How a Holistic Nutritionist Overcame Yo-Yo Dieting and Emotional Eating

Updated: Aug 27

I have a confession to make...


It's true. For years, I would jump from one diet to the next- with the laser-like focus of restricting my calories, weighing my food, beating myself up anytime I got "off track". The irony of that was, I got "off-track" often...typically on a weekly basis because what I was doing was unsustainable.

I got in the habit of cheat meals, which turned into cheat days, which turned into cheat weeks.

I religiously went to the gym for long workouts, which felt more like punishment for what I ate, than a healthy activity. In fact- my workouts were only as good as the calorie burn goal I set, and anything else just "didn't count".

My diet consisted of low calorie, processed diet food with zero nutritional value.

  • I was depressed

  • I experienced food anxiety

  • I had low self-esteem

  • I was anti-social

I was experiencing all of that, but not getting (or keeping) the results I desperately tried to achieve.

I also:
  • Damaged my metabolism

  • Experienced digestive issues and bloating after most meals, and created multiple food sensitivities.

  • Had low energy, despite regular and constant caffeine consumption (my adrenals were shot).

  • Felt stressed and sad, and isolated myself based on what the scale said every morning.

This went on for YEARS.

I remember an instance when I was on yet another diet and attending a social gathering. There was this spread of delicious food that I didn't trust myself I left.

I wish I could say that only happened once, but it didn't.

I felt so anxious in situations around food.

Between meals, I would experience light-headedness and irritability so bad, I became infamous for my "hangry" moods! I had no idea my blood sugar was so out of wack it was sending me into a tailspin of reactive hypoglycemia, cravings and ultimately overeating at my next meal.

I ate to the point of feeling so full and uncomfortable my stomach hurt- because I told myself it was the only chance I'll ever have again to eat that food.

I spent years at war with my body. Not understanding why everything the magazines told me to do, wasn't working. I remember feeling so frustrated because I didn't know what I was supposed to be eating. One week I tried a vegan diet, the next week I tried the keto diet. I was overwhelmed with the thought that I would never be able to eat like "a normal" person.

After years of suffering, I was finally desperate enough to admit what I was doing was not working, and even more important was not HEALTHY for my body, mind, or spirit. I had gone to the doctor for one of my regular physicals and my lab work was less than stellar.

It was then that I realized that the consequences for my unhealthy, yo-yo dieting behavior, impacted more than my weight or clothing size.

The negative impact it was having on my health at a young age, was my tipping point.

What no one tells you about dieting...

It was later I learned about the term "diet backlash", which is a cumulative side effect of dieting, according to the book "Intuitive Eating" by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.

Symptoms include:

  1. Having little trust in yourself with food- every single diet teaches you not to trust your body or the food you choose.

  2. The mere contemplation of a diet triggers cravings for food that will soon be "off-limits".

  3. Feeling that you don't deserve to eat because of your weight.

  4. Post diet overeating or binges, resulting in feelings of guilt and shame. Some resources show post-dieting binges occur in 49% of all people who end a diet.

  5. Shortened diet duration-with yo-yo dieting, each subsequent diet life span get shorter and less effective

  6. Social withdrawal: turning down (or in my case- leaving) social events, since its harder to stay on a diet.

  7. The last supper mentality- every diet is preceded by consuming foods you "will never eat again".

  8. Sluggish metabolism- each diet teaches the body to adapt better for the next "famine".

  9. Using caffeine to survive the day- artificial energy while chronically underfed.

  10. Eating Disorders- Repeat dieting is often the stepping stone to an eating disorder.

I could check

I also later learned that restrictive dieting actually increases your risk for gaining more weight, and yo-yo dieting resulting in weight cycling (continued weight gain and weight loss) was more harmful to your health than not losing the weight, to begin with. None of these ever referenced in commercials and advertisements for the latest diet product on the market...

The Holistic Approach to Change

I decided I wanted to learn about nutrition and began a 2-year Holistic Nutritionist program that educated me on how the body worked and responded to nutrients in our food. I learned that food is more than just calories- that nutrients play a role in just about every enzymatic function in our bodies. But, more importantly, I learned a holistic approach to health. I learned to look beyond the plate and that included a lot of self-discovery, self-care, mindset, and perspective shifts. For example, regular movement does more for our body and well being, than just burn calories!

I felt this was important information to have. Understanding these concepts changed the way I started to look at food and even more, changed the way I look at and treat my body. I no longer want to punish myself by restricting calories to chemical diet food concoctions, or early morning gym sessions to start the day in a caloric deficit. Instead, I want to make choices based on how I can provide my body nourishment.

My choices come from a place of love and self-care.

Now, I make and eat food that tastes delicious, and experiment with recipes to include amazing herbs and spices I was taught had ancient medicinal properties. I notice the difference in taste when I choose quality, nutrient-dense sources of protein- knowing the amino acids in that grass-fed beef burger were super important precursors to the neurotransmitters in my brain responsible for my mood. I understand the importance of healthy fats in my meals because my hormones and cells are made up of the fats I consume. I choose carbohydrates that are full of fiber because I know how important fiber is to digestions and therefore, my body's natural detoxification system.

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I learned how to nourish my body through food and movement, regardless of what the scale said- in fact, I don't even own a scale anymore.

Over the last 5 years, my relationship with food and with myself has evolved into one I never could have imagined. I am the healthiest I have ever been, both physically and mentally.

My Desire to Help Others

When I started my practice Katie Valley Wellness in 2018 as a Holistic Nutritionist, I wasn't exactly sure who I wanted to serve. There were SO many directions to go- gut health, autoimmune disorders, sports nutrition, pre/postnatal care...but I have come to realize that I want to be the person I didn't have all of those years ago when I was desperate for answers- for someone to tell me my body is not broken. To tell me they understand when I felt emotionally driven to eat. Someone with compassion, that had been through it and is now on the other side.

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ As a Holistic Nutritionist, I'm sharing my story because the person you see posting wellness tips and information was not always health-minded. She was a yo-yo dieter and emotional eater who could not understand why she couldn't maintain the results she so desperately tried to achieve.

Now I am honored to work with those struggling with the same issues. Through a habit-based approach, I guide you through your wellness plan to create an easy transition towards your goals.

"I have made a habit of hating my body and practicing in unsafe restrictive eating habits to like myself. Katie helped me realize that my body is very much my partner in achieving everything I want in life. A healthy partnership requires trust, gratitude and empathy; things I never thought to show my body until now."

In my holistic nutrition practice, I work one on one with my clients to overcome the obstacles that stand in their way of feeling their best. Together, we work through current patterns of yo-yo dieting and create a plan that is sustainable and flexible.

The key to lasting wellness is attainable, balanced behavior change, self-compassion,and a healthy mindset.

If you or someone you know:

  • Struggles to reach their goals-despite various dieting methods

  • Experiences weight cycling- gains and loses weight

  • Succumbs to emotional eating and experiences frequent cravings

  • Desires to reach and maintain their natural, healthy weight

  • Has a history of low-calorie diets