Giving up on a diet after two weeks of restrictive hell? That's something many of us have gone through (time and time again). Still, the cycle continues. We know body acceptance is important, but it's hard—especially when most diets forget that we're emotional, complex beings who are way more than just our appetites. Traditional diets rarely mention how your personality and mind play a role in why you eat the way you do, let alone the hormonal imbalances that can have an impact.
That's why certified nutritionist, functional medicine practitioner and cognitive behavioural therapist Dana James, MS, CNS, CDN, wrote The Archetype Diet. In the book, she looks at the four archetypes that define women's behavioural patterns. These archetypes show where we derive our self-worth from—whether it's from caring for others or our achievements. The book not only helps to uncover our eating behaviours and the hormones that affect where we store body fat, but also how our limiting beliefs in childhood shape our views around body image.
Proving that food on its own can't be the sole focus, the book focuses on the importance of self-worth and uses psychological models to explain our eating patterns and how we can finally break the cycle. This is an approach to nutrition where your feelings, memories and beliefs are just as important as the food you consume. If you've just taken a sigh of relief, take the quiz to find out what archetype you are, and then keep reading to learn more.
The Archetype: Wonder Woman
"Wonder Woman is dynamic, driven and determined. She's motivated by success and achievement and expects the best from herself and others," James writes.
With a dominant hormone of cortisol, most "wonder women" store weight around their abdominal area. In the book, the plan full of bitter vegetables and fresh herbs is based around restoring adrenals and thyroid function. The plan also avoids gluten and dairy. At the same time, the book guides "wonder women" on working past the idea of food being used as a reward or a way to switch off.
The Archetype: The Femme Fatale
James explains the "femme fatale" archetype as a woman who is "sensual, alluring, playful and passionate." "You can't help but notice her," James adds. "Her power source is her physical appearance, so her sense of self tends to rise and fall with the average beauty quotient in the room."
The book notes that the body type of the femme fatale might look like any of the other archetypes, depending on their eating patterns. They might restrict food or be prone to binge eating. The food plan focuses on balance with protein, carbs, vegetables and nutrient-rich snacks. As the femme fatale is focused on her appearance, The Archetype Diet works on digging deeper into the childhood memories that imprinted the idea of appearances relating to self-worth. This is the plan for those who need help on learning not to categorise food as "good" or "bad."
The Archetype: Ethereal
James describes the "ethereal" archetype as "feminine, whimsical and enchanting." "They're talented, creative and highly attuned to their surroundings," she continues. "Ethereals are guided through life by their intuition."
This archetype can be very sensitive to food. They might have allergies or reactions to chemicals. The book suggests that women who embody this archetype are naturally lean and slender, so the food plan focuses on remedying low levels of estrogen and boosting their gut microbiome through eating earthy foods and developing a regular eating pattern. Alongside this, it's recommended that this archetype work on adding logic to their ideas instead of relying on their intuition.
The Archetype: Nurturer
James describes the nurturer as someone who derives her sense of power from her ability to care for others: "She is known for her dependability, loyalty and thoughtfulness and will drop whatever she is doing to be there for family and friends."
Those of the nurturer archetype tend to store fat all over their body, especially around their upper thighs and upper arms. They have a tendency to eat for comfort or to suppress emotions. The food plan and supplements outlined in the book work on balancing out the dominant hormones of insulin and estrogen that this archetype often possesses. Nurturers are called to start asking for help and vocalising their needs instead of prioritising other people.
If you're struggling with your body image and are looking for something that goes much deeper than just an eating plan, grab a copy of The Archetype Diet. You'll learn more about the archetypes, the recipes for each and the important work of healing your mind through the six Rs: restore, recognise, reinterpret, release, rewire and revive.