I saw this book recommended by Helen Thorn of The Scummy Mummies fame – who is also famous for her @HelenWearsASize18 insta posts, and the Fat Lot Of Good podcasts (I admit, I sound like a slightly stalkerish fan….). She is a real advocate of body positivity – and uses the hashtag #effyourbeautystandards on a regular basis. As I am very easily lead, I immediately bought the book (I have a number of times bought items of clothing Helen has been photographed wearing too #numberonefan). I expected it to be funny, entertaining, sweary and interesting (pretty much sums up Helen too) – and the book is all of those things. It’s also MASSIVE and FULL of references to medical studies etc. I hadn’t expected quite so much content – and was surprised – but also delighted (as I am a total information geek at heart).
Here is the blurb on the book:
“Just Eat It isn’t just a book. It’s part of a movement to help us take back control over our bodies. To free us from restrictive dieting, disordered eating and punishing exercise. To reject the guilt and anxiety associated with eating and, ultimately, to help us feel good about ourselves.
This anti-diet guide from registered nutritionist Laura Thomas PhD can help you sort out your attitude to food and ditch punishing exercise routines. As a qualified practitioner of Intuitive Eating – a method that helps followers tune in to innate hunger and fullness cues – Thomas gives you the freedom to enjoy food on your own terms.
There are no rules: only simple, practical tools and exercises including mindfulness techniques to help you recognise physiological and emotional hunger, sample conversations with friends and colleagues, and magazine and blog critiques that call out diet culture.
So, have you ever been on a diet? Spent time worrying that you looked fat when you could have been doing something useful? Compared the size of your waistline to someone else’s? Felt guilt, actual guilt, about the serious crime of . . . eating a doughnut? You’re not alone. Just Eat It gives you everything you need to develop a more trusting, healthy relationship with food and your body.”
I started reading it with an open mind. I had to concentrate quite hard as it’s quite medical and technical – it’s not a laugh a minute ‘just stuff your face with doughnuts’ that I was expecting – and this was a very pleasant surprise. I also liked the fact that whilst the author is clearly incredibly well educated – she also isn’t averse to a bit of swearing – nutribollocks being a particular favourite!!
However, when I got to page 95 I was quite concerned that Laura Thomas could actually read my mind when she said:
“It becomes tempting to think that a diet will be the solution: maybe if you just lose Xlbs you’ll be happy with your body and then you can give this intuitive eating thing a go. But here’s the thing. Dieting doesn’t fix poor body image. It doesn’t heal your relationship with food.”
The stuff on intolerances was also really interesting – and I’d actually heard of some of this as my sister has done quite a lot of research into IcG and IcE readings – she lives in Germany where intolerance testing seems much more tolerated (pun intended!) in the mainstream than it is in the UK.
I also thought it really really interesting that the book is written by a nutritionist – but she is adamant that food is not medicine. To quote directly:
“Nutrition can play an important role in helping prevent and manage certain conditions, but so can exercise, reducing alcohol intake, getting better quality sleep, reducing stress, stopping smoking, being gifted genetically, having strong social bonds / community, therapy, not being poor (as though it was a simple choice), living somewhere that isn’t super polluted (again, like it’s a choice), oh yeah and ACTUAL MEDICINE. Part of the issues with the food is medicine rhetoric is that it can inadvertently put people off seeking pharmacotherapies by creating a culture of shame around prescription medicines. Antidepressants are a perfect example, there is so much stigma around them (and mental health more generally), yet for some people they are lifesaving.”
I am so glad I read a hard copy of this book – there are a lot of corners folded over as there was so much I felt should be quoted in a review as it was just so insightful! Although I possibly could just have regurgitated the entire book and this blog would be a sea of blue to show you how much I loved it!
Historically I have been successful at low carbing (successful being I lost weight from it………..) – and met lots of good friends through this way of eating – but I did LOVE LOVE LOVE the quote “And I mean this isn’t based on actual science, but there seems to be a direct correlation between being on a low-carb diet and being a complete prick on Twitter.” !!!
This way of eating also introduced me to a good friend who at one point was morbidly obese, and had many health conditions that all of the professionals said were as a result of her weight. Over a number of years she lost a truly mind-blowing amount of weight due to bariatric surgery – but were her medical issues solved? One was – but by no means all. Saying ‘you need to lose weight’ was the easy option that has now been taken away from her medics.
Whilst I’ve been reading the book, Laura Thomas has raised significant support against the Cancer Research UK ad campaign that obesity CAUSES cancer. I have to say I agree that this run of adverts does leave a sour taste and perpetuates the fat shaming that is prevalent throughout society. From personal anecdotal evidence, in the last few years 3 friends have died from cancers, and a further handful of friends have beaten the horrid disease. NONE OF THEM WERE OBESE. . The full open letter from Laura Thomas and a bunch of other experts is here.
Chapter 9 stated that pigs are smarter than your average gym bro – and having just acquired 2 piglets I would have to concur. Yes, when you feed them they stuff their faces and shovel up food like there’s no tomorrow – BUT – they know when to stop! They don’t eat until they vomit, they don’t HAVE to finish the bowl of food. These pigs are naturally intuitive eaters!
The book looks at movement in a bigger body. It talks about the fact that “There’s an enormous fat -phobic double standard in society, where fat people are ‘expected’ to work out (because fat people should want to lose weight, duh), yet are often excluded from the conversation around activity and not given access to the same tools and resources as thin people. For example, not having sports bras or active wear available in your size.” It also talks about larger people being embarrassed to eat in public as they expect people to judge them. I have to say I was embarrassed to be seen reading this book in public – as I expected people to read the title and assume I obviously had no problem with ‘just eating it’ given my size…………
BUT – it’s given me a lot to think about. I finished reading this book whilst away for a few days with my husband. I decided to give myself permission to EAT ALL THE FOOD. But this didn’t mean I went into a total binge-fest. Bizarrely, because I’d decided I could have anything – I didn’t drink creamy cocktails all day – I had the gin based cocktail that sounded (and tasted!) lush. I ordered the steak and chips – but didn’t feel I had to clean my plate – and left a bit of both. This was totally weird. I was eating when I was hungry and until I felt full – not eating just because it was the right time of day, and not eating everything in front of me because I’d paid for it……..
I also posted a photo of myself in my swimming costume on social media. It was when our eldest daughter had texted to say that her horses need new kit – as you can see, we both totally agreed! This is me in a swimming costume. This is me who has carried 4 amazing babies. This is me who likes wine / chips / cake. THIS IS ME. (Full on Keala Settle at the side of the pool due to wine consumption in a very hot Dubai!!)
My husband also commented that I walked around the swimming pool with way more confidence than I usually would (to be honest, this could have been a fast strut due to the ground burning my feet – but we’ll take the compliments when they come!)
This book has given me so much food for thought (pun deliberately intended again!). I think I will revisit the book again and again – and will definitely investigate some of the recommended social media accounts and podcasts. There is so much more to life than trying to fit into a smaller pair of knickers.