If we’re being honest, most women will tell you we have a complicated relationship with food. Maybe it all started in high school, when you were a hyper-vigilant calorie counter, or in college, when you binged on ice cream following a low test score. Or perhaps it can be boiled down to your need to chow on lasagna and red wine, even though you know it gives you acid reflux.
Sometimes, it can feel impossible to understand how closely we should monitor our eating habits and when we can allow ourselves to indulge. But I think the first step is to chat with your good girlfriends and find some commonalities to help eliminate the shame women often internalize about eating.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 20 Million
In modern times, society unequivocally equates women’s beauty with thinness. And according to the National Eating Disorder Association, such pressures are having a major negative effect on women and girls in the U.S. The nonprofit organization estimates that some 20 million American women suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some point in their lives. In addition to such conditions as anorexia and bulimia, this term often includes other unhealthy habits like obsessively exercising and substance abuse. If you feel like you (or a girl or woman you care about) are teetering on the line between healthy and unhealthy habits, check out the association’s free, online eating-disorders screening tool.
WOMAN TO WATCH: Samantha Gilbert, Nutritional Therapist and Author of The Low Copper Cookbook
Many women’s unhealthy relationship with food and body image is due to other underlying issues, such as mental illness. Today’s Woman to Watch, Samantha Gilbert, is no stranger to this experience, having struggled with severe depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety for many years. Eventually, after lots of research and introspection, Samantha, known as Sami to her friends and clients, found her calling as a nutritional therapist.
It took a quarter of a century and $100,000 for Samantha to realize all those health-care practitioners weren’t actually helping. Instead, she did a little digging and finally found something simple that worked for her: dietary changes.
Sami throws out old misconceptions that women often internalize, like, “I’m not strong enough to change or feel better.” Instead, she focuses on biochemistry, helping her clients understand their unique bodies so that they can redefine their relationships with food, and heal their minds and bodies. For instance, Sami’s own discovery that she suffered from toxic levels of copper and extremely high histamine levels led her to the realization that if she put the right kind of nutrients in her body, she could correct those imbalances and heal herself.
Armed with that life-changing experience, Sami now works as a holistic nutrition therapist and is pursuing her master’s degree in functional medicine and human nutrition. By helping clients understand that they’re all wired differently based on the generations before them, there is an instant sense of peace and drive to find ways to combat negative thoughts and habits. And this health guru certainly practices what she preaches, even visiting the market with her clients to help them shop for the best foods to improve their individual wellness.
Sami recognizes there is no one-size-fits-all food or health regime. For instance, prior to her own health breakthrough, she tried a raw vegan diet, which eventually showed itself to be a wrong fit for her, even though such diets work well for others. If you want to dip your toe in her eating-for-your-health approach, check out her recipes in The Low Copper Cookbook, an enlightening guide featuring 100 recipes specifically formulated for those recovering from copper toxicity, like Sami, or looking for dietary solutions to depression, anxiety, autism and other mental-health issues.
Thanks to Sami’s diligence in finding a solution to her own health problems, she has discovered we are all biochemically unique and that tracking the scale isn’t the first step to a healthy, happier life.
QUITE THE QUOTE
There’s a lot more to us than our bodies. As Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Eudora Welty said:
“All serious daring starts from within.”
This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.