When it comes to appearance and beauty, our own perspective on ourselves can be harsher than that of other people. we chat to functional nutritionist jackie bowker about some simple ways to love your body.
nuut: jackie what are some common reasons you see women put their personal health on the back burner?
jb: women are so naturally giving - always giving to everybody and everything before themselves, and we are not great at accepting help. there’s a lot of resistance there and it’s deeply engrained across generations. we serve others first. it’s one of the biggest gender differences i see in my clinical practice. life gets busy, with kids, jobs, there’s always something to do or take care of and we seem to be ok with letting our own health suffer in exchange.
nuut: what has your personal journey been with discovering your sense of worth and identity?
jb: it has been such a journey! i really only started to think about this in my 30’s when i realised i wasn’t living my purpose, my true why. i was a leader in a highly-regarded marketing role, climbing the corporate ladder, highly paid, living the dream. i knew i was good at my job, yet why wasn’t i truly happy? it didn’t make any sense. i became so unwell i decided to leave my job to recover my health and in doing so discovered my true purpose in life - to empower people to take control of their health and live their very best life. i went back to university and studied a master of human nutrition, i haven’t stopped studying since, and will always be a lifelong learner in this space that i yearn and crave to know more. i’m now living my dream and love every second!
nuut: how can we take practical steps to loving ourselves and our bodies more?
jb: i’m really passionate about our ‘internal chatter’. one of the most effective strategies is to master the language we are using on repeat in our heads to our advantage. most women i know have negative thought patterns on repeat about how much they dislike themselves. turning this around to loving, kind and gentle thoughts is a giant leap towards loving yourself and has a knock-on effect in how much love you then have to project outward. i always advise people to speak to themselves how they would speak to a young child - imagine the kindness in the world if we all did that!
nuut: what are some of the most important things women need to know about health and nutrition?
jb: well first of all - what’s on your fork is so important! what we eat literally feeds the cells that make up our body - so take that seriously as you only have one temple. a good understanding of whole foods is critical - real food grows in the ground, you can pick from a tree or an animal - fruits, veggies, fish, meats, eggs, nuts, seeds, that’s where i recommend the focus be which is an anti-inflammatory ancestral based diet that humans generally do very well off. you can personalise and build in personal tastes within that of course. i always encourage people to eat foods they actually feel like eating and enjoy! how a food tastes to you is associated with your liking and enjoyment of that food. food and appetite is to be celebrated! one of my favourite sayings is if you didn’t have an appetite you would be dead - intuitive eating is a space i’m really passionate about and a growth opportunity for many people. and then beyond eating real food that you actually feel like and enjoy the taste of - we need to focus on how you’re eating and good digestion, gut and brain health, physical activity, emotional and spiritual health - it’s a journey and you start where you can and build tiny habits over time towards optimal health.
nuut: it’s not always easy to talk about the shame we feel about our bodies and our food. how do you start difficult conversations about body image and disordered eating?
jb: i come from a place of non-judgement and hold space for the person to share as much or as little as they want to. this is a complex issue, and one that we are still learning about. everybody is on their own journey. my approach is to guide and empower people with education so they can take control of their health and make informed choices. i attribute my client results to these honest conversations that are filled with love but also very credible and based on scientific evidence-based research around what our body needs to thrive. we need to be taught this information in schools! once people understand what they need to actually feed their organs from the inside, as opposed to literally starving their cells, they tend to slowly build in more nutrient dense habits. it’s a delicate space, and a true privilege to be of service in this way when people feel they’re ready and open to healing themselves.
nuut: as a society, we tend to aim for perfection. how can we let go of perfectionism and embrace acceptance?
jb: i teach the concept that we are all perfect creations exactly as we are. it doesn’t mean you can’t have goals but embracing yourself as perfect means coming at it from a place of love and acceptance.
nuut: if you could give every woman one piece of advice for loving her body, what would it be?
tell yourself every chance you get how much you love yourself, what a fantastic job you’re doing, how amazing you are. speak to yourself like you would speak to a child that’s just done their best in a running race. be kind and gentle, that love you put in will come back to yourself in droves.
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