You've certainly heard the term "clean eating." As you think about those words, what images, feelings, and connotations get conjured up? What does the term "clean eating" mean to you?
Toby Amidor, RD and media-savvy nutrition expert recently wrote about clean eating in an article in Today's Dietitian a few months ago. She explained that clean eating "encourages the consumption of more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats with fewer sugary high-calorie beverages and saturated fatty food." That sounds reasonable, right? I'm a dietitian, of course I'm in support of eating foods that nourish the body and support health.
BUT...I'm also incredibly interested in the power of semantics and the power of the meaning that gets all wrapped up in our eating habits. Sometimes people ask me how I can stand talking about food all day long. Even some of my therapist buddies ask if I ever get bored. And the answer is no! And that's because food habits are layered with all sorts of meaning. And part of my job is to help my clients untangle the layers of meaning when need be. If the way we eat gets too wrapped up with our identity, our eating habits may lead to exaggerated feelings of guilt, shame, anxiety, depression, and even self-hatred. And these feeling further distance our connection to the physical experience of eating. It probably goes without saying, that feeling this way over the long-term isn't good for our health.
When it comes to eating, my job is to help neutralize the harmful feelings of judgment and shame while deepening physical connection and awareness.
You may be asking yourself, what does this have to do with the notion of "clean eating?" Perhaps nothing for some of you. But for others, it may be highly problematic. The word clean carries with it the idea of being good, worthy, and virtuous. And the antithesis of clean is dirty, bad, or naughty. If you find that you are constantly feeling guilty about your food habits, these terms might be more harmful than helpful. Creating some distance from the semantic notions of "clean" and "good" might be useful. Instead, you could focus on the physical experience of how certain foods feel in your body during and after a meal.
One way to do this is to try a one day journaling experiment. You'll be recording three pieces of information. First, you'll make a note of what and how much you ate. Second, write down any inner commentary on what you ate (ie "that was bad I should haven't had that"). And finally you'll indicate how that food tasted and the way it felt physically in your body after (ie tasted yummy but noticed feeling gassy and bloated after).
This simple practice is intended to help you separate your physical experience from the narrative in your mind. If this concept resonates for you, give it a try. See what it's like to create some space from the judgement and "shoulds" of eating while discovering what types of foods allow you to feel your best. Your body and your brain just might thank you for it!
I'm really obsessed with Ana Sortun. She's a Boston-area chef and makes insanely good food. So, I suppose it's more accurate to say I'm obsessed with her food since I actually don't know her. But in any case, if you haven't eaten at Oleana or Sofra, do yourself a favor and go. Just go. And rumor has it, she has a third restaurant opening up in Somerville which is pretty darn exciting. Oh, and did I forget to mention she has a line of "Chef Sets" at Whole Foods? I haven't tried them yet, but I kind of love the fact that she's such a female, foodie rock star. Turns out my friend and colleague Janel Ovrut was sent a free set of the meals (jealous) and wrote a review here.
So Chef Sortun uses super interesting spices and ingredients that she learns about from her travels to Europe and the Middle East. Eating her food feels like a cultural experience for my taste buds right in my own backyard! At Sofra she serves this incredible greek yogurt parfait (greek yogurt fresh from the cows in her nearby farm for crying out loud). And instead of using granola, she uses this grain called grano. Turns out grano actually means grain in Italian.
I'm in love with it. It's a whole grain with this unusual firm, chewy texture. Turns out it's high in fiber, vitamins, and protein. And when mixed with yogurt, fruit, and a some jelly, it's heavenly. It's an awesome boost to a morning meal but can also be used in any other grain-based dish you might be making.
Cook's note: you cook grano just like brown rice- 2 parts water, 1 part grain, pinch of salt. Throw it all in a pot, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for ~10ish minutes.
There's something really magical about trying something totally foreign. So if you're looking for an excuse to head to Sofra, tell yourself your local dietitian said you needed to go buy some whole grain grano. :) You wont regret it, I promise!
So what's your favorite foreign food you've ever tasted? If you could import anything to American grocery store shelves, what would it be?
This article was written by Maria Cruz, RD, LDN, the nutritionist for Williams College. She is passionate about helping people find joy and ease with food, and when she is not working she enjoys gardening, yoga, movies, and spending time with her family.
Egg whites are a standard breakfast option in many restaurants and cafeterias these days, and are mysteriously deemed as the “healthier” option to eat over whole eggs. While the whole egg, yolk and all, is feared as an evil fat and cholesterol-containing demon, most of the nutrition that is in an egg is actually in the yolk. And, it just so happens that our bodies need both fat and cholesterol to be healthy. In fact our livers make cholesterol out of fat in order for our bodies to manufacture cell membranes, brain and nerve tissue, and hormones. Our livers have the ability to adjust the amount of cholesterol they make to balance out the cholesterol in our diets. In general, the liver makes about 80% of the cholesterol in our bodies and we receive about 20% from the food we eat. The fat composition of the yolk can depend on the hen’s diet and can provide a great source of omega 3 fatty acids. These fats actually prevent inflammation and disease.
But egg yolks are not just fat and cholesterol. The egg yolk has only 1 gram of protein less than the egg white. So if you eat the whole egg vs. just the white, you get almost double the protein. The yolk is also packed with 17 vitamins and minerals, while the white has 12 of these same nutrients, but mainly in much smaller amounts. And guess what else! Vitamins A, D, and E, all found only in the yolk, need fat in order to be absorbed, which makes the nutritional environment of the yolk perfect for these essential ‘fat soluble’ nutrients to be taken in and used by your body.
Let’s face it, if ½ of each egg (and most of its nutrients) are chucked into the garbage every time we eat eggs, then we are not only throwing away good nutritious food but we’re throwing away money. If a dozen of eggs cost $3.00, and we only eat the whites, then we throw away at least $1.50/dozen. Because all of the fat and almost ½ of the protein in a whole egg is in the yolk, you also throw away most of the calories (aka energy) in the egg and you will most likely need to eat twice as many eggs for their egg whites, or more of something else to be satisfied.
So, the next time you have the urge to choose egg whites over whole eggs, reflect on whether this comes from a dieting voice or whether you really never liked eggs until you had just the whites. Of course, if you truly like the whites only and have always hated yolks then by all means just eat the whites. But if you stopped eating whole eggs to try to lose weight or to cut out fat in your diet, then go for it, eat the whole egg! The ‘incredible edible (whole) egg’ is more nutritious and satisfying than just the white so you will get significantly more for your money.
A friend of mine loves her eggs soft boiled (she’s from Europe), and they are super easy to make once you get the hang of cooking them the way you like them.
(If you're into eggs, you may want to check out this blog post.)
Soft Boiled Egg Recipe
2 slices of bread
Butter for your toast
Salt and Pepper to taste
Bring a pan of water to a boil and gently lower the eggs into the water (I use a slotted spoon to do this step). Cover the pan and lower the heat to a low boil or simmer. Set a timer for 5 min for runny yolks and 6 min for thicker yolks. (You may have to experiment with the timing to get your eggs the way you like them.)
Place the bread in the toaster and toast to your liking. Butter the toast. When the timer goes off gently remove the eggs from the pan and run them under cold water just long enough to cool the shells. Peel the eggs carefully and enjoy them with your toast!
Kirubakaran A, Narahari D, Ezhil Valavan T, Sathish Kumar A. (2011 Jan). Effects of flaxseed, sardines, pearl millet, and holy basil leaves on production traits of layers and fatty acid composition of egg yolks. Poult Sci. 2011 Jan;90(1):147-56. doi: 10.3382/ps.2008-00152.
Takeda S, Kimura M, Marushima R, Takeuchi A, Takizawa K, Ogino Y, Masuda Y, Kunou M, Hasegawa M, Maruyama C. (2011). Mayonnaise contributes to increasing postprandial serum β-carotene concentration through the emulsifying property of egg yolk in rats and humans. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 57(3): 209-15.
I was recently talking with a client about some delicious nectarines I had bought from Trader Joe’s. It sparked a conversation about how great it is to enjoy some of the summer fruits and veggies that we had been missing during the cold winter months. One of my favorite parts of my job is that I am constantly learning from my clients and as we were having this conversation she told me about this blessing called Shehechiyanu Blessing, which is a Jewish blessing used to celebrate special occasions.
And it turns out that eating food for the first time in a season is actually considered a special occasion! How cool is that? So as you are enjoying the special gems of the summer season, it’s a great opportunity to express gratitude. Whether it’s to Mother Earth or to someone/something else entirely, take a little time to say thanks as you bite into a fresh cob of corn, juicy peach, or barbecued chicken.
Grilling is one of my absolute favorite parts of summer eating. Below is one of my new favorite recipes for the grill. But if you don’t grill, you can also bake it in the oven. Enjoy!
courtesy of www.marthastewart.com
*If you opt to adapt this recipe for the grill, spread 3/4 of the glaze on about half way through grilling. Once it's finished spread the last 1/4 of the glaze at the end.
What are your favorite things to eat in the summer time?
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.
Don't 'Reboot with Joe' A guest post by dietetic intern Shalini.
A little while back I was told about this “life-changing” documentary that I had to watch; it was called “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.” It fell within my scope of interest, so I watched. The cartoon illustrations between the major segments were amusing, but overall I found the content of the documentary to be extreme: a 60-day juicing fast to lose weight? Really? Of course! It all comes back to what extreme measures we can come up with to further destroy our bodies and minds.
In the documentary, Joe wants us to ‘reboot’. He explains to us what that means:
“A Reboot is a period of time where you commit to drinking and eating only fruits and vegetables, herbal teas, and water in order to regain or sustain your vitality, lose weight and kick-start healthy habits that recharge your body and get your diet back in alignment for optimal wellness.”
Well, that sounds fantastic, right? Nope. It sounds more like a disaster waiting to happen! A 60-day all fruit and vegetable juicing diet goes against what our body needs to sustain itself. With this “diet” we are only getting simple carbohydrates, which digest quickly and do not keep us feeling full throughout the day. Staying hungry all day sounds like a pretty miserable way to spend the day. Our bodies need a mix of carbohydrates (simple and complex), protein, and fat in order to properly function. By cutting out complete food groups we are not only harming ourselves physically, but we are also training our minds to believe that we need to treat our bodies unhealthily to look healthy? Wait… That doesn’t make sense!
Even though fruits and vegetables should be a part of a healthy diet, we need more that just that. Even in the documentary, the individuals who began the “reboot” program felt miserable when starting their juicing way-of-life. By restricting ourselves, we are just setting ourselves up for future disappointment and loss of control. When we are hungry, we need to eat; when we are satisfied, we need to stop. That’s it.
If you are trying to lose weight, the best thing you can do is follow a balanced ‘diet’ (and I use the word ‘diet’ loosely), consisting of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. We should not punish ourselves by having only juiced fruits and vegetables every day, being unable to enjoy the foods we desire! Is that any way to live? (No, its not.) There are so many creative and tasty meals we can incorporate into our day that can be part of a balanced lifestyle. And guess what? It’s okay to occasionally eat foods that have zero nutritional value just because they taste good – that’s what they are there for!
By restricting yourself from the foods you love, you will only be setting yourself up for a feeling of failure and regret. Don’t do that to yourself!
Well, from a nutritional perspective you’ve heard why I don’t feel these quick fixes are a good idea… Do you have any other reasons why you think this ‘reboot’ is a terrible, awful, horrible idea?
March is National Nutrition Month! And this year The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is celebrating with the theme "Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day." I actually love the theme this year because it embodies my belief that what is "right" in terms of nutrition is individual. And the key to good nutrition is honoring your own internally guided cues of what's "right" for you.
So in honor of National Nutrition Month, I'd like to share with you a video of my niece. Not only will this video bring a smile to your face but it will remind you of the amazing ability to intuitive eat that we were all born with.
Below are some of my favorite resources to help you "Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day."
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?
Thanksgiving is a wonderful yet stressful holiday for a lot of people. The entire day is centered around food. And if food is a source of stress and anxiety for you, that's a lot of pressure! I won't be providing you with a list of food do's and don'ts at your Thanksgiving meal. So if that's what you were hoping for, I do apologize. But I will provide you with some ideas to contemplate. If you are anxious about Thanksgiving, I'd encourage you to take a pen and paper and journal about some of the questions below.
1. What gives Thanksgiving value and meaning for you?
2. What contributes to or detracts from the "specialness" of the holiday?
3. When it comes to food, what are you worried about specifically? Really give this some thought. What concerns you?
4. How would you like THIS Thanksgiving to be different from past Thanksgivings?
5. How would you like it to be the same?
6. List 3 specific factors that will make it hard for you to have a different experience?
7. How can you plan for those challenges? Can you do it on your own? Do you need support? Do you need a new/creative strategy?
8. What thoughts and beliefs do you have about eating on Thanksgiving? Where do those thoughts and beliefs come from? Are they really yours? Really listen to those thoughts. Do you believe them? How do those thoughts affect your feelings and actions?
9. When it comes to eating, food, and your body- what are you truly grateful for? What makes you feel good?
Thanksgiving, just like all eating experiences is highly individual. While eating is the central event in most homes on Thanksgiving, I hope your holiday is also filled with positive relationships, peace, and gratitude.
What tips have helped you have a positive food experience on Thanksgiving?