Dawn believes that food is meant to be enjoyed. That eating healthily does not mean depriving yourself. She knows from her own experience that you feel so much better when you eat in a way that brings your body into balance. As she comes from a long-lived family, she figures that she’s likely to live a long time! So she wants it to be fun and to have the energy and vitality to do everything she hopes to!
Dawn’s first degree was in maths, and she used to work internationally in the IT industry, in England, Europe and Asia. She retrained as a nutritional therapist, holds a degree in Nutritional Therapy and graduated from the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in London with distinction.
We all have our own unique stories around our eating. Here is mine . . .
(Excerpt From The Body Effect book)
My first experience of nourishment was not a happy one. I was fed by a tube down my nose. The nurses had to put mittens on my hands to stop me pulling it out.
I came into this world prematurely, weighing just 3 pounds 10 ounces. Whilst I was taken to the incubator, my mum was rushed off to emergency care with serious pre-eclampsia. She didn’t see me until I was a week old and didn’t get to hold me for several weeks. My mum had desperately wanted to breastfeed me, but couldn’t even express milk, as it would have been toxic.
Finally, I reached five pounds at five weeks old and was released from hospital. My mum tells a story of how, when I was four months old, she looked after a neighbour’s baby, for a couple of days. Not liking having this baby in the house, I got very distressed every time my mum picked him up. It wasn’t until he had gone and she carried me into every room in the house to show he wasn’t there that the tension went out of my body. My mum was sure I felt she was going to abandon me again. Just like she had, through no choice of her own, when I was born.
I grew from an anxious baby into an anxious child. I don’t remember it, but I’m told that I didn’t speak at school for the whole of my first term (September to December). On my brother’s third birthday, when I was seven, we moved to the Caribbean. My brother was too young for school, but my sister and I attended the English school, which had just two classrooms and twelve children! Most of the time we ran around barefoot. On weekends we went sailing and had barbecues on the beach. Rain was so rare that we’d put on our swimsuits and run out to play in it. Of course, the rain there was warm!
This all changed a few weeks after my tenth birthday. With the rest of my family still in Curaçao, my mum took me to boarding school in England. I didn’t see her or the rest of my family for three and a half months. Not great for a sensitive child who already had abandonment issues! It was a complete culture shock, not a child-friendly environment. We weren’t allowed toys, music, posters, plants—not even a teddy or family photo. As it was run like a military training school, I became very efficient at hospital corners! (In case you are not familiar with hospital corners, you have to tuck the sheet under the mattress and fold the top half back at a forty-five-degree angle.) If our beds weren’t made to exacting standards, they would be stripped and we had to start over. To this day, I can’t stand hospital corners.
Every Sunday morning, we had to eat two thin, dry crackers with milk or Ribena (a blackcurrant squash) so we wouldn’t pass out in chapel. Only after the hour-long service did we get breakfast. Not being used to fresh milk or Ribena, I couldn’t stand either. I used to surreptitiously pour mine down the sink. After breakfast it was time to write a letter home. (This was long before internet or mobile phones.) As the housemistress told us she read our letters before posting, we were always careful about what we said!
By the time I was twelve, my family had moved to Holland, so I would fly home for holidays. A week or two before the midterm break, I decided to stop eating. I couldn’t skip meals—we had to get our names ticked off as we went into the dining room. But I started picking at my food, just having a few mouthfuls. I was a slim child, yet had always eaten well. I didn’t think I was overweight and was happy with my size. I couldn’t tell you why I suddenly wanted to be thinner. Clearly, the timing was no coincidence. Of course, my family noticed I had lost a lot of weight. Unable to explain, I said the food at school was horrible. My poor body was half starved, and I couldn’t stop eating. When I flew back to England, I was still slim, but had regained the loss. For the first time in my life, I felt overweight.
This led to years of disordered eating, and eventually an eating disorder. I was bulimic for two years. However badly you think you eat, I’ve probably been there!
In those days, most people hadn’t heard of bulimia. Princess Diana was a remarkable woman, who raised awareness. I can’t imagine how awful it must have been to go through that in the public eye. For myself, I knew nowhere to get help and wasn’t able to talk to anyone about it. Eventually, I told my best friend. It made me feel less alone.
Finally, through sheer willpower, I managed to stop the binges and purging. But my relationship with food was still complicated. It was as if, in my head, I still had an eating disorder, but on the outside things were fairly ‘normal’. Whilst I was no longer binging and purging and rarely overate, it was hard work.
I was trying to control my body. And eating ‘normally’ took effort. Of course, I had a couple of relapses, at a particularly stressful time in my life.
Eventually, I started therapy with a clinical psychologist which made an enormous difference. I wish I had known then what I know now. My body was so out of balance, no wonder I had cravings; no wonder I ate in such a crazy way. It’s hard to pin down exactly when it happened; there wasn’t a eureka moment where I suddenly realised I no longer had cravings, I no longer had the desire to binge-eat. But over time it happened. I have been completely free of any disordered eating for over a quarter of a century; completely free of cravings or the desire to overeat. I am comfortable in my body. Because my body is in balance, I want to nourish it.
Funnily enough, it wasn’t my own history with eating that led me to study nutrition, although I’m sure that played a role. It’s certainly a reason why I feel addressing the underlying imbalances in your body is so critical. Otherwise, eating healthily remains a permanent struggle. Not a great way to live! Imagine what your life would be like if you let go of that struggle; how much better you would feel, how much mental energy you would free up. From personal experience, as well as success stories of clients, I can tell you that it really is possible. And when you free yourself of your struggle with food, when you feel so much better in yourself, you change your whole life. It becomes so much easier to be the you that you want to be. To fully express yourself and be who you truly are in the world. We are living in crazy times and the world needs the best you NOW!