A word from our coaches

Breaking the vicious cycle of unhealthy eating


By Noni Boon

Most people know a fair bit about good nutrition and what they should or shouldn’t eat. We had it drummed into us in third grade when we learnt about the food pyramid!

And yet many of us still find ourselves yo-yo dieting, making poor food choices, starving ourselves and being subconsciously trapped by “all or nothing” negative thinking.

While knowledge is power and knowing what to put into your body is extremely relevant, in this article I want to go a little deeper and look at the underlying issues that cause people to binge and purge, abuse their bodies, and ultimately feel bad about themselves.

I have helped many women with weight issues, some with obesity and some with eating disorders. Each and every time, the underlying cause stems from some type of pain or trauma. Research reveals that 75 per cent of obese women have suffered some form of physical or sexual abuse. In order to cope with the unpleasant feelings that arise out of pain, people self-soothe or numb themselves with addictive substances.

Sugar, drugs, cigarettes, caffeine, fats and chemicals are addictive substances. People eat and drink to avoid pain. The empty calories in alcohol, along with the fatty foods consumed during the consumption ritual, lead to poor nutrition and weight gain.

Unhealthy eating is maintained by “all or nothing” negative thinking. I have had personal experience with this very common type of thinking and, as a result, developed a terrible relationship with food.

In my earlier years, I was an aerobics instructor and personal trainer. It was part of the job to know about good nutrition, weight loss and appropriate fuel for the body. I was also required to have the “perfect” body. If any of the instructors at the gym where I worked put on weight, our classes were cancelled until we lost weight. As a young woman this created a lot of pressure and set up some nasty habits that ruled me for years to come.

I found myself becoming incredibly strict (this was the “all” phase) and then my discipline and willpower would falter and I would go into the “nothing” phase. During the “nothing” phase I would binge on all of the foods I had not allowed myself. This included anything and everything containing sugar, salt or fat. I would binge until I felt sick and ashamed and then go back into the “all” phase and eat only healthy food.

This pattern causes many people a tremendous amount of grief. Through my counselling studies, I discovered the underlying causes of my “all or nothing” thinking and I recognised how destructive I was being. I now have a very healthy relationship with food and I no longer binge and purge.

Creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key. Many years ago, my naturopath suggested that I embrace the 80-20 rule. This means that you eat earth-provided foods 80 per cent of the time and whatever you like the other 20 per cent of the time. This works for me because I have healed my issues and changed my “all or nothing” negative thinking. There are no more wild extremes. Treats can be consumed in moderation without the guilt and without having to hoover up the whole packet. There is nothing worse than feeling out of control and suffering physically as a result.

If you find yourself trapped in the spiral of food or substance addictions, or if you have a love/hate relationship with food, you are not alone. To learn more about healing the underlying causes of poor nutrition, changing negative thinking and addressing your addictions, please contact me at mail@bidesignco.com

My five-principle program, “Life Design”, which addresses all of these issues and much more, will be available on the Balance website in 2014.

noni_three_lowresNoni Boon is a holistic wellbeing specialist, international bestselling author, motivational speaker and guest writer. She thrives on helping people achieve total holistic wellbeing so that they can imbibe a new zest for living and begin to truly flourish.








Noni Boon

Noni Boon is a woman who genuinely cares for people. It gives her great pleasure to be able to live her life helping others to discover their true potential. Noni is a writer, international bestselling author and motivational speaker who holds a Certificate in Holistic Counselling and Communication. She’s also an artist, mother and nature-lover. Learn how to design the life you want with Noni’s online personal development course.


  1. Christina Haas

    October 16, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Thanks Noni for such a clear description of the why’s behind our food issues! And for sharing your own experience as well. I love the idea of the 80-20 rule! I am going to make that work in my life. Wonderful inspiration! Christina

    • Noni Boon

      Noni Boon

      October 16, 2013 at 8:37 pm

      Good luck with the 80-20 rule Christina. Try not to be too hard on yourself if it slips every now and again to 70-30. Habits form from repeating our experiences so it soon becomes a habit to eat more healthy food. Noni 🙂

  2. Claire

    October 16, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    I so know what you mean about the “All or nothing” approach Noni…I’ve been there myself. I tend to also focus on eating healthy nutritional food during the week and allow myself to be more relaxed at weekends. …but lately for me it’s become a question of partnering with my body. Listening to what it wants and needs…and then responding accordingly. When I eat unhealthy food my energy decreases, I get tummy ache and skin breakouts…so I’m now consciously choosing to be healthier even when I could easily be unhealthy…not because I should, but because my body is looking after me and I want to do what I can to look after it. Does that mean I don’t have ‘zag’ times? Not at all, but it means I’m choosing to ‘zig’ much more than I did before, because it works for me and my body… x

    • Noni Boon

      Noni Boon

      October 17, 2013 at 11:16 am

      I like your zig zag analogy Claire. I’ll remember that. N xx

  3. Beverly

    October 17, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Great ideas and information. Love the 80/20 rule I use it too to keep me in check most of the week and a few indulgences on the weekend when the kids want to go for ice cream or a glass of wine to relax after a long week. Thanks for sharing

    • Noni Boon

      Noni Boon

      October 17, 2013 at 11:16 am

      Nothing better than ice cream and a good glass or wine or champagne. Life is to be celebrated as well and food = celebration some of the time. Agree?

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