Posts Tagged ‘Nutrition’

Nutrition is not a Diet: Promoting Food Acceptance and Inclusivity

Wooden spoons with spices

Nutrition and dieting are often confused in our culture, each reduced to an “eat this, not that” mentality that sees “healthy” eating as food restriction and deprivation. Think “clean eating” and fasting. Calorie counting and detoxes. Setting certain foods off-limits and strict times for when and when not to eat. Mainstream ideas about nutrition are rigid, often extreme, and heavily influenced by diet culture and our society’s obsession with weight.

But nutrition is not a diet. Dieting, in fact, can be a form of disordered eating—not healthy eating—and contribute to eating disorders of all types. Regardless of the nutritional content of food in any given non-medical diet, the act of dieting often compromises a person’s underlying relationship with food.

At The Emily Program, we approach nutrition from a different, more inclusive perspective. It’s a philosophy where all foods fit, one that removes judgment from food and encourages flexibility and variety with eating. Key to this broader understanding of nutrition is food acceptance and inclusivity. Along with the aspects of eating flexibly and meeting individual needs, this concept is a cornerstone of our approach to nutrition in eating disorder treatment.

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Strategies for Grocery Shopping in Eating Disorder Recovery

A person selecting produce in a grocery store

The average number of products in a grocery store tops 28,000, according to the Food Marketing Institute. It’s enough to overwhelm any shopper. For those with eating disorders, the tremendous selection can further heighten difficulties with food and make grocery shopping an errand that is anything but enjoyable.

Food is a common preoccupation and trigger in eating disorders of all types, including anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and OSFED. Thoughts of food often consume the day, as do rules of what, when, and how much should be eaten. The abundance of food at the grocery store can exacerbate these thoughts, sparking significant anxiety, fear, and distress upon entry. Factor in the store aisles awash with food labels and fellow shoppers commenting on food, and it’s no surprise that the grocery store is a highly stressful environment for those with eating disorders.

In this article, we provide several strategies for grocery shopping in eating disorder recovery. Learn how to navigate the shelves in person or virtually, and ensure you check out with items that serve your recovery.

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Clean Eating’s Dirty Secret 

A fresh vegetable salad

March is National Nutrition Month. For those of us who are dietitians and nutritionists, National Nutrition Month is typically a time to ask folks to think a bit more about food, nutrition, healthy eating, etc. So, it might be a little odd that I am choosing to write about the possible dangers of paying too much attention to the food you eat! 

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe that what you eat—when, how, and with whom you eat—can make a tremendous difference in your physical and mental health, as well as your overall enjoyment of life. However, we are seeing a disturbing trend, particularly online, that promotes strict adherence to a rigid set of food rules as the path to health and moral purity. This is the world of “clean eating.” 

The concept of “eating clean” has its origins in the early days of alternative medicine. People would become obsessed with obtaining health and curing disease through the strident adherence to various dietary strategies. Dr. Steven Bratman, an alternative medicine physician at the time, noted that many of his more diet-focused patients were “inadvertently harming themselves psychologically through excessive focus on food.” Also, their “exuberant pursuit of physical health had spawned a rigid, fearful and self-punishing lifestyle that caused more harm than good.” He created a name for this hyperfocus on food and obsession with eating the “right” food—“Orthorexia Nervosa” (1).

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The Dangers of Dieting

Smoothie diet

Diet culture wreaks havoc all year long, compromising our joy, peace of mind, health, and trust in our bodies. And now, as in years past, it has hit its peak season. Dieting’s unfounded claims and empty promises show up with renewed energy after the holidays, as if right on schedule every year.

With the ring of the new year comes diet talk suggesting that we should “get back on track” after holiday eating or “jumpstart” the year with weight loss resolutions. Cleanses and detoxes and fasts galore, the clamor implies that we must change our bodies with the turn of the calendar. It sets an expectation that controlling our bodies will lead to happier, healthier lives via “new year, new me” goals.

But weight-loss dieting is a misguided approach to happiness and health. Not only is it ineffective for most people, but it can actually cause harm to our bodies.

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What is Intuitive Eating?

A person eating from a takeout box

Intuitive eating, aptly named, is an approach that trusts in the body’s intuition to guide eating decisions. Unlike a diet that prescribes rules about what and when to eat, intuitive eating emphasizes attunement with natural signs of hunger and fullness. These internal signals replace any externally imposed rules, and the body is situated as the expert of its physical and psychological needs.

Dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch first outlined their model of intuitive eating in a 1995 book of the same name. The book’s fourth edition, Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach, was released earlier this year. Tribole and Resch’s paradigm continues to garner public and clinical attention, and its evidence base continues to grow (Tribole, 2017).

Though the intuitive eating approach is rooted in the body’s intuition, it can (and often does) feel far from intuitive for many. Diet culture’s “health” and “wellness” messages, as well as dieting, disordered eating, and eating disorders all serve to distance the mind from the body. Without a firm mind-body connection, the mind often acts as a micromanager of the body’s needs, tending to or ignoring them based on external rules and restrictions.

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Episode 40: Faith-Based Recovery with Brittany Braswell

Brittany Braswell

Episode description:

Brittany Braswell is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist (RDN) who runs a virtual private practice for those struggling with food and body image concerns. In both individual and group settings, she helps clients reduce their anxiety and disordered behaviors so that they can achieve lasting freedom from the bondage of their eating disorders.

Brittany joins us in this episode of Peace Meal to explore recovery from a faith-based perspective. For many, she explains, faith is a belief system more powerful than an eating disorder, one in which people can trust when distancing themselves from their illness.

To place trust in faith during recovery, Brittany emphasizes the importance of intentionality.

“I think being able to reconnect to those values or to your faith is really about turning down the eating disorder volume and getting really intentional about identifying and listening for those healthy voices,” she says.

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