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When it comes to resolving a relationship with food, there are two factors involved: our bodies and our thoughts. These two brilliant systems work together and getting to know them both more intimately can help us find peace with unwanted habits.
Becs Steel is both a registered nutritional therapist and a rewilding guide so we dive deep into this subject and explore how both our thoughts and the feelings in our bodies affect our ability to eat well.
Becs Steele works with her clients to empower them to regain confidence and vitality through diet and coaching. Her areas of interest are mental health, anxiety, depression, hormones & weight loss. She is a registered nutritional therapist and a coach.
You can find Becs Steele at BWellNutrition.co.uk
You can listen above or on your favorite podcast app or read the notes, links and resources below. A full transcript is also below.
- On what rewilding is and how it informs Becs’ coaching and nutrition practice
- The importance of connecting with our bodies
- Do you know that you are the safe space?
- On the twin drivers of overeating: emotion and thought
- How understanding that life works from the inside-out helps with parenting
Resources Mentioned in this Episode
- Dr. Amy Johnson’s podcast Changeable
- Rohini and Angus Ross’ Rewilding Guides Program
Transcript of Interview with Becs Steele
Alexandra: Becs Steele, welcome to Unbroken. I’m really happy to be talking to you today.
Why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself, your background, and how you got interested in the three principles?
Becs: It was probably about ten years ago now. I had my daughter, and I was working. And I thought, actually, I just really want to retrain in something that I’m passionate about.
So I studied nutrition. And that took four years because I had babies in between and things.
And I then thought, as I started practicing nutrition, there’s more to it than just nutrition. There’s more than just giving people the perfect diet and sending them on their way and seeing them maybe once and then in six weeks’ time. And it was around that time that I found the principles I was in quite a similar understanding, actually, with a couple in America that I was listening to.
Then somehow I stumbled across Amy Johnson’s podcast, Changeable. And I listened to an episode on that. And suddenly, I just saw things so differently, even though I’d been in a very similar understanding for a very long time and had quite deep experiences.
This was like, wow, I’ve seen something on a whole new level around our thinking, and how everything is thoughts and how our world is created through our thinking. And, then I thought, I actually really want to combine nutrition with that.
But I didn’t feel ready because I felt like I wasn’t entrenched enough in the three principles. And then, about two years ago, did Rohini’s Rewilding Guides program. And that for me was like that gave me the confidence to then bring it into my practice.
Alexandra: Oh, nice.
What does rewilding mean to you? Maybe you could explain that to us, what that word means, and how it affects the work you do?
Becs: I loved Rohini’s program because it was like embracing all of us, all parts of us, the hidden parts that we’d kept small or hidden away because they were not okay, the parts of us that maybe weren’t allowed to be expressed as we were children or anger.
I never saw myself as angry, being able to be angry or express it in a healthy way. Even though it would rise up in me it was like that wasn’t okay or being sensitive. The parts that we say are not okay, I found that on the training it was like, well, actually, all of my experience is okay. And I can start to express these parts of me that I have suppressed for so long. So that was really eye-opening for me, that program.
And then I started to bring that understanding into my practice, to see how people really do keep these parts of themselves under wraps, really, and how they can affect all their areas of their life. But they’re not aware of how they are.
So for my practice, it’s really about bringing people much more aware of their bodies, because I think what happens is that we disconnect from our bodies. A lot of people, not everyone, but a lot of people disconnect. And that’s through even as a child have not being able to express your emotions, being told to be quiet or have this biscuit. This will calm you down.
Go and play outside or distract, ignore. So, these are subtle ways we are not allowed to express ourselves. And maybe disconnect from the body because there’s the things that going on in us these feelings and emotions and sensations, that we’re not allowed to feel, we’re not allowed to express it in a healthy way.
And actually, over time, people start to just disconnect from their emotions and feelings and lose connection with their bodies. So that’s one way.
I think another way that people through dieting through the dieting culture through like their body is not okay. As it is through the dieting industry, this crazy diet that has actually no health benefits whatsoever. Eat very few calories, and you’ll end up like a stick.
But you’re overriding what your body needs and your body becomes an enemy. So it’s like, well, this is something that I need to control. And it’s not serving its purpose.
I think a lot of women that are entrenched in that dieting world who’ve done it for years on that yo-yo dieting journey, have completely lost connection to their bodies, and learned to hate their bodies.
So that’s another thing. And I also think, if you’re very, say, you’re in your mind the whole time, you’re very intellectual, you read a lot, you study a lot, I think that’s another way people can disconnect as well from their bodies. So it really is about realizing, okay, we know we’ve got a body, but it’s like, oh, what’s actually going on?
It’s this perfect feedback system that’s happening all the time. It’s talking to us in signs and symptoms and signals, and there’s that direct correlation with we’re having anxious thinking we can feel it in, in our chest or in our stomachs. Long-term, stressful thinking stressful thoughts can cause a disconnect with the body, but also disease and our immunity might start not to be so good.
Digestion might not work so well. And, this is like long-term stress, which can have a big impact on the body. So, this is the area I’m most interested in.
Alexandra: When you’re working with people who are disconnected from their bodies, and you talked about the body being becoming the enemy, I saw that in two ways. One being we begin to hate the way we look.
But then the second is, we don’t like the signals that we’re receiving from our bodies. So that’s deeply unfortunate.
When you start to work with people, how do you get them back in touch with their bodies and make friends with their bodies?
Becs: So firstly, I think it’s, well like the three principles and rewilding point to you: we’re not our bodies, our bodies aren’t who we are, at the essential core that isn’t us. We’re way more than how we look. We are way more than our weight.
We’re weighing up more than our appearance, and yet, we’ve become so hyper-focused on this one area. And it’s the filter that we see everything through. So, you might not want to go out for the evening just because you can’t fit into the dress that you fitted into two weeks ago or something, and everything becomes the filter through how you see yourself through this very narrow prism.
But actually, when we’re connected to our true nature, when we are aware that we’re not our thoughts, we’re not our beliefs, we’re not our patterns of thinking or conditioned patterns of thinking that keep us very small. It’s like, well, we have freedom. And there’s freedom within that to connect to our body in a much more fluid way.
But it’s also about tuning into the sensations in the body, tuning into the thing, but slowly because people don’t often want to feel things straightaway because it could feel overwhelming. So for me, I think I just wrote something on this today, which was that I was a very sensitive child, and I was always told I was too sensitive. So I used to have to force in tears and not let them come out.
And over time, people would then say, Oh, you’re so tough. You’re emotionally so tough because you can’t you don’t cry, and you go through these experiences. And you deal with it so well. And I think that actually, when I allowed myself to actually start a feeling again, was like, Oh, wow, I’ve kept a lot in that.
Alexandra: What was like, for you? Was that scary at first?
Becs: I think I thought that it would come out in a certain way. But I’d have a huge emotional release. And everything that I’ve been bottling up for so many years. It wasn’t like that.
It was more just now I’m just much more able to when things come up to me in the moment, it just arises. And there are tears. I let them flow. And I could probably say I cried nearly every other day now. It was like once every six months to a year. So Something definitely happened.
Alexandra: What I get from that is that you trust your experience.
Becs: Yes, I think that’s it. That’s the key. If things are meant to come up, they’re meant they’re coming up for a reason. We don’t have to talk our way out of them. We don’t have to say it’s all our thinking. We just allow it to be there. And I was always trying to control that before.
Alexandra Amor: I can really relate to that too.
As a child, being sensitive, and then being told not to cry, I developed a habit of feeling like any time I felt an emotion, I was being unreasonable.
Becs: Why are you so sensitive? We need that we now see it as a real gift to be that sensitive to work with other people to be empathetic. And it is a gift.
Alexandra: Oh, absolutely. And I love that you touched on the idea that we don’t need to be afraid of our experience. And that, and it does take some time it has for me as well, to welcome that.
Whatever it is, know that you’re safe. No matter what’s happening.
Becs: Because we are the safe space. So whatever is arising within us is safe, but we weren’t told that, were we? But because our caregivers didn’t know that either. How were they meant to take teach us that?
Alexandra Amor: Exactly. You can’t teach what you don’t understand for sure. We’ve talked a little bit about the mind-body connection.
Is there anything you can share about our behaviors around eating and nutrition since you came to this understanding?
Becs: I think that’s often an emotional component to it. But firstly, why I love working with food is because there’s so much we can do around cravings and needing to eat. Because actually, a huge part of that is eating a diet that is balanced in protein, carbs, slow-releasing carbohydrates, and fresh fruit and veg.
And when it’s very simple for me, it’s like when people balance their blood sugar, so they’re not on the high carbohydrate, high sugar, high white, refined carbohydrates, so white rice, white pasta, white bread, all of that, it’s not to say we don’t ever have it, because that restriction doesn’t work.
But once we’re off the blood sugar rollercoaster, 80%, I’d say have those cravings go. And then we’re left with the emotional stuff. And there’s work that we can really go into because I just ran a course recently. And we, the first week, most people said a lot. 90, so much, so many of their cravings had gone.
Whereas before, they always felt like it was an emotional thing. And actually, a lot of it was actually just craving carbs, and sugar, because they’re addictive. It’s just pure addiction. So some people you need to go slower with that most people seem to get that straight away that, once they understand the principles of that they’re okay with that.
And then the emotional component really is it’s that driving me to tune in much more to the feelings and sensations of this moment. It’s very difficult to do that sometimes, like your head’s in the fridge before you can feel it, or so if you’re in a heightened state of stress, there’s much more emotional eating going on.
So it’s very difficult to almost control it. So it is about coming back to the body and feeling whatever is going on in the body. And noticing the thinking that might be happening, what is the tools driving? That is it. I’ve had a really stressful day. I need this; I deserve this. The only thing that is going to make me feel better.
Oh, what’s the point, I might as well give up, there are all these thoughts that drive their behavior. And there’s always an emotional component to it. But sometimes, it’s the only thing we can do. So if there’s like, if there is an emotional situation going on, and it’s so intense, and that’s the self-soothing, that needs to be in place, then we can let that go.
But if it’s always there, and if it’s like driving us to the alcohol or driving us to the sugary biscuits all the time, and then there’s a lot that can be done to be to sit with what’s going on, start to recognize the patterns of behavior that are driving that, but also these things can go really deep and quite far back.
These things might have been put in place for, like we say, the child that wasn’t allowed to feel that felt unsafe in their environment. So a biscuit was the thing that calmed them down. I’m guilty of that when I had young children, I used to give them food to help them. And then I realized that that’s not the best thing.
Alexandra: That’s lovely. And so you’ve touched on this already.
What we’re doing when we’re overeating and very often with high carb, high sugar stuff is it’s a solution, not a problem. We’re using that to deal with stress.
And as you said, and maybe with some emotional habits that we’ve developed from the past of ways to deal with our emotions and the feelings that are coming up in our body. When you’re working with people, and you’ve shifted their nutrition a bit, and then they’re starting to get in touch with their feelings.
Do you notice any commonalities among people and what they experience as they go through that?
Becs: I think everyone has their own stuff, don’t they? It’s their own journey. But if the end result is doing the comfort eating, but the way the reasons why are very different. But I do think that the common theme is people actually not recognizing that there is an emotion. They know that they emotionally eat, but it’s like, Oh, I really didn’t see that.
Okay, maybe this is just loneliness at this point in time. I’m on my own, I live on my own, and I work on my own. And just going and getting something from the cupboard makes me feel comforted. In that moment or a ritual around, making a nice drink.
Hot chocolate with biscuits reminds me of my parents growing up and the love they gave me. And so everyone has these different reasons. But the ultimate thing is to sue them to comfort. And then we can put things around that which aren’t just food.
So we can put things around like walking in nature, going to a yoga class, or doing things that feel good, but that isn’t just food.
But also, the more we unravel in ourselves, the more we’re seeing into these behaviors, the more and also that the body is this amazing vessel that we’re here too, for this life, it carries us through life. So when we can put in the best, the nicest food, the ones that it’s going to feel that there’s going to give us the best variety of vitamins and minerals, that’s going to keep our energy sustained.
That generally is healthy and comes from good quality sources. Then we’re giving ourselves the most supportive lifeforce energy. And actually when you can start to see that you’re taking away from your body when you’re putting in like chips, pizza, donuts, alcohol, the body has to go through a lot of processes, processes to eliminate.
It’s almost like toxic toxins in a way. But it’s not to say that we don’t have those things occasionally. So I always say to my clients, once a week, go out and have whatever you want, or even twice a week, go out and have whatever you want.
When we can start to switch in our minds that what we’re putting in is life-giving. I think that’s a really, it’s not forced, it’s not saying this food bad, or this feels good, or, but it’s giving me everything I need to support myself. And then we don’t always we don’t have to be perfect because perfection just backfires, doesn’t it?
Alexandra: It does, absolutely. One of the things that really that I saw early on in this exploration was this idea, and the metaphor people often use is we’re the sky and our feelings and thoughts are weather or clouds moving through the sky.
That was such a huge game changer for me in terms of eating. Because I think what had happened was the only way I knew how to deal with what was moving through was by eating something. And one of the big things I didn’t realize was that I could just leave it alone and it would move on all by itself.
I’m wondering if that’s something that lands for your clients?
Becs: Yes, I think. I’m just thinking back to the course I ran. I think within the first week, like I said, the diet side is underpinning that much more. But I think once people are aware that their thoughts are giving them the feeling, there’s a direct correlation there.
They don’t have to buy into that. And they can let it relax within them. Or feel the emotion that needs to be felt. That clears up very quickly.
Alexandra: So that, for me, was really a linchpin and bit of understanding. And, I was really grateful once I started to learn that.
You’ve mentioned you have children.
I’m really curious about whether or not or how, if you bring the three principles, understanding to them. What ages, are they first of all.
Becs: I’ve got a 12-year-old and a five-year-old. It’s hilarious because I suppose my parenting style began within the first safe five years of my daughter, so she’s now 12. I still had a very basic understanding of this understanding.
I was very much in that she was the cause of my annoyance. And that she needs to learn to behave. I think that probably that style of parenting meant until she was about seven or eight.
Actually, it was Angus and Rohini. I had some sessions with them quite a few years ago now. But before that, I’d had a turnaround in that she was just acting out of her innocence as a child. She’s learning. She’s fine.
There was a stage where I thought she wasn’t fine. What’s she going to be like? How is she gonna turn out as an adult? She had dyslexia, so she had lots of anger and things like that. And I thought I needed to squash that in her because that’s the style of parenting that I grew up with.
I wasn’t perfect. Well, I’m not a perfect parent, but I bring it now. I just see, even in her worst moods, I always see who she is. And I think we do recover very quickly if we ever do have something because I will always apologize if I’ve shouted at her in the wrong way or something.
It’s never that she’s the child. I’m an adult, and you listen to me, so there’s that and but when I tried to talk to her about stuff, she says, Oh, life doesn’t work like that. You’re lovely where everything’s so positive and your nice world.
The world isn’t like that, let me tell you, I think she just thinks I spell out all this nice sounding stuff. But I think she gets it on one level. And my son, who is five is just such a wonderful being.
I think even from day one, knowing that is such a gift to have for your children, just knowing that because I know that when I was a baby, I was called it. And that’s what my mom referred to my children as when they were born. Oh, it needs feeding; it’s crying.
Alexandra: Goodness. It sounds like maybe in your parenting, the big shift is on your side of the equation.
Not so much about indoctrinating your children about the principles, but it’s really about you can see their resilience and their resourcefulness, and their innate well-being.
And I imagine, I’m not a parent, I have never been a parent, but I’ve noticed the settling down in me in my relationships in life.
As a parent, does part of what happens to you is that you really settle down and relax?
Becs: Yes, I think that’s it because they can trigger you a lot. Yes, they’re pushing all the buttons of what you need to see in yourself. I saw that very clearly.
It was like, oh, that my daughter is a mirror to what’s going on in me. And that was very helpful. I worked through quite a lot of stuff when I saw that.
And then and then with Max, so my youngest, he’s five, the other day. We were meant to go somewhere and I said we’d get the train. And then, actually, it turns out the train was really expensive. So I had to drive. And he hated the fact that we had to drive. So he had a tantrum for about 45 minutes. And I guess the old me would have been like, snap out of this.
Don’t be like this. Go to your room. But now I just see that he needs to go through his emotions. In the end he said I’m sorry, Mummy. So is a different feeling towards it.
Alexandra: Yes. Letting that little storm pass through him. Knowing it would come to an end eventually.
Becs: And also recognizing I know you’re angry. I know you’re really angry. I know you’re disappointed. I know you’re frustrated.
I can do my bit, but my husband is not into this understanding. So I think he learns a bit by osmosis. But he’s not really interested. That he has his way, so they’re gonna get a bit of whatever.
Alexandra Amor: Right? Well, And I guess that’s the other challenge to being in a relationship and co-parenting, it’s not just you. There’s somebody else involved.
Alexandra: This has been great, Becs. I’ve so enjoyed talking to you.
Is there anything else you’d like to share that we haven’t touched on?
Becs: The Sydney Banks quote, which, I’m really bad at actually getting quotes, right, but if we weren’t afraid of our experience, that alone would change the world. For me, that is now becoming more and more prevalent and present in my life. It’s like whatever is coming, will come up to me.
And life is a game that we can play. And we don’t need to take it as seriously as we did. And there will be days when we take it very seriously. And even that’s part of the game, and I love the sky and the analogy of the cloud. But I heard it the other day that we are the sky.
We are the sky, but we’re also the clouds. I love that because all of its okay. All of us. So when we can start to see that everything is us, and it’s all happening in our present moment. It can only be happening now. I think there’s even more spaciousness around that.
Alexandra: That’s a great word, spaciousness. Nice. Thank you.
Where can we find out more about you and your work?
Becs: My website is b. Well, nutrition, so letter B, not B E. So, letter B and then well nutrition.co.uk, I do offer an initial consultation for free if you want to.
Alexandra: Great. Okay. I will put links in the show notes to your websites; people can always find those. And thank you again for being with me here today.
Becs: Thank you so much. Great chatting with you.
Alexandra: Take care. Bye bye.
Featured image photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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