A friend and colleague of mine forward me this video clip from The Onion, which is perhaps my favorite place for news. (For those of you who don't know The Onion writes parodies of news stories and is often quite hysterical.)
Alert: if you are bothered or offended by profanity, please don't watch this. For those of you who aren't...now I really have your attention! So take a moment and watch this clip before reading on.
Man Says 'Fuck It,' Eats Lunch At 10:58 A.M.
This past weekend, we had a major storm out here in New England. In fact, I’ve never seen so much snow at once! As I was watching Facebook, my inbox, and news reports I was intrigued with everyone’s efforts to prepare for the upcoming deluge. In fact, I found it incredibly interesting. Many people headed to the grocery store and stock piled their cupboards, fridges, and freezers (along with grabbing cash and filling up their gas tanks).
I think this behavior has such relevance to the world of nutrition. When we fear impending famine, we stock pile “just in case.” How many of you repeat this pattern with your diets? If you have ever participated in a “diet” than you have repeated it even if you don’t know it! Creating a famine by cutting out certain foods or food groups actually triggers a natural and healthy survival mechanism to feast. This survival mechanism causes us to think obsessively and crave those forbidden items. And as many of you know from experience, when we are both psychologically and physically restricted we don’t just crave moderate amounts of those items, we yearn for COPIOUS amounts of them. And before you know it, a terrible pattern has emerged… Famine (even with the best of intentions) has set you up for feasting.
I was recently invited to guest blog for The Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition's blog "Today's Diet and Nutrition." There are a plethora of "tips for the holidays" articles out there so I suppose I added mine to the mix. While the blog post is specifically geared toward individuals with an eating disorder, I actually think it's advice that applies for just about anyone. So even if you don't have an eating disorder, check it out!
The holidays are a wonderful—and wonderfully stressful—time of year for all of us, but the stress is amplified for anyone struggling with an eating disorder. Numerous celebrations with particularly indulgent food and potentially socially stressful situations with friends and family is a lot to manage!
On the surface an eating disorder manifests itself with unhealthy eating behaviors. But underneath, those behaviors carry with them important meanings about relationships and implications regarding emotional health. While I cannot possibly address all of these complicated issues in one blog post, I have created a list of tips to address the different facets clients need support with during the holiday season.
If you are going to a holiday party in the evening, ignore the traditional dieting advice to reduce your intake during the day. Eat as normally as possible so that you are ready for a meal but not starving when you arrive to the party. "Primal hunger" triggers most people to overeat; to avoid the feeling of being overly hungry and out of control, make sure your hunger needs are met during the day.
If you are particularly nervous about what food is being served, see if you can talk to the hostess prior to the event and ask about the menu. This will give you some time to come up with a game plan or work with your treatment team to develop a food strategy for the evening.
Remember that a part of normal eating is eating things that simply taste good, even if they have no nutritional value! Ask any dietitian and they will tell you that eating foods for fun and flavor can be a part of any balanced diet.
Part of recovering from an eating disorder is learning to set boundaries. By nature, most people who struggle with an eating disorder give away too much of themselves. This year, you can give yourself the gift of saying "no." No, you do not have to attend every party. And no, you do not have to stay the whole evening. Consider leaving a party early, then going home for a bubble bath to unwind. Before the holiday season is in full swing, think about one way you can lessen the stress of your calendar by saying no.
If you have family members or friends who know about your eating disorder, enlist their help. They can take over certain tasks or assignments that you don't feel up to doing. For instance, have a friend call the hostess about the menu if you don't feel comfortable. Ask your husband to buy a pre-prepared treat if you feel too overwhelmed to prepare food for the party. You don't have to do it all yourself!
Give the gift of self-care this season rather than neglecting yourself. Get creative! This can include buying your favorite scented candle, making time to watch your favorite holiday movie, or even hiring a cleaning crew to come in for a deep cleaning session if you don't have regular help with your home. There are endless possibilities for any budget. If you believe that self-care is indulgent and unnecessary, I will strongly disagree with you! Recovery is, in essence, learning the art of self-care.
Sleep is your ally and best friend. Sleep will help you ward off illness and keep your emotions more balanced. It also keeps your body functioning at its best. It is a precious asset, so hold on to it with all your might, even when the calendar gets packed!
I hope this blog post will help you embrace the true purposes of this holiday season: connecting with loved ones and celebrating with gratitude. You deserve it.
What's your best strategy for managing the holidays healthfully?
I don’t often use a lot of self-disclosure on my blog. In fact, the last time I shared something personal was July 2011 when I talked about my body image. But after finishing my dinner tonight I had a little conversation with myself that I wanted to share.
I love chocolate…like, a lot. I especially love German chocolate. Ok, to be more specific I LOVE Milka Schoko and Keks and I love the Butter Biscuit by Rittersport. As luck would have it, Trader Joe’s sells those Rittersport bars at a very reasonable price. I typically have at least one back up bar in my treat bowl at home. (Yes, another reveal, I have a treat bowl at home.)
So I came home tonight after a very full day at work. In fact, it was an unusually full day. I sat down to a meal that was just what I needed on a cold, rainy evening. I was tired and hungry and couldn’t wait to eat. After I finished my meal I started to think about my Butter Biscuit waiting for me in the treat bowl. I got all excited knowing that it was just what I wanted to finish my meal. I broke off a line of chocolate and noticed that I was eating it with tremendous delight. The chocolate was making me quite happy, quite warm and fuzzy, and I noticed the stress of my day begin to dissipate.
And that’s when I started to think about the difference between eating WITH emotion and emotional eating. I talk about emotional eating most days with my clients and I can assure you that there is a difference! Emotional eating has a few particular qualities:
- It is used to cover up, diminish, numb or avoid challenging emotions.
- It happens with great speed and little pleasure. It goes in the mouth and down the hatch before you can savor a single bite.
- It leaves you feeling physically unwell after you have eaten.
- It creates disconnection with yourself.
- It is often followed by guilt, remorse, and shame.
Now what I described above is light years away from eating WITH emotion! Eating WITH emotion includes getting super excited to eat a meal you love or try a new restaurant you’ve heard friends raving about. Eating WITH emotion is eating things that are super yummy and satisfying. Eating WITH emotion leaves you feeling physically satisfied and content and emotionally balanced or even happy!
Not every snack is going to be the zen experience I described earlier. Not every meal will send you to Cloud 9. BUT, I truly believe that experiences of eating WITH emotion are vital to our health and well-being.
So when was the last time you ate WITH emotion? What did you eat? And if you haven’t lately, what’s stopping you? Hop to it, your body will thank you. J
I am thrilled to announce the first Intuitive Eating, Intuitive Living Workshop that I will be facilitating with Amber Barke LICSW, RYT. On a day to day basis I am reminded of the number of people struggling with food, exercise, and their bodies. Amber and I have developed a workshop to address these very challenges.
Registration and workshop details can be found on the Event Brite page. If you have any additional questions don't hesitate to send us an email or give us a call! Registration is limited to 12 and the early bird rate of $250 is only available until September 21st. After September 21st the rate will increase to $300.
I am really looking forward to joining with Amber to work with you on finding peace in the process of better self-care.
Marci marci at marcird dot com
Amber bodyandself at gmail dot com
If you're new to Twitter, here's a primer on how to participate. It's simple, go to www.tweetchat.com and enter the keyword "#endED" and it will appear as if you're in a chat room. Watch the tweets stream live and join in on the conversation. Be sure to follow @MarciRD and @MIssDEIntl2012
Satisfaction: Fulfillment of one's wishes, expectations, or needs, or the pleasure derived from this.Synonyms: gratification - contentment - content – pleasure
Eating food that is truly satisfying is one of the MOST important aspects of feeding yourself. Now those words may be considered heresy in a day and age that promotes rigid, controlled eating. In fact, I just read a greeting card the other day that said something to the effect that getting healthy is the equivalent of eating food you don’t like. This card made me both angry and sad. Just think of the French! Now these are people who know how to eat with satisfaction.
When you are fully tuned in to the experience of eating in a way that brings genuine satisfaction it feels both nourishing and energizing. And don't forget that it's one of the pillars of Intuitive Eating. And as I explain to my clients when you eat a meal that is sufficiently filling and satisfying, some amazing things happen:
• Obsessive food thoughts decrease
• Urges to over or compulsively eat lessen
• Self-esteem improves as you gain confidence in feeding yourself
• Physical health improves
• Energy increases
Often, people confuse eating with satisfaction and eating with abandon! Take a look at those synonyms again: gratification, contentment, pleasure. Now imagine the following scenarios.
Scenario 1: It’s lunch time and you are craving a cheeseburger. You immediately tell yourself that it’s fattening and bad and ignore the craving and order a chicken salad (dressing on the side) instead. In the moment you feel virtuous…but then an hour or so later you feel hungry and you’re still thinking about that burger. You're bothered by hunger and food thoughts the rest of the afternoon, thanks to your unsatisfying meal.
Scenario 2: It’s lunch time and you are craving a cheeseburger. You tell yourself that it’s fattening and bad but somehow find yourself in the drive through ordering a supersize meal of a cheeseburger, fries, and soda. Before you know it, you eat it up quickly telling yourself you’ll be better tomorrow. You’re left feeling guilty, overfull, and uncomfortable.
Scenario 3: It’s lunch time and you are craving a cheeseburger. You tell yourself that it’s fattening and bad but then you suddenly remember that all foods are legal! You can eat whatever you want when you feel hungry. So you check in with your hunger levels and assess that the cheeseburger down the street is exactly what you’re craving and matches your hunger level just right. You eat it with full permission, without the shame and guilt and return to work feeling great both physically and emotionally.
I often share the following scales with my clients:
And for those of you doubters out there, scenario 3 is not impossible. The wonderful thing about TRULY listening to your hunger and cravings, is that you’ll learn to feed your body just what it needs when it needs it. You’ll come to realize that your body doesn’t want M&Ms 24/7. Don’t trust me? Give it a try and let me know your results.
What are your thoughts about eating with true satisfaction? Impossible? Frightening? Exciting? Share!
Thank you to all that joined us last night for the #ENDED twitter chat with Eating Disorder Network of Maryland. For those of you that missed it here's a quick recap
Q1. Eating disorders are incredibly complex- can we start by listing as many risk factors for developing an ED that we can think of?
PrjectED A1. Eating Disordered family members, #endED
liberonetwork A1 Comorbid psychiatric conditions such as anxiety + depression; painful life events. "Biology loads gun, environment pulls trigger"
liberonetwork @EDNMaryland Genetic contributors that are passed on and also modeling patterns of food learned from parents perhaps
EDNMaryland A1. Dieting can trigger someone into developing an e/d but we know it is not dieting alone that causes ed's.
Q2. Sharon, you often talk about a person's ED "traits." What is that compromised of? #endED
EDNMaryland We've learned is that many with ed/s have very strong traits. Esp perfectionism. Society pushes for thinness so eds can develop.
EDNMaryland Personality traits: blk-white thinking, strong-willed, rigidity, impulsive, slow to change, perfectionism. #endED
@EDNMaryland: A2. We also know that most people with eds have at least one of the following: anxiety, depression, or OCD #endED -
PrjectED As clients we noticed that really common trait is either being really impulsive or the exact opposite...depending on the disorder #endED
EDNMaryland A2. Food is an easy thing to use and manipulate. You can't get a DUI, it isn't illegal, it comes in all types of flavors...
liberonetwork A2 Shame, people-pleasing, weak sense of self
EDNMaryland A2. Another big one is perfectionism. You have to learn and accept that not everything is going to be perfect nor should it be
MarciRD A2 As a #dietitian, I find food is the perfect play dough for practicing flexibility.#endED As people practice flexibility with food choices- what, what, where, how, why they eat, it dominoes into other areas of their life
Q3. Carolyn Costin says- we can take our traits to the light or dark. How can people with EDs use those traits for recovery?
EDNMaryland One of the common sayings for those with eds is that "they can't see the forest for the trees." Do you know why?
PrjectED A3. With rigidity, it can help when trying to stand your ground against those who can possibly hurt your recovery
liberonetwork: A3 Jenni Schaefer says turn perfectionism into excellency- and use healthy, balanced determination to beat ED!
EDNMaryland When you're anxious it is hard to be emotionally flexible. It is important to really push yourself to see the bigger picture.
MarciRD A3 My clients have amazing drive and commitment that can really support their recovery when channeled!
liberonetwork: A3 A lot of people with EDs are very empathetic towards others. Learn to turn that empathy inward to themselves
EDNMaryland Another grt tool is to make yourself order something diff when you go to a restaurant and not the usual "safe" food
MarciRD: A3 I really see stubbornness transformed into commitment. And perfectionism, when softened can lead to positive action.
Q4 What are tips to dealing with these risk factors of family history including mental illness and substance abuse?#endED
EDNMaryland A4 One important thing to do is to acknowledge that your family has a hx of addiction. Don't be in denial of it.
PrjectED A4. I think it is important to recognize what risk factors your family has. If you fail to see them then you can't deal with them #endED
EDNMaryland A4 Many with family hx of addiction need to focus on doing things in moderation. Not overdoing (food, $, exercise...)
MarciRD A4 Looking for areas of extreme behavior, including drugs, alcohol, emotions, money, exercise, shopping, gambling, etc. #endED -
EDNMaryland A4 Talk openly with family and your tx about the hx of addiction in the family.#endED
ElizabethEats @MarciRD @EDNMaryland I find pt w/ fam hx of addiction like to view food as all or nothing. on or off. No carbs or all carbs. agree? #ended
EDNMaryland @ElizabethEats Also important to find another color besides blk or white. Even if it's only 1 shade over it's a start!
MarciRD A4 With my clients we are often developing new "traditions" or "guidelines" to live by- establishing new patterns that break from old #endED
Thank you to Sharon of EDN Maryland for sharing her wisdom and to all that joined!Be sure to join us on August 22nd at 8:30 pm EST for a twitter chat on Beauty Pageants and body image with Nicole Ortiz @MissDEIntl2012
When you have a healthy relationship with food then…
How would you finish this sentence? Kaleigh, from HugStronger asked me this question and given the culture of eating in the U.S. it’s a really important one. We live in a society that conflates health with morality, size with success, and appearance with identity. This takes a toll on our feelings of self-worth and ability (or lack thereof) to measure up. Our food landscape is over-processed and over-abundant while the sub-text speaks to the virtue of self-denial. How utterly confusing. The line between clinical eating disorders and culturally accepted dieting and body hating continues to blur. Many people feel as if they are living in a food and body prison with no way out. In short, I will never be out of a job.
So this brings us back to what a healthy relationship with food looks like. Here’s my top 10:
1. Eating is often enjoyable- full of flavors and textures you truly love.
3. Eating requires some forethought and planning but food does not pre-occupy the majority of your thoughts.4. Eating is flexible in terms of timing and variety.
5. Eating does not result in feelings of guilt or shame.
6. Eating is motivated by internal cues of hunger and fullness most of the time.
7. When eating or thinking about eating you can feel relaxed and at ease.
8. Sometimes you eat food solely for the pleasure of eating, regardless of nutritional content.
9. Balanced, nutritious eating comes naturally because of your connection to how certain foods make you feel physically and the emotional tug of war is not present.10. Eating is viewed as a way to take good care of yourself.
These are my top 10. What would you add to the list?
Interested in reading more on this topic? Check out Ellyn Satter’s definition of “normal eating.”
Thank you to all the participants for our Twitter Chat last night! We helped to ring in a body positive summer by participating with Dr Deah-Expressive Arts Therapist and Health at Every Size Expert .
Missed the chat? We saved a recap here for you!
Q1. What does the term expressive therapy mean? What are some examples?
@dr_deah It’s a form of treatment using a multi-modal approach to facilitate healing, insight, behavioral changes.
@jekjess It's using various approaches - especially creative ones - to achieve therapeutic goals in ways that talk sometimes can't
@dr_deah Modalities used include art, drama, music, movement, imagery, storytelling,writing.
@MarciRD Is based on the assumption that people can heal through use of imagination and the various forms of creative expression.
Q2.1 What are some of the benefits to incorporating expressive therapy into eating disorder treatment?
@jekjess Client can express what they can't put words to/are too ashamed to say, client can discover talents
@MarciRD My clients are the most creative people I've ever met. ED stifles creativity, so important to bring that creative self out!
@dr_deah: Many of our associations & patterns w/food & nurturing occur @ a preverbal level
@MarshaHudnallWe find that expressive therapy helps people access feelings they often can't otherwise
- 2.2 Why are the Ex. Arts Therapies helpful for this population?
@jekjess Client can express what they cant put words to/are too ashamed to say, client can discover talents
@dr_deah body image issues are visually stimulated because messages are delivered via the media. Using art, theater & dance we “fight fire w/ fire” by using the medium that delivers the message
@MarciRD Creativity can be a means to externalize and separate from the eating disorder.
@rosiemolinary I love that the creative arts allow for a partnership between body, mind, + soul, a partnership that may have been alienated w/ED -
@bigpictureRD significant to use creative process & energy for positive reasons, motivation
@ScritchfieldRD: one good belly laugh is as effective as 10 minutes of meditation (which is also good) may be better than meds
3. Often people feel vulnerable creating art, music, dance or other means of self-expression. What might help break through the intimidation?
@dr_deah It’s about material generated not how it looks, which of course is the point of body image therapy in the first place
@rosiemolinary empower them to realize that they are doing it for themselves, not to worry about perfect but process and revelation
@dr_deah: A competent E.A. Therapist sets up sessions w/the premise that there’s no right or wrong in how one expresses
@dr_deah Improv activities are spontaneous not enough time to get self conscious
- 4. In what ways can a RD use Ex. Arts Therapy Activities to achieve their treatment goals?
@MarciRD I like them to draw out what hunger/fullness means to them.
@ScritchfieldRD: I have done vision boards in session. We cut out words from magazines - put together a me board
@MarciRD I encourage my clients to use color and pictures for expressing emotions for before, during, after a meal
@rosiemolinary Fill basket w/random things (rock, rubber duck, etc) +have client pick something out of basket + tell story w/ relevant connection
@jekjess I think I would have LOVED to do an art "food journal" regarding feelings after eating etc, visualize
@dr_deah I have also worked with clients to identify what the real "monster is" in their lives that they are attributing to the food
@MarciRD A4 I have a client who recently asked me to record a mindful meditation track on her phone to listen to while I'm away.
@ MyDietitian I use mountain image, help them to identify the "peak" of having a positive eating experience, what that means for them/their body
@dr_deah I use future fortune telling symbolism sometimes too, eg a crystal ball as an image to play with
@MarciRD A4 This book has been really inspiring, easily adapted to nutrition work: http://t.co/6K9x0z4W #endED -
@dr_deah For more art therapy ideas I post at http://t.co/RD4CO2Ka
5. What is HAES?
@dr_deah: HAES is a health based paradigm that starts with accepting and respecting the diversity of body shapes and sizes
dr_deah It also promotes individually appropriate & enjoyable life enhancing physical activity As opposed to exercise that is focused on a goal of weight loss
@MarciRD: HAES is positive approach to taking care of ourselves. Does away w/ comparison & shame & truly supports well-being
@ElizabethEats: I feel like i say this everyday but: you can tell NOTHING about a person from how they look. why we NEED #HAES
@dr_deah: Many people start dieting because their natural body size and shape is not what society deems as beautiful.
@MarciRD: Q5 Stands for Health At Every Size- check out their website http://t.co/hYkFWpnR #endED
@HAEScoach: What is #HAES? #endED” nutrition + activity + self + fun + curiousity + discovery = healthy mind AND body lifelong #endED -
5.2 What are common misperceptions about a HAES approach?
@MarciRD People think it gives the green light to binge eat and not exercise. They forget the key word- HEALTH at every size
@bigpictureRD So many misconceptions! That it's not health focused, & gives permission to be out of control
@dr_deah We know Weight cycling often results in weight gain and increased eating disordered behaviors
@ScritchfieldRD misconception about #HAES people are lazy, don't want to take care of themselves, that they "could" be thinner, thinness=health
6. Why is it important to emphasize HAES as a society and as a therapist?
@MarciRD We need to work on changing the paradigm of health = thinness. We have the power to affect our personal circles too!
@MyDietitian A6 to prevent doing any harm. Help combat negative self-talk. create a reality of feeling good at any size
6.1 How can we stay HAES focused this summer?
@dr_deah Try 2 avoid engaging in comparing bodies and using negative body talk
@dr_deah Pay attention to your cues of hunger appetite and satiety Move your body for pleasure and health not weight loss
@MarciRD Encourage clients, friends, family to embrace life/fun NOW...not in 10 lbs...
@ dr_deah I have great resources and links on my website http://t.co/blb4ciag
@MarciRD There are so many fun ways to be active in the summer- volleyball, kayaking, frisbee, walks, hikes. Have fun and get outside!
@dr_deah So Try starting from a place of love& self-acceptance it makes it easier 2 take better care of ourselves#ended
Thank you for everyone that joined us! You can see more tweets if you search #endED
You can learn more about Dr. Deah by visiting her website or her Facebook page. Mark your calenders for our next chat; July 25th where we will be talking with @ednmaryland !