#nutrition-counseling

How Much Protein Do I REALLY Need?

How Much Protein Do I REALLY Need?

Our diet-obsessed culture has hijacked protein and put it on a pedestal as a nutrient that will promote weight loss and help us eat less of those “bad” carbs and fats. The result has been fad diets that are high in protein. 

This is How You Can Become the CEO of Your Body (and Life)

This is How You Can Become the CEO of Your Body (and Life)

Reframing is an important part of therapy and can help one to look past what the eating disorder has shaped in terms of nutrition, body image, and exercise.

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

angieviets

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?

 
Becca.png

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.

Good and Bad Don't Apply to Eating

Karen R. Koenig - Good and Bad Don't Apply to Eating

Good and Bad Don't Apply to Eating

Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW

Sometimes we can’t help overhearing conversations, especially when someone is talking really loudly on their cell phone, as if they’re alone in the room. That happened to me recently, and I was dumbstruck over what I was hearing. A man was telling someone about an upcoming doctor’s appointment and this is what I heard: “My doctor is going to be really mad at me because I’ve been really bad. I’m eating all the wrong things when I promised him I’d be good. Man, have I been bad.”

If I hadn’t seen that this speaker was a middle-age guy, I would have sworn I was listening to a child between 6 and 12. That’s the age when we’re often preoccupied with wishing to be good and fearing being bad. That’s the age when we don’t have a huge vocabulary and use words like “good” and “bad” because we don’t have better, more appropriate words readily available in our vocabulary.

At the same time as I felt sorry for this man who truly sounded fearful of what his doctor might say to him about his “bad” eating, I had several other thoughts and feelings as well. Why is this man so worried about what his doctor will think of him rather than feel disappointed in himself that he wasn’t eating more healthfully? Would his doctor actually use the word “bad,” as if he was talking to a kid misbehaving? If this man promised his doctor that he’d be “good,” what was the purpose of such a promise? And what did the doctor say to his patient promising something?

Two intense feelings overshadowed all my others. I was angry that we’re still stuck in this good/bad food mentality which makes us feel and sound like children and gets us nowhere in feeding ourselves more nutritiously and intuitively. And, I was frightened that maybe doctors were fostering these beliefs and making a moral judgment on someone’s eating by implying goodness or badness. I couldn’t imagine doctors actually telling patients that they’re “good” or “bad,” but maybe I’m out of touch.  

I will keep repeating this message as long as I continue to hear these words applied to eating: Good and bad are moral terms. Eating a salad doesn’t make you good and eating cheesecake and Fritos doesn’t make you bad. How and what you feed yourself doesn’t make you more or less of a valuable person and says nothing about your integrity or ethics. Honesty, bravery, fair-mindedness, and loyalty are aspects of morality. Feeding yourself is a self-care and nutritional issue and, though you may treat yourself well or poorly, even that doesn’t make you a good or bad person.

So, could all of you who are reading this please take a pledge, on your own behalf and for the benefit of others, to avoid applying these words to your eating or fitness behaviors? And, if a health care provider uses them to describe you or your behavior based on your efforts in these arenas, please give them this blog to read and tell them about my new book, "Helping Patients Outsmart Overeating: Psychological Strategies for Doctors and Health Care Providers."

Karen R. Koenig, Angie Viets

Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSWis an international, award-winning author of seven books on eating, weight and body image, a psychotherapist with 30 years of experience, a health educator, and a popular blogger. Her expertise is in eating psychology and helping over-eaters and binge-eaters improve their self-care and become “normal” eaters. She lives and practices in Sarasota, Florida.
Visit her website

Sleep: An Essential Yet Overlooked Component of Recovery?

If you’re not getting enough high-quality sleep then you are missing out on a huge component of recovery.

Our culture has a funny attitude towards sleep. We love it (because it feels good!) but we also act like it’s a weakness. People boast about how they only need 4 hours of sleep to function as if that’s a noble thing. You don’t hear anyone bragging about how they make sure to get a solid 9 hours of sleep every night. It’s seen as “indulgent” or “lazy.”  

Is it lazy to have lower levels of inflammation in your body?
Is it lazy to be more productive at work?
Is it lazy to retain information when you’re studying?
Is it lazy to lower your risk of cancer and Alzheimer's disease?
Is it lazy to let your body repair itself and increase your muscle strength?
Is it lazy to be more creative?

I don’t think so. Sleep does all of these things.  

The irony is that people who don’t sleep often make it sound like they’re using their “extra” waking hours doing “productive” things like working or exercising. What they aren’t acknowledging is that they’re shooting themselves in the foot because the things they are trying to accomplish are infinitely harder without proper sleep.

What does any of this have to do with eating disorder recovery?  

Everything.

The initial phase of recovery involves stabilizing the eating disorder behaviors and restoring physical health. Even if you can’t see or feel it, your body has internal repairs to do from being inadequately nourished. This is true whether you have anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder or anything in between.  

The recipe for these repairs is nutrition + sleep. The repairs require the substrate of food and lots of sleep. In fact, when you're sleeping is when the actual action happens. There is a shift in your hormones when you are in deep sleep that promotes growth and repair.  

Our best shot at deep sleep happens between 10 pm and 2 am. That’s when humans naturally fall into the deepest sleep based on our circadian rhythm and the earth’s light and darkness patterns.  

Tips for getting great sleep

  • Have a bedtime routine - Create a routine that lets your brain and body know that you are winding down and getting ready to sleep.  
  • Go to bed at a consistent time each night - Your body needs to have a predictable bed time to make falling asleep easy. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even weekends.  Sleeping in will throw off your bedtime schedule the next night.
  • Have a fluid curfew - Cut yourself off liquids about 2 hours before bed time to give your bladder plenty of time to empty before bed. We don’t want you waking up because you have to pee.
  • While you’re at it, have a caffeine curfew too - Everyone’s body processes caffeine at different rates. Regardless, caffeine stays in our system for hours and even if you don’t feel the buzz, it can still be impacting your sleep. A good rule of thumb is to cut yourself off no later than 2 pm.  I personally have been shooting for noon as my cutoff time.
  • Avoid screens in the bedroom - The glow from your TV, cell phone, tablet or computer makes your brain think that it’s light outside. And light = awake. It interferes with your body’s natural production of melatonin, a hormone that is higher at night and helps us sleep. And don’t think that taking a melatonin supplement will counteract it because it doesn’t. Your body gets desensitized to the melatonin supplements after a while anyway. Try reading a fiction book before bed - something that gets you out of your own head and doesn’t have you thinking too hard.
  • Keep your room dark and cool - We sleep best when there is no light (not even a night light), and when our environment is cool. In fact, studies have shown that the optimal sleep temperature for humans is 62-68 degrees F. That’s pretty chilly to a lot of people - and if you are struggling with body temperature regulation due to the eating disorder, you may need it a little warmer than this.  

There are tons more things you can do to help yourself sleep better, but these tips are a great place to start. If you are having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep through the night, talk to your treatment providers and they can help you figure out what’s going on. It’s common for people with eating disorders to also struggle with anxiety or insomnia, and there are lots of things that can be done to help with that. 

Give yourself the gift of great sleep. You’ll be shocked at how much better you feel. 

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.

What to Do When Your Eating Disorder Throws a Tantrum?

Photo Credit:  J  ulian Santa Ana

Photo Credit: Julian Santa Ana

Does the eating disorder ever kick and scream inside your head, demanding that you obey and making you feel like crap if you don’t?  

It’s like living with a toddler in your head.

This rings even truer for me now that I have an actual toddler who is throwing tantrums.  During a recent tantrum, I was sitting there thinking about what to do and it went something like this:

-What is he upset about?
-Can something be done to help?
-Should I give him what he wants, or should I set a boundary and say no?
-This is really hard.  
-I notice that my body is really activated right now - my heart is beating faster, my stomach hurts, and I just want to spring into action.
-I am feeling angry, frustrated, helpless and sad.  
-This is totally like when the ED throws a tantrum!

The short vs. long-term dilemma

When the eating disorder throws a tantrum, you basically have 2 options: 

a) You could give in to the eating disorder's demands and quiet the voice now.  

b) You could say no to the eating disorder and suffer the wrath of those loud thoughts, and probably feel crummy about yourself for a while.  

The problem with choice “a” is that by giving in you have reinforced the behavior. It’s like buying the tantruming kid the toy he’s pleading for. The message conveyed is that throwing a tantrum gets him what he wants. Same thing with the eating disorder. By giving in you have reinforced that neural pathway, which becomes more and more automatic over time.  

The challenge with choice “b” is that it’s going to be difficult right now. And that’s really hard.  Just like when my son tantrums, it’s painful as a mother to watch your child cry and feel upset.  But I know that in the long-run he’s better off with the boundaries. It teaches him to work through the discomfort, rather than expecting to always get his way.  

An important point

What you are doing when you choose to tell the eating disorder no – in the face of a tantrum – is very important.  

You are showing yourself that you CAN work through the discomfort.  

You are also showing yourself that you CAN stay the course in recovery, even (especially) when the eating disorder doesn’t want you to.  

Ultimately this is what it takes to recover. Those boundaries are there to keep you safe. The eating disorder behaviors are self-destructive and at times dangerous. So even though the boundary doesn’t feel good in the moment, it is ultimately protective.  

How to take care of yourself while the eating disorder tantrums

It is important to give yourself lovingkindness while the eating disorder is throwing its tantrum.  

Start by noticing that the tantrum is happening and that you are actively making the choice to disobey the eating disorder.  

Give yourself compassion for how hard it is. You might tell yourself, This is really hard right now.  It sucks that I am going through this. I trust that it will eventually pass. In the meantime, I am going to be kind to myself, and firm against the eating disorder.

Be intentional about your next move. Make an empowered decision about what you are going to do in the face of the tantrum. For example, if the eating disorder is telling you to skip lunch, you could make a plan to eat lunch with a friend for accountability.  

Ride the wave. The tantrum will be like a wave that comes and goes. It might crest multiple times before it completely passes. You can’t prevent the waves from happening, but you can learn how to ride them. It may help to distract yourself with something kind or productive.  However, don’t forget to check back in with yourself later to make sure that the eating disorder isn’t being sneaky and working in other ways.  

You will find that with practice, your tantrum-resisting muscle will grow stronger. You will become more and more aware of when the tantrum is happening, and you’ll feel confident in your ability to respond in a way that is both firm and compassionate.  

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.

Learning to Trust Your Body Again

Source: Getty Images

Source: Getty Images

Think about the eating-related thoughts that go through your mind on any given day:
“You shouldn’t eat that, it’s too high in sugar.”  
“You can’t be hungry already, it’s not time to eat for another 2 hours.”  
“That has waaaaay too many calories in it.  You don’t deserve to eat it.”  

Notice a common theme among them?  

It’s the overall distrust of your body and your appetite. The eating disorder makes you believe that your own body is working against you and that if you listened to its signals you’d be fat, unhealthy, and completely unworthy of love. Ouch, pretty harsh, huh?

As Geneen Roth, author of multiple books on compulsive overeating, dieting and body image, has said: 

"Your body is the vehicle for your spirit and your soul. It is the piece of the universe you've been given to tend, to care, to cherish. Without it, you couldn't sense or taste or touch or feel."

Why do so many of us distrust our appetites? We’ve been taught to believe that if we ate what we wanted we’d eat ourselves into oblivion. We’ve been taught to fear food and to fear our appetite. The “war on obesity” has become a war on our bodies. Fear of becoming fat has made us afraid of food and afraid of our desire for food.

Sarah’s story (name and details changed for privacy)

Sarah is a client who I first encountered well into her recovery. She was no longer starving herself or abusing her body with purging or excessive exercise. Yet she was still plagued by food and her body. “I never feel full when I try to eat normally. It’s as if I could just keep eating and eating,” she told me. “The only time I feel full is when I’ve binged and am stuffed, and then I feel so ashamed and guilty and disgusting that I want to purge. Those urges still come up sometimes.”  

Sarah was still disconnected from her body. Sure, she was eating at regular intervals throughout the day, but it still had very little to do with her actual appetite cues. It was more of a prescribed regimen for eating. Thus, she ate pretty much the same thing every day because she knew how it would make her feel, and she trusted that it was the “right” amount for her body to maintain its current weight. Any deviation from this made her anxious and uncomfortable, which made holidays and social gatherings hard. It was also hard when she had a food craving for something out of the norm.  

The rupture of trust

How does this distrust of the body happen? Usually, it starts in childhood or adolescence. We are born with a natural trust of our appetite - babies cry when they are hungry, and stop when they’ve had enough milk. Toddlers and small children tend to do the same with food.  

We can learn a lot from children when it comes to eating. They will eat when they are hungry, and will stop when they aren’t. The amount they eat will vary from day to day - some days they eat a ton, and other days hardly at all. That’s because they are tuned into their bodies and trust their body’s signals.  

At some point, however, well-meaning adults interfere. They start trying to control and dictate the child’s eating by saying things like, “Eat your vegetables and then you can have dessert,” or, “You don’t need all that sugar, it’s bad for you.”  

Yes, the adult is trying to help the child eat a balanced diet and to be healthy, but it’s backfiring. Because the underlying, unspoken message is that the child shouldn’t trust what their body has said. The appetite cues should be ignored and suppressed. Wanting something sweet is seen as bad, and the dessert must be “earned” through the holy grail of vegetables.  

Then look at the broader culture we live in, with terms like portion control, detox, gluten-free, dairy-free, fat-free, sugar-free…we’re afraid of food and afraid of our appetites for it.  

Fear-based eating is taking the joy out of food. We need to stop being so afraid of things like sugar, fat and salt. Reality is, they make food taste good. AND foods with sugar, fat and salt do still make a nutritional contribution to our diet. By definition, nutrients are something that the body must have, and sugar is just a carbohydrate, which is a macronutrient along with fat, and salt is an essential micronutrient. That’s how your body sees it when the food is digested and absorbed into your blood stream.  

Rebuilding trust with our body

It’s time to love food again, and to enjoy foods that taste good. Eating is a sensory experience, from the sight to the smell to the texture to the taste of the food. We experience eating with our whole body. And the food is literally the fuel that keeps us alive. Not something to be afraid of - something to be cherished!

The wise Ellyn Satter, a fellow dietitian and eating expert, has said: 

"Go to the table hungry, pay attention while eating, and stop when you are satisfied, knowing that you can come back and eat again when you are hungry later. Eating is meant to be enjoyable."

It takes time to repair and rebuild trust with ourselves. The eating disorder is invested in you distrusting your body and will continue to try and convince you of the ways in which you can’t trust yourself.  

As your True Self gets stronger and you gather more and more attuned eating experiences, you’ll start to see “proof” that your appetite can be trusted. As for Sarah, the client I mentioned earlier, she was able to do this. It took time, patience and persistence. Every eating experience was an opportunity to take a leap of faith that her body knew what it was doing and would guide her appropriately. Sure, sometimes she made mistakes, and sometimes she questioned if she really could trust her body, but over time she was able to see that her appetite was truly calibrated to her body’s needs.  

Some tips for rebuilding trust:

  • Have regular, consistent eating times throughout the day. Your body needs to know and trust that it will get fed again in a few hours. 
  • Keep snacks on hand in case you get hungry sooner than anticipated. Your body also needs to trust that you will feed it during those unexpected times that it gets hungry.
  • Include a wide variety of foods. Keeping food interesting and varied will help your body get all of its nutritional needs met, and it will help you feel satisfied by the variety of flavors and textures of the food.
  • Eat without distractions. Pay attention to your food, like a toddler intently eating and savoring the food off her plate. Paying attention to your food will also foster paying attention to your appetite, and you’ll more readily notice when you are feeling satisfied. 
  • Treat your body with compassion. You will make mistakes with eating. It’s a fact of life. Even normal eaters do it. You’ll sometimes under eat, and sometimes overeat. Notice this sensation without judgment, and give yourself compassion for the discomfort you are experiencing. Let your body guide you on what and when to eat again. 

Process, not perfection

There’s no such thing as perfect eating, so don’t even bother trying. Disappointing for you perfectionists out there, I know! But also potentially freeing? It allows you to experiment with your eating without judgment or fear of failure. Most importantly, it allows you to experience the joy of eating again while trusting that your body will guide you.

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.