How To Escape The Dieting Cycle

September 24, 2015

If your life is one series of diets after the other, you need to read on.

Many of us have tried just about everything to shed those extra pounds, often at the cost of our health and with the nasty side effect of post-diet weight gain that leaves us heavier than we started. So where does the cycle end?

Naturopath, kinesiologist, nutritionist and founder of the Heartfelt Harmony Society to help women break their pattern of detrimental eating, Cassie Mendoza-Jones says no matter how much damage you’ve done to your body dieting, it is possible to break free and live in harmony with your metabolism.

Here, we chat about her inspiring Body Freedom Course, how to steer away from strict food rules, and most importantly, how to listen to your body…

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What made you want to launch something as unique as The Body Freedom Course?

I had a few intentions when I sat down to write and create this course; mostly I wanted to show women that they can rewire old negative thought patterns about their bodies, and help them to forgive themselves, reconnect with their bodies and really listen to its messages, stop punishing themselves when it comes to their eating habits or their body image and truly start to live in freedom and harmony with their bodies.

Can you give us some tips for eating healthily that don’t involve counting calories?

I think healthy eating begins with a healthy, compassionate attitude towards ourselves and our bodies. Healthy eating is about changing your mindset so you choose to nourish yourself, instead of feeling as though you’re punishing yourself by eating well.

I think it’s about finding foods and meals you love and really listening to your body; you don’t need to follow the latest fad to feel worthy. A meal that makes your best friend feel wonderful may leave you feeling a little sluggish so spend time working out which foods you enjoy eating and that also allow you to feel energised, whole and full.

Founder of the Heartfelt Harmony Society, Mendoza-Jones is passionate about helping women break the destructive diet cycle.

A few tips I recommend; plan out some meals and snacks on a Sunday and go shopping with a list of exactly what you want. Then spend some time prepping meals and snacks so that eating well feels so much easier during your week.

Always eat a varied diet – even if you love your morning eggs and sourdough toast, mix it up some days by having bircher muesli, protein pancakes or hummous and avocado on sourdough or sprouted grain bread.

It’s all about eating everything in moderation, but including a few small treats here and there; there’s no need to deprive yourself if your diet is mostly nourishing and healthy.

How can we avoid feeling wracked with guilt after a waffle binge?

I think the best thing to do is to get clear on what works for you so that you don’t feel like the only way forward is to follow some strict plan. Be much more compassionate with yourself than you think is necessary – I promise you, it’s necessary!

I always tell clients to work on releasing their rigid eating rules – then you have nothing to feel guilty for because you’ve taken the pressure off yourself anyway… and when the pressure is off, it’s so much easier to tune in and listen to your body and its messages… what do you really want to be eating? How can you honour your body and fully nourish it?

What are some of your favourite healthy snacks if you’re on the go?

I love a good Fuji apple, or a mandarin. I also love biltong (my family is South African so I grew up on it). If I’m travelling I’ll always pack a little bag of nuts, seeds and goji berries as well as carrot sticks and sometimes even make a salad of roast veggies, boiled eggs and humous to take on the plane. People don’t realise you can take whatever food you want on the plane.

A fave go-to healthy snack of Mendoza-Jones’s, try smearing fresh apple slices in peanut butter for a tasty, protein-packed pick-me-up.

Do you have any food rules you personally follow?

No, I don’t. I know what I love eating, and what makes me feel good, and I roll with that. When I was younger I had the strictest eating rules ever, and it did nothing to help me feel more comfortable in my body.

Nowadays I eat nourishing foods with a few soul-nourishing treats here and there, I listen to my body, I never follow a fad or place harsh rules on myself… and I’ve never been happier in my body.

Is it possible to actually reconnect with your body via food?

Yes, my biggest tip is to really start listening to yourself and your body. The best to do this is to start being compassionate to yourself so you can start hearing what your own advice would be; you’re in your own skin, only you can say what works for you and what doesn’t.

For instance, I have friends who thrive off high fat meals everyday, such as a breakfast of eggs with avocado, smoked salmon and haloumi. Those are all delicious foods, but I know my body well; I know a breaky of poached eggs on sourdough fuels me better, so I listen to that and honour it… without feeling guilty for doing so.

In my Body Freedom Course I give very little advice on what to specifically eat, although there is some information as well as some information on herbs to take for balancing your blood sugar levels and cravings too. But mostly, it’s a course in upgrading your mindset to embody a deep sense of empowerment and body confidence.

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