How do you know you're hungry? I know it sounds like an odd question but I'm always amazed at the answers I get to this seemingly simple question. Think about it a moment. Imagine I just asked you "how do you know you're hungry?" What would you say?
I talk about hunger a fair amount. Certainly more than the average person since I happen to be a nutrition therapist for a living. :) And perhaps more than other dietitians because I use an intuitive eating approach to my work. That means I work with my clients to help them connect to the process of eating when hungry, stopping when full, and learning to manage their emotions without using food. Perhaps it sounds simple but it can be a surprisingly complex process!
There are many things in life that can derail us from eating in response to a physical cue for hunger: not being able to identify hunger, eating based on the time of day, habits, chaotic schedules, emotions, and even dieting. I'm sure you could add to the list.
In an ideal world, we'd eat in response to a hunger cue the majority of the time. Note: not 100% of the time. Sometimes we eat for fun and social reasons. But hopefully most of our eating is done because our bodies and brains need more fuel. So my purpose in writing this blog post is to help you become more aware of your personal cues of hunger. Believe it or not, your hunger cues are just as individual as you are! And learning your own personal cues for hunger is the first step to eating intuitively.
So, here is your homework assignment. Get out a sheet of paper and write the following:Starving:
Now, I want you to write down as many PHYSICAL descriptors as you can for each category. I'll give you some examples.
Starving: stomach pain, headache, terrible mood, no energy
Over-hungry: growling/empty stomach, shaky, can't think of anything but eating
Meal hungry: grumbly stomach, lack of concentration, low energy, mouth watering at the thought of food
Snack hungry: distracted thinking, energy dip, little grumbles in stomach
Ok, the next step is to keep this paper around for a week or so. Throughout the week pay attention to moments that you think you might be in one of these categories and ask yourself the following questions:
1. Am I hungry?
2. How hungry am I?
3. How do I know? This "how do I know" part is your cue to write down any physical descriptor you have that fits your particular level of hunger.
The last step is extremely important because you are creating an individualized list of how your body speaks to you. Try to pay attention for a week or so and see what data you gather. You might notice that you need to make changes to your list as you go along.
What are your greatest obstacles to eating in response to hunger? I'd love to hear your feedback!
Your nutritionist in Cambridge,
This post originally debuted in January and with the heat of summer upon us I had to re-share it.
Key Point: You cannot talk your way to better body image. If you treat yourself with hate you will continue to feel hate towards your body. In this video blog I share with you the why and the how to improve your body image through actionable steps.
After you view this video blog, I hope you will share what you plan to start doing that feels good to your body. What action step or steps will you start making today?
10% off until August 1st!
I am incredibly excited to announce the launch of my Eating Disorders Online Training today!
Whether you’ve been practicing for 20 years, or you’re a dietetic student or intern, the chances are high that you’ve received zero training on how to counsel people with eating disorders. Given that nearly 10% of the US populations falls along the ED spectrum (not to mention subclinical EDs) this is a huge problem!
I am Certified Eating Disorder Dietitian and IAEDP Approved Supervisor. I developed this 5 part series because I know that clients with eating disorders NEED a skilled, confident, and capable dietitian. And the purpose of this 5 part series is to lay the groundwork for you to start to develop the necessary skills to begin working with this population.
You’ll get 7.5 CEUS in this 5 part series during which I’ll cover topics including:
- Integrating therapeutic techniques appropriately into nutrition counseling
- How to effectively communicate and assert yourself within the context of a treatment team
- Developing a nutrition prescription and food plan
- Dealing with co-occurring medical and mental health diagnoses
- Food exposures
- Body Image
- And so much more!
Don’t have time to watch all 5 training videos sequentially? No problem--you can also pick one specific topic you want to focus on, rather than purchasing the entire series. You can also choose whether you want to rent or buy each video for future reference.
My hope is that you will find the training as helpful as the other dietitians who have already taken my online and live courses. My goal is that you walk away feeling more confident, more capable, and more empowered to treat people suffering from eating disorders.
You can learn more about my online training by visiting my site: https://marcird.pivotshare.com/
Sarah Patten is a passionate eating disorder specialist who works with me in my practice. She is going to close out National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2016 by sharing with each of you "The One Thing She Wishes People Knew About Eating Disorders." Take it away Sarah!
Typically, when a person finds out that I'm a dietitian, I'm instantly assaulted with a barrage of questions regarding nutrition, the latest diet fads or super foods, and what my job actually entails day to day. When they learn that I don't endorse diets, food fads, or even promote weight loss and instead work with those struggling with eating disorders or disordered eating, the questions continue - but take on a different tone of curiosity and misunderstanding.
It never ceases to amaze me that eating disorders, which effect roughly 30 million Americans and have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness, remain so mysterious to the general population. There is so much information that I wish I could convey to the world about eating disorders. So much insight and understanding that might foster greater compassion for those struggling and perhaps even increase the minimal research funding allotted to fighting this serious condition. My mind overflows with misconceptions I could correct or statistics I could offer to help educate, but when asked to consider the ONE thing that I wish people knew about eating disorders, the answer is simple:
A PERSON'S BODY SIZE IS NOT AN ACCURATE REFLECTION OF WHETHER THEY HAVE AN EATING DISORDER OR NOT!!!
Eating disorders are not limited to society's perception of the anorectic body type – but instead are rampant in people of all shapes and sizes. And although weight loss and a malnourished appearance can definitely be a serious indicator of an eating disorder, weight is by no means the only measure of the extent to which a person is suffering. For those struggling with an eating disorder, the reinforcement of this narrow belief contributes to feelings of “not being sick enough/thin enough/starved enough” or beliefs that “I don't have an eating disorder if I'm not “underweight” or emaciated.”
How can this knowledge help us? For starters, it can help us to be aware that we simply can't make assumptions about a person's relationship with food based on their body size. With this knowledge, we can work towards changing the way we might comment on another person's body, whether to their face or behind their back. Be mindful that your seemingly innocent comment on a coworker's weight loss may actually be interpreted very differently than you intended. Let's compliment other's on their strengths, praise their contributions, and appreciate their personality rather than focus on what their body looks like.
For those struggling with an eating disorder, hopefully this message will help you to challenge that internal critic telling you that you're not “sick enough” or “worthy of help or support” because of what your body looks like or what the scale says. Your weight in no way reflects your worth and certainly doesn't dictate your need for support. Healing from an eating disorder means learning to love, accept, and most importantly CARE for yourself no matter what your body looks like – you're worth it.
A client in recovery wishes you knew:
There are so many things that I wish people knew about EDs - and primarily because people don’t talk about them as much as they should given their prevalence and our society’s warped perspective on women’s bodies. No one who has an eating disorder wants it; they affect people of all ages and genders and backgrounds and races and cultures and - anyone; saying “just eat more” isn’t going to do anyone any good; it’s more important to listen to someone who has an ED often more often than talking to them. The list goes on and on. What’s important is to know that there is so much to learn about and to stay open to and to gather support for, because the more you know and the more they know, the better off you all will be.
Emily Fonnesbeck wishes you knew:
That they aren’t glamorous, although it’s easy to assume in a culture of clean eating, fitspiration,filters and photoshopping. When our bodies are our primary focus, we can miss emotional distress that can lead to mental illness. That isn’t anything to take lightly; eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. While the causes and triggers for eating disorders are multiple and varied, they often start as innocently as trying a diet (yes even so-called “healthy diets”; a true oxymoron). I wish people realized the possible triggering that can result from viewing or listening to YOUR before/after pictures, gym selfies and dieting tips. If you are the one triggered, get rid of it. Be careful about the type of media messages you let into your mind, heart and soul. While it may not be culturally acceptable, please know that you absolutely, positively get to say NO.
It seems that in terms of health and fitness, a common belief is that strength and self-improvement comes from eating a certain way, sticking to a diet or pushing through the pain in exercise. I don’t believe it. I feel true strength and self-improvement comes from being true to yourself and respecting yourself enough to avoid the demoralizing world of weight, body shape and diet obsession. Anyone can (and deserves to) find peace with food, their body and themselves.
Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD
Helping you make peace with food to end disordered eating.