Archive for Nutrition – Page 2

What Should I Actually Eat?!

It is so easy to get overwhelmed by food decisions. Whether it’s an absurd number of options at home and the workplace or our options seem limited, we tend to rationalize the heck out of deciding what to actually eat.

The problem is that the rational mind alone doesn’t do a great job of feeding the body.  It is awash with rules and shoulds and limits that often interfere with the part of us that truly does know what to eat: the body itself. The ultimate goal of eating intuitively or mindfully is to be present in the body in order to use its feedback when making food decisions, tempered by the logic of the rational mind when necessary.

Essentially, food decision-making comes down to balancing wants and shoulds, with the primary mediator being the body. For example, maybe your mouth genuinely wants ice cream all the time, but you know you really ought not repeatedly indulge that desire because that won’t promote good health in the long run (and you might get a tummy ache). The truth is that if you are really listening to your body, it won’t want ice cream all the time.

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Out of the Oven and Into the World

Every two weeks I get a box of “ugly” produce delivered to my door from a company that distributes fruits and vegetables deemed unsuitable for market. Last week, the box was full of my least favorites as I had missed the customization window for that shipment. Beets, grapefruit, rutabaga, curly kale, frisée, radishes. Reading that list now, it doesn’t sound so terrible, but at the moment, I wasn’t looking forward to eating those things.

My love of cooking isn’t about creating intricate dishes with a dozen ingredients and using fancy techniques. My skill is to take what is available and turn it into something beautiful, delicious, nourishing, and satisfying. In fact, the feeling that usually follows the thought, “What am I going to do with all this produce?” is the excitement of rising to the challenge.

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Foundational Eating Part 3: Variety and Moderation

Part three in my series for getting back to basics for building a solid eating recovery.

At a party recently, I got cornered by a guest who wanted to educate me on the truth about nutrition, evidently having gleaned said truth from the latest food-scare propaganda flick. This happens sometimes when people find out I’m a dietitian. “Which do you think is better for you,” he asked, no doubt sensing my skepticism, “Soy milk or cow’s milk?”

I knew this was a trap. “Well,” I started, “both have their potential benefits, so it depends on an individual’s situation and preferences.”  Dissatisfied, the guy countered with something to the effect of, “Yeah, but cancer!”  I paused, choosing my words carefully. I looked at him for a moment and said, “I think that as long as a person eats a variety of nutritious foods and eats them in moderation, there’s little danger of getting too much or too little of anything.” I offered him a bite of my cheese. Continue Reading →

Foundational Eating Part 2: Balance

Part two in my series on getting back to basics for building a solid eating recovery.

When I first met Daisy, she was pretty fed up with trying to eat intuitively. “I eat when I’m hungry, I stop when I’m full, but I’m still plagued with these cravings everyday,” she lamented. Daisy had been dieting routinely for the past 15 years. Her weight had cycled up and down. She was still within her healthy weight range, but felt that it wasn’t her natural weight, the weight she expected if she were eating more intuitively.

There are no promises of weight loss with intuitive eating. In fact, using intuitive eating with the express intention for weight loss (even if it is only a secret hope) will probably get in the way of connecting with your intuition altogether. It’s like meditating. Once you use the practice to achieve something or to get somewhere, you have completely missed the point. What’s more, without laying a good foundation for your new eating approach, it will be too easy to slip back into old patterns and behaviors. Continue Reading →

Foundational Eating Part 1: Adequacy

Part one in my series on getting back to basics for building a solid eating recovery.

Emotional eating. It’s so taboo. It conjures visions of pathetic women in their jammies eating ice cream straight from the tub while watching The Notebook, Kleenex box at hand, right after a bad break-up. No one wants to be that girl. So shameful.

And yet so human. From the soothing received at the breast or bottle to the urge to celebrate with a special dinner, we are all emotional eaters to some degree. As much as we may want to extricate our emotions from this most fundamental act, to do so denies our very humanity. Without this connection, we, as a species, would have been far less motivated to eat and proliferate.

While it can seem fairly straightforward to know what emotional eating is (using food or restricting food in order to suppress or numb emotions), it is more tricky to understand what it isn’t. In my practice, I often see clients who believe they are emotional eaters, but appear to have something else going on. Take Emily a 20-something grad student, for example. “I just can’t stop eating emotionally!” she complained on her first visit, “When I’m stressed, I eat. When I’m bored, I eat. When I eat certain foods, I feel so guilty I have to do something to fix it or I’ll go crazy!”

Easy diagnosis, right? Not so fast. Continue Reading →