Andy felt the need to justify his food intake and felt guilty when he’d eaten something ‘bad’ or ‘unhealthy’.
Andy, aged 37, Dad to 2 young children and keen sportsman was struggling with his relationship with food. It was affecting his ability to socialise. A friend’s recent social media post on restrictive eating resonated with him and made him realise that his eating habits had got out of control.
For years Andy had been aware of his weight. He’d lost weight whilst at school and found exercise as a way to manage this during his adult years. He trained and excelled in various sporting events, particularly running. But despite this he was trying to sculpt his body in a way that conformed to the ‘ripped’ look and was fearful of gaining weight again.
Andy had gradually lost more weight over an 8-year period at which point friends and family were commenting on how ‘skinny’ he looked. It wasn’t until a friend’s social media post triggered Andy to reach out for help as he felt he’d lost his way and no longer knew what ‘normal’ eating looked like.
That’s when he got in touch with me.
During our first consultation, I discussed Andy’s eating habits with him. He explained that he was very strict with his food intake and if he overate, he’d compensate with exercise the following day or eat less at breakfast. Through our conversations, I screened for eating disorders, but was satisfied that whilst his eating behaviours were disordered, he was not suffering with an active eating disorder.
We chatted through his food intake, and I estimated that he ate half of what he needed each day given his level of physical activity. Importantly, he was also eating below his basal metabolic requirements (BMR). Andy had no idea that this could impact his mood, his circulation, his bowel habits and energy levels – all of which he struggled with.
To begin with we talked about ways to gradually increase his food intake that he felt comfortable with. I guided him on the changes he may notice in his body as he did so.
We talked about his thoughts, feelings and beliefs around food and body image. We considered where these might have come from and worked on ways to manage automatic, negative thoughts. I encouraged him to gain support from his friends and family, to be open and honest with them as thoughts expressed out loud can be much less scary when rationalised.
Andy worked hard to gradually increase his food intake, checking in with me via text and email as he went along. When ready, we did optimise his nutrition for sport to ensure he was eating enough energy, protein and fat (as well as micronutrients) to fuel his physical activity and future health.
Over time he noticed he could recognise and now respond to feelings of hunger, without guilt. He noticed how much better his mood was and energy levels. He also worked with a personal trainer to get a much more balanced approach to his fitness.
He did feel fearful with the initial weight gain but kind words from his support network coupled with him feeling better in himself helped him work through this.
Here’s what Andy had to say about working with me.
‘For years I have controlled my diet.
- I’ve felt that I have needed to justify a meal or a certain group of food with the fact that I’ve exercised.
- I’ve felt guilty about eating something because I’ve seen it as “bad”, “off track” or “unhealthy”.
- I’ve restricted myself to only eating “clean” because I thought that it was the only way I would reach my goals. At my worst I would be weighing out my food.
- I’ve been uneasy and stressed at social events where there was food and knowing that I hadn’t made that food and that there would be stuff I wouldn’t normally eat.
I never thought about how this was affecting my mental health, my mood and my body because I was eating ‘healthy.’ BUT this wasn’t healthy. I’d been starving myself for years.
I’m so pleased that I reached out to Lydia for help. She was able to show me how much I was actually eating and then how to increase my intake to the amount I should be eating. She was also able to help me understand the effects of not eating correctly and why I might have been controlling it in the past.
Here I am 3 months later, 10kg heavier and very happy with it.
Thank you for everything.’
Each of my clients has their own unique story and set of circumstances. This is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach. It’s based on years of experience and a toolkit of strategies, backed by science.
If you’d like to talk more about working with me then I’d love to hear from you.