Tag: Body Scan

Celebrities who regret dieting

Celebrities who regret dieting

Celebrities who regret dieting



Jennifer Lawrence picture by Gage Skidmore

by the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Team

Even though strides have been made in the body-positive movement, we still live, by and large, in a diet-happy culture. Women’s websites and magazines try to promote body positivity, but they also publish news about the latest fad diets with annoying regularity. Both types of articles must be popular with audiences or they wouldn’t publish them, and I think that says a lot about us as women. We want to embrace body positivity, yet we’re still stuck thinking we have to be a size 6 (or what-have-you) to be “perfect.” Those who are older can remember when it was even worse: The body-positive movement wasn’t even a thing, so we lived in a world where bigger bodies were never celebrated in magazines or TV, not even a little. All of us –regardless of age — have been subtly brainwashed for years to think diets make us healthier and prettier, but the truth is health does not come from weight and all sizes are beautiful. Celebrities face even more pressure to look thin, but now more and more are speaking out about not dieting. Their voices are important because they have the reach to influence the most vulnerable.

Emma Thompson is one who is speaking out. In a recent interview with the Guardian she said, “Dieting screwed up my metabolism, and it messed with my head. I’ve fought with that multimillion-pound industry all my life, but I wish I’d had more knowledge before I started swallowing their crap. I regret ever going on one.”

Kate Upton has likely experienced even more pressure than Thompson, as a model. But she has said she’s refused to starve herself to become more commercial.

“I still want to hang out with my family and be a normal girl. You have to be confident, and that doesn’t mean starving yourself.”

Jennifer Lawrence, who had been pressured by Hollywood in the past to lose weight, told Vanity Fair that she simply cannot work without food, that she needs the energy it gives her for the day. “Dieting is just not in the cards for me.”

And that’s a great way to think about food – as something that provides you with energy, as fuel. That takes the emotion out of it. It’s not good; it’s not bad; it’s not a reward for doing well at work or a treat “just because.” Food is there so you can get through your day – so you can enjoy yoga class, so you can finish up those last-minute assignments your boss asks you to do, so you can play with your kids! And while all foods fit, you will likely want to choose foods that stay with you throughout the day, that give you nourishment so you can lead your life.

I’ve said this before, but I want us to get to a place where we go back to the original definition of diet (from all the way back in the 13th century!). It originally meant “habitual nourishment” and that’s what it should mean now. That means you take the time to listen to your body throughout the day and feed it regularly, being prepared for “hungry” moments with cheese sticks, Cliff Z bars, or similar snacks that’ll keep you going. And the snack does not always have to be a “healthy” one. Gone are the days of deprivation or treating food as the enemy.

You might think because I have a popular diet book out that I am pro-dieting, but I think of the Women’s Health Body Clock Diet as the anti-diet. Unlike traditional dieting, my book encourages you to consider your body’s needs and not your need to see a certain number on the scale. All foods fit, so have the ones you like (including cookies!) The goal is to create a whole new relationship with food and unlearn harmful messages you may have been taught in the past. It helps you avoid emotional eating and understand when your body actually is hungry (which can be quite difficult, as so many of us are used to mindless eating in front of the TV!). And the best part is once you understand how mindfulness in eating works, you can pass the wisdom onto your kids, helping them have a healthy relationship with food right from the beginning. (If you’re wondering what you can say to your child to promote mindfulness and healthy eating with your kids, check out this blog post.)

You may have spent a lifetime learning and internalizing destructive thoughts about food, so don’t expect it to turn around in a day. I hope you will look to the anti-diet celebrities and to my anti-diet book for some encouragement.


Throwback Thursday: Entertain the Concept of Health this Holiday Season

Throwback Thursday: Entertain the Concept of Health this Holiday Season

Throwback Thursday: Entertain the Concept of Health this Holiday Season


                                   Picture courtesy Kimberly V. at freeimages.com                                        by Laura Cipullo and the Whole Nutrition Services Team

The holidays are almost here! I thought now would be the perfect time to revisit an older blog post about how to celebrate without thinking about your weight and instead just enjoying the present — all the happiness, family and great food that comes with the holiday season. Read on for my tips on how to celebrate health and holidays during the month of December and beyond.

Tis the season of food, food and food. So how do we manage our health while entertaining and celebrating?  Instead of fearing weight gain or trying for weight loss during the holidays, let yourself maintain your current weight. Slow and steady wins the race. However, this is not a race, rather an almost two-month period of eating and drinking.  This year, vow to make the holiday season healthy with family and friends as the focus, and these tips to plan a mindful season balanced between food and fitness.

5 Tips to Celebrate Health and Holidays

  1. Focus on Family and Friends – Growing up in an Italian family, I remember the holidays were about food and family. Instead of making food for 25 people, we made enough for 50 people. Instead of sitting around the fire, we sat around the table. If this was your family, start a new tradition this year. Celebrate your health and the holiday season by focusing on family and friends, not food. Have family and friends come over to socialize rather than eat. You can serve food, but don’t center the evening on/around the food and the act of eating all of it.
  2. Plan Fitness – With limited time, shopping exhaustion and colder weather, our fitness routines get displaced. Since moving increases your energy, your mood and your metabolism, this is the last thing you want to give up over the holiday season. Instead, make dates with friends to go to yoga together rather than getting drinks. Schedule spin class or any classes that you have to pay for if you miss. This is a great incentive to make sure you attend class.
  3. Make a Date – Use your daily planner or PDA to schedule all activities, whether it is food shopping, meal prep, exercise or therapy. If it gets scheduled, just like any important meeting, you will set the precedent to ensure this activity gets done.
  4. Slow down and Savor – Being a foodie, I know how hard it is not to celebrate with food. However, you can change your mindset and that of your guests too by hosting smaller, more intimate holiday parties. Create small, intense, flavorful meals. Start the meal off with a prayer, a toast or even a moment of silence to allow you and your guests to refocus, create inner calm, and engage in mindful eating.
  5. Use Your Five Senses – Rather than race through your holiday meal and overeat, be sure to use all five senses while eating. Smell your food and think about memories the aroma may conjure up. Touch your food is your bread hot and crusty or naturally rough with seeds and nuts? Think about the texture and how it makes you feel. Really look at the plate. Is the food presented beautifully? Are there multiple colors on your plate there should be. Listen to the food. Yes, listen to see if the turkey’s skin is crispy or the biscotti crunchy. And finally taste your meal!! Many people eat an entire meal and can never tell you what it really tasted like. They were too busy talking, or shoveling the food in so they could either leave the dinner table or get seconds. This holiday season, be healthy mentally and physically by truly tasting your food and appreciating each bite. A small amount of food tasted will fulfill you more than a few plates of food you never tasted would.
When Your Diet Becomes a Disorder

When Your Diet Becomes a Disorder

When Your Diet Becomes a Disorder


Image via Flickr/JoshWillis

by Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD and Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team

The line between eating healthy and disordered eating can be a thin one. These days, there are all kinds of diets you can follow that advocate depriving yourself of certain foods, but a balanced diet is healthiest, unless you have an allergy to a certain food and have been told by a doctor, nutritionist or dietician not to eat it.

Often people start restrictive diets to gain a sense of control, but you are out of control when your eating is disordered. As I wrote in The Women’s Health Body Clock Diet, “You’re afraid to eat anything for fear of weight gain. Chicken and broccoli are your safe foods!” Eating may be disordered when you find yourself avoiding certain activities because you can’t eat the food there — for instance, you avoid a party because of the “fattening” food, or you avoid pleasant activities to partake in “healthy” ones. When faced with a choice between an enjoyable day out with a friend and the gym, for instance, you choose the gym. Thoughts about calories and nutrition labels take over your thoughts. You are obsessed with food and how you look. Extreme dieting can also lead to bingeing, then starving again to “punish” yourself for the bingeing.

There are other more subtle signs that your eating either is or has the potential to become disordered. Eating the same foods every day, only eating foods when they come with a calorie count, exercising to burn off all or most of the food you eat, starving during the day to “pig out” at night and weighing yourself many times a day, with your mood fluctuating according to the number on the scale.

The solution to disordered eating? It’s complicated, and I urge you to read my book to learn more, but if you just begin by incorporating mindfulness into your eating then you’ll portion food just fine and be more fulfilled by what you eat. Be aware of the tastes and smells of what you’re eating, and use the other senses to enjoy food as well. Also take note of how full or hungry you feel as you’re eating, and try eating where there isn’t a screen (TV, iPad, etc). This can help prevent mindless eating and reconnect you with the joy of eating.

“You can empower change with the right help,” I wrote in the Women’s Health Body Clock Diet, and it’s something I really believe with all my heart. Seek a professional’s help, like a registered dietician and a therapist who specializes in eating disorders (you will see the initials CEDRD–certified eating disorder registered dietician– and CEDS –certified eating disorder specialist–after his or her name). Read my book to understand the concepts of habitual nourishment and the Five Pillars of Positive Nutrition. And be sure to check out these organizations for additional support — The International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals Foundation, The National Eating Disorders Association and the Binge Eating Disorder Association. Recognize the signs of disordered eating and get ready to move on with a happy, healthy, beautiful life! You deserve it.

Mindfulness Monday: How to Eat an Oreo

Mindfulness Monday: How to Eat an Oreo

Mindfulness Monday: How to Eat an Oreo


image via Celine Gros/FreeImages.com

 By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD

Chapter 8 of The Women’s Health Body Clock Diet is called “Skill Builder: How to Eat an Oreo.” You might wonder why a diet book would include a chapter on eating what you might consider “junk food,” but the exercise is all about establishing a healthier relationship with food. It also allows you to fully embrace my All Foods Fit philosophy — meaning no food is off-limits or to be labeled as junk food.

An Oreo is the kind of food you may feel you have no control over. You might eat a dozen of them in one sitting, despite only originally planning to eat one. It’s not your fault. Food manufacturers have made their products to be seemingly “addictive” and tantalizing.

So, how do you handle this? One way is to eat a satiating food (example, chicken or hummus sandwich) before, with or after the food that is more difficult to portion.

The next way is to practice mindfully eating the challenging food.

The full three-step process can be found in The Women’s Health Body Clock Diet, but here is a brief overview of “How to Eat an Oreo” or whatever your food of choice is.

1) Relax and Breathe

Choose your food, be it a cookie, piece of candy or potato chip. Only choose one. If it’s a food you believe you have no “control over,” eat it with a meal and not as a stand alone snack. Set the table. Sit at the table with your feet on the floor. Put a napkin on your lap. Take a deep breath, allowing your shoulders to rise and fall with the breath.

2) Do a Body Scan

This is an exercise for you to connect with your body’s energy and perhaps even use helpful imagery. Here is a shortened version to start with.

Bring attention to your feet and imagine yourself as a reed in a field. Grounded into the earth but flexible with the wind. As you continue the exercise, notice the sensations in your calves, knees, thighs, abdomen, back and up until your shoulders. Imagine you are under a waterfall. As the water pours over your shoulders, and arms, just notice. Observe your breathing, your chest and belly rising and falling. Notice your scalp, you jaw and your eyes. Notice and breathe.

The body scan can be much more holistic and relieving. The full version is available in my book the Women’s Health Body Clock. Take your time. There is no right or wrong. You can fully benefit from this powerful tool.

3) Engage All Senses

We have five senses, but so rarely make use of all of them. Here is how to use them effectively during the mindful exercise.

Sight — Look at the food, but refrain from touching at first. What does it mean to you or remind you of?

Sound — Yes, food makes a sound, or if there is no sound, then note that lack of sound, but just be aware. What sound does it remind you of?

Touch — What does it feel like beneath your fingers? Crumbly? Squishy? Melty? How is your body reacting to the feel of the food? Is your heart rate going up?

Smell — Put your nose to the food. What does it smell like and what, if any, memories do you associate with that smell? Also note your body’s reaction again. Is your heart rate higher? Are you salivating?

Taste — Take a small one. Notice heart rate, breathing, salivation, body tightness and relaxation. Is the food meeting your taste expectations? Move the food around your mouth. Does that change the way it tastes? How do you eat your food? Do you chew it well or not?

Swallow, breathe, get in tune with your body. Notice remnants of food, if any, and remaining food flavor. Breathe and repeat the exercise a few times.

Finish the food, save it or throw away.

That is, in brief, a mindful eating experience. When you do it often enough, you will be less likely to fall into a cycle of emotional or behavioral eating. You may even discover that a food you thought you loved is one that no longer brings you joy. This happened to me while mindfully eating M&Ms. You may discover that you eat a certain food more as a habit than anything else. The revelations you have while mindfully eating may astound you, and that’s part of the point of the exercise.

So next time you are ready to eat an Oreo, or an M&M, or any similar food, try eating it mindfully, and see what you discover and how it changes your eating habits in the future.

The Hunger Tree and How It Can Help You!

The Hunger Tree and How It Can Help You!

The Hunger Tree and How It Can Help You!

 By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD

All hunger is not the same. As you read through the Women’s Health Body Clock Diet, you’ll notice yourself starting to be able to discern different types of hunger. Once you have figured out whether the hunger is behavioral, physical or emotional, it is time to deal with that hunger. That’s where the Hunger Tree comes in. The Hunger Tree can be found on page 97 of the Women’s Health Body Clock Diet, but I am reproducing it right here for your reference.


First, you’ll notice mindfulness at the top. Mindfulness, the act of being aware, is your first step to begin figuring out whether your eating falls under the emotional, behavioral or physical categories.

Emotional Hunger

If you determine your hunger is emotionally-based, you can

1) reach for a comfort card, which you will have already filled out with coping skills/activities you can rely on

2) Use the Cortisol Crushers (aka Diffusion Techniques) found on page 95 (Chapter 8) of the Women’s Health Body Clock Diet to decrease your stress. Decreasing stress and thus cortisol through activities like yoga and stress tolerance are active tools to bring your stress hormone down on demand.

I personally learned these from my amazing colleague Susan Schrott, DCSW, LCSW, CEDS, CYT, and Kripalu-trained yoga instructor. Diffusion Techniques are tools from a greater concept known as ACT (Acceptance Commitment Therapy).

The Five Cortisol Crushers (Diffusion Techniques) are:

1) Figure out and write down your main values, such as living an honest life or being of service.

2) Don’t put judgment on thoughts. Recognize thoughts as merely information. If a thought does not help with your values, change your focus to something that will.

3) Put bad thoughts, feelings or memories in imaginary luggage that you envision being taken away on a conveyor belt. Now, all you are left with are values.

4) Remember, life is like TiVo and can always be put on pause when things get too stressful. Take a deep breath and press play again only when you’re ready.

5) Thank yourself for your thoughts, even if they are negative ones. Again, forget judgment.

Behavioral Hunger

If you determine your hunger is behavioral, you can use the Boot Behavioral Eating method. Boot Behavioral Eating involves sitting while eating; eating without distractions; embracing boredom while eating; writing down thoughts, feelings and actions before the first bite; getting in tune with your physical feelings of hunger and using a comfort card, or just doing something else to break the behavioral eating pattern cycle.

Physical Hunger

If you determine the hunger is in fact physical, identify how hungry you are with the help of a hunger fullness scale. Choose a food to eat. Do a body scan (this is a detailed process involving breathing and connecting with your body’s energy; my favorite body scan is found in WHBCD’s chapter called How To Eat an Oreo). And finally, use the four senses (sight, sound, touch and smell) before you take the first bite, and the fifth sense, taste, when you finally enjoy that first bite. The goal is to connect — really connect — with the food you are eating and hopefully not take it for granted.

The Hunger Tree is a great tool to get a handle on various eating issues! The detailed instructions on using this diagram can be found in my book and only in my book the Women’s Health Body Clock Diet, since I created it for my clients and readers. I encourage you to get your very own personal copy and get a great start on healthy eating!

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