Wednesday, November 23, 2011

You have my permission to enjoy Thanksgiving.

Hello friends! 
Re-posting this from 2009 because we still need permission to enjoy tomorrow's holiday. Read, print, sign, and cut out to remind you. I hope you enjoy all the parts to your Thanksgiving.
Take care,
Thanksgiving Field Trip Permission Slip

____Your name here____ has permission to enjoy and find pleasure during Thanksgiving planning, preparation, and food consumption. I, the undersigned, recognize many of these foods are not commonly available nor do I usually eat around the other event participants. In the event of a potential emergency and I am unable to eat according to my personal body hunger/fullness cues, the individual action in response to the emergency will be held blameless. I hereby give myself permission to not dwell on this nor allow myself to feel guilt. I will trust that my body will work out this kink by sending less hunger cues in the next few days or so as long as I do not mess with this system.

Your Signature                                                      

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Trick or Treat this Halloween?

Decisions, decisions: should we hand out raisins, pennies, or pencils this Halloween? Answer: choose any of these and my 12-year-old self will be standing in line, adrenaline pumping, at Walmart with dozens of toilet paper rolls destined for your home.

Of course, eating candy all day everyday will lead to rotten teeth, insulin abnormalities, and a mean tummy ache. I trust your body will not want you to eat candy with this much frequency...unless you come from a home that handed out raisins and you weren't allowed to enjoy Halloween candy. (Even then, there's a way to work through this.)

Fellow dietitian Maryann Jacobson wisely describes this rationale here. Even more, she explains how to help your kids have a healthy relationship with Halloween candy. With her described strategy, they can enjoy it and be healthy.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pumpkin Seeds

Dillon Family pumpkins. Guess which is mine!
My family carved out big appetites yesterday which had me experimenting with the leftover pumpkin seeds. 

I drizzled olive oil then added kosher salt, creole seasoning, and garlic powder. Popped them in the oven for about an hour at 300 degrees (I was sure to rustle them around a few times while roasting).

My roasted pumpkin seeds. Left a little of the orange goo since it gives them more flavor!
Fresh out of the oven, a nourishing way to get iron, Vitamin E, protein and many other nutrients. 

Num, num, num!

Have a favorite pumpkin seed concoction? Please share in comments!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Body love promotes health.

Jess Weiner, body image activist, wrote a recent Glamour Magazine article: Jess Weiner’s Weight Struggle: “Loving My Body Almost Killed Me. Earthquake-like experiences flow through the eating disorder and Health at Every Size (HAES) communities with this courageous article. I am an active member within both communities and reading this article has been like learning Dr. Dean Ornish is now following the Atkins Diet. A body image warrior is on a diet.
Part of the debate focuses on whether Ms. Weiner is focusing on health or weight loss or both. This matters significantly because mindful eating experts value health and health promotion without calorie restriction. Mindful eating, a core principle within HAES, also focuses on behaviors that help a body feel healthier. Weight loss can be a side effect of this yet weight loss is not a behavior. It can't be predicted and it's not as important as the behavior change.
Ms. Weiner is honestly talking about both health and weight loss. And, although her experiences are her own, I respectfully (I do own her books!) disagree with some of her assumptions based on her own body loving experiences.
Ms. Weiner describes her body acceptance leading to unhealthy eating and exercise choices with proud permission to do so. Further, I am led to believe that in her description, loving one’s body is mutually exclusive with not choosing health promoting food and movement. 
As a strong proponent of HAES, I'm saddened this article equates self acceptance with promoting unhealthy eating, exercising, and living. That sounds more like a teenager rebelling against an over-controlling parental voice. If you’ve met with me in individually, you may have discussed this exact experience. Many people who’ve experienced disordered eating and/or years of diets will notice this teenage-like rebellion message. It is part of the process of healing. And, when acknowledged and sorted through, it is temporary. It is not HAES or loving one’s body. The rebellious teen voice contributes to another external motivator to eat or exercise. Just like a diet.
Loving one’s body is living in the present with it. Mindfulness allows the body to talk to the mind and vice versa. It is being aware of the conversations between the two and how they influence each other. Loving one’s body using a HAES approach seeks to unite mind and body while calmly, in one’s adult voice, letting the teenager and parent in your brain know they aren’t needed right now. 
I hope Ms. Weiner experiences health while she loves her body. At the same time. Listening for her adult voice, she can experience both.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What are dietitians eating?

Those What are dietitians eating? articles drive me batty. Have you seen them? It's a perfect opportunity for my colleagues to share balance, moderation and variety instead of rigidity and deprivation. Instead, they further perpetuate the separation between mind and body and describe mostly restriction. They don't consider their own body needs. Marci Anderson, an intuitive eating RD colleague, has a fantastic response on her blog. Check it out and notice the responses: lots of support for mindful-based intuitive eating. 

You don't need to compare your eating to anyone in order to achieve health. Your body already has that information waiting for you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ellyn Satter's Reaction to My Plate

While many health professionals consider the new MyPlate the best invention since sliced bread, I disagree. A few weeks ago I voiced my concerns with MyPlate: it discounts mindful eating as a health promoting tool and backhandedly shames the vital satisfaction component of normal healthy eating.

This evening I received an email newsletter from Ellyn Satter in which outlined her official stance on MyPlate. And, now I have found someone who enjoys eating her meals (with butter even!) and has permission to eat as much as she needs.

Oh, Ellyn Satter, I would love to dish on this with you over a meal!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mom: girl's most powerful body image protector.

Just came across this moving mommy-blog. If you are a mom or want to be some day, the concise blog post is a must read. My favorite quote:

"Currently, there is one woman to whom my daughters look when they perceive how a woman should feel about appearance, beauty, weight, and the intricate link with self-worth. That woman is me.

I refuse to let them down."

This blogger states that she will never criticize her body in front of her daughters. I think this is a noble proclamation and a tough one. What do you think would be the toughest part of following through with this promise?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thank you Dr. Taylor!

My career in nutrition science has many ups and downs, twists and turns. Lots of U-turns too. Not many people know that after completing my dietetic internship, I packed my figurative bags and waited for the first bus out of Registered Dietitian Land. I didn't fit in and didn't think there was a place for me.

Dr. Martha Taylor PhD, RD, FADA
One woman helped changed this: Dr. Martha Taylor from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. And, today Dr. Taylor is officially retiring.

As I completed my dietetic internship (fondly remembered by many RDs as our year of unpaid torture), I expressed my desire to change professions. I recall awkwardly explaining to her my desire to get to know my clients more instead of telling them what to do; appreciating the challenge of change and curious about its science. Dr. Taylor agreed and let me know our profession needed this diversity of thinking. Further, she let me know UNCG had a wonderful Counseling Department. A counseling master's degree potentially could marry my ways of thinking to help in the way I envisioned.

I remember putting her thoughts, suggestions, and empowerment in my back pocket. I chose to get a clinical nutrition job (still have that first paycheck stub!) yet wandered until I found the UNCG Counseling Department. Completing the master's degree, as she described, helped me find my niche and life work.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart Dr. Taylor. Your words and encouragement have helped feed my soul and find my place in this world.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Choosing to eat: brain vs body

Just caught a Yoplait cheesecake commercial. Seen it? We observe a woman drooling over a beautiful cheesecake within the work fridge. Her mind's debating dialogue tries to rationalize having a small, medium, or large slice. With each slice she considers ways to absolve her sin:
  • eat it with celery
  • give in because she deserves it
  • run in place
There are millions of reasons why I stopped and rewound the commercial.  The obvious comical undertones bring to light a very common eating choice experience. What is missing from the conversation? Instead of just thinking, I wish the woman considered how she was experiencing:
  • What does my body need right now?
  • Am I hungry?
  • What is drawing me to this food? Future physical satisfaction or a feeling of entitlement?
In the end, the torn woman compliments a coworker on her weight loss and she observes the coworker pick yogurt. Using her head, she thinks she could be worthy of peer envy too if she choose the diet food.

My Food Youtopia Principle: instead of arguing in your brain about a food choice including food cravings, stop. Go within. Check how you are experiencing your body. Ask it what it needs. Then trust it to lead you to health.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Post-baby weight loss competitions

Twisted baby weight loss competitions saturate my eyes within the grocery check out line. I skeptically notice the photoshop/crash diet poses and yearn for glimpses of normal post-baby bodies. 
I couldn’t wait to post this link. I appreciate these celebrities weren’t posing on the cover of a magazine and it is still nice to see what a woman’s body really looks like after creating a person. 
Most celebrity magazines suggest women can lose the weight in 8 weeks, 6 weeks, or even 2 weeks post birth. I don’t think I was able to brush my teeth the first 2 weeks after giving birth let alone endure starvation and endless exercise.
Pregnant women and moms of newborns note 2 things: extreme dieting and overexercising harms your breastfeeding child especially during the first 6 weeks post birth. These behaviors affect the nutritional quality and quantity of breast milk.
Second, most women lose all but 2 pounds of their post-baby weight within one year. Eating mindfully and engaging in movement as desired will help your body do the same. Please trust it and respect the time this vessel needs to recover. It did create a person after all.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Mindful Eater's reaction to the USDA's new plate

Graphic from USDA's Choose My Plate
The USDA has retired the Food Guide Pyramid in place of a plate. In a fit of frustration I just threw the plate against the wall.

I appreciate the plate's simplicity as well as greater respect for diverse food choices. There appears to be more inclusion with less dichotomy (ok, still some good vs bad foods mentioned in the fine print yet less than the Pyramids). I would love to see a hunger/fullness/satiety scale at the bottom of the graphic.

The plate graphic is followed by a few words of advice directing our food decisions.

Something in the directions stopped me dead in my tracks: "Enjoy your food, (YEAH! love this)

Here's where they lost a fan: "but eat less." (Plates crashing.)

While learning to become a counselor, I picked up a valuable word tool: the conjunctions we choose to connect thoughts have powerful implications. In counseling, the conjunction and provides agreement and inclusion with positive connotations. The conjunction but has dire results: it negates the phrase before it.

When I read Enjoy your food, but eat less I think:
  • the government thinks we are not to be trusted.
  • when enjoying food, sit tight: you've had too much.
  • if you listen to your body, you will overeat. 
Even though obviously redundant, the USDA goes on to say, "Avoid oversized portions." Just in case.

If they asked me (hint hint), I would encourage the following revisions to the directions:

Enjoy your food mindfully.
Eat when experiencing hunger. Eat until your body is satisfied. 
Make time for meals. If you are part of a family, enjoy many meals together.
Sit at the table to eat. Set a peaceful meal time environment that promotes mindful eating.
Notice how you experience foods. Notice which help you feel stronger and more energized.
Notice which foods make you feel more sluggish and sleepy.
Let your body guide you toward nourishing foods.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Thank you Oprah.

As Oprah concludes her amazing television tenure, I thank her for letting us experience her weight struggles. Her vulnerability documents society's view of large people plus the struggle in a world with the thin ideal. An Oprah weight struggle montage concludes with this message from Oprah:

"I know the battle has not ended."

This reminds me of phrases we hear often:
Battle of the Bulge. 
War on Obesity. 
Fighting Fat.

I hope in her transition, Oprah decides to put down the big guns and stop keeping score. I hope she changes from a battle cry to messages of self compassion and acceptance. A kind truce instead of another fighting diet. It is only in stepping away from the battle that she will find peace.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Poor or unemployed? Maybe its because you are too fat.

After reading this article, I feel discouraged by the missed opportunity to help instead of further harm and perpetuate stereotypes. This article reviews recent research suggesting larger women, unlike larger men,  are paid less and more likely to be unemployed.

What a cruel world we live in where a person is still stereotyped as less deserving of compensation or employment because of appearance. I suppose the civil rights movement has yet to sink in.

Instead of recognizing the discrimination, the author suggests larger women should conform and change to avoid the stereotyping. Weight loss tips conclude this article rather than questioning our society's oppression of larger women.

As I type, I recognize the author lives in this same society as the stereotype. This collective unconscious oppression would be off the radar as an unquestionable normal assumption. So sad for all of us.

Our job: keep talking (loudly!) about size discrimination. Promote Health At Every Size. We may feel like salmon swimming against the stream yet we have the power to plant powerful seeds to change future generations. And equal pay.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Promoting healthy body image for all us

Enjoy this beautiful message promoting healthy body image and positive being. The short and sweet video speaks to 15 year olds yet warms the heart of our own still-struggling 15 year old within.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

J. Crew sends unhealthy message: Diet or cover yourself

I think J. Crew was spending too much time with nail polish remover to notice my recent rant. Sadly, they have done it AGAIN!

Picture from J. Crew May 2011
On page 40 of this month's catalog one will find this caption among one piece bathing suits:

"Forget the pre-vacation crash diet. Our one-piece wonders come in cuts that complement with ruching in all the right places."

Although I would usually order one of these pretty bathing suits, I refuse. How can I buy a product from a company that tells me I need to have less of me or cover my body up!?!  I can't give my money to a company promoting the idea that dieting = permission to be an uncovered me. Just to spite them and all the other bad body image promoters, I will be wearing a 2 piece bathing suit sans dieting all summer.
Picture from J. Crew April 2011

(In case you were blinded by pink toe nail polish last month, here's the original picture that inspired my body image and anti-diet vlog.)

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Wedding Dress & Weight Loss Does Not Equal Happily Ever After!

As you walk down the aisle in your wedding dress, you may be pondering a few things:

  • I am so happy (and nervous!) to spend the rest of my life with this person
  • What will our children will look like?
  • I L-O-V-E this person no matter what.
Sadly, a new wave of products and programs have inserted what we should be thinking:
  • there needs to be less of me before I commit to the man who unconditionally loves me
  • this white dress makes me look huge so glad I crashed dieted
  • I wanted to invite my best friend into my wedding party yet she is too fat. Wouldn't look good in the pictures.
Shedding for the Wedding has couples compete to lose weight for their wedding. The first ad for this TV show brought a sigh and saddened look to my face. The Slim Fast Twitter campaign made me shoot fire from my ears and daggers from my eyes. I am pissed.

I could rant for hours on this issue and I will sum up my anger source in 4 points:
  • Losing weight for an event does not equal health. This external motivator promotes temporary crash dieting negatively altering metabolism (read: promotes the body to preserve fat and breaks down muscle for energy). Once the event is over, the person's body will quickly regain the weight and be more prepared to maintain body fat for the next diet attempt. This is also referred to as yo-yo dieting.
  • A wedding is a celebration of unconditional love. This type of regard is hopefully genuine and made to withstand "sickness and health"...and weight changes. Shame on you Slim Fast for disregarding the moment's beauty just to make money. Blech.
  • One of the toughest thoughts: we need to shame our friends or ourselves if too large. Subtly provide your potential wedding party Slim Fast so they will look good enough for your pictures. Or, if you want to EVER get married (symbolized in catching the bouquet), drink Slim Fast or else. Duh duh DUUUUUH.
  • The wedding build up including fitting in her wedding dress is one of the top 5 experiences that triggers one to practice an eating disorder. Thank you Slim Fast and Shedding for the Wedding for rationalizing this practice. Of course, all women will not experience severe pathology from this yet minimizing who's affected doesn't make it okay.
Promoting quick weight changes prior to the big day does not promote health or a stronger marriage. It only promotes shame. And, shame is an experience that never promotes healthy behavior change.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Food Addiction

As a diverse nation many issues divide us. Consider these emotionally charged topics:

  • abortion
  • death penalty
  • affirmative action
  • fruit as dessert (in my opinion, those believing fruit and chocolate provide equal satisfaction are from another planet).
A new issue has divided us especially in the disordered eating field: is food addicting? I have found myself on both sides of the fence. Today I consider food to not be of the addicting quality although it may feel like addiction.  Colleague Evelyn Tribole RD and co-author of Intuitive Eating has a clear and scientific proposal that sums up my views.

Whether or not food is scientifically addicting, healing one's relationship with food is hard work. And, it is good important work. I hope you have the support you need during the arduous and rewarding journey.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Goal weights

What do you want to weigh? __________

What does your body want you to weigh? Yes, your body gets a vote on this decision. One woman's struggle with accepting this vote can be found here.

Trusting your body's hunger and fullness cues along with enjoying movement that feels good will allow you to maintain the weight your body prefers. If you aren't there, trusting this will allow your weight to get there. What would it be like if you trusted this? Imagine the possibilities....

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

J Crew says I'm too fat for a bikini!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Women in ads: Are things getting better?

Things aren't getting any better. Women have to work harder to not be sucked into the advertising world's black hole of negative body image, early sexualization, and violent objectification. Jean Kilbourne and her amazing multimedia exploration of this topic:

Let's unite in the hope knowledge is power. How can we fight back?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Eating Disorder Prevention Tips: Don't let peas start WWIII

If healthy eating was a religion, Ellyn Satter would be a prophet. Satter is a dietitian and therapist (like me!) whose decades long research focuses on preventing obesity and eating disorders. Particulars include how to get our kids to eat more fruits and vegetables without starting World War III. 
Satter’s research found we do not have to force kids to eat 3 peas nor do we need to puree cauliflower into brownies. Her research found relying on these methods harms instead of helps. What are we to do?
Consider the gospel according to Satter (click on for more information including source):
Parents are in charge of what to eat, when to eat, and the eating environment.
Children are in charge of how much to eat if at all.

How does this philosophy prevent disordered eating?
  • Children are exposed to a wide variety of foods which research suggests allows the kids, once adults, to have more variety in their food intake.
  • Parents providing reliable and consistent meal times helps kids to not feel overly anxious or insecure around eating. This stability allows a child to learn to rely on their own hunger, satiety, and fullness rhythms instead of external motivators to eat or not eat.
  • Respecting a child’s job in the division prevents unnecessary meal time conflicts and pressure.
If you currently use or teach this Division of Food Responsibility, why do you think it helps to prevent disordered eating? 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Eating Disorder Prevention Tip: Family Meals

(In conjunction with National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I'm posting tips each day to prevent disordered eating.)

Between the War on Obesity and the mortality rate of anorexia nervosa, parents are throwing their hands up in surrender. What do we feed our children? Not too much or clean your plate? Even more, parents may get caught up in conflicting nutrition science and can’t begin to decide what to serve at home.

Instead of spinning your wheels, I provide an alternative: what we serve our children is not as important as how we serve them. I encourage parents to consider a simple, not easy, solution that prevents both child obesity and eating disorders: eat meals with your children.
Sometime between 12 months and 18 months, kids are ready to eat the same foods adults eat. With a little modification, a parent will no longer have to make separate meals for the adults, older children, and younger children. It may seem appealing to do this...and kids may eat more when fed separate foods. But, as a nation, do we need our children eating MORE? Not necessarily. We need our children to become more confident and comfortable with diverse foods. Cooking 3 different meals at each meal time will not promote this. It promotes pickiness and food insecurities.
Pull up a chair and eat together. Family meals provide these powerful punches preventing EDs:
  • Consistent meal times allow a child to experience the body’s hunger and fullness cues. These cues help maintain optimum energy balance as well as enjoy food.
  • They learn they won’t always like what is offered and how to stay calm. (Their future dates will thank you!)
  • It is normal to start to feel hungry as meal time approaches. Set meal and snack times help kids learn how to tolerate lower levels of hunger without panicking. This skill helps prevent bingeing and hoarding.
  • Kids learn to say “no thank you” when they don’t like something and “I’ve had enough” when offered another helping. Learning these words via modeling helps them to be more confident around different foods and different people.
  • A child noticing a parent stopping to eat and nourishing herself helps the child learn vital self care skills. These skills can then become natural foundations to their adult lifestyles.
Not a gifted chef? No worries. First, get in the habit eating together as a family with the foods you current consume. The rest can work itself out over time. 
So, how’s a parent supposed to get their child to eat the broccoli at the dinner table without a temper tantrum? Tomorrow’s entry will tackle just that. Stay tuned my friends.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Eating Disorder Prevention Tips: Food Bribes

(In conjunction with National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I'm posting tips each day to prevent disordered eating.)
Did you know M&Ms cure parental potty training headaches? At least that’s the way it seems to me. I hesitate to let many know my almost-3-year-old is not potty trained. When I do, I usually “learn” my daughter would be trained by the time she got through a bag of M&Ms in exchange for sitting on that potty.
As I explain why I choose to not bribe my child with food the parent rationally shrugs: “Well, it works.” Just because it works doesn’t mean it’s right.
Food bribes come in many forms besides potty-side. “Eat your veggies if you want dessert” and “I’ll take you out for ice cream if you get all A’s” are food bribes in another dialect. 
Using food to manipulate behavior promotes these unhealthy food rules for our children:
  • succeed at a task = eat 
  • fail at a task = do not deserve to eat
  • food is the only way to feel better after a tough day
  • screw intrinsic motivation, I do things for food!
  • eat because you earned it!
  • we can only eat bad food once we eat good food
  • it’s ok to eat past fullness in order to get what we want to eat and what we have to eat
  • don’t trust your body cues
Keep food for fueling at meal and snack time. If you need a reward for positive behavior changes, I encourage you to seek out non-food rewards. At least save the food bribes for when you REALLY need them: cross country flights or when you are stuck on the couch with the week long flu. Use them sparingly and cautiously
Rigid food rules like the ones listed above pave the way for disordered eating including bingeing, hoarding, emotional eating, and restricting. To promote healthy ways of relating to food, I encourage you to keep reading this week’s posts. What a parent can do to prevent eating problems is on deck.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How much do I have to weigh to use this?

Stumbled upon this Coffee House Skinny Fat Free creamer and found myself pondering:

  • Must one be skinny in order to use this product?
  • Does this product guarantee a slimming effect with consumption?
  • If one opts out of the Skinny version, is she automatically fat?
  • Does this product container hold less volume and thus named the Skinny container?
Blech to you food marketers. Stop manipulating our food and confusing us to second guess ourselves.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Weight ≠ Worth

Spreading my message. Where am I?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Hot {{Pink}} Mess

That’s it. I’m pissed. 

A recent trip to Target’s toy section sent my brewing anger from simmer to boil. I was annoyed with pink sparkles and princesses then postal with intentional consumerism and early sexualization. The catalyst pictured here.

The details:
Just like every mom, I want my daughter to grow up to be successful and happy. Just like every feminist, I want my daughter fulfilled by whatever she wants. I don’t want her to feel bound by society’s rules. I hope she feels pleasure doing the work of a firefighter, teacher, bricklayer, lawyer, nurse, or counselor, etc. And, I want her to be able to freely choose.
Enter Cinderella. Along with Ken and Barbie, they are blowing my daughter’s possibilities up in sparkly smoke.
At least that is how I am feeling at the moment.
Combining my passion in healthy body image and my preschooler’s hopefulness, I anticipated the release of How Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein.  I started reading it last week and frankly, it is making angry.
I’m not angry at the author. My discontent is aimed at the industries promoting early sexualization and consumerism in the name of profits. I am only 20% into the book, and so far I have learned:
  • Pink toys and clothing started showering the market in the 1980s. I encourage you to rethink this commonly heard statement: “It is just part of her girly nature to prefer pink.” Before 1980, girls preferred more choices in the rainbow.
  • Disney started ramming the Princess Revolution down our consuming throats in 2000. Before then, girls played dress up in their mom’s closets. Now, they are privileged to have the full princess fantasy before they are out of diapers.
  • The term girl power use to promote empowerment. Now, girl power is a marketing tool aimed at tweens leaving princess la la land. It’s glittery pink message sparkles individualization yet the only options are through appearance. A prime example: the Target t-shirt pictured above found in the toy section. How dare they?
As I read more of Orenstein’s book, I imagine my thoughts may shift a bit. I would love to hear your thoughts about my current discontent. Further, I would enjoy hearing your experiences while reading Orenstein’s book.
Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr