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.

What Kind of Eater Are You?

Have you ever considered yourself an emotional eater? Do you think way too much about food? Many kinds of eating patterns exist on a spectrum of being too careful and conscious of your diet, to not paying any attention at all to your food in the moment. Identifying and learning about your eating style can help you become aware of triggering situations that cause you to eat for non-hunger reasons, like in response to emotions or a lack of mindfulness. Its important to note that although people tend to have one dominant trait or style of eating, you may identify with all of them, or go through periods of time switching between several depending on what is going on in your life.

The following list is taken directly from the book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. If you haven’t watched our Introduction to Intuitive Eating Video, watch it here to learn more about this nutrition framework and how to start making peace with food today. And if you are FINALLY ready to start healing your relationship with food and feel better in your body, you might be a good fit for our comprehensive Food Peace Jumpstart Program. Get the details and fill out a short questionnaire here.

Read through this list of eating styles and take note of which style relates to you:

The Careful Eater

Trigger: Fitness and health

Characteristic: Appears to be the perfect eater. Yet anguishes over each food morsel and its effect on the body. On the surface, this person seems health-and-fitness oriented.

The Unconscious Eater

Trigger: Eating while doing something else at the same time.

Characteristic: This person is often unaware that he/she is eating, or how much is being eaten. To sit down and simply eat is often viewed as a waste of time. Eating is usually paired with another activity to be productive. There are many subtypes:

The Chaotic Unconscious Eater

Trigger: Overscheduled life.

Characteristic: This person’s eating style is haphazard – gulp n go when food is available. Seems to thrive on tension.

The Refuse-Not Unconscious Eater

Trigger: Presence of food.

Characteristic: This person is especially vulnerable to candy jars, or food present in meetings or sitting openly on the kitchen counter.

The Waste-Not Unconscious Eater

Trigger: Free food.

Characteristic: This person’s eating drive is often influenced by the value of the food dollar and is susceptible to all-you-can-eat buffets and free food.

Emotional Unconscious Eater

Trigger: Uncomfortable emotions

Characteristic: Stress or uncomfortable feelings trigger eating – especially when alone.

The Professional Dieter

Trigger: Feeling fat.

Characteristic: This person is perpetually dieting, often trying the latest commercial diet. Has extensive knowledge of calories, portions, and dieting techniques.

The Intuitive Eater

Trigger: Biological hunger.

Characteristic: This person makes food choices without experiencing guilt or an ethical dilemma. Honors hunger, respects fullness, enjoys the pleasure of eating.

Source: Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch

Once you have identified your current eating style, you may start thinking about how these triggers and characteristics cause problems in your life. Did you notice the last style, the intuitive eater? This eating style is actually the solution to a lot of these eating problems, like yo-yo dieting, feeling hungry and irritable all the time, and bingeing. Its possible to change and let go of eating habits that aren’t serving you and keeping you from your wellness goals!

If you are ready to jump into this nutrition framework and end emotional eating (and other types of eating!), we are accepting new clients for our comprehensive Food Peace Jumpstart Program. Learn more about our program here.

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.

On Eating the Rainbow

This is a common phrase thrown around by dietitians, but why is it an important concept in eating disorder recovery?

Eating the rainbow refers to eating a variety of foods, including vibrant and colorful fruits and vegetables. We all know eating fruits and veggies are important for nutritional reasons, including providing essential vitamins and minerals, fiber for digestive health and fullness, and contributing water for hydration.

Lets take a look at how food variety its helpful in your recovery:

  • Colorful food or many colors in a meal may be more appealing or lead to a more satisfying and enjoyable meal. Satisfying meals means less seeking out other foods or triggering destructive behaviors.
  • Variety prevents burnout. Eating the same thing every day can eventually lead to boredom and a poorer relationship with food.
  • Eating disorders often cause nutrient deficiencies from eliminating many food groups or engaging in behaviors which wreak havoc on your brain and body’s ability to run efficiently. Talk to your dietitian about what kinds of foods may benefit you in your recovery.

One way to increase variety is food swapping- taking one food that you already eat and swapping it with another similar food. For instance:

  • Instead of snacking on your daily apple and PB, try a pear.
  • Do you drink juice with breakfast? Try cranberry instead of your usual orange juice.
  • Cut up orange and yellow bell peppers with your dressing or dip instead of carrots.
  • Stir frozen cherries into your morning oatmeal and heat.

Keep in mind that our bodies work in averages, not absolutes, meaning that food habits over time make a difference in your health and not to worry about having the “perfect” food plate at each meal.

Even small steps towards change can be beneficial for your overall health and recovery. So what can you do this week to eat the rainbow?

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.