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Yesterday, Julie Norman, a registered dietician, yoga instructor and Health At Every Size Supporter, talked about how women can heal their body image and food issues.

Today, in part two of our interview, Norman offers insight into the biggest nutrition myths, how to eat mindfully and why yoga helps to heal a negative body image. She also lists some of her favorite yoga resources. (By the way, I’d like to add Anna’s Curvy Yoga to the list. She’s amazing!)

Check out Norman’s website to learn more about the great work she’s doing.

Q: What are several of the biggest myths about nutrition education that you’d like to clear up? 

A: Wow, unfortunately there’s so many out there.  Here’s my top 3:

  • Fat is bad.  We need fat!  It is an essential nutrient, meaning your body cannot make it itself, you have to consume it.  Restricting fat slows metabolism and saps our mental and physical energy.  Restricting fat also sets you up to binge because you get full but not satisfied.  Twenty percent of our total food energy should come from fat.  Focus on natural plant sources and those from organic, pasture-raised animals.
  • Carbs are bad.  Again, this is silly.  Our bodies run on carbs.  Every major health authority from the American Dietetic and Diabetic Associations to the American College of Sports Medicine still agree that we need to get 50-60 percent of our total energy intake from carbs.  Again, aim for the most natural forms.  Restricting them only leads to bingeing on the processed forms of the nutrient.
  • Hunger is the enemy.  Hunger is the body telling you it needs something!  People are not suffering ill health because they are listening to their body’s wisdom.  The opposite is true.  By trying to control hunger we create disconnection that then makes it hard to notice and honor fullness.  Work with your body, not against it. 

Q: Your work also focuses on mindful eating. What is mindful eating and how can readers practice it? 

A: I define mindful eating as eating with compassionate awareness.  It’s eating without distraction.  When you eat, just eat, and eat only what you really want and need. The key to mindful eating is groundedness.  Letting yourself get settled in the moment.

Take a few moments before you begin eating to breathe intentionally.  Notice thoughts, feelings and sensations.  Stay aware of those three elements as you eat as they can affect your decisions and behavior.

If you get to a place where you are not sure if you want or need more, pause and breathe again for a few minutes quietly.  I encourage placing a hand on your belly to increase body connectedness.

You can even ask yourself out loud or in your mind, “am I nourished?”  Honor your body’s cues throughout the whole process even if thoughts and feelings make you question it.

Q: Yoga is an integral part of your practice and you use it to help clients heal their negative body image. Why is yoga so beneficial for body image?  

A: Yoga teaches connection and mindfulness.  It helps us become more aware of ourselves on all levels so it’s not just our mind running the show.  The more disconnected we become from the body the more the worried or “vritti” mind tells us the body is wrong.

The movement of yoga also creates integration.  Our body is a whole as is our entire Being.  It’s the idea of separation that causes most suffering.  Instead of picking at parts of the body to improve as many other forms of exercise do, this holistic movement reminds us of the beautiful unity of our body and therefore our connection to what’s beyond ourselves.

I could go on.  May be another blog just about yoga and body image?

Q: Can you recommend good resources on yoga? 

A: First, for body image specifically I have a DVD for sale here. On my site, BodyKarmaHealing.com, I will soon be offering an abundance of resources. You can visit now to get the gist and add your e-mail to be updated.

Next check out kripalu.org.  They have some great, free on-line classes and I like this style of yoga best for working with body image issues.

YogaAlliance.org is another great resource, especially for finding classes near you.

Listen to your intuition when attending classes or using videos.  If there is a weight focus or the yoga feels like boot camp, it’s not yoga but rather yoga-inspired fitness and will do more harm than good in my opinion.

Q: Anything else you’d like readers to know about body image, HAES, nutrition or a related topic?

A: Yes, know that it’s time for change!  We are not meant to be fighting with our bodies and feeling lost in them.  Know that you have within you the wisdom to nourish yourself on all levels and that your weight and appearance have little to do with realizing your potential for peace, health and happiness.

If you need help in reclaiming that wisdom seek out a HAES practitioner. Further resources are provided on my websites and at sizediversityandhealth.org.

Thanks so much, Julie, for a wonderful interview!

More about Julie Norman:

Named “The B.I.G.-Body Image Guru” by a group of her clients, Julie blends yoga with professional nutrition guidance for a holistic approach to healing body image, food, and exercise challenges. Focusing on peaceful body image, aligned eating and sustainable movement she helps clients transform how they feel in and care for their bodies. Julie is an engaging and dynamic speaker and enjoys working with individuals and groups in person and virtually.