To share love with others, we must first find it within ourselves. Self care practices are rituals that we must nurture and truly make our own to benefit from them.
We must actively work on growing the love that we have for ourselves in our everyday lives.
We were joined by the lovely Ariana Rodriguez, co-founder of Embody Health London and dietitian specialising in eating disorders and body image, where she discusses everything from the root cause of body image issues and how we can tackle them, to finding food freedom.
Good morning, Ari, and thank you for joining us today! You are a dietitian that specialises in eating disorders and body image. Please tell us more about this, and what led you to choosing this career path?
This was not always the case, when I was going to school there was not much attention being paid to the anti-diet movement; if anything it actually wasn't mentioned at all. It was something that I learned whilst in the field, as when I was training to be a dietitian I was taught to count calories, and to use equations to figure out nutritional requirements, and more! Because of this, there is quite a bad reputation in the dietetics world. I have been in practice for nearly five years now, and I have witnessed a lot of mental health related consequences in striving to fit the mould and be a certain size; this was highly impactful on my clients, and it did not sit well with me as a clinician. In a nutshell, I did some digging, and what was presented to me was intuitive eating! A professor recommended a book to me, and it just clicked--I had to learn more. I soon got a certification as an intuitive eating counsellor, and I started doing more private work in eating disorders, and eventually I became a lead dietitian specialising in eating disorders in a clinic in Brighton. I then ended up opening my own clinic with my lovely business partner Cassie who is also a fellow dietitian, and we founded Embody Health London. It has been so busy, which can be unfortunate as there is such a high rise in eating disorders due to the times that we are living in, therefore body image healing is so relevant now!
At Kurami, we are passionate about sharing the message on self love and balance as much as we can, especially as we are a food-focused business. We ensure that all of our meals are nutritionist-approved, with flavours innovated by our team of chefs to make our service enjoyable, balanced, and wholesome. We believe that this is of great importance to you as well! Do you practice self care, and to what degree of importance does this hold in your life?
Absolutely, all of the self care! I love that you talk about this; we need to keep hearing this, and we need to keep preaching. Self care is something that I always share with my clients and something that I practice within myself as well. It is such an important tool that we can use to rebuild the relationship that we have with ourselves. If we do not have many self care practices, it is something that I encourage people to weave into their day through small baby steps; to tap into “What is it that I actually need right now?”.
For myself, this can look very different depending on the day, and depending on what I need! We are constantly evolving and adapting to the changes that we experience in life therefore self care can look different for everyone, including ourselves. Sometimes, self care can look as simple as setting boundaries and cancelling plans with friends, or saying no. Sometimes it can look like going to bed earlier or lighting some candles. I also love meditation, my yoga practice, and dancing as it is really food for my soul!
As a dietitian that tackles issues with regards to body image, how do you share the confidence that you have been able to build within yourself to your patients and audience?
I love the word confidence! Confidence is very much something that we all want; we all want to feel empowered. What we may often assume is that confidence is something that someone is born with, and it can lead to comparison culture. Rest assured, confidence is something that we can nurture--it is a skill that we can practice day in day out, and truly build.
Confidence can look different for every single person, but what I share with my clients is giving them the empowerment to find that confidence, and drawing out the answers that are already within them. Make space for yourself to reflect on what it is that you want and set achievable goals. As you start ticking these goals off you feel as if you are on a roll, and the confidence begins to build.
Confidence is also making sure that you are compassionate with yourself. There is no such thing as failure only feedback, however it can be really easy to fall into the trap of feeling as if you have failed, causing you to give up. Instead we can reshift the mindset and ponder on what we can do to adapt and take challenges as opportunities. It is important to reframe and take a step back when trying to find confidence within yourself.
What are the most common root causes that you find within your patients to cause feelings of insecurity within their body? Can these be avoided?
Body image is very complex; this is not something that you are born with, and this is something that we are often taught. Body image is a culmination of beliefs that we hold about ourselves, and it is defined by how we see ourselves. Embodiment, on the other hand, is our lived experience. The root causes are as follows...
- Psychosocial factors! These are made up of societal beliefs and the very ideals that we see as we grow up.
- Our support systems and role models. Ask yourself who you learned from from a young age, and how did they view their bodies? Our mothers commenting negatively on their bodies are usually the case, and as children we absorb that, and it becomes our own narrative. Your environment as you grow up can mould your ideologies.
This is something that you can take control of, particularly as you grow older, however, more and more parents are learning about these impacts with regards to food and body image. The movement around weight stigma really addresses these messages, so I have faith that we are moving forward!
We can combat these root causes by being highly critical of what we are consuming. If the content on your feed causes you to compare yourself with others, leaving you feeling deflated and defeated, unfollow these people. Instead, fill your feed with fulfilling content. Content that is informative and empowering! We also have control over who we surround ourselves with, and making sure that our friends are kind and compassionate towards us. Lastly is monitoring how we talk to ourselves. When you look into the mirror, what do you say to yourself? Are you being unkind? Can you stop yourself in your tracks and reframe what you are saying? These thoughts are important to think about.
What are your top 5 tips to finding food freedom, and becoming one with your body?
Food freedom can take time, therefore this is something that we want to steadily practice.
- Move away from labelling foods as good or bad. We should start neutralising our view of food, as polarising foods can initiate the beginning of a restrict-and-binge cycle.
- Writing down existing food rules! This can help you find where this belief has come from whilst identifying if there is any evidence to support this. You can then debunk these rules yourself, making it easier to let go.
- Follow helpful accounts and fill your feed with positive and informative content. Listening to body-positive and food freedom promoting podcasts are an amazing way of doing so.
- Delete any calorie counting apps or any apps that diminish food into something that is so simplistic. Food serves so many functions; it contributes to gut health, energy, pleasure, and so much more!
- Self talk. This is so powerful. Affirmations and reframing your mindset is so helpful. Whenever my clients have a negative thought about a specific food, I encourage them to combat this with 3 positive thoughts. This can really help transform the mindset and how we view certain foods, or food as a whole.
- At Kurami, all of our meals are nutritionist-approved and created with a unique focus on gut health. We offer a wide variety of options, from plant based burgers, to truffles lower in sugar. Do you believe our service would be suitable for those looking to heal their relationship with food, as well as with their bodies?
Yes! It’s funny you ask as it’s something that I just recommended to a client yesterday. It is truly helpful as we live in a time where people do not necessarily have the time to create food or nourish that creative side with regards to their meals. Realistically speaking, for many of my clients, it is making sure that they have balanced meals available to them that is important, and Kurami is a great example of doing so, especially as there is a focus on balance as well as honouring flavour! We want to enjoy the food that we eat. I also think that for some people, especially at the very beginning, having a pre-prepared meal can be very supportive to avoid overthinking about food whilst preparing the food yourself. As a whole, I think Kurami is a great service and I salute your team for what you are doing.
Building the confidence and self love that we have for ourselves may not be a linear process as it takes making the choice every single day to do so, however the rewards of this are confounding, and can positively impact the people around you.
Click here to learn more about Ariana’s practice. Embody Health London is run by dietitians Ariana Rodriguez and Cassie Barnard, with a focus on healing your relationship with food and guiding you on your journey towards intuitive eating.