In today's episode, you'll hear some helpful advice on having a healthy relationship with food, your body image, and your weight from Integrative Nutrition Health Coach Allison Robertson!
In this episode, you will learn how to lose weight in a healthy way. You'll learn about intermittent fasting and its health and weight loss benefits, how stress and stressful, negative thoughts raise our cortisol and contribute to weight gain, and how important sleep is for our health and weight. You'll also learn what it means to have a healthy relationship with food and to be able to enjoy eating and social gatherings and still maintain a healthy weight.
Links In This Episode
- Allison's website – https://arhealthcoaching.com
- Grab a free resource to help you get started eating healthy at arhealthcoaching.com/cravings
- Check out my new album Mindful Mamas – Affirmations and Meditations for Moms and Kids!
- See all of the episodes from The Merry Messy Moms Show here
- Join in the fun & conversation in The Merry Messy Moms Show Facebook group
Allison Robertson is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She helps busy, and stressed women in their forties address sugar and carb cravings so they can lose weight. Allison spent nearly her entire life looking for the next best diet that would help her solve her addiction to sugar and carbs. This food obsession led to her having an unhealthy relationship with food. Once she learned that willpower and more self-discipline weren’t going to solve her food problems, she started taking a different approach.
Instead of deprivation, calorie counting, and restricting, Allison learned how to fuel her body so that her hormones and blood sugar were balanced. This has led her to food freedom and having the healthiest relationship with food she’s had in her entire life. Allison leads women through the same process she took herself through to gain control of cravings by learning to balance their hormones and experience food freedom that leads to weight loss. Allison has a free resource to help you get started called The Ultimate Guide to End Sugar & Carb Cravings. You can grab that at arhealthcoaching.com/cravings
Allison's Unhealthy Relationship with Food Began in Childhood
Allison grew up in a house that was full of junk food, and the cookie jar was always full. Back then, people just didn't understand how harmful processed and sugary foods were as they were still new to the market.
She was overweight as a child, and all sorts of issues come with that! She became more conscious of what she was eating as she got older. She sees now that she has a terrible relationship with food. She discovered exercise in college to improve her mood and lose weight.
Her Relationship with Food Really Changed as a Mom
She didn't want her kids to grow up with the same relationship with food and her body that she had. She really changed the way she fed her family. She became the Detective Mom like so many of us become in order to give our children the best.
She wished she had a health coach back then, but she started off researching processed foods, and it evolved into having a healthy relationship with food and her body, and not just about food.
As Moms, We are Usually In Charge of the Food
So as moms, it's easier to think about food all of the time because, in general, we are in charge of that in our households, and so food is on our minds a lot.
This can lead to our overeating and becoming grazers as we fix food for our kids throughout the day. She feels like this can kind of create an underlying food obsession.
Weight Affected by Genetics
Allison also found that for her there was a genetic component to her struggle with food as her mom was overweight all of her life, and her health did not end well. She grew up with junk food, and a healthy lifestyle was not modeled for her.
Hormones – Cortisol & Insulin & Weight Gain
So she has begun working more with women whose weight is more affected by their hormones and endocrine systems. She coaches women who have pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes and whose blood sugar is really high. She also helps women learn how to manage their stress so that cortisol is more balanced.
How Fat Free isn't the Answer
Thankfully things are shifting from the old way of approaching food by simply counting calories and eating fat-free. And this is so ingrained in our psyche and society that it's taken a lot of momentum to shift this mindset.
Get Away from Using Food as Reward or Punishment
We learn early on as kids that food can be a reward and a punishment, and this can set up a very unhealthy relationship with food from the beginning. We punish ourselves with exercise and by removing food, especially foods we enjoy, and we can go too extreme.
She's very conscious in her home not to reward her kids with food because she grew up being given pizza, ice cream, and sodas to celebrate.
I Tell My Paleo Diet Story
I became obsessed with the Paleo diet in 2013 to heal my eczema. It was healthy at first because I was truly trying to learn about eating real, whole foods and getting away from processed foods. But I let it turn into legalism and became obsessed with food.
I lost a lot of weight and was mostly healthy, except my mind became unhealthy. Food was still ruling my life – I had difficulty enjoying social gatherings and birthday parties because I was so worried about which chemicals and toxins they were going to serve. It even made it stressful for my family members, who worked hard to try to accommodate our family's dietary desires. I just didn't it was worth it anymore for the loss of enjoyment of food and the stress that came with it.
Now I'm eating healthy, mostly real food, BUT I enjoy treats and processed foods if that's what I'm being served at events or someone else's house.
How Labeling Food as Good or Bad Hurts Us, Too
Because of the culture of dieting, we can get caught up in believing there are foods that are toxic and bad for us and foods that are good for us. So then it creates this anxiety that when you're eating birthday cake, you're thinking, “this is bad! I shouldn't be having this!” And we lose the joy of eating food and gathering together to eat with those we love.
And it's not cake and ice cream are bad; they just need to be eaten in moderation!
What is it Like to Work with a Health Coach?
Most of the people she works with are moms, both work and stay-at-home moms. Many of them have had their doctor tell them to get healthy and change their diet and lifestyles, but they don't get much help from the doctor after being told to cut out sugar, and they feel overwhelmed.
And the thing is, as moms, we are always doing the best we can, so that kind of diagnosis can hit really hard as we feel we've failed.
She helps her clients start with nutrition – cleaning out the processed foods and focusing on eating whole, unprocessed foods, and she helps them lower their blood sugar that way. She also works with them on portion control.
She believes it shouldn't be cut out unless you have a medical need to cut out a food group. It's way more important to have balance and sustainability. She also likes to teach her clients to imagine wanting to be eating when they're 80 and eating like that now. Would it be an extreme diet like Paleo or Keto? Probably not!
She also works on helping women balance their hormones through food and strategies to work on insulin resistance.
This has been a huge changer for Allison, as she is sensitive to insulin spikes. She feels it helps women to balance hormones and blood sugar. It's a way of eating, a routine, NOT a diet. She's had clients lose a lot of weight and go off of medications with IF!
So in case you don't know IF goes back to our caveman days when we would feast and fast. You have an eating window and a fasting window every day. For Allison, her eating window is from 10 am to 6 pm. So she doesn't eat from 6 pm to 10 am. For her, it's very important to eat dinner with her family, so she made her eating window work for her, and each mom needs to do the same.
- Helps balance hormones (insulin and others) and blood sugar
- It helps with cell renewal and turnover (helps prevent cancer!)
- Mental Clarity
- More Energy
- Improves quality of sleep
- Weight loss (your body will pull from the fat stores to burn calories instead of the food you just ate)
Some people who have a lot of weight to lose will do extended fasts and will fast for several days, just drinking water.
She has found since she started doing IF food is not in her brain space anymore. She eats really balanced, satisfying meals, she has an enormous amount of energy and mental clarity, she's never hungry, and no longer snacks.
It's all about balancing hormones and not about calorie counting.
Bullet Proof Coffee
We talk about Bullet Proof coffee which is a big deal in the Keto Diet world – that instead of sugar and cream, you put butter and coconut oil in your coffee so that it doesn't spike your insulin while you're in the fasting window. It is a great way to help you transition to a new lifestyle.
She also says that if you're eating a healthy amount of sugar and carbs, you'll be able to make it until 10 am without getting hungry. If you're trying to lose weight, your body will pull from the fat in the coffee to burn instead of your fat stores.
Stress, Sleep and Insulin and Blood Sugar are All Related
As moms, we almost wear a badge of honor that going on 4-5 hours of sleep means you're strong! So she works with her clients on creating a lifestyle so they can get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
She teaches women techniques on how to manage their stress since she isn't a magician and can't make stress go away (wink, wink).
How Self Worth Helps Us Get and Stay Healthy
We can, especially as women, tend to think that we aren't good enough – not doing enough for our families and our kids, aren't smart enough, good enough, or worthy of having and doing things for ourselves, and more.
Not feeling like we aren't enough adds to our stress – every time we have disparaging thoughts like “I'm fat,” “I'm not skinny enough,” “I haven't done enough today,” causes our brains to release cortisol – the stress hormone. That persistent, chronic stress leads to more inflammation and health problems as well as relationship problems.
Our thoughts cause chemical reactions in our bodies, and they are a huge piece of being physically healthy or not.
Calorie Counting is Perpetued by the Weight Loss Industry
Allison says that counting calories and food deprivation don't work long-term.
Conscious versus Subconscious Thoughts
Our subconscious thoughts are the ones that drive us, and she works with her clients to uncover those subconscious thoughts so they can have more positive and less damaging thoughts. A registered dietician would only give you a food plan and isn't going to work with you as a whole person – your thoughts, your beliefs, your lifestyle, relationships, sleep, stress, and every area of your life because it all works together like a pie.
Her Goal is for her Clients to be Independent
Her goal for her clients is for them to be independent, to no longer need her. To know which foods help them to feel good, happy, and healthy without her!
Typically she works with a client for 10 weeks, and you meet once every other week on the phone so that people have a chance to implement what they're learning – trial and error. Her clients can email her at any time between the sessions.