From the foods we eat to the way we eat, nourishing ourselves isn’t always easy. This week on the podcast we explore the challenges (and joys) of eating
Eating is something we all have to do and something that will always take up a certain amount of headspace. For some, it’s a little, for others, a lot. Regardless of where you are on that scale, one thing feels universally true – eating is rarely simple. From the foods we eat to the way we eat, there is a host of societal messaging telling us what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’. It’s no wonder we’re left with our heads spinning.
On the podcast this week we’re taking a closer look at eating, exploring why it can be so complicated, what changes need to happen to make it simpler and how we can improve our relationship with food. Joined by nutritional therapist Kaysha Thomas, we talk about the joy of eating, reconnecting with cultural food and finding the right professional support.
Note: We do discuss disordered eating in this episode, so please take care when listening.
Listen here, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Kat: Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of Happiful: Finding What Works. In the introductory episode of this podcast, I promised an episode on eating and today is the day we're going to be getting into it. And if you listened to that episode, you'll know why this is a particularly personal topic for me because I experienced an eating disorder in my teens. So I truly do know how complicated this can get. With that in mind, I do want to make a note that we are going to be mentioning disordered eating in this episode. So please do take care listening.
Joining me today to navigate this topic is registered nutritional therapist Kaysha Thomas. Thank you for being here, Kaysha. To start with, could you please tell us a little bit more about yourself and the work that you do?
Kaysha: Sure. So, hello, I'm Kaysha Thomas. I'm a registered nutritional therapist, as Katherine mentioned, and I'm also a qualified Pilates instructor. I work predominantly with eating disorder recovery, body image recovery and I recently completed my master’s in sport and exercise nutrition. A lot of the people who I see in my private practice come to me from a background of sports and have transitioned out of sport and are finding new ways to be in this world and interact with food that isn't just tied to performance, which we can get on to a little bit later today.
Kat: Amazing, thank you. Eating is a topic that can be really complicated and I'm sure you know this better than most. So can you tell us a little bit more about why eating, the food that we eat… why can it be so complicated?
Kaysha: I mean there are so many reasons and I think the first thing is that we have so much morality that we can attach to food these days and there are so many messages that come from different places. We grow up in a society where food has been labelled as being good and bad for us, and people get so confused as to know, how do I actually just eat in a way that is self-caring to my mental and physical wellbeing? Well, I say to my mental and physical wellbeing, most people don't think about the mental wellbeing part of it. They think about physical wellbeing. For me, I always say these two things cannot be separated. So when we have different messages coming from different places, we have hierarchies that we place on bodies, so certain looks and bodies are seen to be quote-unquote better than others. And so people have this complicated relationship with food where they're using food not to nourish themselves, but to shape themselves so that they can be accepted because that is the world that we live in. There aren't many people who don't subscribe to that belief and that narrative.
And then there's the ethical side of things as well. So, you know, for those of us who eat in that way, that is eating in a way that is ethical. Knowing what the right thing to do, again, there are different messages coming from different places and then it all can really feed into this feeling of guilt around food. People never really feel that they're doing the right thing. And on top of all of that, we have to pay for this food. It's a resource that we cannot live without and it costs money. We'll get on a bit more I think to social and cultural connections around food later on. But for sure there can often be the difficulty in wanting to eat in a certain way, but maybe not being able to afford it and then the guilt and shame that can come with that - which isn't needed, I wanna say. Although people feel that it's not their fault and I feel they shouldn't, but I don't like to 'shouldn't' too much.
Kat: There are so many different layers there to unpick isn't there?
Kaysha: So many layers.
Kat: Yeah, and I definitely resonate with what you're saying about the morality of food, especially. That's something I've had to learn in my journey to unpick and come away from. And the eating for your mental and physical health... They are intertwined. I think there are certain meals and certain things that you eat to make you feel good and sometimes that's okay if it's nothing more than that. That's a really interesting point.
I would love to hear a little bit more about your personal relationship with eating and maybe how that's changed and maybe what drew you to the work that you do now.
Kaysha: Sure. So I would love to say there was this really neat journey that took me to do the work that I do, but a lot of it was by chance, but I'll start with my own personal relationship with food. So I grew up doing a lot of sports. At a very young age - I'm a child of the eighties and I grew up, and I don't know if, I think it still does happen in the UK, where once a year the school nurse would come to weigh you. And I was always quite a heavy child, I was a heavy baby and then that was just my body type and what it was. Then I never ever thought about my body size or its weight or anything like that until when I was about eight or nine I think, and I had a school nurse weigh me. I couldn't even tell you what the number was, but I know that there was some concern around my weight.
Thankfully my mum told me, but there was no recommendation for me to lose weight. It was just, she's worried about your weight. Then I started to think about my weight and I started to really focus on my weight and think about it a lot. So what that led to for me was a lot of preoccupation with the scales and just being aware of what I was eating. I was eight to nine, so I didn't have the knowledge to know that if I did this with my food, this might happen to my weight. It wasn't that clear back then. That wasn't so prevalent either. But I do remember there was always this link between me making sure that I was always being active and being aware of a number on the scale. I had no idea what this number meant, I didn't know what it meant in relation to the peers in my class or anything like that.
Coming into secondary school, I remember another incident in school and I'm being very cautious of how I share things, I'm trying not to give any numbers, but I remember another incident in school where we measured body parts in a science class. Yeah. And when I say that out loud now, I'm like, what on earth? Right? I went to an all-girls school and we were measuring body parts. It was a male scientist <laugh> teacher. Not the greatest experiment, you know, for teenage girls. So we measured things like our wrists. But then one of the things we measured was our thighs and now I had this reference, it was me measuring my thighs and my then-best friend measuring her thighs and I knew there was a difference. And again, I was just like, well, why are my thighs bigger? So then I had this preoccupation with my thighs and that went on for many years.
So that was when I was about 15. I can honestly say I dieted - tried my quote-unquote best to diet - all throughout my twenties. It was just, yo-yo diet after diet, after diet. I loved food, I loved sport. I knew I needed energy to do the sport that I did. I knew I loved to eat food, I loved to cook food, all of it. So it was just this constant battle that I was in with food, myself, and my body, when I needed to have enough to do my exercise and things like that.
And then when I got to about 30, I'm coming to 42 now, when I got to about 30, that was when I started to think, do you know what this has been going on for a little while now. I had done all my nutrition studies, I had a good understanding of nutrition and I decided that I was going to learn how to eat without dieting, without it being, 'I'm on a diet' or 'off a diet', how do I just eat? How do I feed myself? I had never done that until I was in my thirties. And then that's when that journey started. I didn't know what intuitive eating was then, I knew what mindful eating was, I tried all these different things. I tried to figure it all out by myself.
And then what happened for me personally - and everyone's journey, I have to say is going to be very individual - but for me, what happened was my skin looked healthier. When I say healthy, it just looked more vibrant, didn't look dry and sort of ashen anymore, my nails stopped flaking, and my digestive system picked up. I was actually doing number twos every single day, which was a new thing for me. I didn't realise that it was a problem, that I wasn't going to the toilet every single day. I didn't know how to solve that. I just carried on from there really.
And then, how I then came to do the work that I do. So I started to - intuitive eating term here - reject the diet mentality at around age 30. I knew that as a nutritional therapist because at this point I had been qualified for about three years, I knew that I didn't want to be perpetuating diet culture in the nutritional therapy work that I did. But at the same time, when people came to work with me back then it was for weight loss. They always wanted to come and talk to me about weight loss and I'd been like, eh... Don't do it. I would try and go around this sort of blood sugar balance route, but it was still very diet-y advice. It didn't feel right to me. I didn't know how to navigate it. So I didn't do much nutritional therapy, I went into corporate and did that for a while.
Long story short, one day I had an email from a clinic called the Recovery Clinic. I must have emailed them back in the day when I probably first qualified and was looking for clinics to work at. They said that they had a vacancy coming up for a nutritional therapist, working for eating disorder recovery. And I was like, whoa, this is different and this makes sense because now I get to really practice nutritional therapy in a way that is in line with my current values. And that's how it went from there. So it was a by-chance thing, but I never ever looked back because it solidified so many things for me. So when I started working for the Recovery Clinic, I had to continue to work on my own relationship with food and my body. You can't do that work while still holding or upholding any diet culture beliefs. So that's when I really went deeper into my own relationship with food and I would say actually first started looking at body image recovery as well.
Kat: Thank you so much for sharing that. That's really, really eye-opening to hear about the things that you went through at school and the measuring and the weighing. Wow. And it's also a really good example you said that everyone has different experiences and that's really true. Your experience was almost having external things coming in and drawing your attention to something otherwise you might not have worried about or thought about.
Whereas, if I share a little bit more about my journey, mine's almost the other way around. So for me, my relationship with food changed when my relationship with my body changed. I was struggling with a lot of different things as a teenager, I didn't feel like I fit in, and I didn't feel like I was pretty enough - all of these things, as a teenage girl you tend to struggle with. And I pinned all of those concerns and worries on my body for some reason. I just decided that was the problem, internalised everything and thought if I could change my body to be what I thought society's ideal was, which was smaller, then I would be happier. Everything would be absolutely fine. And for me, that obviously led to an eating disorder. I had anorexia and I'm so grateful that I got the support that I needed when I did because I was lucky. I had pretty early intervention, I got support and I now consider myself fully recovered.
It's been a really long journey to get there and to do all the things you're talking about, intuitive eating, rejecting the diet mentality... But it's been so worth it. The reason recovery can be difficult and the reason, as you said earlier, our relationship with food can be difficult is because we have to eat to survive. It's not something we can ignore or go cold turkey on or just pretend doesn't exist. We have to find a way to develop a healthy relationship with it. And I do want to talk a little bit more about developing a healthier relationship with food. But before we do that, I'd be really interested to hear if you found in your work any particular groups of people that struggle when it comes to eating more than others.
Kaysha: One thing I would say is that I've been doing this work since 2017 and I've spoken to many people on a one-to-one basis about their struggles and there are a lot of common themes there, and I smile because I think sometimes people come to me and they feel so alone in it and, without ever invalidating anyone's experience, people would be surprised how similar people's problems around food are and the rules that they have. Food, exercise, body and those thoughts that come with it, but I would say when it comes to groups of people - if we think about people who lived in marginalised bodies... And when we talk about marginalised, that can be anyone that is far away from what is the centre, so what is seen as the 'default human body' and I'm doing quotation marks again here. This isn't something that I subscribe to, but the default human body is a white, thin, able-bodied, heterosexual male, right? And then every single time you move away from those identities, then the marginalisation of the body increases.
So I would say what I find at the moment is that a lot of eating disorder recovery is really geared towards people who are closer to that human default body and then the issues that I see of them when people live in say, larger bodies. So people who are in - I just want to be careful to not say that they live in these bodies or that they are these bodies, but people who are larger in size, people who are not white women, people who are not able-bodied, people who have other health conditions that sometimes the eating disorder can coincide with and actually be a part of how they're trying to manage and go through...This is where I see a lot of issues.
I think eating disorder recovery in the way that it is taught or talked about a lot of the time in the recovery space doesn't speak to the different types of people who experience eating disorders. It does not discriminate and anyone can suffer. So what I see a lot in the recovery space is that someone goes through eating disorder recovery, it's usually focused on one particular eating disorder, it's usually around anorexia, and then it looks like, 'I looked like this when I had anorexia'. It's usually someone in a smaller body, and then 'I recover, now I look like this'. Not enough is said about people who are already bigger and recover and look the same or people who in their recovery actually gain weight and go into a larger body because that was what their genetics were always going to do, that's their genetic makeup and that's how they're always going to look. So I think that's where it becomes difficult and it's really important.
I have to be aware of my own thin privilege when I'm working with clients in larger bodies as well because what I'm asking them to do is eat more, and the fear of eating more comes with the fear of weight gain, which each recovery community has, but there are only certain people who have actually experienced weight stigma. And that's what we're asking people to do, it needs so much compassion and awareness around what it is - as much as we may be able to imagine what it's like for them to live in this society with certain body types.
Kat: I couldn't agree more. I think there's so much there that listeners need to really take on board and take away and recognise as you said, eating disorders do not discriminate. There's one certain type that gets talked about the most, even though, I believe... Is binge eating disorder actually the most common? Is that right?
Kaysha: Absolutely. Yeah. And probably the least spoken about and the most underdiagnosed one as well because I think it often gets put down to just overeating and a lack of control and often being called, quote-unquote emotional eating when actually yeah, it is by far the most common eating disorder out there.
Kat: Yeah, exactly and also there are other types as well. Something we've done only this year actually because we started learning more about was ARFID which is avoidant restrictive food intake disorder, and that can often coincide with autism as well, so there are many different layers in there that we need to think about. With all of that in mind, and you touched a little bit earlier on about the way finances can impact people as well - can you talk a little bit more about the changes that need to happen on a societal and cultural level to support people to have a healthier relationship with food?
Kaysha: Yeah, I think thinking about that in itself - so for those of us who are in this profession, say nutritional therapists... I know when I first qualified, the way that we were taught and the foods that we were, I don't want to say promoting but recommending for clients, they weren't cheap. They weren't cheap. And I used to spend a hell of a lot of money on food thinking that this is what I had to do to eat well, to be a good eater - these aren't terms that I actually subscribe to. I think that's something that people can think about, any nutritional therapists who are listening or anyone else out there who's trying to navigate their own food relationship, letting go of this idea that there are these perfect and superfoods out there that we have to spend more money on in order to be seen, to be doing the right things for ourself and how a lot of our health status isn't just about the what we eat. Yes, that does play a part, but also in how we treat ourselves, in how we protect our boundaries, in how we move our body in ways that are self-caring, and in the sleep that we get.
So basically not putting all of our eggs - for want of a better expression - into this one basket of 'You have to eat this way' because what that doesn't take into account are those who can't necessarily afford certain lifestyles, be it financial or even time resources. Some people have to work way more than others, way harder than others and all the rest of it.
The other thing is the cultural piece. So I'm of Jamaican and Granadian heritage, my grandparents are from the Caribbean, and none of those foods were celebrated within the diet culture. They were all just vilified. The idea of having macaroni cheese and rice and peas on one plate was just like a no-no in every single diet that I looked at.
So looking at how much the diets or dietary recommendations that a person is taking takes them away from their own cultural beliefs and their way of eating food because we don't just eat food for energy and nourishment, we eat food to enjoy. We have it as a way of connection, we celebrate - I mean every single birthday, what do we do? We have a birthday cake. You know, it is something that brings people together. We don't just eat nutrients, we have food and food is often a part of the way that we connect to ourselves and other people as well. I don't know if that answered the question though, <laugh>.
Kat: It did. It definitely did. It's just looking and being aware of all of these things and recognising that we do need to change the way we look at these things and recognising that food is a joyful thing. It's not just nutrients in our body and at the moment I feel that is often what a lot of wellness culture can look at, thinking food is just a fuel instead of all these other things. And we will get into a bit more about the joy of food in a bit because I'm keen to explore that, but I would love to talk a bit more about if somebody is listening to this and they're thinking, 'I really want to change the way I view food, I want to see it as a celebration and something joyful'. What tips could you give someone if they're struggling a little bit and want to change how they view food?
Kaysha: Something that I did for myself and that I encourage my clients to do as well is just to look at your own values. For me, thinking about what my own values were around food, the fact that I was feeding myself in a way that I wouldn't recommend to anybody else, in a way that I wouldn't tell my friends to do, in a way that I wouldn't tell my clients to do, told me that something wasn't quite right. So have some time to actually really reflect on 'What do I enjoy about the way that I eat?' and 'What doesn't feel like it's quite me, what's coming from somewhere else?' Because a lot of this journey is about regaining your own body autonomy. You having a say about what you want to eat when you want to eat, and how you want to eat within the resources that you have available to you as opposed to being told, as opposed to coming from external. So, 'How much of the way that I eat and interact with food is coming from internal and how much of that is coming from external?'
And then having a think about some of the food rules that you are either following or believe that you should be following. So sometimes I work with people who say ‘I don't have any food rules’, but guilt comes up around eating food because although they're not following the rule, there's a belief that they should be doing something and therefore when they have a certain food or eat at a certain time or whatever this limiting belief that they have around food is, it brings up these feelings of guilt and shame because this journey isn't just about being able to have what you want when you want and all the rest of it. It's about how you feel about yourself or how you feel after eating certain foods or after certain eating situations.
Then I would say, if that feels like 'That feels really far away and I don't think I'm ready to really look into that right now', think about ways that you can be more self-caring to yourself. And I know self-care has become quite a buzzword, but what are the different ways that you look after yourself outside of food? So I talked earlier about sleep, maybe think about movement, maybe think about hydration, think about boundaries that you set - when are you saying yes when you want to say no? Because oftentimes, the problems that people have with food are a mirror of other things that they have issues with within their life in their day-to-day life. So all-or-nothing thinking can happen with food - 'I'm either eating all this stuff, or I'm having none of it at all.' That is a common thinking way that shows up in other areas of life. So you don't always have to do this journey looking at the food piece by itself, because that might feel really overwhelming. And if you're doing it by yourself, it might feel like 'Where do I start?' Also looking at how that's impacting your life outside of food as well.
Kat: That's a really great tip because it can be a lot to go straight into that and look at food. Once you start changing your mindset around that in different areas of your life, maybe naturally it'll start to show through there as well. I loved what you said about internal versus external and really tuning into yourself because, as you said, there are so many different messages we get from society about what we should be doing. It can be quite hard to tune into what's right for you.
Something that really helped me move even further on in my journey into rejecting diet culture was changing my external views of what I was seeing to reflect what I was internally thinking. So I was doing the work to not see food in a certain way and I started diversifying my social media feeds, making sure I was following people who were living their lives and loving it free from diet culture. The more I learned about it, the more I realised I didn't have to subscribe to it anymore and that food is something joyful that we can use to celebrate and connect with ourselves and connect with each other, which you mentioned earlier.
Let's move on to that a little bit, about the joy of food. Something I saw you mention on your website is about reconnecting with cultural foods and I think that's a side of eating that really deserves our attention. So would you be happy to tell us a little bit more about this and what it can involve?
Kaysha: Yeah, so as I alluded to earlier, this idea where diet culture doesn't often celebrate cultural foods or it only does when these foods can be seen as quote-unquote superfoods, avocado being a key one that always comes to my mind <laugh> growing up we always had avocado - not always, when we could afford it, we'd have avocado on the side of a meal and then avocado was seen as quote-unquote bad because... I don't know why they decided it was bad! And then suddenly avocado became a super food and now everyone's eating avocado. I'm like, really? So I spent all those years fearing and feeling weird about eating avocado, and now we're just freely having it? So <laugh>, I've gone on that mini rant all to say how diet culture can really, really disconnect a person from their cultural foods.
The other thing - and I forgot to say in the last point, and I can link it all in now - satisfaction is such a key body cue that we have around food. So we often think about hunger and fullness, which is where people can get stuck in that trap of only eating when you're hungry and stopping when you're full, dah, dah, dah. But satisfaction is also a body cue that we have and that's when we're talking about enjoyment around food.
This is another area where someone isn't eating what they really want and they're trying to do substitutes and going all around the houses and not actually having the thing they really, really want and then always feeling like they want more. That can look like not having the cultural foods that you really love and having something else and actually just really missing those foods.
Anyone from any culture can enjoy food from all cultures. So, looking at what beliefs you hold about foods from your own culture, and beliefs that you may hold about foods from other cultures because there are a lot of messages that we may be internalising about those foods and that might be disconnecting you from your own internal satisfaction cues, but it also provides a nourishment barrier from you actually experiencing the joy that those foods could bring you.
So connecting to those foods looks like learning how to make certain foods. There are so many foods that I had just never learned how to make because I was dieting for so long and then later in life learned how to make and so much joy came from that process. You start to interact with food in a different way or go into restaurants and actually support those businesses, doing food shares with friends - I think in the US they call it a potluck, but you go to a barbecue or somewhere like that, you get to try different foods, you get to bring your food, you get to share culture in that way. So it's such an important piece, I believe, and that joy and that satisfaction is really the gateway to help you connect to that.
Kat: Thank you for sharing that. I think that's so true and it's another way of making food exciting. It can be boring and I know I can get quite stuck in a rut and eat the same thing day in, day out. So being able to enjoy that and think about what foods you want to actually try and connecting with anything culturally as well... And the satisfaction point is such a good one. Something that I eat every day, without fail, is chocolate because I know if I deny myself then I'm going to just want it more and I'll be unhappy. And that's also part of intuitive eating - recognising there's no scarcity mindset. There's no, 'I have to eat this all now because then I'm going to stop and I'm not going to be allowed to eat it again'. If you just allow yourself to have what you want, when you want it, you can feel satisfied and then you’re fine, you're not going to go crazy - some people think that you're going to immediately eat all of the chocolate in the world, that's not going to happen.
I can imagine a lot of the topics we've mentioned today are ones that you talk about with your clients. So I'd love it if you could explain a little bit more about how nutritional therapy and working with someone like yourself can support people.
Kaysha: Sure. So with eating disorders, I always work alongside a psychotherapist and what that really allows a person to do is explore the underlying emotional issues that are impacting their ability to nourish themselves, look after themselves and set healthy boundaries as well. So what working with me allows that person to do is to draw those parallels between, 'Okay, this is what I've talked about in therapy and this is what I notice happens in food.' It doesn't always happen, there's no linear process in recovery, but the person then has more space and freedom to talk about those real underlying issues in their psychotherapy sessions and then that gives them more space for the food piece to be spoken about to the nutritional therapist such as myself.
There's always going to be a crossover. Sometimes psychological themes come into my sessions, obviously, I can't help a person go too deep into that, but I can help them understand how that links to their food. And then of course the food piece is going to go into their psychotherapy sessions as well. So it's really just working as a team in that way.
My part to play in this is really helping a person give themselves permission. Very much at the beginning of the work that we do, they're seeking that permission from externals, so sometimes they need that permission from me, 'You get to eat chocolate, you get to have your rice and peas and curry chicken. You get to have that with dumplings on the side and macaroni cheese if you want it.' They sometimes just need to hear that from someone external before they can give that permission to themselves. So that's often my part to play in the beginning of the work that we do.
And then after that, it's about them just trying to understand in which ways am I interacting with food that is coming from food rules and what is preference. It is really tricky to try and figure that all out by yourself because they're trying to figure it out whilst they have this inner dialogue going on between them and the eating disorder voice or the ED voice as I refer to it, everyone finds their own way to label that voice. So you get to be an additional well voice in that space so that it's not just that person having to do that whole dialogue within their own head. They have an external person there to reflect it off and to hear.
The thing I love - one of the many things I love - is when a client will say something out loud that the eating disorder has told them and they'll say, 'But that doesn't make sense', and then their well voice comes through and just being able to point that out - did you hear those two narratives? Sometimes they're not aware that there are two narratives that are going on, they think, it's just all ED and they start to connect to their well voice. It's just nice for them to know that there is a well voice there that can be drawn out and that both of those voices get the space. Actually, it's important that both those voices have space in that room to be heard so that a person can continue to navigate and heal through that journey.
Kat: That's really interesting and I definitely resonate with the well voice and the ED voice and also differentiating the two and recognising, as you said earlier, that you are not your eating disorder. You are a person outside of that and that's such an important part of recovery, so that's really interesting to hear. Thank you.
And for anyone who is looking to work with a nutritional therapist, do you have any tips for them to find the right kind of support? Because there are a range of professionals out there and it's not always that easy to find somebody who resonates with how you want to look at food. Do you have any tips for anyone searching for support?
Kaysha: The first thing is to try and go with recommendations - like anything else, if you know someone who's worked with someone who's helped them, then get recommendations. That's the first thing I would say. Beyond that, have a really good look through their social media. Have a good look through their website. The red flag that I'll often point out and I see unfortunately too often in this space is anyone who's offering weight loss alongside eating disorder recovery, intuitive eating... Turn the other direction. These two things cannot work together, they cannot coincide.
But beyond that, it's finding someone who really resonates with what it is that you're trying to achieve and know that there's not this one magical person who is going to help you throughout your whole journey. It might be that someone can take you so far and that you find someone else. So don't get caught up in this idea that I have to find the perfect person to help me through my recovery.
Have a look through, and go with your gut - you can really trust that. Ideally, someone who has qualifications around nutrition, but I would tell you that that's not necessarily gonna be a thing that guarantees you get somebody who knows about eating disorder recovery. Like I said, just making sure that person is talking about health at every size, intuitive eating and that their words are speaking to people of all bodies and all races, that'll often give you a really good starting point.
Kat: Great tips there. I think you are right. Looking through social media and their websites to see the kind of language they're using and what they're offering is a really great point. And on that, something I realise I haven't asked you about and listeners may not know about is intuitive eating. Could you explain a little bit more about what that is? For anyone who maybe doesn't know.
Kaysha: Intuitive eating is what we've had to call it - it's normal eating is the truth of it. It's had to be called intuitive eating because of diet culture. Intuitive eating is the way that we would have been eating before we started taking these external messages from diet culture and other places. It's talking about really connecting to your internal cues, really understanding your own food preferences. It's eating in a way that is self-caring towards yourself. It also talks about moving your body in a way that is supportive of your mental and physical health. So it's not about weight loss, it is not about shrinking your body down, it's about just really looking after yourself and nurturing your body.
There’s a book by Evelyn Tribole and Elise Resch and it goes through these 10 principles, which a person is recommended to go through in order. So for anyone who wants to start to explore this work on their own, it is a book that I would recommend you to read. If you are in an active eating disorder, it can be difficult to embrace intuitive eating because there may be that disconnect between hunger and fullness cues. But I would still say give the book a read, take from it what you will, I wouldn't say it's off limits for those with eating disorders - and in fact, the latest edition actually speaks a bit more to that, so I'd really recommend it.
The principles are set out in a way that allows a person to go through that process without rushing ahead because the last principle, spoiler alert, is about gentle nutrition and it's about the ways that we can feed ourselves and nourish ourselves in a way that is supportive to our health without it being obsessive and calorie counting and all that diet-y stuff.
Kat: I'll make sure we share a link to that book as well so that everyone can take a look because I think as you said, it can be tricky when you are in the eating disorder space to get there, and for me, it came after recovery. I went through the recovery process and then I started learning about it and that was when I could go even further into that, so I definitely recommend it for people to look into. If you don't have an eating disorder and you're listening to this, it's just something you want to improve - your relationship with food generally, it's a really great thing to look into. It doesn't work for everybody, not something that everybody's going to love, but it's worth investigating for sure.
Amazing. Thank you so much for your time today. Do you have any final words of encouragement or anything else that you wanna share that we haven't mentioned to our listeners before we wrap up?
Kaysha: I would say, if I'm just speaking from my heart, in terms of words of encouragement... If some of this conversation feels like it's so far away from you, you start where you are, the journey isn't always that clear. Lots and lots of self-compassion, which might be a foreign concept to some people, this idea of giving self-compassion, we're so good at giving compassion away to others... But what that tells me, is if you're able to be compassionate towards others, you have the compassion skill and then what you're trying to build is how to turn it back onto yourself.
So just really give yourself the time that you need to go through this journey. It's not a one-and-done thing. We get to good places with ourselves and our bodies and food, but we're always learning new things. We have new conversations with people and then we find new things that we can look at and just understand and figure out. So take your time, you're where you need to be right now and it's not where you have to stay - there is the next step and another step and another step and another step, but just take that first baby step and you're off <laugh>.
Kat: So true. And it is really an ongoing thing. I've learned that in my 37 years of life! It's an ongoing thing. Amazing. Thank you. And if anybody wants to connect with you online, where can they find you?
Kaysha: The best place to find me is usually over on Instagram, so @KayshaThomas, there's also my website, kayshathomas.com and there is where you'll also find links to my new podcast, which is called Big Tea Little Tea, which is really just me talking to other people around different topics. Not all related to food, but definitely related to body and health and looking at it through that trauma-informed lens as well.
Kat: Brilliant. Thank you. And thank you everyone for listening. If you'd like to learn more about nutrition support and how it can help you, you can head to nutritionist-resource.org.uk and make sure you are listening next week because we're going to have our exhale episode where we'll be holding a bit more space for you to explore your relationship with food and reconnect with the joy of eating. So until then, take care.