About Me

I’m a Certified Internal Family Systems Therapist and Somatic psychotherapist, coach and healer with over ten years joyful experience guiding women individually and in groups to identify and release their blocks to achieving total lasting freedom from compulsive food cycles, love their body, and step into a thriving life.

I’m Naomi Nygaard,

Food-and-Body-Freedom Companion-guide, therapist, coach, speaker, and inspirational program facilitator, I’ve helped hundreds of women discover freedom from food and body-weight obsession and step with confidence into a life of peace and thriving. 

I promote a paradigm of complete self-acceptance as the only sustainable path to healing food and bodyweight stuckness and shame forever.  I know that when we are free from these burdens, we can access all of our creativity, joy and gifts to create a better world.  

My mission is to empower and equip women in groups and individually to align with their own visions of food freedom and inner-harmony, and help them identify and release the blocks to finally live them.

I know first-hand the hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness and shame that go hand-in-hand with addictive cycles around food and body-weight.  I found freedom from years feeling trapped and hating myself, eating certain foods while feeling desperate to lose weight, be and stay slim. 

I found health through an end to the madness of this long-time cycle.  First, I learned to slow it, and then in time I found I was blossoming right up out of it.  I’ve been maintaining a healthy body-weight, a wholesome, joyful, delicious and easy-going relationship with food, and a happy life ever since: for the past 15 years.

Read more about my story below…

I’m a woman grateful to be doing work I love with powerful, determined, and courageous women like you.  I’m loving living my life as a mother, wife, daughter, aunt, sister, psychotherapist, coach and guiding companion for women who wish to move beyond obsession with food and their body-weight.

It brings me joy when women release the illusion that there’s no hope for them to feel contentment and belonging in their own bodies: that true health, joy, ease, and love of their bodies may be for others, but is never for them (or at least, not until they look a certain way….) 

It brings me joy when women release the illusion that there’s no hope for them to feel contentment and belonging in their own bodies: that true health, joy, ease, and love of their bodies may be for others, but is never for them (or at least, not until they look a certain way….) 

My life becomes richer when one more woman discovers how to live her life free from her addictive, compulsive, or obsessive relationship with food and weight-loss, rekindle a deep sense of being okay just as she is, and from there start to chanel the grounded, shimmering power and energy of a woman living out her real dreams.  It looks different every time, for every woman, and it is always beautiful, in the true sense of the word: her birth right.

For the past fifteen years, I have found myself committed to an ongoing journey discovering what works to heal addiction to certain foods and to judging ourselves and shaming our bodies.  I’ve met many courageous, wholehearted, and passionate women like you along the way.

Devoting my energy to guiding women through the same process which gave me back my life is central to my purpose in this lifetime.  This work is ongoing for me: I learn as much if not more from the people I work with as they do from me.  I consider us all to be walking alongside one another: equals sharing our experiences of this journey as we keep discovering our own unique recipes of what creates most freedom, peace and thriving. 

In the group programs and individual sessions I run, together we co-create a reality beyond the negative food and body cycles, so we can blossom towards our full growth as the vibrant women we naturally are.

My Story

(for my recovery, see below…)

For twenty years I was mired in a crazy-making cycle, addicted to foods containing heaps of sugar and refined flour – stuff like pastries, cakes, biscuits, chocolate and sweets.  I also became addicted to exercising and dieting. It made me high, lofty and proud to feel ’empty’ and to look slim-bellied. I swung between two states of being. One was ‘feast’: bingeing, overeating and feeling ‘sullied’ by food; the other state was ‘famine’: in this state I felt ‘pure’, fasting or delaying eating, priding myself on needing and wanting little or nothing, remaining ‘strong’ against the base appetite of my own physical hunger. 

It wasn’t until my recovery began that I became aware of what I had been missing out on swinging between these two poles: the simple joy of just being ordinary me, and liking that person I am. I also came to see how impossible it was for me to find balance on my own. Parts of me were (and can still sometimes be) very proud indeed. These parts didn’t want to admit that my life wasn’t bearing the fruits of any of my sweetest dreams. Whatever my weight, nothing I truly longed for – intimacy, creativity, work using my gifts and talents – could enter my life.

In my recovery, I learned first-hand, step-by-step, in a simple, manageable and piecemeal way, how to move beyond food addiction to healing and freedom.  I adopted an holistic method to recover my health, happiness and self-worth. I’ve been enjoying these gifts fully for the past fifteen years, never taking them for granted.  My life is now contains loving relationship and nourishing creativity.  I know that this life of peace, ease, and pleasure being in a human body is waiting for you too.  I’m committed to walking by your side as you discover these gifts for yourself.

More About My Past Journey

When I was age 10

I was born in a very rural part of West Wales, U.K. My parents owned a wholefood shop and between stock from the shop and produce from our vegetable garden and orchard, I grew up a very healthy eater. I had always been a normal weight and despite all the junk food I ate throughout my teenage years I burned the calories off easily, simply through all the growing I was doing.

It wasn’t until I went to university that I begun to gain weight. I found it an extremely hard time, getting used to living away from home, trying to fit in socially despite being extremely shy, and needing to take care of things I’d never had to do before. The residual pain and loneliness of past experiences in my family and school life also began to bubble up to be felt and understood by me, and I felt unable and unequipped to cope with it all. I found myself turning to processed foods – cake, chocolate, crisps, cheese sandwiches – for comfort.

What began as an unconscious habit took on momentum and gradually spiralled over the years into something that felt wildly unmanageable. It begun to frighten me how little control I felt of what and how much junkfood I ate. I got a job as a bar-tender and waitress in various clubs and restaraunts. I was around food at work, and did a lot of stealing food and eating secretively. I performed as a singer on stage whenever I could, and partied hard outside of work. Life got quite wild. I won’t go into everything that happened to me back then in my early twenties, but, looking back, it was a whirlwind of dramatic extremes and crazy relationships. In an attempt to heal trauma and burdens I’d taken on through my early life, expand my mind and be free, I experimented with lots of different types of drugs, sometimes with others, and sometimes alone. My experiences with drugs didn’t ultimately play the healing role I hoped they would, and in fact made things spiral more and more out of control and intensified my troubles with food and dieting.

My weight fluctuated, with bouts of self-discipline and rigorous exercise in between periods of binging. I exercised hard with rigid regularity, pushing my body to new limits of (a type of brital) ‘strength’. I felt restless, irritable and discontent if I hadn’t started my day with an hour of running the streets straight out of bed. Or else I danced off calories to hard trance on a podium and lost out on much-needed sleep. Looking back, I know that the excercise was an addiction too, because I was sneaky about it and wouldn’t admit to it’s connection with how much I ate or planned to eat.

Food and exercise played roles in an internal, secret picture of deserving and punishment, and all the while my primary goal was to avoid the feelings of shame that came when I felt ‘fat’, drab and worthless from perceived overindulging. The exercise gave me ‘permission’ to feel hungry, to feed my hunger and even to overeat without feeling lost under a heavy blanket of disgustingness. Exercise was the only way I knew how to ‘get away with’ overeating without getting [what I then perceived as] ‘fat’.

I mercilessly judged my body. I felt unworthy of receiving romantic love or sensual enjoyment until the day I could somehow reach the ‘perfect weight’ I aspired to and, in fact, be perfect in every way. (Quick aside: the type of men I was attracted to were ‘bad’ boys, often incapable of emotional intimacy and wrapped up in addictive cycles themselves… so no regret about not having ‘made it’ with the men I so badly wanted to be with back then).

When it came to exploring my sexuality, I felt rigid with fear of being judged as I judged myself. This fear kept me cut off from being present unto mine or others’ bodies, and prevented me feeling any pleasure. I had a harsh and constant inner-critic whose role it was to keep me hardened (never vulnerable) through a belief in my own unworthiness…. unless I could just be better in every way! And so I pushed myself ever onwards, living life hard, fast, and full of activity with a central aim: perfect myself to be acceptable.

My Recovery

Around eighteen years ago, I reached my rock bottom: my wild times culminated in a five month period of terror, depression, darkness, and despair. I had nowhere to live, no job, no money, and no ‘plan’: no idea of where my life was headed. Most of the people in my life were just as wrapped up in addictive behaviours as I was: I had perceived ‘normal’ people (getting steady employment, saving for a mortgage) as ‘boring’.

I wouldn’t wish such a time of protracted panic and mental suffering on anyone. Over time, however, I have come to know that the depth of my despair provided the fuel of determination and energy I later channelled into my recovery. My pre-recovery life gave me the utmost certainty that a different way of living was vital for me. This grave certainty meant that I would later go to any lengths to follow spiritual guidance laid out to me, and apply daily practices that rescued me from maddening thought and behaviour cycles that would otherwise have continued to destroy my life. GOD: the Gift Of Desperation; this is what Twelve Step programs call the pain that gives rise to the honesty, openness and willingness to accept wise instuctions from others and apply it in one’s life.

I started going to Overeaters Anonymous  (OA) meetings: a 12 Step fellowship for all types of dysfunctional behaviours with food, weight and exercise. I also joined a buddhist meditation group and met Flint Sparks, Zen priest, clinical psychologist, Internal Family Systems psychotherapist, and teacher of mindfulness. I held on to both communities with growing devotion, and I started consistently doing the daily practices suggested.

I also started to feel the beginnings of a sense of belonging. Before this, even at my lowest points, parts of me had looked down on other people in groups, saying, ‘They’re not like you’.  These parts had prevented me from ever feeling truly connected, protected me from being vulnerable, and ultimately stopped me receiving the help I had so desperately needed.

In OA, people understood the way parts of me reacted around food.  This begun to penetrate the isolation of years. I let others guide and inform my daily food choices and I practiced 100% honesty about what I was doing with food.

I made sure to sit down calmly and eat three meals a day quietly, when so many parts of me wanted to jump out of my skin, or at least to jump up nervously and get back to busyness and constant work.

fter the chaos of my food life the previous ten years, I found huge relief in having some healthy guidelines around what, when and how I ate, and some robust accountability supporting me to stay within these guidelines. I felt like a child again, which was humbling, and also tender. I got some (albeit at first fleeting) tastes of innocence, gentleness and self-acceptance towards myself. Flint and my zen community were also there to help me contain and handle the rawness I felt.  With their support, I could be with the waves of feeling as they rose up inside, and held through it all.  Flint helped me understand and appreciate the role my protective parts had been doing to keep me from being overwhelmed by the reservoir of pain that had been growing in volume through my life so far. I learned about the Internal Family Systems model, and I discovered the first seeds of what became my life calling to work with others in this way.

With my sponsor in OA, I worked my way through the 12 steps using the ‘Big’ book ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’, changing the words from alcohol to food/chocolate/cake/hunger to make it relevant to me.  I’m feminist in outlook and I’m sometimes bemused looking back how I could have had such a powerful experience of insight and identification studying a book that was written by men, for me. But the reality is, it worked for me: thoroughly, profoundly, and irreversibly: I was changed.

I held on to my healthy new behaviours, outlook, people and practices, knowing that they were reconnecting me with my goodness, my worthiness, and the truth of myself. I began to recognise my newfound recovery as a thread that was guiding me out of pain, tension and darkness that had been infusing my whole body and life.

My recovery was not an overnight matter, but little by little I found more groundedness and could rest in longer and longer moments of total serenity. In time, I increasingly enjoyed simple, kindly connectedness with others, and a newfound feeling that I belonged in life: that I’m a good person and, despite the way pain had driven my behaviour, I always have been a good person.

My recovery marked my understanding and acceptance that I need others’ support. At first, this support was with my food and my spiritual life, and from there with many other areas of my life. Society had given me the notion that independence was a strength to be strived for, but it hadn’t worked out that way for me at all. Through allowing trusted others into each area of my life in turn, each area became more healthy and flourishing. I learned how to be discerning, receiving input that felt good to me: loving, wise and clear. Today, I aim to offer women the same high quality of presence and wisdom that was gifted to me and was so instrumental in my own transition from tentative beginnings blossoming into confident wellness.

Gradually, gently, over the years, I have built into the fabric of my life a manageable, flexible system of self-care and ongoing growth. These daily practices (done imperfectly, but done nonetheless) enable me to maintain a healthy body, mind and emotional life: a baseline joy and calmness which have sustained even through some major ups-and-downs.

Today, I enjoy a loving relationship with my body, trusting its fluctuating energy levels to guide me. I feel comfortable in my sexuality and I know that I deserve the pleasure, joy and rest that is essential for living a healthy life.

I have spent the past twelve years witnessing the gentle transformation of many women, as they recover their lives from the grip of endless cycles of dieting, bingeing, and other addictions. This work feels like what I’m here to do: finding balance in my own life so that I can contribute to those seeking healing in this often wildly-off-balance human world. 

Somehow, the unique set of influences into my life back then: an embodied zen practice, Internal Family Systems therapy, and the 12 Step fellowship and program, led to my sustainable healing from the grip of addiction.  I’ve created an integration called the Food and Body Freedom Steps, or
The Freedom Steps (for any and all addictions), so that others might benefit likewise from the wisdom and support I received.

Why Do I Love This Work?

It is the greatest honour to connect with others and learn how to co-create a new way forward with food, people, the body, money, time and in life. I love to help people reconnect with the joy and aliveness that has always been there, though often buried beneath pain, confusion, or obsession. I enjoy being a catalyst to help find a way back to the peace that is all our essence.  It is this place of peace within from which naturally flows one’s own true life direction and contribution.

What Do I Believe?

I've let go of trying to push myself or look some way through exercise: I now move my body because it feels good.

No matter what any expert may say, one’s own intuitive wisdom about what is right to do, eat and feel always knows best. As our human, fear-filled ways of grasping at what we want begins to relax, we can experience a different way of living that is centred on trusting ourselves. In the process of rediscovering this Self-trust, trusted others can play a vital role in guiding our way.

This inner-knowing can be made accessible to us in our lives amidst all of our problems and challenges; it can shine through and direct all of our life choices. The right support, guidance and input can activate one’s innate inner support network and, moment by moment, we can find our own way through any difficulty.

Love is always there, even in the midst of our deepest pain. We can learn to notice this and, in time, to trust it.

Our bodies hold the key to our pain, and our capacity to heal lies within our willingness to bring presence to our bodies. Simple awareness without judgment or pushing ourselves brings gradual transformation.  This occurs when the right support (inside and outside ourselves) is in place.

Those of us with food issues can most easily begin this healing process once a peaceful relationship with food is established and accepted by all our parts: this newfound relationship can act as a foundation of inner and outer support as we go through this process of growth and change.

Our food and body image issues stem from painful events that took place both in our own lives and also in the lives of those the came before us. When there were traumatic events or prolonged periods of ‘not enough’ in our ancestral lines, and the painful feelings, beliefs and energy charge surrounding these experiences were not previously processed, they can find their ways into our own bodies and lives and make manifest in how we relate to food and our body-image. This can be healed: safely, effectively, and completely. This healing also heals the world and opens the way for newness and possibility for us and future generations.

Wars, famines, social inequality, traumatic deaths, sexual abuse… these experiences that occured in our ancestral lines can play a huge role in how come we end up with distorted ways of relating to food, whilever they were not grieved, healed and recovered from back then. The good news is that the suffering our ancestors went through can be healed by us retrospectively: this occurs as we do this work of releasing food and body burdens, and transversely, to heal these historic wounds helps us in our food and body-image recovery.

Twelve step programs are a powerful tool for healing.  We therapists can encourage and support our clients in this process. I believe the healing process of therapy is compatible alongside 12 Step recovery: that both healing vehicles can align for the best possible outcome.

I’ve learned more about myself in relationship with others than I could ever learned in isolation. Some of this has been painful and has involved making mistakes, forgiving myself, getting back up, and trying again to engage in this messy business of relating to others.

I love the smell of hot soil in summer after rain.

Music is the medicine my soul craves.  Moving my body to music, singing, and playing my harmonium has got me through some hard, barren times. My instruments are like having friends to play with, and the music we make is like being carried on a cushion of love.

Why do I work with women*?

[*Though we may live in womens’ bodies, it may be that not all parts of us identify with us being ‘a woman.’ No matter how we wish to identify ourselves, I aim to provide a space of openness and freedom to explore gender wherever this is a part of your process.]

I love to journey with others wishing to discover the connections between how we relate to food, and how it is living in womens’ bodies.

The cycles and rhythms of puberty, menses, pregnancy, birthing, breastfeeding, mothering, menopause and ageing can bring both transformation and challenge to the subtle balances within us that govern our relationship to food and our bodies.

This isn’t an easy world in which to be cyclical physical beings. There are times when we need to go slow and rest, as well as times when our energy is at a height and we can easily do more.  In our westernised cultures with all the demands upon us, there is often no time or space for slowness and rest and this can cause harm over time and prevent healing to happen.

I find it fruitful to pose questions together that can open the way for sustainably wholesome food relations. Examples of such enquiries are:

Can we allow ourselves guilt-free rest when needed, especially during menstruation (for those of us with cycles)?

Can we stay awake to the rhythms of our bodies’ changing energy levels, and honour these in how we show up in our lives?

What does it mean to care for ourselves by prioritising our basic needs (for regular meals, rest, fresh-air, creativity and stillness) as a radical act of service to our children, partners, parents, clients, and communities… and how does the healing impact of this ripple out to the whole world?

To explore all the ways of working together, click here and go to
‘Work With Me’.