At just six years old, Lyndi Cohen realised she was different to the other girls in her class.
In her ‘too-tight pink leotard’ at her ballet class, she recalls noticing that ‘my legs were thicker, my tummy was naturally more rounded and my frame was definitely bigger’.
And so began more than a decade dieting, that saw the 29-year-old put on weight from dieting, binge eat in secret and then punish herself through starvation afterwards.
‘I tried everything to lose weight,’ Lyndi told FEMAIL. ‘I’ve lost count of how many diets I have tried in the past. But none of them worked. I felt like a failure.’
While Lyndi Cohen (pictured) is now a glamorous and successful dietitian, she wasn’t always happy in her own skin
As young as six years old, Lyndi (pictured in her teens and today) realised her frame was different to the other girls in her ballet class, and so she started dieting
In her ‘too-tight pink leotard’ at ballet class, Lyndi (pictured in childhood) recalls noticing ‘my legs were thicker, my tummy was naturally more rounded and my frame was definitely bigger’
It was only when Lyndi gave up dieting forever several years ago that she managed to shed the 20 kilograms she’d struggled to lose throughout her teens and twenties.
This prompted her to study nutrition and go on to write The Nude Nutritionist – a book designed to banish guilt around food and stop people from dieting forever.
‘I was stuck in a vicious cycle of dieting and emotional eating – yet I was in denial about how bad it had really become,’ Lyndi recalled of her diet days.
‘I though I was doing the right thing. I would have a really healthy breakfast, have a salad for lunch and healthy snacks, but I’d arrive home and feel ravenous.
‘Even though I saw dietitians and nutritionists, nothing would help. I once cut my hair into a bob in order to make me weigh less.’
It was only when Lyndi gave up dieting forever several years ago that she managed to shed the 20 kilograms she’d struggled to lose throughout her teens and twenties (pictured at school)
I was stuck in a vicious cycle of dieting and emotional eating – yet I was in denial about how bad it had really become,’ Lyndi recalled of her diet days (pictured while dieting)
This would lead to the 29-year-old from Sydney binge eating in secret:
‘I was so ashamed about my eating that a binge would always happen in secret,’ Lyndi said.
‘I’d order the healthy option with friends and family and then hide in the pantry later eating all of my “bad” and “forbidden” foods.’
She said her banned foods were simple things – items like bread, Nutella, peanut butter, breakfast cereals and yoghurt.
‘If I was out with friends, I would refuse dessert, but not be satisfied. I would then go home and eat all the things I’d said no to in public,’ Lyndi said.
‘It was so isolating and I didn’t know how to find help.’
Lyndi (pictured) said she would binge eat in secret after she had eaten out with friends – reaching for bread, pasta, Nutella and other things she put on her ‘banned’ list
At her heaviest, Lyndi said she was a size 18 and was described as ‘clinically obese’. Meanwhile, she also had clothes in her wardrobe that were just a size 8 (pictured during her dieting days)
It was only when Lyndi started to binge up to one or two times a day that she knew she couldn’t go on and live like this – but after a decade of dieting, she no longer knew how to eat healthily
At her heaviest, Lyndi said she was a size 18 and was described as ‘clinically obese’. Meanwhile, she also had clothes in her wardrobe that were just a size 8.
How does the ‘hunger scale’ work?
0 – Beyond hungry. Empty stomach.
1 – Ravenous. Weak and dizzy.
2 – Very hungry. Irritable. Low energy.
3 – Comfortably hungry. Ideal time to eat something.
4 – Peckish. Getting hungry. Feel like ‘I could eat’.
5 – Neutral. Neither hungry nor full.
6 – Slightly full or getting full.
7 – Comfortably full. Ideal time to stop eating.
8 – Quite full.
9 – Very full. Uncomfortable.
10 – Stuffed. Too Full. Feel sick.
‘The magazines I read taught me that I needed to be thin to be happy,’ she said. ‘I one hundred per cent believed this was true.
‘I’d start eating and it’s like I couldn’t stop myself. When I got stressed or tired or bored, food seemed to make me feel temporarily better.’
It was only when Lyndi started to binge up to one or two times a day that she knew she couldn’t go on and live like this.
‘But after a decade of dieting, I didn’t know how to eat healthily without being obsessed.’
Taking matters into her own hands, Lyndi decided to step away from diets once and for all – and learn about her hunger and her own appetite.
‘It took time, but when I stopped emotional eating and adopted a healthier relationship with food, I lost 20 kilograms,’ she said.
‘Obviously that was great, but the real benefit is that thinking about food, calories and my weight no longer controlled my life.’
Nowadays, Lyndi (pictured) is trying to teach others that diets are a waste of time and will not make you happy
Nowadays, Lyndi is trying to teach others that diets are a waste of time and will not make you happy.
‘It’s not worth sacrificing 95 per cent of your life to weigh five per cent less,’ she said.
‘Instead, it’s all about creating a healthier mindset. My book and program are perfect for anyone who has tried lots of diets before and wants to be a mindful eater, without obsessing about food, feeling guilty or having to buy overpriced “superfoods”.
‘Your body, not some diet guru or so-called expert, knows what is best for your body.’
Nowadays, Lyndi is trying to teach others that diets are a waste of time and will not make you happy – she said it’s not about ‘sacrificing 95 per cent of your life to weigh five per cent less’
What are the dos and don’ts of breaking the binge cycle?
* DO listen to your hunger rather than following specific plans.
* DON’T focus on calories, weight or banning food groups.
* DO something simple like go to sleep half an hour earlier and your body will thank you.
* DON’T eat in front of the television, where lots of bingeing and mindless eating takes place.
* DO try to have five different servings of vegetables every day.
* DON’T refer to foods as good and bad.
* DO know when you’re happiest with your body, but there is no need to have a ‘perfect weight’ in mind.
* DON’T be embarrassed to talk to someone about your bingeing – there is a shame trigger around the whole thing.
* DO adopt a social media detox where you free yourself from looking at Instagram photos of bikini models and celebrities.
The approach she nowadays favours is one of ‘crowding’, whereby rather than cutting out certain ‘forbidden foods’, Lyndi instead ‘crowds’ plenty of the healthy food she likes into her diet – so she craves unhealthy items less.
‘Add in plenty more fruit and veg, but make sure you avoid sad salads and boring health food,’ she said.
‘Don’t shoot yourself in the food by eliminating all of the tasty ingredients that actually make healthy eating enjoyable.’
Today, Lyndi eats all sorts of foods – and doesn’t ban herself from anything. As a result, she said she feels massively better.
‘Balance is different for everyone and it changes as you change,’ seh said.
‘You’ll become your healthiest and best by responding to your body’s needs, not by following the latest trend or celebrity diet.’
Lyndi Cohen’s Nude Nutritionist book is available now online and in all good bookstores. For more information, please click here.