Habits & Health episode 63 with Dawn Cuckow, who helps people to get to the root causes of why their body is blocking their weight loss. Her approach helps discover what’s triggering cravings and belly fat, then target these imbalances so it becomes much easier to lose weight and sustain it.
- How changing her eating habits affected her health
- The problem with diets and why it is important to create new habits
- When you are trying to set up new healthier eating habits, what you can do when the junk food is more appealing
- Why it is harder to stick to healthy eating when you are stressed
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Tony Winyard 0:00
Habits & health episode 63
Welcome to the habits and health podcast, where we believe creating healthy habits should be easy. Brought to you by an educator and coach for anyone who wants to create a healthier life. Here’s your host, Tony Winyard.
Tony Winyard 0:20
Welcome to habits and health, their podcast where we give you ideas for creating habits for improving your health. My guest today, Dawn Cuckow. She’s an author and qualified nutritional therapist, and recently launched her radical new book aimed at readers who want to discover their unique path to lasting weight loss. The book is called the body effect. And we talk about the book and what led her to creating the book, and many other aspects of Dawn’s life. So that’s coming up in in a couple of moments. If you do enjoy this episode, please do share it with someone who you feel will get some real benefit. Hope you enjoy this week’s show. habits and health my guest today Dawn Cuckow how are you doing Dawn?
Dawn Cuckow 1:06
Great. Thanks. So excited to be here, Tony.
Tony Winyard 1:10
I haven’t had so many guests so geographically close to me. You are relatively a few miles away from here.
Dawn Cuckow 1:17
I am pretty much down the road.
Tony Winyard 1:20
What is it you do?. Tell us more about that. How did you get into into this line of work?
Dawn Cuckow 1:27
Oh, how I got into nutritional therapy, it wasn’t really by plan. I used to suffer from terrible, terrible period pains. And the doctors were saying the next step was an exploratory operation. But I wasn’t really wanting to go there. And I went to see a nutritional therapist not really expecting great things. But I went to see her and I made some changes to my diet. And within three months, I never had period pains again. And that’s why I ended up going to study nutritional therapy myself.
Tony Winyard 1:56
So how long ago was that?
Dawn Cuckow 1:59
That was I graduated, it was a three year course. And I graduated. I know exactly when I graduated because my oldest daughter is nearly 13. And I graduated just before she was born literally a few weeks before she was born.
Tony Winyard 2:14
When you say the the period pains, would that be along the lines of endometriosis?
Dawn Cuckow 2:18
No, it was one of these things where there was no apparent reason for it. They couldn’t explain why. And I think that’s why they want to do the exploratory operation. But I’m, you know, sometimes obviously, you need medical intervention, but I’m not a great fan of it unless you absolutely have to.
Tony Winyard 2:40
Since you’ve been actually practising it, how has it been?
Dawn Cuckow 2:45
Really interesting. So right from the start I was specialising in weight loss, because whilst I was still training, I was in training clinic. And so one of my very first clients and training clinic was this woman who came to me for weight loss. And we worked out this plan together. And she was really excited about it. And she came back to see me for the second and last time, I could see her in training clinic. And she had gained half a stone. And she hadn’t been able to follow the plan. And what happened was, we take it because we changed her diet, we taken away the controls that she had in place that she used to monitor overeating. But I couldn’t really let this go because I wanted to help this lady and I’d actually made things worse. And so that ended up ultimately leading to years and years of research into what triggers cravings, what triggers the desire to overeat. And I you know, I read lots of studies, and then I put that together in a course and I worked with a psychotherapist for a while. And together we ran courses. But then we had that for a couple of years. But then COVID hit and everything became more complicated. And I realised that everything I did had to be simplified. And not every some people still needed the psychological side. But not everyone does. So I then started putting together a course and ran a course, just each week making step by step changes, that people could tailor to the imbalances in their body. So the first part of what I did was to help people trigger discover what’s triggering their cravings, what’s triggering their desire to overeat, why are they storing belly fat, and it can be different reasons for different people, then when you know that you can actually use food therapeutically, to target those imbalances. So that’s what I was doing in the course, I was helping people make changes that targeted the imbalances in their body, but also that fitted their dietary preferences and requirements. Because if you’re going to sustain a healthy way of eating, it’s got to be something that you enjoy
Tony Winyard 4:45
One of the things that was going through my mind is I imagine there’s a lot of confusion outside in the public about what is a nutritionist? What is a nutritionist? A nutrition coach? What’s a dietitian? Could you just briefly explain the difference between these different things?
Dawn Cuckow 5:06
Okay, it also I think it depends on what country you’re in. Like, I think in America, they use different times to what we do. But a lot of the training I think, is fairly similar. But a nutritionist or dietitian tends to work in hospitals or within like the NHS. a nutritionist may be more involved in industry, I believe now wondering why I’m telling you this Exactly. Right. And the nutritional therapist, which is what I am, we work with individuals, and we look at, we look at the whole picture holistically, and help them to make changes.
Tony Winyard 5:41
So is it typically an individual just contacts and finds you on your website? Would that be how you find your clients?
Dawn Cuckow 5:49
I used to work with individuals, but now I’m just doing group work. So I have two courses out there. And my first one is just a course that you can do on your own, it takes about 90 minutes. And so there’s 11 modules, and each one is a very short description, a short video, as an animated video explaining why this imbalance makes you gain weight. So there’s one for example, or stressed one on female hormones one if you’re low in certain nutrients, etc. So by the end of that, you know, exactly, you know, which imbalances in your body are blocking your weight loss. And then the second course I do as a group course, it’s a three month group course. And that’s where we go through and actually looking at making the changes.
Tony Winyard 6:31
The people that you’re working with, are there any issues, illnesses, whatever, that are quite typical that people come to see you in the first place is there like one that’s quite often you’re talking with people about?
Dawn Cuckow 6:48
Well, one, that does seem to come up quite a bit of high cholesterol. And again, that is quite whilst losing weight can help with that. It’s also what you eat can also have quite a big effect. And I think it’s the thing about working holistically, when you look at your whole body, when you make one change that helps one area, it has a knock on effect on other areas. And quite a lot of people feel when they do the first part of the course where they discover which imbalances they have, they’re quite shocked to find they have quite a lot of imbalances. But it will say don’t worry about that, because it might sound like a lot. But as you start to bring one into balance, that they’re all kind of, they’re often interrelated. So to give you an example, if you have blood sugar imbalances, that might be contributing to your stress, because when your blood sugar drops too low, your body releases stress hormones to push it back up. And it can also have a knock on effect on your female hormones. So once you start to do one thing, like balance your blood sugar, or address your stress levels, then it helps your female hormones too.
Tony Winyard 7:52
Have you been able to help people with say, early diabetes or, or even full blown diabetes to, reverse or reduce or even eradicate medications, for example?
Dawn Cuckow 8:05
Well, I haven’t worked specifically with people with diabetes. But when you start, one of the things I do do is look at balancing your blood sugar levels, because that’s so key to everything to controlling your appetite to reducing cravings. And when you control your blood sugar levels, well, then it’s something you’d have to discuss with your doctor. But it can help you control your diabetes.
Tony Winyard 8:28
What other typical conditions, would be able to be helped by seeing a nutritional therapist.
Dawn Cuckow 8:38
Oh, for example, any inflammatory conditions like that pretty much anything like so from inflammatory conditions like arthritis, or I mean weight issues. Infertility, menopausal problems, I mean, pretty much anything, because our diet is so fundamental to our whole well being.
Tony Winyard 9:01
And what about if someone’s having say problems with sleep, would a change in nutrition help with something like that?
Dawn Cuckow 9:09
I think sleep is one of those really, really complex things. Now for some people, I think there’s certain things you can do and it will help a bit. But for others, the problems may require extra things I wouldn’t like to say sleep is one of the key things it can really help with, although some people may find some benefits. So I mean, there’s very simple things you can do is sleep like, like don’t have a meal late in the evening. Because that doesn’t help your sleep. Actually, in the same way, eating late in the evening can actually encourage your body to store more fat. So for many, many reasons, it’s better to eat earlier in the evening, try not to eat after say 8pm.
Tony Winyard 9:48
And if someone has say sugar cravings, how are you able to help someone with something like that?
Dawn Cuckow 9:54
Well, there’s a number of different things that can be contributing to sugar cravings. And so I think it’s really important to stop Putting your whole body back into balance. So we mentioned your blood sugar imbalances. female hormone imbalances can also lead to cravings are, you know, just premenstrual, it’s quite common. So there’s quite a number of different things. But there’s also quite a lot of things you can do. So while it takes a while to bring your body back into balance, you may still have the cravings. So what do you do then, and different things work for different people. So for example, milk products contain lactose, which is a milk sugar, but isn’t sweet. So you may find that having a pot of plain yoghurt helps. And one of my clients found that eating cottage cheese with carrot sticks really helped, you know, helped her control her sugar cravings. green vegetable membranes contain a substance that can reduce sugar cravings. So maybe having a green smoothie sweetened with a bit of fruit. Or if you really just want something sweet, maybe you could make some some muffins or some alternative kinds of cakes or biscuits, and it’s sweetened with dates rather than with sugar. Because although they have the sweetness, they also contain nutrients and fibre. So they they can actually avoid that then dip of making you crave more sugar later on.
Tony Winyard 11:20
Since you’ve qualified and you’re actually now working with people, has any part of it really surprised you and what you’re in how you’re working with people or the types of issues people are bringing to you?
Dawn Cuckow 11:34
Was it one of the things that’s really stood out to me is that people often feel a lot of shame around their overeating. Or feel shame because they’re eating foods that they’ve deemed are unhealthy. And when people figure out how their body is triggering those cravings, how their body is triggering them to overeat, I’ve heard a number of people say it’s taken away the shame about their overeating. And that seems to be such a common thing.
We hope you’re enjoying this episode of the habits and health podcast, where we believe creating healthy habits should be easy. If you’re looking for the fastest and most effective way to transform your energy and wellbeing, we invite you to join Tony for an upcoming habits and health workshop. This five week group workshop will empower you with tools to disrupt unwanted habits and make positive changes easy. You’ll enjoy sound asleep, better energy, less stress, and a happier mood Workshops begin on the first week of every month. And you can sign up now at Tony winyard.com. Now back to the show.
Tony Winyard 12:44
Omega three fats; there’s a lot of confusion between about omega threes and Omega sixes and ratios, and it’s just a subject of confusion for many people. So maybe you could help us with that as well?
Dawn Cuckow 12:58
Oh, yeah, I mean, this is a really important one. Okay, so omega three fats, they’re in things like oily fish, chia seed, flaxseed, little and hemp seed and some in green leafy vegetables. But most people are very low in omega three fats. And omega three fats are anti inflammatory, that always anti inflammatory in your body. Now, omega six fats are really, really important, your body can’t make them so we have to get them from our diet. But Omega six fats can either be inflammatory in your body or anti inflammatory. And it depends on the conditions in your body. Now, if you have a lot of omega six fats in relation to omega three fats, they’re more likely to become inflammatory. And most people today, I think they reckon that we now eat between 16 to 20 times more omega six to Omega three, whereas our distant ancestors would have had roughly equal levels. So a lot of people, for example, for hormone imbalances, they supplement omega omega six fats. But if you’re going to do that, you should really be supplementing the omega three fats as well. Otherwise, you’re increasing the risk of them being inflammatory in your body. And there’s so many conditions that people suffer with today that are inflammatory. And what a lot of people don’t realise is that obesity is actually an inflammatory condition.
Tony Winyard 14:19
If people want to try to get that ratio back to closer to one to one, like it used to be how, what kind of things would they would you advise people to do?
Dawn Cuckow 14:29
Okay, so just because something contains Omega six fats doesn’t mean that you should cut it out, but it’s looking at where you’re getting them from. And if you eat a lot of processed foods, you’re almost inevitably going to be having a high omega six to Omega three ratio. So the first thing I would say is really try to reduce your processed foods. And for many, many reasons, not just the Omega six fats, but that you know, that is one of the reasons and then to start looking at your Omega three fat intake, because most people don’t take in enough Omega Three fats. So if you eat oily fish, those omega three fats are in the form that your body can utilise most of its performance your body uses, whereas the form from plant sources, they’re good, still good forms, but they have to be converted in your body. And that conversion isn’t always very efficient. So as I said, if you’re if you’re a fish eater, try to eat oily fish a couple of times a week. If you’re if you don’t eat fish, then omega three chia seeds and flaxseed especially if they’re ground can be added on to your cereals or into yoghurts and that they’re really good things to include.
Tony Winyard 15:38
And I believe you’ve got a habit around Amiga 3’s haven’t you?
Dawn Cuckow 15:42
I do for me is one of the easiest things. I I love Chia porridge, I make true porridge for breakfast pretty often. And I have in my fridge I always have brown chia seed, and ground flaxseed. And I add them all I just I add a sprinkle a little bit onto my my breakfast.
Tony Winyard 15:58
And so how is the rest of the porridge? What kind of oats do you use and so on?
Dawn Cuckow 16:04
For Chia porridge, I think Chia whole Chia seed, some coconut milk, you can use whatever type of milk you like, I just particularly happen to really like it with coconut milk. And then you leave it for half an hour, or you can prepare it the night before. Then for me, I quite like to add oats in the morning. I don’t add in the night before because I prefer them just added later for they’re not quite so soft. And then I just have that with fruit and nuts and maybe sprinkle some ground cheer on it as well. And that’s actually for me, it’s one of my favourite breakfasts
Tony Winyard 16:35
What about things like, there’s many different types of oats like rolled oats and steel cut, there’s many different types. What do you think about all the different types of oats?
Dawn Cuckow 16:45
Okay, so the finer the oats are. So if you’re buying out, you don’t really want to get the quick, quick quick outs, because they’ll have more effect on your blood sugar levels because they’re broken down more. But just the regular rolled oats you can buy in the shops that are great to eat. And they have many, many benefits. One of the staples in our family.
Tony Winyard 17:07
Right? Well, on that topic well closely related the whole, there’s a lot of bad and negative press have been given to grains in general over the last few years. What are your views on grains?
Dawn Cuckow 17:21
I think it’s like all of these things. It’s most people, I believe can handle grains, and one of the ones and that they contain lots of nutrients. But what you want to be doing is eating the whole grain version, not the refined version, because the refined grains have had the fibre nutrients removed. So we’ve talked about blood sugar a lot today and they’re not good for your blood sugar. They’re not good for your appetite regulation system, you really want to be taking in a lot of nutrients because that helps you feel less hungry. So it’s the type of grain that you’re eating. And the other thing is that a lot of people especially in the UK, we eat a lot of wheat. In a you might have a wheat based cereal for breakfast, you might have a sandwich for lunch, you might have a cake or a biscuit in the afternoon, you might have pasta for dinner. And that’s an awful lot of wheat. And as with any one food, not just wheat, it’s best to eat a variety of foods. I mean, there are some people that reduced intolerance, it’s one of the most common intolerances, and those people are best avoiding it. But for most people that you know that they’re fine to include, and they’re also really good source of things like B vitamins. And if you start taking out any one type of food group, then you’ve got to be really careful you’re getting your nutrients elsewhere.
Tony Winyard 18:39
What about things like sourdough bread? For example, why would people choose sourdough bread over conventional bread?
Dawn Cuckow 18:49
Well, sourdough bread is the it’s been more fermented. And when things are fermented, they’re more broken down, they’re easier for our bodies to digest.
Tony Winyard 19:01
We talked about habits just now as regarding your omega three fats and how you how you’ve made that into a habit for quite a long time. Are there any other habits that you’ve worked on?
Dawn Cuckow 19:13
One of them what the Omega three habit is a habit that I have been doing for a very, very long time. Another habit that I’ve only started doing last year was I read Hal Elrod book, The Miracle Morning and I started getting up as a result of that I started getting one hour earlier every day and then the way Heil or does he has like 10 minutes for exercise 10 minutes, visualisations 10 minutes meditation etc. And I did for that exactly for a while. But then what I started doing is I started getting up an hour earlier and having 10 minutes where I meditated. And then I rebounded for half an hour as long as there are other things, but those two are my kind of the ones that are just absolutely every day. And I really like it for a number of reasons. I mean, I work I’ve got kids and it can be very hard when you’re when you’re a working mom to feel that you’ve got any space just to yourself. And I like getting up early in the morning and having that time to myself before everyone else is getting up. And it feels like real me time. And it feels like I’ve got headspace and as well, and also makes you feel more productive throughout the day. And again, when you’re kind of busy, and things can get quite stressful. managing your stress is so important. And it makes me feel less stressed getting up earlier.
Tony Winyard 20:32
You wrote a book. Was it last year?
Dawn Cuckow 20:35
This year. It was published in January, so only two months ago
Tony Winyard 20:41
How is the book doing since it’s been published?
Dawn Cuckow 20:44
Oh, it’s done amazingly well, it became an Amazon bestseller, which was really amazing. But what’s been really incredible to me is all the feedback, people putting reviews on Amazon, people emailing me, you know, strangers who’ve picked up my book, and telling me how much it’s impacted their life and how they, they suddenly understand why diets haven’t worked for them. And that they it’s just giving them hope that they can actually shift things.
Tony Winyard 21:07
Was the central aim of the book around dieting and weight loss?
Dawn Cuckow 21:13
It’s not really a diet book. In many ways. It’s an anti diet book. And whilst it’s about weight loss, because it’s structured about finding out what how your body blocks your weight loss, whether that’s through cravings, whether that’s through triggering overeating, or whether it’s because it’s not willing to let go of fat. It’s been really interesting to hear from people who’ve read the book, either because they’re in the industry or because it was recommended to them and haven’t particularly wanted to lose weight, and said how much it’s helped them to. So it’s really a health book, but it’s kind of focused on weight. It’s actually about making habit, new habits. So instead of doing what many people do, they go on a diet, they might lose a bit of weight, then they come off their diet, and they end up putting on the way and in many, many cases, they end up heavier than when they started. It’s actually about looking at sustainable changes. Since then what changes it gets to the root issues of your weight. So that actually, it’s not a quick fix. But as you lose the weight, the weight stays off.
Tony Winyard 22:15
Is it aimed at any sort of particular type of person, like age group, or any kind of demographic or just general?
Dawn Cuckow 22:24
I’ve predominately worked with women, although some men are picking it up and finding it useful. It’s not so much a particular demographic, but it’s more that people who, that who aren’t looking for that Quick Fit, they’re not going to lose 10 pounds in 10 days. It’s the people that knows that, that diets haven’t worked for them and actually want to be be healthy is a really big focus on health, you know, balancing your whole body and who want to look at making long term habits, if you like that enable them to have a healthy lifestyle to feel good.
Tony Winyard 22:55
What was the inspiration behind that? When did you decide? Or how did that all come about?
Dawn Cuckow 23:01
Oh, gosh, this is a really long nonlinear process. So originally, after shortly after I graduated, I was working with a psychotherapist. And we started gathering all this material. And we wrote a book that was never published. But we wrote alternate chapters. And we tried to get that published, but didn’t get very far. So that book just got put aside, and we started running courses from that. And then more recently, I was restructuring or I’ve restructured all my costs and everything and redid it. And it was from there that the idea of doing the book came so part one of my book matches to my my mini course the one that people can do in their own time and find out what how their body is blocking their weight loss. And then the second part of the book matches to the group course I do, where you actually make the changes.
Tony Winyard 23:53
And how long did they do they take the book writing process?
Dawn Cuckow 23:57
Oh, again, that’s a really hard question to answer because I started writing it well, 12 years ago, or something started doing all the research for it. And so it’s grown through that and through my work with clients to write the book in its current format, has taken me nearly a year from start to actually publishing.
Tony Winyard 24:18
Since it’s been published, and you’ve been getting feedback from people and so on, are there thoughts now of making revisions or follow up or, or anything along those lines?
Dawn Cuckow 24:29
Not at the moment, because it seems to be working pretty well for people as it is, but it’s only been out there for two months. So you know, I’m open to see what happens really, I think.
Tony Winyard 24:42
On the subject of books, is there a book that’s moved you in any way that comes to mind?
Dawn Cuckow 24:48
Do you know I recently read this fantastic book called you can’t eat love by an author called Leslie Davis, and she lost nearly 100 pounds. And she had that she did a lot of emotional eating, but At the beginning of the book, she talks about how when she realised when she was spliced, it’s a very descriptive pack passage about how she’s cutting the meat and eating the fat from it. And as she’s eating it, it’s taking her back to her childhood memories with her, her family, her grandparents, or uncles or aunts, and you know, all the bigger family, as he realises that she’s trying to eat love, which is where the title came from, you can’t eat love. And actually, I was lucky enough to meet her fairly recently on Zoom, she lives in America, but she has such a lovely compassionate lady who’s really been to this whole struggle herself. And that just absolutely comes across in her book. So if anyone out there is listening to this, and they’re really struggling with our emotional eating, I would really highly recommend that book. You can’t eat love.
Tony Winyard 25:46
We’ll put links to that in the show notes. You mentioned about some of the courses that you have, what courses? Are the courses all available online?
Dawn Cuckow 25:58
Yes, the online courses, the first course people can go and do it anytime they want. I mean, if they go to my website, it’s dawncuckow.com. We were just talking about certain my surname, before it’s quite a complicated surname. Actually, it’s like the word cookoo. But instead of the last open a W on it. So don’t click out.com. And on there, you can find out you can actually go on and anytime you want to start that mini course, on your own.
Tony Winyard 26:23
And is it just the one course or are there any others?
Dawn Cuckow 26:27
that’s the one course to find out what’s triggering your cravings, what’s triggering your belly fat, what’s triggering your overeating, then the second cause is a group core. So I run them at set times. So I’m not running one at the moment what I’m probably thinking in the next few months, I want another course. So if you’re interested, drop me a line, sign up to my mailing list. And you’ll be the first to know about it.
Tony Winyard 26:49
Are you active on social media at all?
Dawn Cuckow 26:52
I am I have an Instagram account and a Facebook account that I have started posting maybe three times a week typically on it. So some fun things like there’s some fun quizzes on there. There’s just useful tips to help you if you’re struggling. And this week, I’m doing a promotion with some other authors on eating disorders week. And we’ve we’ve all reduced our books for so they’re all less than $4.99 because mainly with pizza in America.
Tony Winyard 27:25
What are your social media handles so people can find you?
Dawn Cuckow 27:29
It’s it’s Facebook, Instagram is cuckowdawn? And Facebook is Dawncuckow the body effect if you are struggling to find them, you can access them via my website.
Tony Winyard 27:46
And finally, Dawn, is there a quotation that comes to mind that resonates with you?
Dawn Cuckow 27:51
Do you know what there is a lovely quotation and I use it at the start of my book and it’s by Jim Rohn. And it’s take care of your body is the only place you have to live.
Tony Winyard 28:01
Why does that resonate with you?
Dawn Cuckow 28:05
Well, for many, many years, I didn’t look after my own body. I was bulimic for a couple of years and for years for that I struggled with eating. And it’s not a good way to treat your body. And whilst it’s never too late to start to look after your body, it’s so important to do it. And if you don’t look after your body, you’re not going to feel healthy, you’re not going to have the energy you want, you’ll probably end up with aches and pains. You know your body is really complex. And it is so important to look after it and especially as you get older as well your body can probably withstand more when you’re young. Then you reach a certain age where actually you react, you know, years of neglect will show up one way or another.
Tony Winyard 28:45
Well, Dawn, thank you very much for your time. It’s been a pleasure. And, maybe speak to you again sometime.
Dawn Cuckow 28:51
Thank you so much, Tony. It’s been great chatting to you.
Tony Winyard 28:56
Next week is episode 64 with Adele Spraggon who is an award winning author, thought leader, and international speaker and trainer. She has won a few awards recently including woman of inspiration and top behavioural expert of the year. And we dig into things such as patterns of procrastination, avoidance quitting, and we go into a lot of areas of behaviour. So that’s Next week, episode 64 with Adele Spraggon. If you only want to get some value from this week’s episode with Dawn Cuckow, please do share the episode with them. And hope you have a great week.
Thanks for tuning in to the habits and health podcast where we believe creating healthy habits should be easy. If you enjoy this episode, please subscribe and leave us a review on your favourite podcast app. Sign up for email updates and learn about coaching and workshop opportunities at Tony winyard.com See you next time on the habits and health podcast.
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