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!

Intuitive Eating FAQ: Part TWO

This blog post is dedicated to anyone who is new to Intuitive Eating (IE), or those who are aren’t sure if its actually possible to make peace with food and their bodies, and live their lives without food rules and restriction. I totally get it, I’ve been there myself a few times. 

As a dietitian, I thought that these principles went against everything that I had ever been taught in my many years of schooling. Before I found food peace, I gave IE a few tries but didn’t feel like I could possibly step away from diet culture, being that it was so intertwined with my profession and my own personal judgements (thankfully I did some deep inner work, educated myself about Health At Every Size, and havn’t looked back). BUT, this post isn’t about my journey…it’s about yours. I just want you to know that you’re not alone, and its totally okay to question this nutrition framework. 

If you watched my video Introduction to Intuitive Eating + How To Get Started Making Food Peace Today (ICYMI watch it here), I listed a bunch of frequently asked questions that I hear from my clients on the regular, and wanted to answer them for you today. If you havn’t read our first post Intuitive Eating + FAQ, you can read it here. Let’s get started!

But what if I need to lose weight?

First, I think its necessary to discuss that intuitive eating is not a weight loss plan – even though many people who are jumping on the bandwagon frame it as such, claiming that you can eat intuitively AND lose weight. This is not how it works.. As dietitians, we can use our best tools and knowledge and take into account your health history and relationship with food to make an educated guess about what will happen to your body when you start nourishing yourself. But the reality is – we don’t exactly know.

One of three outcomes WILL happen – you will gain some weight, your weight will stay the same, or you will lose some weight. Even if weight loss is one of your goals, perhaps it can help to put it on the backburner while you work intensely on other goals that are more of a priority in healing your body. 

“How can I tell if I am emotionally eating?”

Separating physical hunger from mental hunger can be challenging, they are often times intertwined. Its actually normal to experience both at the same time. Emotional eating if often seen as a bad thing, that we should only be eating for fueling our bodies and not for pleasure, boredom, or any other feeling. Emotional eating is important to address if you feel like you can’t stop and it is happening all the time and getting in the way of your wellness goals. If you find that you are ignoring physical cues and using food as the primary means of soothing yourself (or numbing out), intuitive eating can help you explore what is driving this behavior.

“How do I stop feeling guilty after I eat?”

Merriam-Webster defines guilt as “the fact of having committed a specified or implied offense or crime”. Let’s allow that to marinate a minute (I’ll wait)!  Eating is the ability to feed and nourish ourselves, the most basic thing we need to do in order to survive. So should eating EVER be considered a crime? Certainly not, but sometimes it may feel like one.

Perhaps someone or something has given you the idea or rule that “you shouldn’t eat ______”.  It could be a news article, a health professional, a coworker, a parent, a social media post, or perhaps you don’t even know where that idea came from. But I challenge you to explore why you think this to be true, and what is so wrong about eating that food? A dietitian can help sort out fact from fiction and challenge the food police, which is the fourth principle of IE. When you let go of food rules and restrictions, you lose the guilt. 

“How can I trust that I will know when to start and stop eating?”

Ah, body trust. Something that is never ever talked about or written on a dieting plan. That’s because dieting is really great at helping you get OUT of sync with your body. Are you hungry after only eating a bowlful of celery as your snack? Dieting doesn’t care, dieting tells you to push through it and follow the plan, that those body signals are a sign of weakness and lack of willpower! How does a diet plan know what you and your incredibly complex physiological needs are? It doesn’t, its a one-size-fits-all prescription.

In order to get back in tune with your body, and trust that it knows exactly what to do when you eat, you first have to give your body and brain adequate and consistent energy and nutrients. A starved brain and body (no matter your body shape/size) can’t function properly, and can’t give you reliable body cues. Only then can you start working towards identifying what hunger and what fullness feel like in your body and brain, and eventually build body trust.

“I feel hopeless after so many failed diets. Is my body broken?”

Our bodies are incredibly strong and amazing at adaptation. Despite the fact that dieting often times puts our bodies through hell (intentional starvation, bingeing, nutrient deficiencies, harmful attempts to change its natural genetic makeup…and so on…) our bodies are highly capable of healing. Dieting can slow your metabolism to prevent actual starvation, but you might be surprised at what your body can do once you start caring for it. Intuitive eating teaches you how to take care of and even respect your here-and-now body, versus the pursuit of always trying to change it. You were meant to do so much more in your life!

I hope that this post helped give you information about what intuitive eating can and can’t do for you. We always recommend working with one of our dietitians and intuitive eating specialists, especially if you have more questions. How can we help you?

5 Tips for Holiday Food Peace

From Halloween through the New Year, food is a way to celebrate and bring people together. But the holidays can also bring awkward family encounters, diet talk around the table, and increased anxiety around all of the abundant and delicious food. All of these things combined can lead to feeling out of control around food or judgemental feelings. This year, how about taking some steps to making peace with food instead of swearing to start over in the New Year?

Here's 5 tips for making food peace this holiday season:

1. Give yourself permission to eat the foods you crave.

Restriction – whether emotional or physical – inevitably causes us to feel crazy around food. So what if you gave yourself permission to eat the foods you like, even ones that you would deem as “bad” or off-limits? You might find that the more often you practice giving yourself permission to eat any food you want, the less stressed you feel about food. So savor your favorite holiday foods while they are here, and remember that all foods can fit into a healthful diet.

2. Know that its okay to feel full.

The holidays are a perfect example of eating for an experience or pleasure rather than purely out of hunger. Even if we do our best to listen to our bodies, we can sometimes overshoot fullness especially in social situations, or because food tastes good. Its ok to feel full, and it will pass. It does not mean that you did something wrong, instantly gained weight, or that you need to do anything about it. Trust that your body knows how to handle it.

3. Separate food from exercise.

There’s a lot of messages around the holidays that you need to burn or sweat in order to deserve indulging in a meal. The truth is that you deserve to eat, period! If you are only exercising to compensate for what you are eating or to alleviate guilt, you may need to take a deeper look and find more meaningful motivators. Exercise should be a way to restore and feel good about moving your body, not as punishment. 

4. Set your boundaries.

Does family time around the dinner table bring up memories of diet-talk and food-shaming? Unfortunately, you can’t control other people’s behaviors and food opinions (or their desire to share it with everyone) but you can establish your boundaries before-hand so that you are equipped if anything comes up. Having a few go-to “conversation changers” like new TV shows or current events can help protect your recovery.

5. Focus on family, friends, and festivities.

When you stop worrying about food, it frees up so much brain space to focus on the more important things in life. Remember your true meaning of the holiday season. What are you thankful for? Who do you want to spend time with? How can you help others? The holidays shouldn’t be all about the food. Before you go to a holiday gathering, try visualizing how you want this valuable time to be spent.

For more tips, talk to your nourishED dietitian, and don’t miss out on our upcoming holiday events. Happy holidays, yall!

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.