Tips for Summer Cookouts

Memorial Day Weekend has come and gone, signaling that warm weather is here and summer is right around the corner. With warm weather often comes social gathering, although this year may have looked quite different while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing efforts. While you may choose to get together with family or friends from a distance, there may be something else that is causing stress: the food.

Imagine this scenario: you are at your family’s house and someone yells “Alright, its time to eat!”. A family member tells you to “grab a plate and go for it”. You look over at the tables of food: burgers, hot dogs, every kind of pasta and macaroni salad and desserts galore. If you are someone in the throes of an eating disorder or struggling with food and body image concerns, this scenario might send you into panic mode, and you can feel your anxiety setting in.

But the cookout doesn’t have to play out as your worst case scenario. Here are three tips you can put into practice next time you find yourself in a social gathering involving food:

Bring a dish

Anxiety can build when you don’t know what will be served and what food will or won’t be available. So bring one with you! Not only will the host appreciate you bringing food to share, knowing that there is at least one food that you are familiar with can be comforting. Its also important to challenge yourself with eating other foods or trying new things – make it a point to at least try one food that isn’t totally in your comfort zone. Perhaps share it with a friend Go ahead and eat the brownie –you can do hard things!

Take a tour of the table

Just because its “your turn” or the food has been brought out, doesn’t mean that you need to commit to making a decision right this moment. Take some time to stroll around and see what is being offered first. That way you can feel more prepared to take a moment and check in with yourself, and decide what to put on your plate. Using your meal plan or the plate method (meeting all of your food groups: carbohydrates, protein, fruits/veggies, fats, and ofcourse a fun food) can make deciding what to eat a lot easier.

Eat with an ally

Find someone who can make the eating experience more enjoyable, like a friend or family member. If your uncle who has made uncomfortable food comments in the past is around, you absolutely don’t have to sit with him! Participating in meaningful conversation, or just finding a quiet spot with a scenic view away from the crowds can help bring your attention away from the negative talk that might be happening in your thoughts.

For more tips from our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists on navigating food & nutrition, visit our website to schedule your free 15 minute Meet & Greet or initial appointment!

How To Make Meal Time Less Stressful (During A Really Stressful Time)

The Coronavirus COVID-19 global health crisis has changed everyone’s life in some way. Adjusting to the new reality of socially isolating and having to establish new routines in a very short amount of time can certainly lead to increased stress and anxiety. For someone in the throes of an eating disorder, new routines can mean a change in eating behaviors, disruption of body cues, and body dissatisfaction. Below are some tips on how to manage your food and eating behaviors during quarantine:

1. Plan your meal times then your daily activities (not the other way around).

Prioritizing meal times is so important and can help you follow through with your meal plan or nutrition goals. Most likely. your routine or schedule has changed in some way, or may even have become wide open without structure to your day. Less structure combined with stress can feel chaotic and lead to chaotic eating, such as grazing, skipping meals or acting on behaviors. To avoid that, make time for meals. Give yourself a non-negotiable 1-1.5 hour window for each meal, and schedule your other activities around them.

2. Consider or reconsider cooking.

Cooking requires energy, mentally and physically speaking. During a global health crisis, its absolutely normal to feel more fatigued then usual, so consider your energy level and how it may impact meal time. Talk to your dietitian about “high energy/cooking” days that include more creative or elaborate meals and also “low energy/no-cook” meal ideas that you can just throw together. This can help you plan for and prioritize cooking on days that you are feeling more energized and motivated, and know that you can have leftovers or convenience meals for harder days.

3. Find your stress-free food zone.

Is reading the news increasing your anxiety? Stop scrolling while eating! Eating in a relaxed state can increase overall satisfaction with your meal and also help to prevent gastrointestinal upset, like heartburn or stomach pains. Create a calming space in your home where you can mindfully eat. If you need a distraction or support thats fine too, call a friend or schedule a FaceTime lunch date! Your space doesn’t have to be at the kitchen table either: find a nook, a floor, or a couch and add relaxing music or a candle to create your comfort.

For more recovery-focused eating tips, talk to your nourishED Registered Dietitian Nutritionist or schedule your initial appointment here.

The Dangers of Dieting

Its that time of year again that diet culture ramps up and is ready to prey on all of our post-holiday eating and body insecurities. Everywhere you look there is a new diet program or fitness routine that promises to change your life and fix your body in some new, alluring way. The top 3 New Years Resolutions year after year are dieting more, exercising more, and losing more weight…so its no wonder the $72 billion dieting industry is only growing and stealing more of our money and energy. But the reality is, diets don’t work, and neither does intense and rigid exercise routines. At least not in the long-run.

We want to point out that just because you aren’t officially following the latest elimination or weight-loss diet, doesn’t mean that you aren’t still participating in diet culture or eating in a restrictive way. Diet culture is everywhere…in the way that we praise thinness and shame larger bodies, the way that we dress, the food we buy, the healthcare we receive. Lets take a deeper look into the dangers of dieting and how diet culture is harmful to everyone.

Here’s what the research says dieting may cost you:

Your weight

95% of diets fail and most will regain their lost weight in 1-5 years. Whats more is that those who weight-cycle (aka yo-yo diet) are at an increased rick for adverse health outcomes compared to those who never lost weight to begin with. The dieting industry is the ONLY industry I can think of that has a 5% success rate yet diets are prescribed and recommended ALL.THE.TIME!

Your health

Many diets and fitness programs appear to be different, but at the end of the day the goal is usually the same – create a calorie deficit. By undereating, you are underfueling your body and brain and will inevitably lead to low energy availability, and your body will respond by slowing down in an attempt to conserve energy for survival. This presents many problems ranging from inability to regulate essential body functions (temperature, heart rate, metabolism), decrease in mental focus and increased irritability, hormonal issues (decreased testosterone and estrogen, loss of menstrual cycle and thus loss of bone mineralization leading to osteoporosis), gastrointestinal disorders like gastroparesis or slowed gastric emptying and constipation…and many other health issues.

Your mental health

35% of “occasional dieters” progress into pathological dieting (disordered eating) and as many as 25%, advance to full-blown eating disorders. Eating disorders are a mental health disorder with nutritional and physical consequences and can be life-threatening. Dieting and weight loss is NOT synonymous with health, and diet plans and protocols totally miss the mark on addressing mental health concerns or the ramifications that can result such as increased anxiety and stress or depression.

Your wallet

The dieting industry is stealing our money at an all-time high of $72 billion in 2019. How much money have you wasted on supplements, diet programs, weird diet “foods”, fancy scales, apps and trackers?

Your social life & relationships

Dieting is isolating and stressful. How can you possibly attend a pizza & movie night with your friends if your diet only allows chicken breast and broccoli? You may not go at all, or go and feel deprived or guilty if you break your diet. Research shows that the constant challenge of monitoring what you eat, eliminating foods you enjoy, and having feelings of hunger, can cause stress. This may compound attempts at losing weight, as stress causes a rise in cortisol and adrenaline, which reduces our calorie-burning potential. So we’re creating the exact conditions that make losing weight difficult by obsessing over food.

This list is by no means all-inclusive, but will hopefully get you thinking about how dieting is harmful in many ways. Now that we have looked at the risks of dieting, which begs the question: what have you gained from dieting? The majority of people pursue dieting for the purpose of weight-loss, or making their bodies smaller. Is the pursuit of weight-loss worth the risks?

If you are wondering, “if I’m not dieting…then what?” we can offer another way of thinking about food and your bodies. Rejecting dieting and diet culture and learning how to eat intuitively is a good place to start, and our Registered Dietitians can come up a roadmap to guide you towards food freedom. If you want to learn more about a non-diet approach to nutrition and wellness, we can help.

And for a limited time, we are offering our Ditching Diet Culture Virtual Support Group in January & February 2020. Be sure to RSVP to reserve your spot Click here to learn more.

Kitchen Confidence for Intuitive Eating & Eating Disorder Recovery

kitchen confidence

Do you struggle with cooking and putting a nutritious meal on the table? Are you trying to follow a meal plan but get overwhelmed with what to make to meet your needs? Our dietitians want to help you build kitchen confidence!

At nourishED, we offer individualized cooking lessons in our teaching kitchen to inspire you, sharpen your cooking skills, and reinforce what you are working on with your dietitian. The classes are taught by your dietitian and are personalized to your tastes, preferences, and skill level.

We have two tracks:

nourishED for Intuitive Eaters

Sharpen your kitchen skills for intuitive eating. Learn how to make nutritious and tasty meals with whole food ingredients – no diet foods here!

recoverED for Eating Disorder Recovery

Learn the kitchen skills you need to follow your exchange-based meal plan and work on your eating disorder recovery.

Here’s what our clients are saying…

“I loved the one on one cooking class that is offered! Melanie had some great recipes and had all the ingredients ready to go. I have a limited number of meals I’m typically comfortable making so this has been great to get me out of my comfort zone. I have actually been able to recreate one of the recipes we made in our class so I can add to my meal routine!” -Allison

“With cooking classes I’ve been able to try new recipes and expand my cooking abilities! I’ve learned fun recipes and found a creative way that helps me nourish my body.” – Tracy

To learn more and meet with one of our dietitians, schedule your initial session here or contact us for more info.

How To Stay True To Yourself At Mealtime

Focusing on your own food peace journey can sometimes be a struggle. Comparison, judgments, and relationships can distract from your true intentions and goals for meeting your own nutritional needs. “How can I focus on my own food when my partner/coworker/roommate does or says _____?” This question comes up quite often and we have some common situations and strategies for staying true to yourself at mealtime.

Situation: fear of judgment

Have you ever been around people who make it their job to comment on your food or talk about what they are/aren’t eating? Comments like “Are you really going to eat that?” or “I’m being good tonight, so no dessert for me” can be (unfortunately) commonplace at the dinner table. Although the person may not mean any harm, it can be awkward and hard to ignore when you have your own goals. But are you choosing foods that you really want to eat, or are you making decisions out of fear of judgment? The truth is, many people make judgments because of their own insecurities around food. Don’t let their relationship with food harm yours. The best thing you can do is practice saying “yes” to your needs, and caring less about what they have to say about theirs.

Situation: multitasking

We all have a million commitments and tasks on our plate each day, so multitasking is sometimes a way of life. Research shows that multitasking actually leads to less productivity and less mindfulness, which can certainly interfere with the ability to tune into what your body and brain need, nutritionally and emotionally. Distractions disconnect mind and body and thus, you may feel unsatisfied after you eat since you weren’t even tasting the food and start digging through the pantry for something else. Or, distractions could lead you to eat past the point of fullness and feeling physically uncomfortable. To stay true to your meal intentions, start by setting one (“I’d like to sloowww down and take at least 20 minutes to eat my meal before getting back to studying”) and take a timeout to focus on just yourself.

Situation: cooking for others

Is mealtime stressful because your partner doesn’t have the same eating habits? Do you cook for others, but have different food preferences and goals? If you are focusing on eating a balanced and healthful dinner, but your partner is a selective eater or doesn’t like vegetables for instance, it can be tempting to cater to their wants and needs. But that only leaves you feeling frustrated and even resentful. Having an open conversation and sharing your concerns may be helpful, and sitting down and meal planning together to find commonalities and troubleshoot differences -just because someone doesn’t 100% like the food you do, doesn’t mean you can’t find common ground. Creating meals like grain bowls with mix-and-match ingredients like different dressings, veggies, and grains can make mealtime easier. Talk to your dietitian for more ideas!

Situation: your roomie influences your food choices

Have you ever felt like you have been doing well honoring your needs only to have your roommate say “Let’s order takeout for dinner” or brings home a box of cookies to leave on the counter to share? You weren’t planning on that happening, but now you have to make a decision if you are going to participate or eat foods that you hadn’t planned for, or perhaps you haven’t totally made peace with. Solution? Choose what is important to YOU!  Can your roommate order takeout without you? Totally, plus you already have something in fridge. Do you really like your roomie’s mom’s homemade chocolate chip cookies? Have one with her and thank her for sharing. Or maybe you don’t have to decide tonight. Whatever you choose, its important to ask yourself “What do I really want?” and own your decision.

These are just some suggestions for navigating your food peace journey, but remember that it is just that – YOURS! For more tips, talk to your nourishED dietitian.

Cool {no-bake} Summer Sweets

If you are trying to make peace with food this summer, desserts can be a scary subject. Part of eating disorder recovery and learning to eat intuitively is honoring cravings – including sweets. There’s absolutely no reason to feel guilty or shameful that you have cravings or want to eat foods simply for enjoyment- it is totally normal (and not all eating needs to be hunger-based, or the most nutritious choice)! If you find yourself wanting something cold and creamy to cool off this summer, give yourself permission and ask yourself these questions: what desserts are meaningful to you, or have positive memories of? What desserts bring you pleasure, or used to? What am I craving right now? If you aren’t sure, or if you are curious and like to get creative in the kitchen, we’ve picked out a few recipes to consider incorporating into your summer eating. Here are 4 cool recipes that don’t require you to turn on the oven:

Cookies & Cream Popsicles

Popsicles and ice cream cones are summer staples when you want something sweet. This recipe is like a mash up of both – frozen ice cream on a stick. You can even mix it up and try different flavors of oreos -there’s so many possibilities (hello, Golden oreos). Popsicle molds can be found at most grocery stores or dollar stores.

Strawberry Shortcake Truffles

While strawberry shortcake is such a craveable warm weather dessert, it does require turning on the oven to bake those biscuits. These truffles are similar but with a twist…white chocolate, strawberries, cream cheese…yum! These little balls are easy to roll up, pop into the freezer, and enjoy in no time.

Yogurt Bark 4 Ways

There are lots of variations of yogurt bark out there, here’s 4: honey granola, mixed berry, dark chocolate peanut butter, and tropical. These recipes call for spreading greek yogurt onto a cookie sheet, adding whatever mix-ins you like, and freezing it. You then cut it into pieces and enjoy. This bark is great for a protein-rich breakfast, snack or dessert. Get the recipe here.

Root Beer Float

This summer classic is less of a recipe and more of an infamous pairing: vanilla ice cream topped with root beer. Eat with a spoon (while you can) or drink with a straw.

Summertime Tips

Summer has finally arrived, and so has time off from school, vacations, dog days at the pool and other fun activities to fill up the long days. Oftentimes, fun activities and fun foods collide: barbecues, restaurants and ice cream stands. If you are struggling with an eating disorder or poor relationship with food, the summertime can be stressful if you correlate fun foods with shame, guilt, and compensation. But you can allow yourself to enjoy food, perhaps like you used to.

Here’s 3 tips for making peace with food this summer:

1.Food is food – it isn’t a moral decision. You are not a good if you eat healthful foods, and you are not horrible if you eat less nutritious foods. What you eat has absolutely nothing to do with who you are as a person! Our sneaky and overbearing diet culture has made us think otherwise, but I encourage you to reject this illusion.

2.You do you – are you afraid of judgement and what people around you may think if they see you eating ice cream? Focusing on your own needs and wants and worrying less about other people is a good place to start. We don’t possess magical powers to read other people’s minds (that I know of), so we can’t assume that people are thinking negative things. You may be thinking, “well my family/friends have said judgy things before”! I’m so sorry that you’ve experienced that – its not OK. Unfortunately, we can’t control other people’s behaviors, so learning to set boundaries about what is OK and what is not OK is important if this is a recurring thing.

3.Don’t miss out – for me, summertime is tied so tightly to some of my happiest memories growing up. But dieting and restricting fun foods took those moments of joy away from me and turned them into missed opportunities – to connect with my family and friends, to accept that food can be eaten simply for pleasure, to live in the moment. What has diet culture stolen from you? How can you stand up to your eating disorder and start living again? Don’t wait another day to take action.

For more tips and support, talk to your nourishED dietitian or contact us here.

Fitness for Thought

As summer approaches, the warm weather and school ending can bring up the desire to be active. If you are recovering from an eating disorder, you’ve been doing a lot of hard work healing your relationship with food. But what about your body – with exercise? Have you used exercise in an attempt to manipulate your body size? Have you used it to punish yourself or compensate for the foods that you eat? If so, it can be hard to know how to work with your body, not against it.

It is important to talk to your treatment team about exercise, and it is often recommended to take a break from exercise early on in your recovery – for medical reasons and so you can focus on food. You should not be exercising if you have not met your nutritional needs FIRST. If you are medically cleared for exercise, talk to your dietitian about how and where to start.

Here are 3 tips for healing your relationship with exercise:

1.Don’t get caught up in creating a “beach body”. The diet industry sells and makes billions of dollars off the idea that there is something wrong with your body and that it needs to be fixed. Ads for strict workout plans, diets and detox teas that will give you the “perfect body” are everywhere this time of year. But the truth is that you don’t need to change your body – you are the same being, same soul, and same heart regardless of the shape and size of you. Its up to you to reject diet culture and not let it be a driving motivator for why you exercise.

2. Find what truly moves you. Perhaps you’ve never had a healthy relationship with fitness, or maybe you have had bad experiences in the past. But our bodies are meant to move, and it is possible to move in a way that feels best for your body. If you are counting the seconds while running, getting injured and feeling run down from bootcamp classes…maybe its time to re-think what the word exercise means to you. What brings you joy? What connects your body and mind? Would you rather be outside connecting with nature instead of in a sweaty gym? Exercise doesn’t have to be regimented – intuitive exercise is possible!

3. Ditch the numbers. The fitness industry can often make us believe that in order to be successful with our goals, we must meticulously and obsessively track numbers. Weigh-ins, macro grams and percentages, distance run, calories burned, steps stepped…the list goes on. But is this really helpful? No – it can lead to mental and physical burnout, and also takes up a LOT of time and energy that could be spent elsewhere. If you find yourself feeling guilty or “not measuring up” to your calculated plan, perhaps its time to let go of it and go back to the basics of moving for the purpose of feeling good, stress relief, or just for fun.

If you are struggling to find your balance with fitness, or don’t know how to begin, talk to your nourishED dietitian! Book your first appointment by contacting us here.

Do I Need Meal Support?

If you are in the throes of an eating disorder, eating a meal (or just thinking about eating a meal) can be an incredibly overwhelming task – and one that must be done several times a day. Common emotional and behavioral features of eating disorders can include preoccupation or overthinking food choices, inability to make decisions about food, refusal to eat certain food groups, food rituals, or feeling uncomfortable eating in front of others or in social situations. No matter where you are in your recovery, you may benefit from having added support at meal time.

What is meal support and what can I expect?

Meal support can take several forms, but generally includes eating with the presence of one of our dietitians, and with or without other participants. The meal may be homemade, catered or prepared in office, or eaten out at a restaurant. There are 3 phases of meal support: before, during, and after.

Before the meal begins, your dietitian will spend time listening to your thoughts, feelings about the meal. This is also a good opportunity to check in with your hunger cues. You will collectively come up with one or two goals for the meal to coincide with what you have been working on in your recovery. For instance, do you want to work on eating at a normal pace? Identify progressing fullness? Practice not using food rituals? Order something off the menu that challenges your eating disorder rules? This discussion will help set your intention for the meal so that you can go into it with a clear focus.

During the meal, you can expect to eat your meal and engage in conversation with your peers and dietitian. Please be mindful of other people’s recovery and refrain from triggering talk (i.e. calorie counting, discussing ED behaviors, comments on other’s food, etc). There are a million other things to talk about besides food! You will be expected to do your best to complete your meal and ensure that you have adequately met your nutrition needs (ask your dietitian if you aren’t sure what that means for you).

After the meal, you will have a discussion about how the meal went for you. Did you meet your goals? What went well, and did you struggle with any disordered thoughts or urges? What have you learned for next time? What do you need to feel supported and move on with your day? If you are in a group setting, you may also give feedback to your peers.

Meal support at nourishED

Our dietitians offer several meal support options to support your recovery:

Individual in-office meal support: BYOB or make a meal with your dietitian.

Dining out meal support group: our Tuesday night support group dines out once per month at a local restaurant. Join your dietitian and peers to work on challenging your eating disorder. To RSVP, click here.

Virtual meal support group (coming soon!) : eat your meal from the comfort of your home – or anywhere you can a phone or computer – with your peers and dietitian.

Meal support is only available to nourishED clients – if you are not a current client, book your first appointment by contacting us here.

For the safety of our providers and clients, our in-person offices are closed for the time-being. However, we are still offering virtual services via video or phone. Fortunately, insurance companies are still covering these services.