#dieting

Are You Restricting Without Realizing It?

Are you restricting without realizing it Josee Sovinsky angie viets

Are You Restricting Without Realizing It?

Josée Sovinsky, RD

In my practice as a non-diet and eating disorder dietitian in Toronto, Canada, I work with a variety of clients looking to embrace intuitive eating principles. This radical approach to eating can facilitate food peace, balance and freedom. One of the concepts we often work on is letting go of restriction and dieting. This can have many benefits, such as being more nourished, reducing cravings, and feeling less shame around food.

However, after being introduced to this concept and trying it out, many clients return to sessions claiming this didn’t work for them. Even though they ate all types of foods and enough food, they still felt out of control with their eating patterns.

 
 

This can happen when we see restriction as only behavior; instead of recognizing it is a mentality

Restrictive behaviors include avoiding certain foods, counting calories, and cutting down on portion sizes. These are usually easier to identify. On the other hand, restrictive thoughts, or a restrictive mentality, can be sneakier. Even when we don’t engage in restrictive behaviors, we can still be subscribing to a restrictive mentality.

Signs you may still have a restrictive mentality:

·      You feel guilt after eating specific foods

·      You feel shame when you eat more than others around you

·      You describe yourself as “bad” or “naughty” when you eat certain foods

·      You believe certain foods will make you gain weight

·      You think there is a perfect way to eat

·      You believe some foods are “healthy” and others are “unhealthy”

·      You think you will binge if you keep certain foods in the house

·      You worry about what other people think of your eating habits

·      You view food as an enemy

·      You view your days as “good” or “bad” based on what you ate

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Restrictive behaviors are what we do or don’t do.

A restrictive mentality is what we think, feel and believe.

Restriction includes both of these concepts.

The Bottom Line:

Letting go of restriction goes far beyond changing our behaviors. Don’t get me wrong, modifying behaviors is certainly part of the battle and can prove to be extremely challenging. However, even if we manage to change our behaviors, we will never truly find food peace if we don’t also work on our thought patterns and mentality.

Remember, intuitive eating and finding food peace is a process. Be kind to yourself.

 
Josee Sovinsky angie viets

Josée SovinskyRD is a passionate Registered Dietitian working in a community setting in Toronto, Ontario. After facing her own struggles with disordered eating during her degree, she developed a strong interest in helping those affected by eating disorders and mental illness. She decided to learn more about intuitive and mindful eating, body acceptance and Health at Every Size®, which now strongly guide her work. She dreams of a world free from mental health stigma, body shaming, and disordered eating. When she is not helping others make peace with food, she enjoys baking, photography and doing yoga in her living room. Visit Josée's website and connect with her on social media.

 

What happens in Vagus, Doesn’t stay in Vagus

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What happens in Vagus, Doesn’t stay in Vagus

Rebecca McConville, MS, RD, LD, CSSD

For a country that prides itself on medicals advancements, we seem to be moving further away from the recipe for true health. Often when working with clients who struggle with digestion, hunger awareness, satiety (fullness), performance anxiety or the ability to relax, my first question is “do you breathe while doing these things?” I tend to get a look that says “get out of here” but then I start my scientific spiel and they are hooked.

You see, you have an amazing built-in radar in your body called the “gut instinct” and there is actual science to support it. In your stomach is a small nerve that has the power to be a fountain of health. The vagus nerve comprises of afferent nerves (80%-90%) conveying sensory information about the state of the body’s organs to the central nervous system. Basically making the vagus nerve the motherboard connecting the parasympathetic system: the heart, lung, brain/mind and digestive tract. When we think of this related to body functions the vagus nerve controls: heart rate, gastrointestinal movement, sweating and muscle movements in the mouth - to name a few. So—for example—you don’t really have butterflies in your stomach but you do have muscles that can contract similar to a butterfly’s wing’s flutter when they are nervous.

You are likely wondering how does this translate to impacting my health….

 
 

Dr. John Sullivan, author The Brain Always Wins, shares in his book how he believes that we should view the brain and the mind as separate entities. The brain perceives emotional information then acts upon it. This emotional information is the first to develop and allows us to survive and thrive. Like a baby’s conditioned response is to cry when he/she is hungry or needs to be held.

The mind and body do connect signaling the hypothalamic-pituitary axis that generates hormones and neurotransmitter and neuroendocrine responses such as epinephrine/norepinephrine (heart rate), cortisol (stress), serotonin (calmness) and dopamine (feel good). If the feedback to the brain and body is chronic or acute it will depict if you respond by either: fight, flight or freeze.

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These are three factors that you have the power to control of if YOU fight, flight or freeze:

Emotions

  • We have grown to believe that our thoughts are what generates emotions. However, it is actually the opposite.

  • If we can have a more neutral response or a more manageable response, then there is less stress on the body and the ability to decipher what to do with that emotion.
    Example: “I avoid all sugar as it is 'BAD'.” What kind of emotion does BAD typically invoke?

  • Sit with an emotion and try to understand it. It's very likely that the reaction has nothing to do with the food but a memory of it or a false teaching.

Environment

  • When you are distracted at work while eating you are taking the stress of your work straight into your meal.

  • Eating at restaurants that are chaotic may overstimulate the nerve, making it hard to connect “friction” with body signals.

  • Is your workplace, home life or school a place of stress? This can impact your ability to relax as well and connect with your body signals.

Energy

  • Being depleted of energy whether due to the restriction of fuel or depletion of fuel secondary to exercise can cause a friction in the connection of the vagus nerve.

  • Just like any friction, there is a moment of relief where you believe it makes “everything” better but what happens over time it makes the nerve overstimulated due to stress.

Now, remember that damn cupcake and how it made you anxious at the sight of its cute pink frosting and buttercream frosting? Instantly you are starting to feel a tension in between your ribcage, an elevated heart rate a mind racing with thoughts of "should I or should I not". You have activated your vagus nerve that you are in danger. Should a cupcake generate this kind of bodily reaction?

 
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Rebecca McConville, MS, RD, LD, CSSD is a Master’s Level Registered Dietitian & a Board Certified Sports Specialist. She specializes in the treatment of anorexia, bulimia, compulsive overeating & exercise addiction. She also treats the female athlete triad & athlete-associated disordered eating. Becca understands that the drive for peak performance may lead to disordered eating. Her goal is to help you fuel your body, so that you can fuel your life! Visit her website.

 

No, Carbs Aren’t Bad for You And Here Are 5 Reasons Why

Angie Viets - Katie Harvey - Carbs Are Not Bad For You

No, Carbs Aren’t Bad for You And Here Are 5 Reasons Why

Katy Harvey, RD

Photo by Ben Neale

At least once a day I’ll hear someone say something like:

“Carbs make you fat.”
“I shouldn’t eat that because it’s too high in carbs.”
“Sugar is so bad for you.”

Carbs are the current dietary scapegoat in our culture.

Scientists used to tell people that dietary fat was bad, so we started cutting fat out of our food supply. Then we realized that was terrible advice, and that there were many unfortunate health consequences of telling people to avoid it.

So now we’ve jumped to carbs being the food group that is demonized. And we’re seeing the same thing—that telling people to avoid an entire food group is making things worse, not better.

What happens when you tell yourself you shouldn’t eat something? Your brain immediately perceives the threat of deprivation and makes you want it even more. Ever heard of the “Don’t think about purple elephants” thing? (Now try not to think about purple elephants. I bet you can’t do it!)

It’s common for clients to tell me that they try to avoid carbs, only to find themselves eventually overeating or bingeing on high-carbohydrate foods.

Turns out your body is trying to tell you something in its desperation for carbs.

Reality is, no single food or nutrient is “bad” for us. In fact, by definition, a nutrient is something your body has to have. Too little or too much of any given nutrient can lead to symptoms of deficiency or excess - but the problem is the “too little” or “too much” - not the nutrient itself.

Let’s stop hating on carbs and embrace them instead!

Here are my top 5 reasons to love carbs

1. Carbs are your body’s favorite source of energy

For most people, consuming about 45-65% of your daily calories from carbs is ideal. Your body prefers to use carbs for energy (via your blood sugar - a type of carb!). Your blood sugar is the circulating energy delivered to cells. In the absence of enough carbs, your body can use protein or fat for energy, but it prefers not to because it has other priorities for those nutrients.

2. Your brain can only use glucose for energy

Glucose (your blood sugar) is the only type of energy that can cross the blood-brain barrier. Therefore, your brain can’t use protein or fat for energy. The brain alone burns about 400-500 calories (of carbohydrate) per day - that’s amazing!

 
 

3. Carbs taste good

There’s a reason we crave carbs – they taste good! This is a primitive way that our body is telling us we need them. Part of healthful eating is enjoying food that tastes good.

4. Carbohydrate-based foods contain other essential nutrients

Avoiding carbs means missing out on the other nutrients in those foods. For example, bread and cereals are an excellent source carbs, along with B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin) and folate - things we don’t get in many other foods. Carbs can also provide a lot of fiber and potassium (especially starchy veggies like potatoes, and fruit).

5. Avoiding carbs makes you crave them more

Back to the purple elephant thing. Telling yourself you can’t or shouldn’t have something only enhances the desire for it. It also perpetuates the shame when you do eat those foods, and the distrust of yourself to be able to handle them.

Bottom line:

Carbs = energy = fuel = good for you

How can that be “bad?”

Katy Harvey, RD is a Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian (CEDRD) from Kansas City.  She has an outpatient private practice where she helps individuals heal their relationship with food, exercise and their body. She also blogs at Katy’s Blog.

Spotted: A Diet in Disguise

Clean Eating - Angie Viets

Spotted: A Diet in Disguise

Dr. Colleen Reichmann

I’m just going to come right out and say it- I hate the term “clean eating.” Never has a diet used such obviously guilt-ridden vernacular. The message behind clean eating is clear, isn’t it? Certain food is “clean” (i.e. moral, pure), and other food is “dirty” (impure, bad, amoral).

Clean eating culture is dangerous because it is not super transparent. Advocates of clean eating like to assert that it is not a diet, but a lifestyle change.” Sounds pretty doesn’t it? Lifestyle change. The small font not included by most clean eating advocates is that this lifestyle change includes a series of food rules and restrictions. Or, in other words, it is a change of your style of life into one that includes dieting.

Clean eating is a dressed up term for diet. Plain and simple. Where did this euphemism come from? Well, the idea of dieting seems to have gotten a little bit of a bad rap over the past ten years or so. Maybe that is because the public was catching on that diets don’t work. Maybe it coincides with the influx of militarized fitness fads. Whatever the reason, one thing is for sure—the food industry and media have capitalized and continue to capitalize on the idea that we no longer need to diet—we just need to change. The worst part? We, the public, eat it up (pun intended).

We charge out to buy spiralizers and denounce fruit as too sugary. We load smoothies with vegetables (seriously come up—let’s call a spade a spade—smoothies made mainly from vegetables suck) and whip up bone broth soup because of collagen.  We are attracted like magnets to food products listed as organic. Milk chocolate? Processed crap, we mutter to ourselves. Cacao bits? Load ‘em up.

I do not actually have any problem with wanting to incorporate healthy food into one’s diet. However, anything taken to the extreme is problematic. It is just as bad to eat just kale three meals a day as it is to eat pop tarts three meals a day.  And the problem is, the concept of clean eating becomes extreme so easily. Think about it. The term “clean” denotes a morality of the food that we consume. Some foods are good, clean, or pure. Others are bad, dirty, or amoral. We humans tend to become activated by messages about morality. Hence, the judgement-laden undertones of the term “clean eating” affect our psyche in undeniable ways.

 
Angie Viets - Healthline Awards Voted #1
 

The good news? There have been a spattering of articles over the past year or so that question the benefits of “clean eating,” hence it is reasonable to assume that the term will be defunct in the next five years. The bad news? Be aware: fad diets are shapeshifters. When one wears thin, the wellness industry tends to catch on and coins a brand new name for said diet. Hence the only way to truly shut down diet culture is to educate ourselves about those roses-by-other-names (i.e. diets in disguise).

So the next time you hear about the newest wellness fad involving food, be sure to ask yourself:

1. Does it encourage restriction?

Is this food fad suggesting that eating less is important? Is fullness considered a negative? Is the message “eat less to be happy” pushed at all?

2. Does it subtly or blatantly include the message that thinner=healthier or better?

Is the message behind the food fad, “eat this way and you will look like him/her?” Does it promote the idea that weight loss is the golden fountain of health?

3. Does it suggest cutting out certain food groups?

Does the food fad promote the message that certain foods should be completely banned from your energy intake? Is the word toxic used at all?

4. Does it promote mistrust of your body?

Does the message suggest that our bodies need to be outsmarted? Does it suggest that certain foods are the equivalent of drugs to our minds?  

Summarily, when it comes to food fads, a good rule of thumb is—if it promises salvation through eating—it is a fad diet. So call out the wellness industry every time they shape-shift. Protect your emotional well-being by shouting back at diet and “wellness” culture. Food freedom and overall happiness will be worth the effort-I promise!

 
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Dr. Colleen Reichmann is a licensed clinical psychologist, practicing in Williamsburg, Virginia. She works in her private practice, Wildflower Therapy and is a staff psychologist at the College of William and Mary. She is recovered from an eating disorder, and this experience sparked her passion for spreading knowledge and awareness that full recovery is possible. She is now an eating disorders specialist, and has worked at various treatment facilities including University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro Center for Eating Disorder Care, and The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt. She is an advocate for feminism, body positivity, health at every size, and FULL recovery. She writes about body image and eating disorders for morelove.org, Project Heal, Recovery Warriors, and The Mighty. 
Visit her website.

 

Seriously, Let's End The War With Our Bodies

Photo Credit:  Catherine McMahon

Photo Credit: Catherine McMahon

Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Studies have shown that 80% of American women are dissatisfied with their weight and 42% are actively trying to lose weight by dieting and/or exercising.¹'³ These strategies rarely produce lasting weight loss. In fact, the vast majority of people who lose weight by dieting will regain it - often plus some. This type of yo-yo dieting can be harmful to one’s health.⁴

So why do Americans keep putting themselves through the deprivation associated with dieting if it doesn’t work and is potentially harmful?  Perhaps a shift in mindset could break this cycle of “insanity.”

The Health At Every Size (HAES) approach argues that health is related to a person’s behaviors, not their weight.¹'² For example, a person can be “normal” weight and have high blood pressure, and a person can be “over” weight and have normal blood pressure. Interestingly, individuals classified as “overweight” based on their BMI live the longest, while those who are classified as “obese” have the same lifespan as “normal” weight individuals. Dieting has been associated with worsened physical and psychological outcomes, while HAES has been shown to improve them.  

Dieting Approach¹'²

  • Increased appetite
  • Frequent obsessive thoughts about food
  • Increased risk of depression
  • Emotional overeating
  • Weight loss followed by weight regain
  • Reduced self-esteem

HAES Approach¹'²

  • Intuitive eating
  • Improved psychological functioning
  • Improved cholesterol levels
  • Reduced overeating
  • Maintenance of set-point weight
  • Body acceptance and improved self-esteem

By focusing on health rather than weight, a person is able to break out of the cycle of dieting and care for their body in a loving and compassionate way. Dieting and trying to force the body to lose weight or look a certain way is the opposite of this. It is a way of fighting against the body. When a person cares for their body they treat it with kindness and respect — THIS is what HAES is all about.  

It’s ok if you’re having a hard time wrapping your mind around this. After all, it goes against everything our society teaches us. It may even go against what your doctor tells you. The truth is, you CAN be healthy without focusing on your weight. When you are taking care of your body and engaging in healthful behaviors, your weight will land where it is genetically meant to, without you needing to control it. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and this genetic diversity in humans is not only biologically advantageous, but it is beautiful. It makes each of us unique in our own skin.  

Are you ready to end the war against your body? Are you ready for a mindset shift? If so, learn more about the HAES approach by visiting Linda Bacon's website and check out her resources.

References:

1. Provencher et al. Health-At-Every-Size and Eating Behaviors: 1-Year Follow-Up of a Size Acceptance Intervention.  Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2009;109:1854-61.

2. Bacon L, Aphramor L.  Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift.  Nutrition Journal. 2011;10:9.

3. NEDA Information and Referral Helpline. Statistics: Eating Disorders and their Precursors. www.NationalEatingDisorders.org. Accessed May 10, 2012.

4. Montani J-P, et al.  Weight cycling during growth and beyond as a risk factor for later cardiovascular diseases: the ‘repeated overshoot’ theory. International Journal of Obesity. 2006;30:S58-S66.

Katy Harvey, RD is a Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian (CEDRD) from Kansas City.  She has an outpatient private practice where she helps individuals heal their relationship with food, exercise and their body. She also blogs at Katy’s Blog.