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


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:


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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?


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.


Heavy Hearts: Subtle Shifts to Cope When The World Feels Too Scary

angie viets

Heavy Hearts: Subtle Shifts to Cope When The World Feels Too Scary

Angie Viets, LCP, CEDS

Photo by Cathal Mac an Bheatha

This article has originally been published on Psychology Today.

Friday morning in between sessions with clients a colleague called. A teenager at a high school nearby had committed suicide after arriving at school that morning. My heart sank. She informed me that the school had released all of the students for the day and that they’d canceled the football game scheduled that evening. 

The remainder of the day it looked as though it was business as usual for me. Meeting with clients, picking up my kids from school and ordering in pizza—our Friday night ritual, yet, I couldn’t shake the sadness of the seventeen-year-old girl who ended her life that morning. I carried her around with me wondering how we might have spared her from suffering so intensely. My thoughts drifted to the trauma for the teens entering the building that morning, worried they weren’t fully prepared for a chemistry exam or frustrated about some drama amongst their peers, and then the unimaginable happens, and everyone is shuffled back onto buses and into worried parents’ cars. The faculty, I imagine, remain to deal with the aftermath. Oh, but the family—my heart drops further—how do they go on when their sweet girl is no longer? 

Still asleep, my five-year-old rushed in on Saturday morning, “Momma, it’s a home day!” Yes, today is a home day (i.e., a non-school day) and with the sun shining brightly through proclaimed black-out curtains I thought of the family who didn’t have the gift of a very typical Saturday. 

I’ve trained myself in times like these to send love to those hurting in my mind’s eye and to bring myself back into the present moment—the list I need to make for the grocery store, the laundry that must be started, and the endless errands I need to run. Present moment attention helps those of us highly sensitive creatures not to get caught so profoundly in a web of sadness. Dwelling on the news of another’s tragedy is just as unhealthy as ignoring it altogether. 

Sunday morning as I sit in a driveway, waiting—as mothers endlessly do—for my thirteen-year-old to gather his things from a sleepover I check Facebook. I’ve barely begun the mindless scrolling and then the headline from my local newspaper takes my breath away, “Three Murdered on Mass Street.”

Interrupted by my oldest, the one I’m attempting to allow a little more freedom, he hops into the car with bedhead and big news, “Mom, last night was insane. Lil Yachty was seriously like five feet away from me.” 

He’d gone to Late Night at Allen Fieldhouse the night before, the celebratory kick off for the University of Kansas’s basketball season and they’d brought in one of my son’s favorite rappers to “hype everyone up.” Later, while my son and his buds played X-Box until wee hours of the morning, three kids in their early twenties were murdered after leaving the bars in our sweet little college town.          


My brain couldn’t fathom the scene. Mass Street, the same street where we spend countless hours at quaint restaurants, shopping at locally owned stores, and hanging out at coffee shops while writing my first book was a crime scene only hours before. For years, I too wandered out of bars on that same street as a college kid, eager to make plans for the afterparty as I imagine they were also until shots were fired and the scattering ensued. The fear, terror and grief others experienced nagged at me. How could we have intervened? How could this happen? I spin out. I’m missing the excitement of my son as he tells the story of his favorite basketball players. Present moment, I think. Be here. Right now. First, pause, send love to those hurting today.

Monday morning I groggily make my way into the kitchen to pour the elixir into my favorite coffee cup. My husband, already busy packing lunches for the kids, nods at the tv, “You’re never going to believe what’s on CNN this morning.”

I walked into the living room where images of the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, the same Las Vegas my dad said he and my step-mom are headed to this week, flashed on the screen. Blurred images of a stampede of people fleeing in the dark, beneath it the words scrolled across, “Deadliest Mass Shooting in US History.” At the time it was believed fifty were dead and over two hundred injured.         

Horrified and aware of the time I started the shower, woke up sleeping children and began the usual routine of getting ready for work and rushing kids off to school. I thought of my son’s excitement to see a performer he loved on Saturday night. I imagined that same level of excitement of all the fans enjoying an outdoor concert of one of their favorite country musicians, and then, in what initially seemed like fireworks to enhance the performance, the utter terror of somehow comprehending the bullets pouring from the sky and penetrating innocent friends and family members without warning. How on earth can we live in a place where this happens? 

The toll from the teen’s suicide on Friday, the three college-age kids dead from a shooting just a short distance away while I slept, and the largest mass shooting in our country's history settled in. I felt myself shifting from sadness into fear. Without realizing it I unconsciously began creating a mental list of all the things we wouldn’t do or would change in an effort to keep safe. 

1. No outdoor concerts. (I recall the outdoor concert I took my son and his friends to this Summer. The joy in their faces as their idols hit the stage). Nope, don’t think about that. We won’t be going anymore. Too unsafe.

2.  Do my kid’s need to attend private schools so they don’t witness a classmates suicide while in high school? That’s absurd; I know the stats, suicide is rampant, the second leading cause of death among those ages 10-24, suicide doesn’t care what school you attend. 

I shifted into a place of helplessness and hopelessness. I can’t protect them, those I love most, from tragedy. I shift to Glennon Doyle, my favorite author saying, in a talk while I sat in the front row, “We are going to lose each other.” She too, a yellow canary, a highly sensitive soul couldn’t bear the pain of this life for many years, and she hid out in an eating disorder and substance dependence. She shared in her book, Carry On Warrior, that addiction was a safe place to numb out and protect herself. She recognized, as she sat with a positive pregnancy test, that such self-destructive behaviors had to end. Becoming a mother was her invitation to find a new way of being. She realized, as she sat in one hospital holding her newborn niece on the same day that in another hospital she said goodbye to her beloved grandmother that life is ‘brutiful.” Glennon encourages us to embrace both the beautiful and brutal parts of life. “We can’t have one without the other.”


My brain fights against this notion as the death toll rises in Vegas. I recall a conversation, not so long ago when I learned of several untimely deaths of people around my age, with my therapist (yes, therapists have therapists!). Nearing forty I was bumping up against my mortality, and I wasn’t too happy about it. At all. Not one part of it. I looked at her, the same way I remember looking at my mom when I was in labor for the first time, my eyes pleading, “I can’t do this. And PS: Why the hell didn’t you tell me it was going to be this painful?” 

“You know those documentaries about the inhumane treatment of animals?” I say. “I just keep thinking of us, much like all the cows that are crammed up against each other while being herded towards the slaughter area. I feel like we are the cows, all just crammed together waiting to die.” (I know this is morbid and dark, but this is how it felt in the moment). 

She looked at me, more reasonable, more comfortable with the truth, that yes, in fact, we all are going to die. “What would it be like for you, instead of being trapped in terror, to look at those who are shoulder to shoulder with you and find some comfort that at least we are all in this together.”?

Ah, yes. There’s that. I felt some relief as I recalled my favorite quote, “We are all just walking each other home.” Together.

Although today is not an ordinary day for many who are suffering, I think the best any of us can do is be present to each other and our lives when we do have the extraordinary gift of a typical day. To extend ourselves to those who are most in need in whatever form that takes for you—a donation of your time, a monetary contribution towards efforts to relieve those suffering in some small way, or simply sending healing energy to those in pain. 

As I walked past my coffee table on Monday evening, weighted and worried, I saw the title of a book a dear friend sent me, Only Love Today. What would I do right now, this very second if I was only to give love today? My golden retriever, eager for my attention, was my answer. If I focused on love instead of fear I would turn off the news for awhile. Mosley and I took a long walk and as we tiredly made our way up the hill back home, I stopped as at least fifty geese flew by in their hallmark V-shaped formation. I felt a sense of wonder as it seemed the number of geese flying overhead would never end. They poured endlessly, effortlessly from the sky. I heard a little girl down the block excitedly saying, “Daddy, daddy! Do you see all of the birds?” 

When the last of them had passed Mosley and I found our way back home. My heart was softened. Only love today. Only. Love. Today.

angie viets, lcp, ceds


Angie Viets, LCP, CEDS is a clinical psychotherapist and certified eating disorders specialist in private practice. She specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, body image, and overeating. Angie is dedicated to empowering others to nurture their body, mend their relationship with food, and to embody their most authentic self. Her passion for the field was born out of her own hard-won battle with an eating disorder. She believes that full recovery is possible!

Angie has a thriving website that offers resources for people in recovery and was voted #1 on Healthline's list of the Best Eating Disorders Blogs of 2017. She is currently in the process of writing her first book, where she will demystify eating disorder recovery and offer inspiration and guidance to those suffering in silence. Her writing is featured in Huffington Post and recognized eating disorder treatment centers throughout the country.

Intuitive Eating and Eating Disorder Recovery: Is it Possible?

Kelly Boaz, CNP - Angie Viets - intuitive eating

Intuitive Eating and Eating Disorder Recovery: Is it Possible?

Kelly Boaz, CNP

When I went to eating disorder treatment for the second time, they gave us two books to read upon admission. In fact, reading these books was one of the conditions for moving through the levels of treatment. These books are still on my professional bookshelf to this day - Life Without ED, by Jenni Schaefer, and Intuitive Eating, by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. Intuitive Eating is one of the cornerstones of many eating disorder recovery programs. How do you know if it's right for you?

Well, as far as I'm concerned, learning to eat intuitively is important for just about everyone. BUT, it's not right for everyone all the time. Sometimes, following a meal plan is more beneficial. Here are some common stages of eating disorder recovery where it may not be possible to practice intuitive eating:

1. You're just starting nutritional therapy

Many people seeking treatment for an eating disorder aren't used to eating appropriate amounts of food. Whether you're eating too little, too much, or just irregularly, chances are your intuition is off. It's important to work with a dietitian or nutritionist to help figure out what the right amount of food for you is. Everyone's needs will be different, so it's important to get a meal plan that is tailored to your needs. Following this meal plan will help you understand your hunger and fullness signals, and get used to eating an appropriate amount of food for you. Over time, it will be important to let go of the plan, and start to trust your intuition.

2. You're working through fear foods

Some people don't really have fear foods. Some people have a LOT of fear foods. During this stage of recovery, you may move back and forth between a meal plan and intuitive eating. If trying fear foods puts you at risk for restricting the rest of your intake, you may need a meal plan more solidly in place.

I struggled at this stage, mainly because I was in denial about my fear foods. I was convinced I just didn't like certain foods, so I didn't have to include them. Luckily, my team recognized the restriction hidden in my preferences and challenged me to try these foods. Some foods I genuinely disliked. Some foods, however, were fear foods in disguise. Because my intuition was still clouded by my eating disorder, eating 100% intuitively at this point wasn't possible for me.

3. Finances are tight

When we talk about intuitive eating, we sometimes exclude those who can't afford to eat how their body wants to eat. They need to make food choices that fit in their finances. In fact, most people can't afford to eat out 3 meals a day, so planning is important to make sure you have food available when you need it. During these times, you may be able to be intuitive when you eat and related to how much you eat, but you'll still need to plan the "what". It is important to keep things as varied as possible, though, to keep your food choices from becoming food rules.

4. Your schedule is weird

Similar to those who can't always choose the "what", shift workers and those with set schedules don't always get to choose the "when". Some days, you may not be hungry when it's time to eat. You may have to eat anyhow. Some days, you may be hungry before you have an official break. Keeping portable snacks on hand (like granola bars) will help you honor your body's timing, even when you can't control meal times.

5. You're under a lot of stress or battling depression

When I get stressed out, my appetite goes out the window. If I was trying to listen to my body's cues during these times, I would be severely under-feeding myself. When stress hits, I need to go back to the meal plan. I know what my body normally needs, so I try to feed myself as I normally would, even when I don't feel like it.

For those with a history of eating disorders, living in a calorie deficit can put us at a high risk for relapse. When we're going through periods of stress, anxiety, or depression, we may need to ignore our bodies' signals and eat more mechanically for a time. This doesn't mean that you're going backwards - it means you're ensuring you can keep moving forwards.

Whatever stage you're at in your recovery, it's helpful to have a professional guiding you through the transition from meal plan to intuitive eating. It can be tricky to figure out whether your intuition is still influenced by your eating disorder, and an outside eye can help with that.

Wherever you're at, keep going. It's hard work, but you're worth it.

Kelly Boaz - Angie Viets www.angieviets.com

Kelly Boaz, CNP is a Toronto-based Holistic Nutritionist (CNP), specializing in eating disorder recovery and food freedom. After winning her 17-year battle with anorexia, Kelly Boaz turned her life’s focus to helping others do the same. She is also a writer and speaker (TEDx, TDSB), raising eating disorder awareness, and helping people heal their relationship with food and their bodies. You can find out more about Kelly, or get in touch via her website.

How to Become a Love Warrior

Center for Change - Angie Viets - Become a Love Warrior Glennon Doyle Melton

How to Become a Love Warrior


Center for Change

We all have 'junk' in our lives. Unless we get rid of all those things that no longer serve us, we carry them with us everywhere we go. Some of us (unconsciously) choose food, alcohol or drugs as a way to cope, but, eventually, they add even more weight. It’s exhausting. So we choose to numb ourselves further to avoid feeling or confronting our problems. It’s normal to try to avoid stress, but engaging in self-destructive behaviors won't make it go away. It actually makes things worse.

So, what can we do? One of the best approaches is to learn from others with first-hand experience. Glennon Doyle, the New York Times bestselling author of the book Love Warrior, was recently the keynote speaker at the Innovations in Behavioral Healthcare Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. Throughout her talk (as in her other writing), Doyle wears her heart on her sleeve, talking openly about her history of addiction. At first, sobriety is simply not drinking alcohol, she says. But as she learned to be still and not numb herself, her views on sobriety changed. For Doyle, sobriety now has three layers to it.

Sobriety Leads to Truth

First, sobriety is a path that leads to truth. It leads to love. It can even lead to God, which — for some people — means sobriety can be a form of religion. Sobriety is a way to live life on its own terms, feeling the good and the bad instead of numbing ourselves from them. It means not ignoring anything, but facing it, taking things as they come.

Sobriety Brings Our Life Together

Sobriety also becomes connected to our integrity. It’s a way to integrate our outer life with our inner life. There is no longer a divide with our 'junk' on one side and an unrealistic version of ourselves on the other. Once we come to grips with this, merging our outer life and inner life, we can finally be at peace.

“As an alcoholic in recovery, I love knowing I will never have to doubt myself, my instincts, and my power. I love the clarity of sobriety. I love how much I have gotten to know myself and the process of realizing and embracing what a wonderful person I am.” – Emily C. shares on her recovery journey with Heroes in Recovery.

Sobriety Leads to Healthy Boundaries

Sobriety is also a way to protect yourself by creating and setting healthy boundaries. As you learn what triggers cravings, you can learn how to cope with them or even minimize those things in your life so you can reconnect with who you really are. You can choose to say “no” to things that drag you down and instead do things that bring you peace. As you make peace with yourself, a funny thing begins to happen: You can start to love yourself. And that enables you to love others too.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that you throw your whole life wide open on Facebook or Twitter, especially when you’re facing struggles. In those cases, Doyle advises that you share with a few carefully chosen friends and family members, privately. But why, if sobriety is all about transparency? Because when you share a struggle while it’s happening, you aren’t thinking clearly.

Think of it like this, Doyle suggests: The best way to be a “love warrior” is to share from your scars, not your open wounds. It’s great to be authentic and honest, but your open wounds are still fresh. You need to let them heal before you can use them to serve someone else. With time and healing, perspective and wisdom follow.

Sobriety is the key to feeling again and caring for yourself. But be warned: It’s not an instant fix or a one-time event. It’s a way of living you have to choose every single day.

(Watch Glennon Doyle’s conversation with Foundations Chief Marketing Officer Lee Pepper at the IIBH conference here.)

¹ "What is Sobriety?" BlackBearRehab.com, July 24, 2017.

Center for Change - Angie Viets www.angieviets.com

Center for Change. Center for Change was founded on October 28, 1994, by a team of psychologists and a physician with a long history together. On that day, Center for Change began to live out its mission to heal women from the inside out. From those first days, Center for Change began to design the current facility and develop its core treatment programs. A handpicked team of experts forms the backbone of what we do, and they are committed to helping each girl or woman get back their life and restore a sense of freedom that may have been absent for far too long.

The Center is licensed with the State of Utah as a Specialty Psychiatric Hospital, and in April 1998, Center for Change received accreditation from The Joint Commission. This accreditation is limited to top organizations delivering high levels of patient service, reducing patient risk and creating an environment for continuous improvement. The Joint Commission has recognized Center for Change for its high standards of patient care and commitment to ongoing education.

The message of “hope is real” can be found woven through the entirety of the treatment experience at Center for Change. From those early days, our primary goal hasn’t changed: to improve lives. And research proves we’re doing just that. A Center for Change study showed that patients were able to significantly decrease negative behaviors and improve body image and health-management skills.

We understand the dilemma in trying to find the best care available for you or your loved one. So many options can make it difficult to decide which one is right for your situation. At Center for Change, our holistic approach, rigorous medical and clinical program, wide range of levels of care and nurturing environment set us apart. Our extensive team includes seasoned medical, psychological and nutritional experts who have been carefully selected because of their expertise in treating both the outward symptoms and underlying causes of eating disorders. Call us and get your life back.