Body Issues & Raising Girls

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Nicole Walters Podcast

The Nicole Walters Podcast

Join me each week for a new episode packed with what you need to know to gain clarity, grow your network, and monetize your life using the proven corporate strategies I’ve mastered in 10 years as a Fortune 500 executive.

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SHOW NOTES

Friend, I don’t know about you but when it comes to food, I get caught up not because I don’t understand what my body needs but because there is something mental or emotional getting in the way. And there is one thing I know, I want to get these body issues right so I can raise my girls right too.

That’s why I had to have my friend, Shira Barlow, on the show today to talk about food therapy and why feeling good about what we eat can be so hard.

Shira blew me away in this chat so don’t miss this one! We chat about learning our own triggers, being intentional, granting grace ALWAYS, and being the role models we needed while growing up.

Let me know what your ah-ha moment was by tagging Shira @Shira_rd and @NicoleWalters on Instagram! I am so grateful you were here with us for this chat.

 

Nicole:

Hey, friends. So as you well know, I have very strategic chats whenever we come here today. And I only bring my closest friends in. And I know that you have all had so many questions about health and weight management and where to start and how that feels. And you’ve seen me take my journey so I brought in the person to talk to, not just because of her wide range of knowledge, but also because of her approach to taking care of yourself as a whole.

And so for that reason, I’m super excited. I have my dear friend Shira Barlow in here. She is the podcast host of Good Instincts. She is the author of The Food Therapist and I mean, you can find her all over the net. You have to follow her. But right now, let’s just get into it. Shira, thank you so much for being here.

Shira:

Thank you so much.

Nicole:

So I’m just going to dive right in.

Shira:

Yeah, please.

Nicole:

Okay. The reason why I love you and your approach to all things food is because you talk about being a food therapist even though you have all the paperworks and degrees and all that stuff too, because that’s important also. But tell me more about that concept that mindset around food.

Shira:

Ya know, I did go the whole clinical route. I did a residency at Mount Sinai, and I studied organic chemistry and biochem and all that stuff. And when I was at the hospital and I was finishing up, I really had a very clear idea of how to counsel people in terms of food. And then what happened is I would meet with people, I started a private practice, I would meet with people. And what I realized is that there was a gap between people’s intentions and people’s actions. People knew what to do. They knew that they should be eating more thoughtfully, whatever that means at this point, but they weren’t actually doing those things on a day to day basis.

And so it became so much more about what those roadblocks were and how to sidestep them and all of that. It became about food therapy. So it was funny because I had all of the food background, but I needed to kind of understand how to help people work through those issues that they didn’t in some cases really knew existed. And so that’s how it started.

Nicole:

That’s so, so good because I think that just to tie it in, not just for me, but for everyone else. How many of us have a profession where we realize people will come in and say, I know what to do, but it’s not working. Or I know what to do, but I don’t know how to do it exactly. And you’re like, oh girl, you don’t understand that. It’s between the ears. So I’ll have people come in for business consulting and they’re like, well, I’ve taken all the classes, I’ve done all the things, but I just don’t know. And I’m like, well, if you know all the answers, then what is the real issue? Do you not believe you can? Because sometimes that’s what it is.

Shira:

Completely. And it’s interesting. I think that what I realized is that so many people think that it comes down to them just not having the ability. They’re like, oh, I just don’t have willpower, I just can’t do it. But in reality, it’s so much more complicated than that. It’s kind of like the pull down of that old Facebook relationship status, it’s complicated. Because food is so much more than just fuel. And I think kind of looking into that relationship a bit more and it is a relationship with food and figuring out what your personal roadblocks and knowing that those may always exist. It’s just about kind of knowing, and we talked about this offline a little bit, having that self knowledge to know what your personal roadblocks are so that you can have a roadmap to working around them.

Nicole:

That’s so good. I think that what I personally love about your work and the way you approach it is that there’s this element, and we talk about this on the podcast all the time, of sort of grace and kindness towards self. You really are big on this relationship being sort of rewritten as a positive one versus beating yourself up on this journey towards whatever health goal you may have or health outcome you need.

So can you talk to us a little bit about that? What have you seen that some of us may be like ding ding ding, that’s me too, in the way that we talk to ourselves about food in relation to our bodies?

Shira:

Completely. I think so many people worry that if we are too kind to ourselves, we won’t get anywhere. That being kind of that drill sergeant, super mean, super harsh, speaking to ourselves that way, that’s going to be the thing that gets us there. But the problem is that feelings of shame and inadequacy actually drive cortisol, the stress hormone, and then in some cases, like for instance, a lot of people will do this thing called eat, repent, repeat.

Nicole:

Oh, oh, oh! I want to make sure I’m absorbing this. So eat, repent, repeat.

Shira:

So say you’ll eat something and let’s say you were stressed and busy and it wasn’t really actually something you really necessarily wanted. Maybe you went a little overboard with it.

Nicole:

Me eating sprinkles in like five minutes eating four cupcakes. Sure.

Shira:

Yeah, exactly. And now in theory if what you did was I didn’t intend to eat that much, what’s going on for me right now? Well, I didn’t eat a great lunch. I went into this meeting. Now I’m here. I’m feeling so stressed about X, Y and Z with kids in school and home. So how can I sidestep in the future? And in some cases, it’s a matter of self-regulation and ways that you can kind of slow the nervous system, pay more attention to what you’re eating while you’re eating. 

And in some cases, it’s how do you bypass willpower altogether in order to make a decision ahead of time? Like, you know what? I know I’m heading into this thing and that thing I think I’m going to bring, there’s a brand called who with chocolate that’s like non refined sugar, whatever. It’s like my whatever treat of choice, whatever, having that in your bag and be like, you know what, I know that I’m going to want something, so why don’t I have this? But then at least I know it’s this and then I’m not.

So the problem is we don’t kind of do that like, OOH, in a really non judgmental way, what was going on for me in that moment? How do I?

Nicole:
We don’t even know how to do that!

Shira:

Exactly.

Nicole:

And this is the therapy portion of it, of the approach towards food. So for those of I talk about therapy all the time. For those of you all who are in therapy or considering therapy, this is actually really in alignment with therapy. It’s not that you’re going in there to find out what’s wrong with you and how to fix it. It’s a lot of it is learning what your triggers triggers exactly how they show up. Because if you can at least understand what your triggers are, because if you’re in a marriage, sometimes your triggers your spouse, and so you got to get rid of that trigger. We can’t always fix and figure out what it is, but we can’t build around it.

Shira:

Completely. To go back to it, I think that a lot of people, the eat, repent, repeat cycle. What we don’t do is that where we’re like, oh, we look at it in a really non-judgmental way, like, wonder what was going on. How do I kind of sidestep in that future? No, instead we’re like, Why did you do that? I’m so mad at myself.

Nicole:

So we do that reflective process, but we’re mean about it.

Shira:

We’re mean about it. And then those feelings of shame and inadequacy and the whole thing spike cortisol spike stress. And then we end up being kind of like, I don’t know if I can swear on here, but I wanted.

Nicole:

Yeah, I won’t do it again.

Shira:

Why even bother?

Nicole:

I’m going to do it again. Eff it.

Shira:

Exactly. It doesn’t even matter. And now I may as well just go off the deep end.

Nicole:

Yeah.

Shira:

So eat, repent, repeat is that cycle. I think everyone can relate to that because it’s like we all do it. And so I think, again, we worry that if we’re too self-compassionate, we won’t get anywhere, but it’s really quite the opposite. And I’ve seen that again and again and again.

Nicole:

It’s so valuable. I know that I’ve shared a little bit about my journey on here before, and the way that I’ve been able to sustain a lot of my loss is, one, I did everything my doctor told me, right? So monitoring the right numbers, engaging in the right experts, and again, I say this on every platform whenever I do. It was a privilege financially to be able to do that, and I don’t miss that. But the mindset work is something that I’ve had to continue to do.

And it’s true. I mean, during the pandemic, I remember at the top of the pandemic saying to myself, girl, you actually have the time to work out every day. You have all the resources, you have a peloton like, girl, get to it. And then I finally said to myself, there are too many things going on right now. You will gain weight in the season, and that’s okay. If you need to feel comfortable having some fudge today, because that is the comfort item that is available to you in this home, and you can’t travel, then eat your fudge, girl.

Shira:

When you and I connected in Austin originally, I remember you telling me about this and I thought it was really beautiful because I talk about it with my clients all the time. Where especially I see it a lot when people are going on vacation or people are about to have Thanksgiving or something like that. I always am like, you can play it a bunch of different ways as long as you’re being honest about it. So what I don’t want, and a lot of people do, are what we call it’s loopholes and moral licensing.

Nicole:

Let’s talk about and these are all therapy terms, y’all?

Shira:

Exactly.

Nicole:

None of this stuff is food stuff. We’re not talking about intermittent fasting and keto, which is what everyone’s always looking for. What is the secret recipe? No, we’re talking about things that are all you all the time here. If you’re doing loopholes and all these sorts of moral bargaining and whatever, you’re likely doing them in your relationships too.

Shira:

This is really good.

Nicole:

So unpack this.

Shira:

So this is what I’m talking about when it comes to loopholes and moral licensing, it’s like it doesn’t count. It’s the summer, it doesn’t count, it’s the weekend, or I really deserve this, I’ve been so good, or I’ve been so good, I deserve to be bad.

What I’m not villainizing is that you deserve pleasure, you deserve a treat. What the issue is, is when we attach ethics to it, because then you’re outside of reality. It’s like, girl, everything counts. It’s just that pleasure. I want people to indulge consciously.

Nicole:

Yes.

Shira:

So if you want to really not think about anything over Thanksgiving or whatever, you may come back from Thanksgiving feeling a little different than you do now. And if you’re okay with that, I’m okay with that, and we’ll just get back to it in January or whatever. But I think that when people do it in this way of like, oh, I can do this, it doesn’t count. It’s like, everything counts. And that’s why I come from this place in my practice where we’re grown ups, everything is available to us. Not everything could be worth it if this is your goal, depending on your goal. But I think it’s really healthy when someone’s, like, talk about seasonality, in this season that I’m in right now, I can’t make this a priority.

Nicole:

This is what I’ve got.

Shira:

Because then you don’t feel like a failure when you actually gain or are ten steps behind where you were.

Nicole:
Sometimes you feel like a success. Post pandemic, I was like, I only gained 22 pounds. Good job. Because somewhere in there, you must have exercised an amount of awareness around your fudge consumption that you did not intend to. Because I gave myself a free pass, I was like, this is the thing I’m not going to worry about, because we’re trying to stay alive. You are not going to sit here and worry about fudge, girl, eat your fudge and keep it pushing. And so when I came out of it, I was like, oh, not that bad, Nicole. So you know what you got to do? Get back to it.

Shira:

Yeah. I think that the reality is it was incredibly honest, and I think that when we indulge from a place of not being in reality, and then our gap between what we want and what we’re doing day to day gets farther and farther away from us, we feel it’s, like, scary. And then we feel like, oh, I don’t have willpower. I don’t have it in me. Exactly. You weren’t that motivated. It’s different. And I talk about that a lot in my practice because people will be like, I’m feeling so lazy, and whatever. I’m like, were you being lazier, or was this just not able to be a priority?

Nicole:

Were you just tired? Which is allowed. I think that what I love about the language you’re calling out that I am constantly trying to reprogram in myself is these absolutes of, I don’t have willpower, I am lazy. Who is telling you you are these things? Aren’t we all lazy sometimes? I’m laziest when I am tired after working very hard. So lazy is not bad. It is an appropriate response to the amount of work I put in. Good job being lazy. But saying things like, I’m lazy or I don’t have willpower is bananas because now you’re telling yourself you’re this thing that prevents you from actually being what you really are.

Shira:

Totally. And the interesting thing about willpower, which is now kind of a dirty word.

Nicole:

It is, sure, in the industry.

Shira:

The interesting thing about it is that there’s all this research that showed people used to think it was a personality trait. Some people had willpower and some people didn’t. But what we know now is that it is a limited resource, and we pull from it from all different things, not just food things. We pull from it for I’ll give you an example for my own life. Not yelling at your child when they’re being crazy, not honking at people on the road when they’re like, whatever, paying your taxes, doing all the things that are like adult things that you have to do that you don’t really want to do. You’re foregoing, like, what you actually want to go for, what you kind of have to go do. 

And so I think anytime you’re doing that, you’re pulling from that same willpower well, and that’s why at the end of the day, after you put your kids to sleep and you did all your work and all your emails, it’s kind of hard not to raid the pantry.

And so I think that then people think that they don’t have willpower when in reality, they’re just all out of willpower. And there are ways to combat that. You can come at it a couple of different ways, but just being honest and being like, oh, wow, so maybe changing that self thought of being like, oh, I am this, I am this. It’s like, no, you’re tired and you’re stressed. There are ways around that you can get out of that. But first things first, don’t be unkind in that way.

Nicole:

That’s so good, because even when you were saying that, I was thinking about, I mean, you even see the memes about how top of the day, I’m eating my salad, I’m working out, I’m doing all my things, by end of the day, I’m eating a half a piece of cake, and all these things.

Shira:

That willpower well ran dry.

Nicole:

It was just empty. And the idea that it’s like, oh, I have willpower, I just ran out by the end of the day because I used it all on important things exactly. Is really, really powerful.

Shira:

And obviously, for anyone that’s listening, it’s kind of like I’m sure there are people like, oh, my God, that’s me, too. I feel like that there are a couple of ways around that, and I really focus on two. The first is we talk a ton about mindfulness, which it’s kind of an eye roll at this moment, because it’s like, we know we have to be more mindful. How do we do that without moving to an ashram for like, six months?

Nicole:

Which means we’re moving everything else. How do I be more mindful without getting rid of my kids, getting rid of my bills, getting rid of my house?

Shira:

Exactly. So a part of it is how do you pay attention to what you’re eating while you’re eating? Well, one really easy way to do that is to eat with your nondominant hand.

Nicole:

I’ve heard these little things like eat with chopsticks. Are these, like, real things?

Shira:

Of course it is, because it’s like, you know when you’re driving along a long road and you’re kind of like, cruise control it, and then you’re kind of like, maybe a little tired, maybe a little distracted, whatever, and all of a sudden that, do you need coffee light comes on, you’re kind of like, boom, it perks you right up. What happens is we all go through these phases. We’re kind of auto.

Nicole:

Auto piloting.

Shira:

Autopilot. Yeah. And so it kind of helps us pay anything you can do to pay more attention to eating while you’re eating. Another thing that I talk about a lot is I think a lot of people, it’s like, eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full. That’s really good advice. But what if you’re not really sure?

Nicole:
Yeah!

Shira:

And I think a lot of people aren’t.

Nicole:
Or if it’s really good, we might listen, guys, I literally have a guy who’s, like, I am announcing that I am full. This is so good. I will continue to eat.

Shira:
Yes. And there are those moments where you’re consciously kind of in that same way. But I think a lot of people know what it feels like to be hungry, and people know what it feels like to be overly stuffed in a non-judgmental way. But if you can access that and be like, when was the last time I was overly stuffed? And it didn’t feel great, again, in a non-judgmental way. When was last time? At breakfast maybe like, before breakfast, you were really hungry.

But I think a lot of people don’t know what it means to feel like 25. Check in at 25%. What does it mean to be, like, 50% and 75%? Just to get back into understanding what those hunger cues are. So that’s one piece of the puzzle that can bypass the need for willpower, which is just engaging the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that’s the most evolved part of the decider. It’s the decider, but it’s also the part of the brain that is most affected by stress and distractions and all of that. So that makes it hard.

The other thing that you can do to bypass willpower altogether is make some decisions ahead of time, so you don’t even need to rely on willpower.

Nicole:

Oh, I love that. Lighten your mental load.

Shira:

Lighten your mental load in the same way that I think very successful people kind of have a uniform. You and I have talked about this.

Nicole:

We talked about uniforms. I’m like, I need, like, five things in my closet that I know look good, so I can just get up.

Shira:

Exactly. You’re not thinking about it. So it’s like, have you I don’t love the idea of meal prep because it’s kind of like, I don’t know necessarily what I want to eat for dinner.

Nicole:

And it also can feel like another thing I’m going to fail at if I which is not a good feeling.

Shira:

Right. I’m very into this idea of meal assembly. So it’s like, do you have, like, to me, I’ll poach some chicken. Some chicken thighs.

Nicole:

That’s what we do in our house. We just call it, like, top of the week leftover prep.

Shira:

There you go.

Nicole:

It’s like yesterday I made chili chicken stir fry, a thing of rice.

Shira:

Okay, so you’re already crushing meal prep.

Nicole:

I don’t even count that. I didn’t know that was I thought meal prep was the pretty bowls and the oh, no divided up portions or whatever.

Shira:

Oh, no. I mean, you’re crushing it because no, you’re making things ahead of time. I think for a lot of people, for me, it could also just be like, even just like, chopping some things up, like having some things, like parboiled, having some things poached so that you could throw together. Assembly, yes, so make some decisions ahead of time. So if we’re just talking about willpower and how I think a lot of people worry that they don’t have it. Everyone has it. You just might be, like, tapped out.

Nicole:

This alone literally throw money at you.

Shira:

<laughs>

Nicole:

Okay. Shira, because I’m over here. Like, when I tell you the idea of being tapped, because there’s so many overlaps, especially as driven, hardworking women and mamas, the overlap of this in areas of our life. I mean, when you end the day and it’s like, look, I’m putting my kid to sleep and bath time is just stressing me out, and I snapped. You’re not a bad mother. You’re out of your willpower. That typically would keep you from snapping.

There’s so many places where I think we are inclined to beat ourselves up because we want to be our best without realizing that we may be coming from this well of energy, and we’re all out! That’s really good.

Shira:

And I think thinking of ways that you can kind of reconnect back to yourself in a way that’s not Ashrami, but then also thinking of ways that you can bypass it all together, like knowing that at the end of the day, around bath time, it’s really hard. That’s also, coincidentally, the time that children typically start to get, like, wild, crazy, the witching hour. So knowing, like, hey, maybe for like, ten minutes before you get ready for the bath, you’re taking like a mental just like “you got this. It’s about to be a thing.” We’re going to come in with the best energy we can bring in that moment. And it may not be perfect, but we got this. And then afterwards, this is my plan to unwind.

I just interviewed someone amazing who is an art educator, and she talked all about having a creative practice. And I’ve talked about that then in my practice, which is that I think everyone’s looking for a way to downshift after bedtime, after kids bedtime, and to unwind in this way. That’s like having busy hands, but not busy hands because you’re like cleaning the dishes or picking up toys. It’s like focusing on one singular thing in the moment.

Nicole:

This is so good. I don’t know about you all, but this is so like I’m having all the light bulbs right now. It’s so transformative to me because it is about this sort of twofold of one building in grace, building, an awareness building in mindfulness, but that bypassing by shifting that mental load. 

So, truth moment, you all know I keep it all the way real here. I got into like a little sniff, snippet, I don’t know, a snafu, whatever you want to call it, because it wasn’t like a full fledged disagreement with my guy yesterday, but he was like bringing stuff. We hadn’t seen each other. He travels for gigs. It was a weekend. I was with the baby all weekend, like all these things. And then he’s wanting to kind of do the download at the end of the night when we finally had finished everything and I’m over here like, can we put on a mindless movie and zone out?

Shira:

You’re tapped out.

Nicole:

Oh, I’m tapped out and I got snippy where he was like, what’s the password again for the TV? A tiny thing, y’all, I am putting myself out here. It was my fault. I’m sorry. I was the one, I’m the issue. Taylor Swift said it. I’m the problem. It’s me calling out, right? So he asked what the pin number was for the TV and I was like, I already told you. Like, I thought you know everything. I was not nice, I was tired, I was in a mood, like all that. But this morning I was like, I am a terrible girlfriend. I’m awful. But I realized and of course I apologize to all that stuff. We’ll talk about it, whatever. But one of the things I’m going to bring to the table is this concept of maybe the end of the day is not the best time for us to do this. We have flexible schedules. Maybe in the morning is when we’ll do our agenda debrief. What do we need from each other over oatmeal versus at the end of the day when we’re tired and we just should just like veg out and cuddle.

Shira:

I love that.

Nicole:

That is so good. And you know what I’m going to do too, to top into that creative part that you just said on the way home, I’m going to stop and I’m going to pick up an art project e thing, because I’m dreading talking about this because it’s the end of the day and my willpower is all tapped out. But I want to be my best self. I’m going to bring an activity for us to do while we talk about it.

Shira:

That would be so nice.

Nicole:

Because that’ll be like talking our issues over with our nondominant hand. <laughs>

Shira:
Exactly. And it’s a connection. And I think that a lot of times, I mean, what he was trying to download may have been logistical, but it probably was also like, I miss you, I want to connect with you.

Nicole:

For sure.

Shira:

But it makes sense if you’re tapped out. I love it so much because it’s so self aware and it’s like, I want this. I love this person. I want those things too. But I know at the end of the day, I just know myself. At the end of the day, I’m tapped out. I literally just hold me and let’s veg.

Nicole:

Like Vegas was in the space. But it’s also still I mean, again, the things he wants to talk about are valid and they’re important and all that. And I just think that, again, cycling it back to this whole process around learning ourselves and being kind to ourselves and knowing that we’re going to build in areas we’re not going to be great. I do want to ask you, a lot of us echo these similar behaviors when we have areas of challenges. And therapy will tell you it starts when you’re young, right? In relation to food and how we are. Is that where it comes from? Do we learn our initial conversation around food from our parents?

Shira:

Yeah, completely. I mean, I think that what’s really interesting is barring any major developmental stuff.

Nicole:

No major trauma thingies.

Shira:

Kids have the ability to self regulate, which is why you see a three year old sometimes eat like a bite of a cupcake and then put it down and then forget about it. Because if they are physiologically full, they’re not going to continue eating.

Nicole:

Because that even if it’s like sweet, yummy, delicious thing.

Shira:

At a certain age, at around six or seven, we kind of start bypassing that. But before that, we will not eat past the point of being physiological full.

Nicole:

So what happens? Is it just our human mind deciding we want more?

Shira:

No, it’s that we’re socialized to eat because it’s someone’s birthday or I made this for you or other kids don’t have or finish all your food.

Nicole:

Finish all your food. Wow!

Shira:

Or is this a celebration? Or this is I’m so sorry that you had to go to get a shot. Here’s the ice cream cone. And I think about that a lot with my son because it is fun to get treats.

Nicole:

Oh, sure.

Shira:

I remember really specifically, and I’ve written about this, that I remember it was actually when they were still getting tested all the time for COVID. He had to be tested every week in school. And it kind of hit him that I have to do this all the time.

Nicole:

And he was just like, dreading it.

Shira:

Crying and so upset. And I remember they were like, do you. Want a lollipop. But the nurse showed me first to be like, is this okay? And I was like, yeah, but it’s not because you were brave or you weren’t. That doesn’t matter. You can cry if you want to, all of it. Sometimes having a treat is like a fun thing. It wasn’t to soothe him, it was because sometimes you get delicious treats during the day. Enjoy that.

Nicole:

That’s good.

Shira:

And so I think that the reality is that it’s really common. And I think we all I mean, listen, the other piece of this is that we tell ourselves that we’re not going to do these things as parents.

Nicole:

Oh, no. But sometimes we’ll be quieter. Here’s a lollipop for sure.

Shira:

So I think let’s be real. Yeah, but also yeah, I think that we’re socialized to eat for all these external reasons that don’t have to do with physiological hunger…

Nicole:

And then that leads to where we are as adults. So I’ve got an eleven year old girl who is just finished elementary school, going into middle school, and for the first time we’ve always sort of it’s interesting because my kids came in and I’ve talked about this a little bit, but they came in with lots of food issues. I actually don’t know how much I’ve talked about this, but with sort of respecting their right to their story, they had difficulties with food insecurity. It just wasn’t readily available. And they each have a very different relationship with food. One of my daughters will eat whatever she can eat whenever she can get it, leaning towards foods that are stereotypically, maybe snack related, because that was what was readily available. It’s just familiar. I have another daughter who does not like who for a long time thought she didn’t like food because she was always spoiled or it wasn’t flavored because she didn’t have choices around her food.

So I had to recalibrate that. And then I have my youngest daughter who’s with me all the time, who I’ve raised to basically say, oh, there’s foods and we want to eat a variety of them, and we want to crunchy and they’re good for your body and they’re fuel. But she’s never had to think about food in relation to will I get fat or will I be small, will I look good? Will I not look good? All these things that enter the dialogue from peers, in a lot of ways, it’s not in our house.

How do I make sure if there is any way to make sure? I mean, this is probably a tall order, but what do you recommend for language as she’s getting into this formative time where her friends will just want to grab a slice of pizza and ice cream and there will be birthday parties and stuff and she’s like, my favorite foods are tacos, pizza, and spaghetti. But I’m like, girl, you got to eat a salad, but not because you need to be skinny. What does a mom do?

Shira:

I think a couple of things. I think the term growing food is a really good term.

Nicole:
That’s good.

Shira:

Because it takes out like good, bad. This is good for you because then people kids will associate something being good for you. It’s also being something that you have to have.

Nicole:

And sometimes that feels negative. It feels like force at that age completely.

Shira:

And then they start to feel like, well, why do I, is it bad?

Nicole:

Well, they feel that way about everything.

Shira:

Exactly.

Nicole:

A teenager literally is like, if you tell me I have to have it, I don’t want it.

Shira:

Exactly. And I think adults feel that way too. So I think the term growing food in terms of like there are all different types of foods. There are foods that are more celebratory and that you have at birthday parties and stuff like that. That’s fun and that’s great. That’s all part of a healthy eating. But we really, also really need these growing foods. Protein, vegetables with all these nutrients, minerals.

Nicole:
I love that, growing foods, celebration foods. So is it tying it to the purpose behind the food rather than tying it to the feeling or the emotion.

Shira:

Definitely. And just taking out that there are like and we’ve talked about this too, there’s no good or bad foods. But there are foods that are going to help you grow that have to be on the plate. And the rule that I have that has really worked for me and clients of mine is that I want kids and some kids who have significant developmental stuff going on, this is really hard, but I think it’s something to work towards. I want kids to be able to tolerate everything on their plate. Obviously, we’re not forcing kids to eat. Some kids have really specific things about things, touching and stuff like that. But you can tolerate that on your plate. You don’t have to have it. I’m not even forcing you to try it.

Nicole:

So desensitizing.

Shira:

Yeah. Where it’s just kind of like this can exist on your plate together.

Nicole:

It’s not tied to an emotion. That’s so good.

Shira:

Exactly.

Nicole:

What I found with my youngest one is that she’s very independent. Choice is really important.

Shira:

Absolutely, all kids.

Nicole:

Especially when it comes to her food. So what we’ve always done, and I have talked about this with raising her, is we let her choose her meals from categories. So I’ll buy crunchies. I’ll buy fresh things. I’ll buy, like, not good and bad, but crunchies might be a pretzel, a cheese it once in a while. We’ll have tortilla chips, sometimes like regular potato chips or cheetos, something. But you have to pick a crunchy. We want a fresh thing. We want a green thing. Green thing meaning like a veggie. We want like a main. So a main might be your sandwich or a drumstick or whatever. And just kind of letting her decide within those categories what her plate looks like.

Shira:

I think that’s great.

Nicole:
A squishy, which would be like a yogurt, an applesauce or whatever, pudding or whatever. So it has allowed her to style her own food choices and kind of know. But my concern as she’s getting older is I do notice she’ll opt out of veggies and I’ll say, did you have a salad? It’s almost like a natural progression towards if I can get away with it, I will. So I don’t know if that’s a flavor palate thing or an understanding thing or is that just a…

Shira:

Well, I think we are programmed to crave sugar and want sugar and that’s always going to be the dry thing. It just is. I think a lot of kids need a ton of different exposures to ways that they might potentially in some cases like 10, 15, 20 different exposures. A kid might think that they don’t like a thing and then you kind of give up. But I think a lot of people might give up too soon and it makes sense because it does suck and it’s hard to waste food and it feels hard.

But I think that another really amazing thing. And again, I know that this can be eye roll inducing because not everyone has time to do this, but getting kids involved in the process does really help because and again, depending on how young it is, even when Oliver was really, really young, I’d be like, hey, can you close the fridge door or something? Or like pouring in like a thing olives.

Nicole:
That isn’t as daunting though, because I think sometimes when we hear get your kids involved, social media thinks that means like, oh my gosh, they’re chopping their thing, I’m cleaning up after them. It can literally just be in the I grew up because my parents are African and that’s very traditional in our culture. I just sat in the kitchen. I literally was just there.

Shira:

My son used to just lie at my feet like a puppy. He would bring his blanket and he, I think, got exposed to a lot of different foods that way. I would let him try little things here and there and let him smell things and feel the textures of different things and stuff like that. Let him drop in olives to this different thing. I think that we have to understand that anytime a kid is involved with helping, it is going to take longer and be messier. So it’s not always realistic.

Nicole:

Listen, that is the nature of parenting.

Shira:

Totally. Yeah. And sometimes that’s the really beautiful thing. We let them get messy and then also, just to be realistic, sometimes during the week I’m like, we got to just we got to keep it going. But I think getting them involved does give them a sense of ownership over it and it ends up being really helpful in the long run. But then also maybe your daughter doesn’t like just, like, traditional salad, but maybe she would love cucumber and tomatoes with, like, vinegar and pickled onions or something. I mean, maybe that’s kind of like.

Nicole:

No, but I know what you mean.

Shira:

Some kids might want crudites, some kids might want roasted vegetables. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as we find the thing and we can find it together. And here’s how. Oliver so, I mean, they all want to just be taught things, and this is how the roasting process happens. And this is how when you get the little crispy bits, those are actually the tastiest bits. And so good, I think getting them excited about it.

Nicole:
Yeah, part of that process. Yeah. We had a garden for, like, two years, especially during the pandemic, like, a full fledged, like I grew up.

Shira:

That’s amazing.

Nicole;

And I just would get her out there, like, water or bring me to this, or it’s just harvest time and help me wash them. And I think that familiarity, it’s easier for me to do because that was something I was lacking growing up, because I mentioned to you, like, offline my parents being African, vegetables came into the house, but then they were pureed before they hit our plate.

So I just really I remember when I finally started taking the veggie discovery journey as an adult, I was like, I don’t know much about vegetables, right? Because they’re mostly ground up. They were in Ghana. It’s really regional, right. So it’s like tomatoes and onions and garlic and just certain things that I knew. But I was like, there’s asparagus and artichoke, and I don’t know how to cook. How come I never eat this? But I had to do work with, basically a food therapist in order to engage in that process.

So all of this is so valuable and helpful, and I think the biggest takeaway for me is oh, my goodness. Grace in the process, kindness. Your kids are watching how you treat yourself. I know you had, like, a moment. You all didn’t see her. She had a yes moment.

Shira:

That’s really important, because when you were talking about, what do I do as a mom? I was going to say get them involved. Don’t feel like if they don’t like it at first, that’s the thing. But the other big thing, and I think you’re probably already doing this, is be mindful about the way you’re talking about yourself. That’s because your kids are watching. Your daughters are watching.

Nicole:

That’s so good.

Shira:

I remember just not having ever known, when I was younger, a role model of a female that was confident in her body.

Nicole:

It’s almost felt, I think, growing up, that that was a unifying point of being female. Correct. We don’t like our body.

Shira:

In fact, someone gives you a compliment, it’s like, oh, really?

Nicole:

Self-deprecating. Or that one scene in Mean Girls reverend’s in front of the mirror, and they’re all like, my arms are too big. My things are too fat. And then she looks at her, and she’s like because she didn’t have issues, the main character, and she’s like, I have really bad breath in the morning. Because she felt like she just had to offer something else that she disliked as part of being a girl.

Shira:

That’s really important.

Nicole:

And it’s like, that doesn’t have to be our reality.

Shira:

It doesn’t have to be our reality. And I think the real I had a client recently, it literally brought me to tears, who kind of was able to combat a lot of this stuff. She was able to lose some weight, but just as importantly, really feel confident for the first time. And she had been in this place, and I’m not saying to me, all bodies are summer bodies. All that is true. But she didn’t ever feel comfortable getting in the pool with her daughter. And so her daughter was two, and she got in the pool for the first time, and her daughter started crying because she was like, I didn’t know you knew how to swim. It was so much beyond beyond it was like, who cares what you eat? But it meant so much to her that she was able to get there. And I think that however we get there, let’s just kind of really try and get there and be what kind of we needed to hear, because I needed to hear more women being like, yeah, I do look pretty good.

Nicole:

Yeah. Or like, it’s so funny because just even in that portion of the conversation, it reminded me of some of the wins that I’m not calculating because I’ve been so big on the non-scale victories, right? So I’m like, oh, my blood pressure went down, or this, and I’ve learned to really celebrate those, but you just reminded me that I could celebrate that. The other day, I was like, oh, I put on a couple of pounds, and I need looser clothing. Not, I need a bigger size. Not that. Like, oh, I need, like I have a really good friend, Ashley Lemieux, who was talking about how she bought a pair of pants with rips in the knees, and when she put them on and sat down, it split, like, all the way up. And the way she described it was, I guess my thigh needed more freedom. And I was like, yes, girl, your thigh needed freedom. And I think that those are some of the things that are big takeaways. That’s a win, too.

Shira:

That’s a huge win, and that’s a huge gift to your girls. It really is. And I think that a lot of us growing up in our generation really, really needed that.

Nicole:

And now we get to be that.

Shira:

And now we can be that and break out of that generational cycle of just like being so mean to ourselves. And getting to watch what that does to that generation of girls is really exciting.

Nicole:

Because even if you don’t lose a pound, at least if we’re still going to be heavy, or if weight loss is even your goal, but even if you don’t change your body to where you want it to be, you’re still in it. So at least be nice to yourself while you’re still in it.

Shira:

I think that that’s really important because I think that there’s this weird thing now where it’s like, I am so all bodies are summer bodies. And at the same time, there is nothing wrong with someone wanting to look and feel their best, whatever that is to them.

Nicole:

Absolutely.

Shira:

But I think that owning that and just being like, yeah, if someone were to give you a compliment and say something like, oh, you look really good, be like, you know, I’m feeling really good. Thank you.

Nicole:

Yes, just taking it. That’s good. And also keeping in mind that while you’re on your journey, you can’t hate yourself along the way.

Shira:

And accepting where you I think there is this wherever you are right now, accepting where you are right now is not the thing that’s going to keep you stuck where you are. If your goal is to move forward, it’s actually the thing that’s going to help you be like when you kind of take a little step back. Because anytime a client’s working with me, they’ll be going, going, going there and take a little step back. And it’s what you do in that moment, because in that moment, you can be like, it’s all over. I was working so hard. Now it’s all over. Now I’m off the wagon. I’m doing this. Or do you, which is harder to be like. That was disappointing.

Nicole:

Yes.

Shira:

I feel just so disappointed. That was disappointing. I’ve been working so hard, and then I feel like, what do I do right now? Well, what do I learn from this?

Nicole:
That’s so good.

Shira:

How do I use that to fuel myself forward in just knowing myself better and knowing what my triggers are and knowing what kind of, like, gets in my way?

Nicole:

This right here. Okay. Everything I needed in this moment. I’m going to listen to this on repeat because I can’t keep you in my pocket, but I will be texting you. Shira, thank you for all of this. And where can we get more of your wisdom? I know that you’ve got a private practice too. So sorry to fill up your books, girls.

Shira:

No, please.

Nicole:

People are trying to grab some of this. So where how can we work with you? How can we get more?

Shira:

Well, ShiraRD.com is where you can find me to email me. I’m also on Instagram at Sherard. You can DM me. We can go from there. I also wrote the book The Food Therapist.

Nicole:

Get it, get it, get it.

Shira:

And my podcast, Good Instincts on Dear Media.

Nicole:

Oh, you’re amazing. You’re incredible. I love you to pieces forever. Never ever leave my life. Where have you been this whole time. Thank you for being here.

Shira:

Thank you so much.

 
In this episode on Body Issues & Raising Girls, Shira and I chat about:
  • Learning our own triggers when it comes to emotional responses to food (and LIFE!),
  • How to be intentional while eating,
  • Why it all comes back to grace, again and again,
  • Plus, the reason we feel strongly about being the role models we needed while growing up.

Resources and links mentioned in this episode:
  • Connect with Shira Barlow HERE and listen to her podcast, Good Instincts, HERE
  • Pre-order my memoir, Nothing is Missing, HERE!
  • Send me a DM on Instagram and Facebook!
  • Book a 20 min call to see if working together is the right next step for you!
  • Don’t miss our last chat about doing more so you can do less! Listen here!
  • I love reading your reviews of the show! You can share your thoughts on Apple here!

More about The Nicole Walters Podcast:

If you’re looking for the strategies and encouragement to pursue a life of purpose, this is the podcast for you! Week after week Nicole Walters will have you laughing hysterically while frantically taking notes as she shares her own personal stories and answers your DMs about life, business, and everything in between.

As a self-made multimillionaire and founder of the digital education firm, Inherit Learning Company, Nicole Walters is the “tell-it-like-it-is” best friend that you can’t wait to hang out with next.

When Nicole shows up, she shows OUT, so tune in each week for a laugh, a best friend chat, plus the strategies and encouragement you need to confidently live a life of purpose.

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