I’m Tanya, I am a registered Dietician and Health Coach.
I became a dietician because I had food issues from when I was a toddler and it started with emotional eating.
Many people are not aware of the term emotional eating. Perhaps they have heard of it but they don’t really understand what it means.
Emotional eating is a behaviour that can be learned from a very young age and it becomes a habit that causes detrimental effects to our health.
Emotional eating is when you eat to comfort yourself when you don’t feel happy in that moment. Some examples are when you find yourself bored, sad, lonely, frustrated or stressed.
My Journey With Food…
As a toddler, whenever I got hurt, I was given a sweet to heal the pain. I was taught to eat to comfort myself in order to feel better. As an infant, I was introduced to many different foods, but I was a very picky eater. My parents would force me to stay at the table until I finished my food. Their intentions were well-meaning, but for me, it was the beginning of a very bad relationship with food.
As a child I felt traumatized being forced to eat food I detested and not being allowed to leave the table until I ate everything on my plate. To try to improve the situation, my parents would reward me with a dessert or sweets afterwards. Over time I learned to eat all my food, even if I was so full that I wanted to explode, because as soon as my plate was clean, I would receive a sweet and tasty reward.
At primary school there were always parents talking about being on a diet. For me that became ‘the norm’ and at that time a diet was ‘eat as little as you can to lose weight’ – which is what many people do today.
During high school, everybody’s food issues became worse and most of my friends were on one or other diet. Some were taking diet pills and diet mixtures, and others were suffering bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa.
I was one of those people who would open the fridge 10 times a day, but not take anything, yet when I went to an ‘eat as much as you want’ buffet, I would definitely get my money’s worth. At restaurants I would have three courses just because I could and I didn’t want to miss out on something nice. I never listened to my body saying: “You are full now. Stop eating! You can eat again later, and you won’t miss out on anything.”
Some of my closest family members did not help when we had family functions and they would comment on my weight. I was short with bigger than normal thighs, but I was not overweight.
Unfortunately, these comments affected me and when I looked at the reflection in the mirror, I started to see an overweight person looking back at me. I started excessive exercising and got very involved in sport. I ate as little as possible, took diet mixtures and even purged on occasion.
During my first and second year at University I was still eating very little and using diet tablets to help with concentration, as they kept me awake, but they also decreased my appetite. I still felt overweight, even although I wasn’t. If I did not take the diet tablets, I would use other stimulants to decrease my appetite.
I was an emotional eater and I would use any means possible to suppress my appetite so that I could further decrease the size of my thighs.
As soon as I attained my degree, I had to do community service for a year at a state hospital. This year gave me real experience and a deeper understanding of the meaning of real food and its benefits to heal the body.
My relationship with food changed dramatically during this time. I had developed a real desire and interest in food, health and fitness and I had finally sorted out my own eating issues for good.
Today food plays an amazing role in my life and when I help people to transform their eating patterns, it is fascinating to see how a person’s whole life can transform when they change their relationship with food.