I felt like I could control it.

When I began binge eating, I still wanted the control. I hungered for it. But there was something about food that suddenly took control over me now. Suddenly I couldn’t tell my body what to do.

This isn’t to say that I was like a zombie stumbling around the kitchen. I was aware of what was happening. But the cravings had never felt so strong, so constant, so life-consuming that I “needed” to get rid of them to function–just to get on with my day. 

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