Body Positive. It seems to be a term that’s getting a little more press these days. As a self-described “body positive dietitian” you’d think I’d be thrilled! Truthfully, I’m conflicted. I’m conflicted because “body positive” began as a term used to promote body inclusivity, meaning all bodies (fat, thin, short, tall, able-bodied or not) deserve respect AND don’t need changing. Yup, body positive means I’m going to take good care of my body just as it is today and love it fiercely, without any agenda of making it look different.
Trying to lose weight (or at least talking about trying to lose weight) is a popular thing to do. It's culturally acceptable and even socially obligatory to be dissatisfied with the size and shape or your body. One client recently said to me "I feel like a freak because I'm the only grad student NOT on a diet." Say WHAT!?!
On the daily, you'll see diets being advertised and sold with a vengeance. If you have been reading my blog and don't already believe me when I say diets don't work, check out this stellar postby rock star dietitian Evelyn Tribole. She nails it with research and practical advice.
So you may be asking, what does work? It's not sexy, but slow/sustainable changes you can manage over a lifetime does work. In fact, my brother said it best as we were enjoying some cinnamon rolls over the holidays. "So Marci, what you are talking about on your blog is eating one of these cinnamon rolls, rather than skipping it or eating three?" You've got it!
So here are some more specific strategies to get you started:
1.) Start listening to your body. You can use this scale as a guide. Notice how often you are in the white zone. Strive to steer clear of that zone as often as possible.
2.) Prioritize your health by committing to at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Learn more about how sleep affects your weight here.
3.) Move in ways you genuinely enjoy and NEVER with the intention of providing pain or punishment. (Here's my article about falling in like with exercise)
So dare to be different by letting go of body and weight obsessions. Dare to be different by taking care of yourself, trusting that as you do so, a healthy body will naturally follow. Dare to be different...and you just may find a much happier and healthier you.
Your very different dietitian in Cambridge
Chances are you know someone with an eating disorder. And chances are you don’t know how to help them. This article on helping someone with an eating disorder is a great resource. Here are the take-home points:
- Communicate your concerns. Share your memories of specific times when you felt concerned about the person’s eating or exercise behaviors. Explain that you think these things may indicate that there could be a problem that needs professional attention.
- Avoid conflicts or a battle of the wills. If the person refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem, or any reason for you to be concerned, restate your feelings and the reasons for them and leave yourself open and available as a supportive listener.
- Avoid placing shame, blame, or guilt on the person regarding their actions or attitudes. Do not use accusatory “you” statements like, “You just need to eat.” Or, “You are acting irresponsibly.” Instead, use “I” statements. For example: “I’m concerned about you because you refuse to eat breakfast or lunch.” Or, “It makes me afraid to hear you vomiting.”
- Avoid giving simple solutions. For example, "If you'd just stop, then everything would be fine!"
If you are a dietitian who wants to work with eating disorder clients, check out my new online training to help you know how to treat eating disorders.
Eating disorders are psychological issues, so you may be wondering why having a dietitian as part of a treatment team is even necessary. In fact, if food is an issue for you, the idea may seem downright frightening! Here are a few ways a dietitian can be immensely helpful in treating eating disorders:
• Reduce food and body fears by reframing distorted beliefs that the eating disorder has created. This includes a better understanding of physiology, digestion, and metabolism.
• Teach and model what and how much nutrition is appropriate
• Provide a safe place for talk about food and body fears
• Create opportunities to practice eating foods that feel scary
• Teach the difference between emotional and physical hunger
• Establish and teach “normal” eating- eating that is based on physical cuing and free from guilt, anxiety, shame, and compensatory or obsessive responses
Below are two excellent links to articles on this very topic:
1. Eating Disorders: Nutrition Education And Therapy
2. Nutrition Intervention in the Treatment of Eating Disorders
Whether you are new to the field or looking to deepen your counseling skills, my new online eating disorder training for dietitians will improve your clinical practice. Learn more about the course here.