Tegan Westra: Healing the Diet-Binge Cycle with a Powerful Question (interview)

Tegan Westra: Healing the Diet-Binge Cycle with a Powerful Question

I LOVE these interviews + connecting with incredible women whose passion lies in helping women develop a new relationship with food, their bodies, and ultimately - their inner selves. Tegan's story + messages are one of the best yet - you may need to read this a few times to really take it in! She definitely has her own unique approach and uses some powerful tools (like tapping/EFT!).

Every woman has their own unique story. Can you tell us 'your story' with food or body image?

Growing up, my family always ate very healthily. I would often feel like the odd one out at school because, while the other kids lunch boxes were filled with chips and chocolate bars, I had salad sandwiches and fruit.

To satisfy my constant urge for something sweet, anytime I had a couple of dollars I would race to the local corner store after school and buy as much candy as I could afford. I’d then scoff the lot on my way home and hide the wrappers in a neighbours bin.

While we didn’t really have junk food at home except for the odd special treat, as an only child Mom was always happy for me to get busy in the kitchen and I learnt to bake from a young age. Biscuits and slices became my new sweet fix and I’d make them whenever I could. It wasn’t uncommon for me to devour an entire batch in a day or two. I’d then blame my step dad for eating them if mum asked where they’d gone.

Fast forward to my early teens and I vividly remember sitting on the couch at about 13, watching my favourite TV soapie at the time. There was a girl on there my age who’d just had her birthday. Following the celebrations, there was a giant chocolate cake left over in the fridge and she snuck it to her room and ate the lot before running to the bathroom to make herself throw up. Its like a light bulb went off in my mind that day. If she could eat chocolate cake and stay slim by making herself throw up, so could I. And that’s where my 10 year struggle with bulimia and serial dieting began.

Looking back, I wasn’t fat – maybe 10 pounds heavier than the skinny girls at school - but I always felt like the fat one in my group of friends. While they were openly dieting and competing with one another every chance they got, their weight fluctuating often. I battled my body demons in silence. It was me against myself.

Daily binges became the norm and while one half of me enjoyed the rush I’d feel from eating all of those ‘forbidden’ foods, the other half felt utterly disgusted. I knew deep down I wanted to stop and yet, I just felt so out of control.

After years of bouncing from one quick fix to the next and trying every diet trick in the book I was broken. I couldn’t see how I could go on the way I was and for the first time instead of shutting out my problem with more food, I turned within. I stumbled upon the book ‘Women Food + God’ by Geneen Roth and I resonated with so much of what she wrote. I learned that my actions were being driven by my emotions and deep rooted subconscious beliefs and with that, I set out on my path to heal.

Today I use one simple question to guide every choice I make - am I acting from a place of love or from a place of fear?

Acting from a place of love is finding a form of exercise you enjoy and doing it for fun. Its eating a diet filled with wholesome foods because you want to nourish your body. Its releasing those relationships that no longer serve you because intrinsically you know you are worthy of so much more.

Acting from a place of fear is running on the treadmill to simply burn as many calories as you can. Its living off rice crackers and diet soda to lose weight. Its entertaining toxic relationships in your life out of fear that if you let them go, then you’ll be left with no one. Basically its telling yourself over and over that intrinsically, you don’t believe you are worthy of any better.

You have the power to make a choice in every moment of your life. Will you choose love or will you choose fear? Let this one simple question become your guiding light.

What are the two biggest lessons you learned in order to heal disordered eating and body shame?

1. You are your own greatest teacher.

Become curious. Instead of using food to shut the world out, use your binging as a sign that something’s not okay emotionally within. Every time you turn to food, you run from your problems. In order to heal, you must dig a little deeper and explore that’s really going on.

2. Diets don’t work.

If you’re ever going to overcome your struggle with food, you need to ditch the diet mindset. Practice allowance of all foods in moderation. If you do indulge, do so mindfully and savour the flavours. Labeling foods ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and adopting an all or nothing approach isn’t sustainable and will keep you stuck in the diet cycle and leave you feeling like a failure each time you slip up.

If you could write a letter to your former self, what would you want her to know?

You are just as worthy of your place in this world as anyone else and shrinking from your true brilliance doesn’t serve anyone, much less yourself.

Let's chat tools. What are your favorite books, tools, apps, coaches, etc. that have helped you along your journey.

Favourite books: Anything by Geneen Roth, Brene Brown, Marianne Williamson or Louise Hay. Also Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole. {some of my favs too!}

Tools: I’m a huge believer in the power of EFT. It’s a technique I practice with my clients to help them release deep rooted emotional pain which often manifests as anxiety or excess weight on the body. I’m excited to be in the middle of creating an online program teaching you everything you need to know about how to start practicing yourself at home. Its due for release early next year.

Apps:Yogaglo for yoga at home, Omnvana for guided meditations and Evernote for keeping notes on everything.

Coaches: Isabel Foxen Duke keeps it real. She’s brilliant. {SO brilliant. You guys knew I love her too.}

What keeps you inspired, alive, and vibrant these days?

I’ve had the opportunity to connect with so many amazing, like-minded women since starting my coaching practice. Seeing what they're up to and how passionate they are about spreading their own unique wellness message with the world inspires the pants off me every day. {you inspire me Tegan!}

Rapid fire

Favorite place... Somewhere in nature where the sun is shining alongside someone I love.

Bucket list travel location... Snowboarding Japan in winter

Favorite way to stay active... A mix of running outdoors of an afternoon, yoga and strength training.

Quote you love? “You, yourself, as much as anybody else, deserve your love and affection.” Buddha

We'd love to support you. What are you working on these days?

I’m incredibly passionate about helping women to break free from emotional eating and have created a 7 day eCourse called ‘End Emotional Eating – Ditch diets for good and make peace with your body’ that encompasses all of the tools I used to overcome my own disordered relationship with food. You can access it for free here.

All About Tegan

Tegan Westra is an IIN trained Body Love + Wellness Coach + EFT Practitioner. She helps outwardly successful women who secretly struggle with the diet-binge cycle transform their relationship with food and with themselves. Whether you want to take control, create real lasting health or simply feel more confident, Tegan will teach you how to stop waiting until you’re ‘skinny enough’ to live a life you love.

We'd love to hear from you in the comments below (+ go give Tegan some love!)

  • How can you use emotional eating/food struggles as a teacher?
  • What do you think about Tegan's question of fear or love?