The Normal Eating Club and Me: why I still belong

For over two years I have been a member of the Normal Eating Club run by Jenn Hand

In that time have I lost oodles of kilograms? Have I been able to post awful-before/beautiful-after photographs? Have I been able to forget all about nutrition and portions and eat, without  thought, just what and how much I can cram into my mouth? Of course not!


Things in my life have definitely changed:

  • I have come to believe that diets don’t work and can, in fact, exacerbate weight problems. Changing beliefs takes time. I eliminated all diet related material from my bookshelves and replaced it with Intuitive Eating information, such as that written by Tribole and Resch. I did the same with facebook, and always read the scientific articles which supported the contention that dieting is a poor way to deal with weight problems. I still do this, so that the latest weight loss diet no longer even gets my attention, let alone my interest. A friend who helps me in the garden recently told me she followed something called the Keto diet – I have no idea what this is! Once I would have been an expert on it. 🙂 p.s. Cynic warning!! I am very suspicious of anything that claims to be scientific and to support weight loss diets: sponsors alter perspective and the title of doctor does not necessarily mean they know anything about weight-loss, beyond the fact that peddling a new product might make them money.
  • I am no longer ruled by or judged by the number on a scale, I leave monitoring my weight to my GP who looks only for unexplained gains or losses that might indicate a medical problem.  So these days my mornings don’t begin with anxiety because I’ve put on a few kilos or because I have to work on keeping off the slight loss I see. And I have given up altogether the dread of stepping on the dreaded machine. 🙂 So freeing. I have a repeat prescription appointment tomorrow and my GP will weigh me: if I have gained weight I won’t like it, but the action it will promote won’t be to run to the latest diet; instead I will aim to be more careful to choose nutritious food.
  • I have stopped weight gain, which was creeping upwards before I joined the NEC. I have even lost a few kilos along the way which gives me hope that I might, with patience and common sense, eventually get to my natural set point.
  • I no longer obsess about food, points, calories or “wonder” foods. I have learned that food is not a moral issue – it is a matter of nutrition, rather than something to be proud of resisting in the name of weight loss or shamed by “giving in” to its seductive call. I have guidelines tailored to my specific needs, rather than rules to be followed by everyone in a weight loss commercial venture.
  • I have so much more time and energy to spend on doing more enjoyable things than dieting, which drains both physical and mental resources.
  • I have found an exercise, yoga, which I do for enjoyment rather than weight loss, and have maintained the practice for over a year. There’s no end point when not dieting.
  • Recently, I have found myself, tired after exercise, looking at goodies in our local cafe and thinking, “I don’t really want that, it won’t make me feel good”.  I can’t believe that I am beginning to pause and consider instead of just grabbing the most appealing item.
  • I think I am well on the way to regaining pleasure in eating and feeding my body.
  • I have begun to come to terms with some of the issues around my upbringing and can now see that my extra weight is but a symptom of these unresolved matters.
  • I have realised that people who matter to me do not judge me on my size.
  •  I have gained the confidence to go places and join groups that previously I would have avoided at all costs.
  • I have explored non-diet ways of promoting calm and happiness, such as breathing exercises, meditation , mindfulness and art journalling.

Surely if my life and weight are satisfactory now, I can leave the NEC, thinking that it has done its job? Perhaps I could have done all this on my own anyway? 

Well, no, it doesn’t work that way. I have definitely made an individual effort. But that effort was and is firmly grounded in the NEC – the website, the facebook page and the coaching calls. Without each and every one of these I very much doubt I’d have made any progress at all. Some time ago I had a not-so-little rant in the fb page on the lack of attendance at the coaching calls. This was because I hope to see people in the group succeed and to succeed it is important to give ourselves every support and encouragement that we can. Surrounded as we are by false images and dieting propaganda, it is essential to detach ourselves from them and to find our own normality. It is so easy to back-slide and I use the NEC to sustain my motivation and knowledge of the areas in which I still need to do work: resisting the impulse to watch television or read while eating, learning to be satisfied with an adequate portion size, increasing the amount of plant food in my meals (I’m lucky, I love vegetables and fruit), and continuing to explore and come to terms with underlying issues.  I am not unique in any of this and connecting with others in the NEC with similar problems and challenges is something I cannot do without on this on-going journey to live a good, happy life.




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