Posts Tagged “Nutrition”
The Emily Program’s Nutrition Philosophy: A “Can Eat Culture”
Mainstream ideas about nutrition are often rigid and heavily influenced by diet culture. Those with eating disorders often have thoughts and behaviors surrounding food that reflect the rigidity of diet culture.
In order to help our clients with eating disorders nurture a more flexible, balanced, and mindful relationship with food, The Emily Program provides nutrition experiences, education, counsel, and skills—all of which are guided by our “Can Eat” philosophy. But what does this philosophy entail?
When, Why, and How to Use Meal Plans in Eating Disorder Recovery
Individuals with eating disorders frequently employ a meal plan developed with the help of their dietitian. This plan provides structure and supports a person in having the type and amount of food their body needs, divided over consistently timed meals and snacks.
The level of structure provided by a meal plan can vary from a highly detailed exchange-based plan to a more general entrée-sides plan to more of an intuitive eating-based approach. No meal plan style is necessarily better than another; what is important is that it provides the right level of support for that person at that time. As a person’s ability to manage food intake changes, their meal plan is often adjusted as well. Let’s look at some of the different styles of meal plans in a bit more detail.
Nutrition is not a Diet: Promoting Food Acceptance and Inclusivity
Nutrition and dieting are often confused in our culture, each reduced to an “eat this, not that” mentality that sees “healthy” eating as food restriction and deprivation. Think “clean eating” and fasting. Calorie counting and detoxes. Setting certain foods off-limits and strict times for when and when not to eat. Mainstream ideas about nutrition are rigid, often extreme, and heavily influenced by diet culture and our society’s obsession with weight.
But nutrition is not a diet. Dieting, in fact, can be a form of disordered eating—not healthy eating—and contribute to eating disorders of all types. Regardless of the nutritional content of food in any given non-medical diet, the act of dieting often compromises a person’s underlying relationship with food.
At The Emily Program, we approach nutrition from a different, more inclusive perspective. It’s a philosophy where all foods fit, one that removes judgment from food and encourages flexibility and variety with eating. Key to this broader understanding of nutrition is food acceptance and inclusivity. Along with the aspects of eating flexibly and meeting individual needs, this concept is a cornerstone of our approach to nutrition in eating disorder treatment.
Strategies for Grocery Shopping in Eating Disorder Recovery
The average number of products in a grocery store tops 28,000, according to the Food Marketing Institute. It’s enough to overwhelm any shopper. For those with eating disorders, the tremendous selection can further heighten difficulties with food and make grocery shopping an errand that is anything but enjoyable.
Food is a common preoccupation and trigger in eating disorders of all types, including anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and OSFED. Thoughts of food often consume the day, as do rules of what, when, and how much should be eaten. The abundance of food at the grocery store can exacerbate these thoughts, sparking significant anxiety, fear, and distress upon entry. Factor in the store aisles awash with food labels and fellow shoppers commenting on food, and it’s no surprise that the grocery store is a highly stressful environment for those with eating disorders.
In this article, we provide several strategies for grocery shopping in eating disorder recovery. Learn how to navigate the shelves in person or virtually, and ensure you check out with items that serve your recovery.
Clean Eating’s Dirty Secret
March is National Nutrition Month. For those of us who are dietitians and nutritionists, National Nutrition Month is typically a time to ask folks to think a bit more about food, nutrition, healthy eating, etc. So, it might be a little odd that I am choosing to write about the possible dangers of paying too much attention to the food you eat!
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe that what you eat—when, how, and with whom you eat—can make a tremendous difference in your physical and mental health, as well as your overall enjoyment of life. However, we are seeing a disturbing trend, particularly online, that promotes strict adherence to a rigid set of food rules as the path to health and moral purity. This is the world of “clean eating.”
The concept of “eating clean” has its origins in the early days of alternative medicine. People would become obsessed with obtaining health and curing disease through the strident adherence to various dietary strategies. Dr. Steven Bratman, an alternative medicine physician at the time, noted that many of his more diet-focused patients were “inadvertently harming themselves psychologically through excessive focus on food.” Also, their “exuberant pursuit of physical health had spawned a rigid, fearful and self-punishing lifestyle that caused more harm than good.” He created a name for this hyperfocus on food and obsession with eating the “right” food—“Orthorexia Nervosa” (1).
The Dangers of Dieting
Diet culture wreaks havoc all year long, compromising our joy, peace of mind, health, and trust in our bodies. And now, as in years past, it has hit its peak season. Dieting’s unfounded claims and empty promises show up with renewed energy after the holidays, as if right on schedule every year.
With the ring of the new year comes diet talk suggesting that we should “get back on track” after holiday eating or “jumpstart” the year with weight loss resolutions. Cleanses and detoxes and fasts galore, the clamor implies that we must change our bodies with the turn of the calendar. It sets an expectation that controlling our bodies will lead to happier, healthier lives via “new year, new me” goals.
But weight-loss dieting is a misguided approach to happiness and health. Not only is it ineffective for most people, but it can actually cause harm to our bodies.