Nourish Don’t Punish

It is around this time of year that the nation becomes obsessed with the number on the scales, the tightness of the jeans and the calorific content of every meal.

We commit to get fit, and decide that this year is the year we are going to hit our target weight.

Yet time after time, people fail in their attempts to lose weight long term, they drop off their plans, or just as bad, they stick to them but in the process, they make themselves miserable.

So why is it that so many diets fail? Is there another way to approach this that doesn’t need to be so flipping boring and difficult?

The answer could lie in a new movement in nutrition. I was chatting with my nutritional therapist colleague Anne Richardson the other day, and we both believe in an eating psychology that is more empowering, positive, and ultimately, more effective.

I have spent my career trying to change the mindset of dieters, trapped in a cycle of denial, punishment, strict regimes that focus on diminishing what we feed ourselves, which lead to feelings of missing out and not having enough.

This approach is neither satisfactory nor sustainable.

We need a more positive approach. Our bodies are meant to be fed not starved, and we need to focus on what we put in them, not what we take away from them.

The answer lies in one word – Nourish.

To nourish means to provide with the materials necessary for life and growth. When we give the body what it needs and wants, we feel satisfied, we don’t suffer the hunger, energy and cravings that accompany diets. Instead we feel fulfilled, rewarded, full of life and vitality.

Of course, we have to consider the impact of the choices we make, so awareness is key, and asking ourselves if a certain food is going to nourish us adequately, in terms of its nutritional value as well as it’s taste and satiety, is key.

For instance, for my daily diet, I know that a good breakfast is the secret to how I feel for the rest of the day. Many people believe a granola breakfast to be healthy, so will choose that whilst trying to lose weight. If I was to have granola, I would be hungry less than two hours later, and be in a cycle of energy highs and lows for the rest of the day. An egg-based breakfast, however, sustains me and means I eat less overall throughout the day.

It’s about finding what works for you, and also finding what you feel nourishes you on all levels. We need to feel like we are treating ourselves well, because this leads to feeling good about what we are doing, which is the secret to keeping it up. We need to nourish ourselves, not deny ourselves.

Marc David, a consultant in the field of Nutritional Psychology, believes it is more than just what we eat.

“Nourishment is not just “nutrition.” Nourishment is the nutrients in the food, the taste, the aroma, the ambiance of the room, the conversation at the table, the love and inspiration in the cooking, and the joy of the entire eating experience”.

I believe it is also about more than just what we eat, but what we do with our time, and how we treat our bodies, including the exercise we do.

Too many people seem to be punishing their bodies with exercise they don’t enjoy, or causes them pain. It shouldn’t be a hardship, it should make your body feel great at the end, which is why I love yoga – it’s about finding what feels good. The same goes for dancing.

If you’re not smiling through it, it’s not doing you much good!

We need to eat what nourishes our body, do what nourishes our soul, and choose thoughts that nourish our mind.

So next time you are making a choice, no matter how healthy you think it is, if it doesn’t nourish you, let it go.


To find out more about how to nourish yourself, Gillie is putting on a one day Nourish retreat at Highfield Farm in Topsham, which will include yoga, a nature walk, mindfulness, and a cookery workshop, nutritional talk and healthy lunch with nutritional therapist Anne Richardson.

For more information email






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