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An Expensive Dress and a Paradigm Shift


    An Expensive Dress and a Paradigm Shift 


Sometimes, I find myself getting emotional during sessions with a client.

I feel the tears swelling up in my eyes. I can feel embarrassed or maybe out of line, but I don’t. I know that part of the healing process (for many people), is allowing other people to share your burden, share your pain and share your thought process along the way. I find this to be one of the most powerful parts of my life and I feel privileged to be welcomed into someone else’s world like this. 


     Part of my work as a dietitian is to try to fully understand my clients timeline. Usually, my first few questions in the first session are “what is your earliest childhood memory around food, or your body image, or what was the food dynamic like in your home?”


     Obviously, every client has a different story to tell and so many different experiences.

I always tell my clients “I am doing this so I can try to fully understand how you got to this point, but also for you, to see how many years these beliefs have been drilled into you.”


     Again, this is usually very powerful for both myself and the client.

Some clients are more open than others. Some clients are more talkative than others. Some have a hard time expressing how they feel. Some have poor memory (possibly trauma related).


     Sometimes, a client has such a tremendous insight.

I didn’t see coming and nor did they, and may I be as dramatic to say that this can change their entire life in a moment. Obviously, it’s not that one moment that changed their lives, it’s a cumulative effect of many moments of self introspection, digging through their past and a lot of hard work. 


     “What does this have to do with food?” you might be thinking by now. Let me explain.


     After working with this client for several months, she had a big breakthrough that is still helping her today. This client had been on all types of diets for many years and she was hesitant, but ready to give up dieting and learn the principles of Intuitive Eating. I wouldn’t say that any of this was easy for her, but she did feel ready to at least try and start. 


     Going from a strict diet for 7 or 8 years to transitioning to Intuitive Eating is a major life change.

It didn’t exactly happen like that but it was a big change either way. One of the things we were working on was trying to understand why she was “overeating” on certain foods at certain times.


     This mother, of a large beautiful family, had spent most of her days cooking and taking care of her brood. She seemed to be doing this with happiness, but in a split second, while eating past comfortable fullness on a certain comfort food, the thought hit her dead in her tracks, like a ton of bricks. “I don’t care about MYSELF.”


     Hold on a second. This was a woman who took very good care of everything in her life.

She had been dieting (at the time thinking this was very much taking care of herself), exercising, going to classes, etc. But at that moment, she had an epiphany. She was doing many things for the betterment of others. There was little intrinsic value in actually treating herself well.


     It was a very moving experience and one that we often go back to in session as a recurring belief system she is working to reframe. 


     Fast forward to now and she applied this thought to another important part of her life, shopping for clothing. She shared with me that she needed to buy something for an upcoming event, and she finally decided that she mattered. She was worth it. She deserved to show up to the event also looking and feeling beautiful. She would do it to the nth degree for everyone else in her household, why shouldn’t she do that for herself?


     And for this occasion, unlike many others, she walked into that expensive store.

She picked out the dress she liked the best. She checked in with herself and reminded herself that SHE mattered. That HER dress mattered. That HER happiness mattered. That SHE deserved to look and feel beautiful at her simcha. And that she did. She purchased the dress happily and with that, reinforced a new belief system in her brain- “I intrinsically matter not just as  a mother, but as an individual.” One of those moments you actually want to get up from your chair and clap for your client ?


     I was very touched by the story because I really do feel like her entire life changed.

Of course, as mothers and wives it is our responsibility to take care of our family, and yes we do engage in self care to fill our own glasses in order to help others, but we also DO matter. And what messages are we giving over to our children if we travel to the moon and back for our children but leave ourselves on the sidelines to watch, hungry and frazzled?


     Again, there is intrinsic value in taking care of ourselves because we do matter, but if we are trying to take care of our children but we are in actuality modeling negating ourselves, what will our children learn?


     This can be applied in so many areas of life, but remember that Intuitive Eating is about using food as self care and not self punishment.


Food is supposed to be nourishing, taste good and feel good in our bodies. We want to feel safe and comfortable around food. We don’t want to always eat past comfortable fullness and feel that horrible feeling of wanting to escape from our bodies. How can we do that, if we really don’t care about ourselves or care for ourselves?


     This is your paradigm shift for the day. Allow your “negative” eating experiences to become powerful learning tools. Get curious instead of judgmental and learn the most important lessons of your lives. 



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Gila Glassberg, Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, holding an inclusive variety of foods

Gila Glassberg is a Master's level registered dietitian and a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. As a teenager, she was faced with constant diet talk, body shaming and obsessive guilt around food. She struggled with disordered eating. This is what propelled her into the field of nutrition. She uses a non-diet, weight-neutral approach called Intuitive Eating. She helps growth oriented women break out of chronic dieting, and regain clarity into what is really important to them.

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