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.
The following post was written by Elizabeth Jarrard, RD.
Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me. Right? Words like “fat” “obese” get tossed around a lot in our society. Unfortunately they are often also associated with words like “gross” or “lazy.” These words do hurt. The stigma of weight hurts not only the person at which they are directed, but our society in general.
What exactly is weight stigma? According to BEDA “Weight stigma is bullying, teasing, negative body language, harsh comments, discrimination, or prejudice based upon a person’s body size.”
Weight stigma and bias can be verbal (insults, teasing, stereotypes, or derogatory names) or physical-bullying.
We now see that discrimination based upon weight is more prevalent than race discrimination-with a 66% increase over the past decade. “There’s an atmosphere now where it’s O.K. to blame everything on weight,” said Dr. Linda Bacon, a nutrition researcher. Research suggests images in news media of obesity extremely negative, biased, & stigmatizing- which creates prejudice. In some cases stigma results in employment discrimination where an obese employee is denied a position because of their appearance regardless of their qualifications. This isn’t just a few people-43% of overweight people report weight stigma by employers or supervisors.
Recent research has highlighted just how deeply weight stigma runs-and it’s not just in job interviews or promotions. According to Huizinga et al The higher a patient’s body mass, the less respect doctors express for that patient. Weight stigma is a significant risk factor for depression, low self esteem and body dissatisfaction. Victims of weight stigma have increased levels of stress (seen explicitly in cortisol levels and increased blood pressure), decreased desire to exercise. This creates a negative life environment that may perpetuate cycles of overeating and underexercising-creating an unhealthy lifestyle.
So what can we do?
No matter what size he or she might be it’s important that you talk to your child about weight stigma and foster within them a positive self esteem.
- Help us all to create school environments that are conducive to learning-by reducing weight stigma.
- Are you a health provider? Talk to your patients without weight stigma. Yale Rudd Center is a fantastic resource for all providers.
- As an employer-make sure you are not perpetuating weight stigma.
- Just because someone is overweight doesn’t mean they don’t exercise, they don’t eat healthfully or they are lazy. Stop those you see using weight stigma and bias. Change the stereotypes within your own mind.
We must learn to take a Health at Every Size approach and treat all individuals the same-whether they are our clients, our friends or just people we meet on the street. Weight is a number, and you can not tell someone’s entire life or health history from judging their outward appearance.
In the space of 7 days I had 3 clients tell me that they recently discovered that they truly loved getting physically active. Yes, I mean exercise (a dreaded word for some of you, I know, bear with me). And I had to blog about this because all 3 stated that they started loving exercise when two things happened:
1. They were eating enough on a consistent basis. They were no longer overly restricting but getting adequate fuel to be able to sustain a workout.
2. They were NOT doing it with the intention of trying to lose weight. They were exercising because it was fun and felt good.
Now that, my friends, is what makes my job feel totally worthwhile. So many people, particularly women, dread working out. And I’d gamble that those women
who hate exercise choose an activity they hate (does 60 minutes on the elliptical sound like hell to anyone else?) and are overly hungry (ie on a diet
and trying to lose weight).
Just imagine what would happen if you had enough energy to dance your way through a zumba class, hike through the mountains, go for a stroll with a friend,
take a restorative yoga class. If this sounds like something only dreams are made of, consider my tips for finding peace with exercise.
1. Don’t call it exercise if you hate that word.
2. Don’t do it in the name of weight loss. Check out this blog post for more detail as to why this point is so important.
3. Select activities that rejuvenate your body, not exhaust or deplete it.
4. Make sure that the types and amounts of exercise you are doing alleviates mental and physical stress, rather than contributing to or exacerbating stress.
5. Find the things you genuinely enjoy and NEVER with the intention of providing pain or punishment.
While my 5 tips may fly in the face of the advice in every Shape magazine article ever written, they just might help you find a happier, healthier balance when it comes to keeping your body strong and healthy.
And now, I gotta’ get out of my office to take stroll!