Episode 67 Summary
- Intuitive eating is about tuning into your body with kindness and rejecting the diet mentality that you have to punish yourself thin, that if you're not miserable and hungry, then you're not doing it properly.
- Honouring your hunger - intuitive eating is also about tuning into your body. What does my body want right now? Does it want food? Does it want water? And then feeding it accordingly.
- Making peace with food - stop labelling foods as either good or bad, rather allow yourself to see food as food, to release the sense of shame from eating certain foods and the sense of deprivation from stopping eating certain foods.
- Allow yourself to enjoy your food and to take pleasure in eating. Tune into your body and recognise when you are hungry and when you are full.
- Honour your emotions with compassion and kindness. Respect your body and cultivate a joy of movement. View exercise as a nourishing act, rather than a punishment.
- Finding your satiety - being metabolically unwell can lead to leptin resistance, meaning leptin, the satiety hormone, can't tell your brain it is full. Balancing your metabolic hormones by transitioning to low carb real food allows you to find satiety again. You don't need to feel hungry to lose weight.
- Finding food freedom - we eat everthing we want, we've just changed what we want.
Self love and Whippets blog https://www.rlmedicine.com/blog/self-love-and-whippets
Free e-book: Weight loss is all about hormones https://www.rlmedicine.com/new-insulin-book
Your ticket to Food Freedom
Dr Mary Barson: Hello, my lovely listeners. I'm Dr Mary Barson.
Dr Lucy Burns: And I'm Dr Lucy Burns. Welcome to this episode of Real Health and Weight Loss. Good morning, lovely listeners. How are you travelling? I am here, of course with the fabulous Dr Mary, ready for another episode of our podcast. Good morning, Mares. How are you?
Dr Mary Barson: I am fabulous Dr Lucy. Very, very good on this warm summery day. Today, we are talking about a topic that I think both of us almost completely love, which is intuitive eating.
Dr Lucy Burns: Absolutely. One of the things that we talk about a lot is navigating the path that involves many factors, you know, rejecting diet culture, embracing intuitive eating, getting rid of fat shaming, because as we all know, you can't hate yourself thin. But then the idea that your food can absolutely change your health. And navigating through those, all of those concepts can be tricky. But I think we've got the balance.
Dr Mary Barson: I hope so. We certainly strive for balance in all things, balance. And there is so much, as I would say, almost completely everything about the health at any size and intuitive eating movements that I can feel myself and our philosophy align with. So Lucy, you and I are all about healing our bodies with real food. And if you've got a weight loss goal, metabolic issues, then the most helpful food that you can eat is delicious, low carb real food. And we are also about rejecting the diet mentality. You know, the diet mentality, the toxic diet culture, has done and is doing so much damage to the people of this world. And we hate it. And we rail against it. And we also firmly believe that you can love yourself, no matter what size you are. And that self-love and self-compassion and self-worth has absolutely nothing to do at all with your measurements or a random reading on a scale. And we are all about reclaiming health, so that people can feel good, and live their best, most energetic life.
Dr Lucy Burns: Absolutely. And you know we say this many times, you do not need to be stick thin, or lean as lean to be healthy. And in fact, often people who are stick thin, aren't healthy. So you can be what would traditionally not be called, you know, the perfect body. And both Mary and I, we don't have perfect bodies, in aesthetically perfect, according to current society standards. But you know what? We embrace that. So what. You don't have to be aesthetically perfect to be healthy. And many aesthetically perfect people are not healthy. So we also know that if you want to improve your health, yes, as Mary's mentioned, definitely about your food. But self-love is so vital. And we have got a blog on it, which I'll stick in the show notes, which was originally called, I can't actually remember what it's called now, something about Whippets and self-love.
Dr Mary Barson: Self-love and Whippets I believe, yep.
Dr Lucy Burns: Yeah, self-love and Whippets. It's a great read so we will put that in the show notes. But it is vital that you I guess, come to terms with what self-worth actually means. And it is literally nothing to do with what you look like.
Dr Mary Barson: Yes. And this is where I love the health at any size and intuitive eating movement. And I've been interested in intuitive eating for a while and I'm in a few Facebook groups and I love, I love so many aspects of it. And there is one point where I think we diverge from sort of the main philosophy just a little bit and I think in a very important way and we'll get to that later on. But first of all, we could discuss the main tenets and I think that intuitively eating can mean different things to different people. But the main tenets as I see them and sort of, you know, roughly summarised from Geneen Roth and her work, is that intuitive eating is about tuning in to your body with kindness. It is about rejecting the diet mentality, you know, the idea that you have to punish yourself thin, that if you're not miserable and hungry, then you're not doing it properly. And really just divorcing yourself from the toxic diet culture. And man, I can really, really get behind that idea. And then honouring your hunger. So tuning into your body. What does my body want right now, you know? Does it want food? Does it want water? And then feeding it accordingly. And to really make peace with food, to stop labelling some foods as good, and some foods as bad, and to allow yourself to see food as food. And therefore sort of loosening and releasing yourself from some of the deep feelings of shame that you can have over food, or the intense feelings of deprivation if you stop yourself eating a certain food. And just allowing to sort of let go of the sense of deprivation and the sense of guilt. And the other thing is to really challenge the food police as they're called. Those thoughts from other people, but more importantly, the thoughts in our own head, because I think the biggest food police station generally tends to exist within our own psyche. Where you know, you can scream at yourself for being bad for eating certain foods and being good for having other foods. And to chase the food police away so that you can be more at peace with how you're nourishing your body. Like all of these things I really can get behind. Another aspect of intuitive eating is to allow yourself to enjoy your food. Like it's not actually a sin to take pleasure in eating, something I firmly believe. And feel your fullness. So you tune into your body. You recognise when you're hungry and you recognise when you're full. And you also learn to cope with your emotions. To honour your emotions with compassion and kindness. To respect your body and to also cultivate a joy of movement. Rather than seeing exercise as a punitive thing, see exercise as a nourishing act. And basically just genuinely honour, your body and your health. All of this I absolutely love. I would say the main point of difference that our philosophy has Lucy, it's more of an extension of this, where you really honour your health and your nutrition. And although we do not, we do not label foods as good or bad, you certainly can generally lump foods into helpful and unhelpful. Foods that will support your health and your nutrition and your health goals. And there are foods that are not going to support your health and your nutrition and your health goals. You know, if you're someone who's pre-diabetic or diabetic, you know mindfully eating a Tim Tam is still gonna raise your blood sugar. And fill you with seed oils and increase your inflammation and not do you any good.
Dr Lucy Burns: And wake up Fluffy.
Dr Mary Barson: And absolutely wake up Fluffy, the sugar craving monster inside your brain. So what you eat is really important, but you can do it intuitively, respectfully and with a lot of self-love.
Dr Lucy Burns: Absolutely. And I guess I'd add in there, particularly with the honouring your fullness, that is absolutely the aim. But for people who are metabolically unwell, they have leptin resistance. And leptin resistance, leptin is our satiety hormone, so it literally tells our brain we're full. It's made by our fat cells. But if you've been, you know storing a lot of fat for a considerable amount of time your brain is leptin resistant, so it doesn't hear it. It literally, your fat cells are sending out leptin saying you're full, and your brain goes what, I can't hear you. And so it can be hard to honour that at the start. But that's the aim and over time when you balance your metabolic hormones, you will start to recognise satiety and it is amazing. But I think if you don't recognise it at the start, don't be worried. Don't beat yourself up. It's often, literally is your hormones.
Dr Mary Barson: I can remember the first time I really started to feel my satiety when I went low carb real food for the first time. Ages ago I was doing a low carb paleo challenge at the local gym, just stumbled across it. Before then I was a very good, very good PCOS patient, eating my whole grains and my low fat food and having my snacks and doing what the dietician said and the thought police were very loud inside my brain. And I still had rampant, polycystic ovarian syndrome, skirting obesity and was infertile, which was all very, very upsetting. And then I stumbled across a local gym, did this low carb paleo challenge, and I just did it because my friends were. And I was absolutely stunned. Floored, astounded. I can still remember just the sheer shock of realising that my hunger had gone away. I just spent all of my time starving hungry, feeling like I was depriving myself on this low carb, sorry, high carb low fat diet, which is what I was doing previously to try and cure my PCOS which was getting me nowhere fast. And then I changed my food. And about two weeks in, I felt rubbish for two weeks. I had keto flu transition symptoms, except I didn't know how to manage it. And I didn't know what it was. But two weeks in, I can just remember, it was like lunchtime at work. And rather than, you know, just being starving, and just, you know, waiting and waiting and waiting until lunchtime could tick around and it'd be socially acceptable for me to go and you know, pounce on my sandwich and low fat yoghurt, I didn't want lunch. And I couldn't believe it. I just, I still remember the feeling today. I remember like going home and talking to my partner about it like it was the most amazing thing that ever happened in the world. He actually found it kind of boring. But to me, it was an absolute game changer. I had found my satiety.
Dr Lucy Burns: Yes, it's miraculous, isn't it? And you know, that's the whole idea, is that diet culture, you know, I had in my head that if I wasn't hungry, I wasn't losing weight. So the only way I could lose weight was to be hungry. So therefore just suck it up Lucy, be hungry. Because that's going to be helpful, you're going to be losing weight if you're hungry. The hungrier I feel, the more I must be losing weight. And so this ridiculous cycle in my brain that just came about, that almost, so feeling hungrier, I almost in my head wore it like a badge of honour. Oh, good. I'm losing weight. Well, what a load of crap that was.
Dr Mary Barson: Definitely. And for those people out there who haven't, who perhaps haven't experienced insulin resistance and had their woodshed, so their metaphorical fat stores that we like to call the woodshed so firmly locked by high insulin. The hunger that people can feel when they're insulin resistant might be difficult for people to understand. I certainly remember being repeatedly told by dietitians and doctors who were slender, bless them. So like they just, they just weren't feeling, they didn't know the same struggles that I knew, at least not personally. And they'd be like, hunger is okay, you know, you don't have to feel stressed about being hungry. But I do wonder if my experience of hunger as an insulin resistant person with high insulin, was pretty different to their experience of hunger.
Dr Lucy Burns: I would totally say it is because having experienced hunger at various stages in 30 years with either being on a diet, therefore in my head hunger was good, I'm on a diet, but I was also you know, I was also younger, like I was twenty something, so not insulin resistant. And you could just work your way through it. And yet, you know, it would go away. Hunger as an insulin resistant person does not go away. You feel dreadful, you get lightheaded, you can't concentrate, you get hangry. All of those things that people associate with hunger. And those symptoms go away when you eat something. That's insulin resistant hunger, it's quite different.
Dr Mary Barson: Yes. And having experienced that previously during my adult years, and then my experience now as a fat adapted person whose you know, insulin resistance has virtually gone away and my normal insulin levels, normal biochemistry. This is so much more freeing. It's just, it's night and day compared to how I interact with food and how I feel about food. I have food freedom.
Dr Lucy Burns: Absolutely. So I just want to talk a little bit more about the intuitive eating concept of the food police. And it's really interesting. Even that phrase, I must say I don't love that phrase for multiple reasons. I think you know, if I really want to extend it out there is, you know it's quite derogatory to police people.
Dr Mary Barson: Totally.
Dr Lucy Burns: They're police, they're doing a job. They're there to enforce law and order and keep us safe. So it's a phrase I don't particularly love. But if we also think about it, you're right. I mean, diet culture uses all sorts of words and people will know that we love, love, love talking about language. It is so important to our subconscious brain, on the way we refer to things. But the idea of being good. And diet culture will use words like breaking your diet, cheating on your diet, being good, being bad, and it's ingrained. So if we have those thoughts, it's not our fault. It's how we've been conditioned. But so many people will come into the clinic and will say to me things like, ooh doctor Lucy, you're going to be so cross with me, I've been really bad. So two things. One, I'm never cross. And two, you're not bad. We, you know, and we use it kind of flippantly, but bad is murdering somebody, ripping people off, stealing. Going off plan, a little deviation off your road, is not bad. It might not be helpful, but it's not bad. So we love the phrases “helpful and unhelpful”. It takes away the moralising of food. And as an example, and people have heard me talk about this a fair bit. Nuts. Nuts are on a low carb plan. They're on a ketogenic plan for most people. I have trouble regulating nuts. And I've come to the conclusion that they're unhelpful for me to have very often. So where I used to have a big Tupperware container that was clear with the nuts in it, that every time I opened my cupboard, they were just sitting there. I would just grab a handful. I've actually decided that's not helpful to me. I was consuming an enormous amount of nuts, for reasons, I don't know why, other than not hunger, definitely not hunger. Just often habitual. Just my brain, they'd be in my mouth before I even thought about it. So not even, just almost a subconscious thing. Or sometimes just that hand to mouth action that we know is very soothing. And the interesting thing about this and I've been doing a little bit of experimenting just for fun with some checking of my blood sugars. Again being pre-diabetic, I am at risk of type two diabetes at any stage. If I chose to no longer follow a low carb life, I would develop type two diabetes. So I started doing some blood sugars recently and mornings were 6.2, 6.4, 6.8. I'm thinking it's high, it's high for dawn phenomenon even. So, I just tidied up my diet a little bit, basically ditch the nuts. And over a few days, it didn't take very long. 5.8, 5.3, the other day I had a 4.8. I've gone, woo, go me. Also thought I'd check my ketones while I was there. And again, improvement in those levels. Now I'm also going to add in, that just as part of a data experiment I was also tracking my weight. And it had gone down maybe a couple of kilos. And then yesterday morning, sorry, two days, my blood sugar was nice and low, 4.8. My ketones were massive, 2.3, I don't know what I'd done to get them that high. And I hopped on the scales and I was a kilo heavier. And I just thought, and you know what though, in the past, I would have been tearing my hair out going, oh my god, this isn't working. And now my brain goes, isn't that interesting? High ketones do not necessarily mean weight loss. But weight loss. What even is it? Presumably I've just got a bit of fluid onboard or maybe I need to have a poo. Who knows? But an extra kilo, I don't mind. And then, how's this for a little experiment. Last night, I had some nuts, just a small handful, but it was late at night. Like maybe 11pm. This morning's blood sugar: 6.2. So what you eat, and when you eat, it does matter. But it's, I love to look at it now as interesting. Like an experiment. I don't berate myself for having the nuts at 11. They're probably not helpful. But I've done a little bit of data and I think, okay, I can probably not do that again.
Dr Mary Barson: That's a beautiful example of taking the blame and the guilt and the emotion out of food and viewing it as helpful and unhelpful. I like that.
Dr Lucy Burns: Yeah. And there's things again, you know, sweeteners for us. We talk about this a fair bit. Both you and I, if we have sweeteners, it's just hard for us to regulate that food. I know there are people out there that can make maybe some low carb brownies and are able to put a bit away and just have one little bit every night. I would find that extremely difficult.
Dr Mary Barson: Yeah, so would I. I would find it difficult to stop at one low carb brownie. I'd probably want to eat a few. And even if I did stop at one, it still isn't helpful for me because those kind of sweet, low carb baked treats tend to awaken my sugar cravings. How about you Luce, but this was a journey that I needed to come to in time. So I used alternative sweeteners like stevia a lot in the beginning of my low carb journey. At the time, I've worked through it completely, I've almost come full circle, it's quite interesting. But I was working through a grieving period, where I was grieving these sweet things in my life. In my brain, you know, cakes, and ice cream, and milk chocolate equated to, you know, joy and fun and self-care and good times. And I was taking them away. So I felt like I had to replace them with something. But the replacements weren't helpful. But that feeling of grief and deprivation has totally gone now interestingly. Now I totally feel like I could go to the supermarket and buy a Freddo frog, like I don't feel that I couldn't do that at all. I feel like I could go down the street and get some ice cream. I don't, I just could. I just know that I could. But the truly miraculous change in my brain is that I don't want to. I just don't feel the need to. That's food freedom for me.
Dr Lucy Burns: Absolutely. And as you know, our favourite quote, “We eat everything we want, we've just changed what we want”. And I completely, completely agree with you Mares about the idea that you do have a grieving process, you know, because for a lot of us, the food is associated with many things. And again, you know, it's not our fault, it's conditioning. There's advertising, there's lots of things. Advertisers are very, very clever. They associate their product with a feeling. And it is the feeling that we act on. Which just brings me back to that thought, that phrase we use all the time, that your thoughts create your feelings, which then create your actions. So your action, you know, is always determined by your feeling. And if you're feeling deprived, if you're feeling restricted. Two things. One: you're more likely to go and eat the product that you're feeling deprived and restricted about. But two: that also comes back to your thoughts. And your thoughts, you can change them at any time. It sometimes takes a process. It's not like you can wake up one day and go you know what? I'm changing my thoughts. I don't eat chocolate anymore. I don't like it. It doesn't help me. It doesn't happen overnight, Pantene. But it will happen. It really will. And I now look at things. In fact, the other day, I was at a friend's house and another friend had bought over some stuff she called crack cookies or something. And they're called, it's that sort of in jest, because they're so addictive. And she said to me, oh, you will love these. They're called crack cookies, because you can't stop at them. And my immediate brain goes, oh, I don't want them then. Just like I wouldn't, I wouldn't try crack, literal crack. I'm not going to try these cookies. I don't want them. They're not going to be helpful to me. They mean nothing to me. But in the past, I would have been rubbing my hands together with glee going yes, bring them on. How many can I eat? And you know, if I had someone egging me on all the better.
Dr Mary Barson: Yes. You said something earlier before we were recording that I loved and I want you to expand on this. That processed food, particularly sugary, refined carbohydrates, these hyper palatable foods that are made in factories, scientifically designed to flood our brains with a maximum amount of dopamine, so that we want to eat them more and more and again and again and find it so hard to stop because the dopamine rush is so intoxicating, you know, processed junk. Processed junk actually robs us of our joy of real food.
Dr Lucy Burns: Totally. So, you know, for all the processed food addicts out there, and as we know, you and I were them.
Dr Mary Barson: Oh definitely.
Dr Lucy Burns: Your brain spends an inordinate amount of time trying to work out how it could get its product in a socially acceptable way. And that's fine. Again, conditioning, not our fault. And when you get that product you don't sit there and savour it, you often are wolfing it down. Shovelling it in for two reasons. One, before anyone catches you because there's a bit of shame associated with eating various bits of junk food. But also because you're trying to relieve you're very, very angry and irritated dopamine receptors that are empty and yelling at your brain to fill them up. So rarely do people savour that food, you just shove it in. And I'm sure we've all done this. You know particularly, and again, it's like any addiction. Nobody starts a sugar addiction or chocolate addiction at you know, a family block a day. No one does that, you start slowly. Start with the Freddo frog, you build up to the 50 gram, then you might have a family book that you eke out over a few days and suddenly, you know, you're having it every day. And you know, I've had times where I've had two blocks a day. Like it was just, and what happened then was that I wasn't hungry for any other food. I ate other food, but I didn't enjoy it. And anything that was less, that provided less dopamine than a block of milk chocolate, was almost tasteless.
Dr Mary Barson: Yes, yes, Lucy. I think I've said this on this podcast before. In the heights of my sugar addiction and I had a young child that I didn't want, you know, to see me eating the ice cream, I would like go into the bathroom, the only room in the house that has a locking door that actually works in our house. And I'd sit on my own in the bathroom eating Ben and Jerry's straight from the tub. Like, not a happy, not a happy state of affairs at all.
Dr Lucy Burns: Ah, absolutely. I would buy a packet of lolly snakes at the server. I mean, you know, we've all talked about the servo was really my pimp where I could buy my food. And I would shovel it all in before I got home, and then put the wrapper straight in the bin so no one knew. And in my head it was like, oh, if it's happened in the car it didn't happen at all. It was invisible, bang, off I go. Yay. But what you and I have discovered since eliminating processed food from our diet is the joy of real food.
Dr Mary Barson: Yes, yeah. A few days ago, I very intentionally ate something not on the green list. I was down at my parents' farm. And they grow all kinds of food there, veggies, fruit and meat. And they've got this really big, beautiful peach tree. And I was picking peaches with my daughter. And after we'd picked a few, we picked like, selected two of the absolute best of these beautiful tree ripened peaches, all soft and furry and amazing, and took them down by the dam. And we sat and ate our peaches. And it was so sweet to me. Like that, the experience was one of intense sweetness, because my body has readjusted. My tastes, sort of the reward systems and the neuro chemicals within my brain have rebalanced and readjusted. So that sweet summer fruit really, really does taste intensely sweet to me. And it was lovely. We sat there and we enjoyed this bounty from nature. And it was, it was definitely mindful eating. I was, I can remember the smell and the perfume, the furriness of the peach, how the juice ran down my cheeks. It was great. And I was, in this moment, really enjoying real food. Of course, I enjoy all kinds of real food, not just the sweet real food. But this was a real punctuating moment where I could see where I am now, enjoying the intense sweetness of this peach versus where I was years and years ago, wolfing down Ben and Jerry's in the bathroom quickly before my daughter could me find out.
Dr Lucy Burns: Do you want to know something that I've just discovered just now? This is how deep neural connections are. When you mentioned the word bounty, my brain visualises straightaway a Bounty bar. Straight away. Because in my head I'm going, what do you mean Bounty? And of course not the bounty of peaches that you were referring to. A Bounty bar. Literally, a flash popped up. I could see it, the coconut, that chocolate stuff on the outside. Neural connections are so deep. It's incredible. But isn't that interesting?
Dr Mary Barson: They can still change.
Dr Lucy Burns: Absolutely, absolutely. That's exactly what they do. And it's just, I find it fascinating that again, that that's a deep, clearly a deep connection for me that I was unaware of. That the phrase bounty puts up a vision of a Bounty bar. Now I don't need to do anything about it. It's not, I'm not going to run off now and buy a Bounty bar or any of that sort of stuff. But it is, this is how advertising works on our mind. You know presumably I've been exposed to advertising, in fact I have over years and years of Bounty bars. And I used to eat them fairly frequently, because I do, I did like that combo of coconut and chocolate. But I, yeah, it's just fascinating. So again, what that serves for me is just a little reminder that there is some deep, subconscious thoughts. But interestingly, I don't need to act on them, I can just notice them.
Dr Mary Barson: That's it. And you and I with our healthy, biochemically healthy and not completely aesthetically perfect bodies have found a much happier way to interact with food and a much happier way to travel through our lives with this lovely, balanced hormones, enjoying our low carb, real food, and being really kind to ourselves as we do it.
Dr Lucy Burns: Absolutely, absolutely. So lovely listeners, we would love for you, to think about how you can you get your ticket to food freedom. Because it really is such a joy, to know that food no longer has the stranglehold that it used to have. It no longer has the, literally the importance if you like. I think for me, it was just that I was truly trying to satisfy the addiction for a lot of it. So I would spend a long time trying to work out how I could do that. With the knowledge that what I was doing, you know, I felt a lot of shame and guilt about it because, you know, what sort of doctor eats two bars, two family blocks a day of chocolate and you know and weighs 20 kilos more than she should. That was all the thoughts in my head. And I now look and go you know what, I just need to let go shame and guilt. It's not helpful. Recognise that I've changed, doesn't have to be perfect, but it is consistent.
Dr Mary Barson: Food freedom.
Dr Lucy Burns: Wonderful. Alright, lovely listeners. Have a wonderful, wonderful day. And we'll see you next time.
Dr Mary Barson: Bye now.
Dr Lucy Burns: So my lovely listeners that ends this episode of Real Health and Weight Loss. I'm Dr Lucy Burns.
Dr Mary Barson: And I'm Dr Mary Barson. We're from Real Life Medicine. To contact us please visit https://www.rlmedicine.com
Dr Lucy Burns: And until next time, thanks for listening. The information shared on the real health and weight loss podcast, including show notes and links provides general information only. It is not a substitute, nor is it intended to provide individualised medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, nor can it be construed as such. Please consult your doctor for any medical concerns.