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Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder

I specialize in the treatment of eating disorders and it’s such an important topic to discuss.

We’ve all heard of anorexia and bulimia, but did you know that binge eating disorder is the most common of them all?  What exactly is an eating disorder anyway?  How do I know if I have one?

Eating disorders include extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues.  It often includes preoccupation with thoughts of food, weight, dieting, and abnormal eating habits.  Eating disorders are serious emotional and physical problems that can have life-threatening consequences adults and children.

Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder are all very different, yet very similar to one another.

Anorexia: Restriction of food intake to a very low body weight, coupled with severe body disturbance

Bulimia: Regular consumption of large amounts of food, followed by an intense “loss of control”, followed by purging.  Purging includes vomiting, laxatives, restriction, and overexercise.

Binge Eating Disorder: Frequent episodes of eating large amounts of food (usually feeling uncontrolled), followed by shame and disgust.

But guess what?  There is a whole other world out there of “Eating Disorders Otherwise Not Specified” where the thoughts and feelings about food are there, but what’s going on doesn’t fit into a “category” and is more “disordered eating” rather than an “eating disorder”.  It’s important to realize this is just as serious as an eating disorder and needs treatment as well.

I think Renfrew’s test (click here) is a great tool to assess whether or not your thoughts and feelings about food are harmful to your well-being in any way.

If my client comes to me with a diagnosis of an eating disorder (or suspicion), I try to guide them to resources (counseling, and behavior changes), as well as a nutrition plan using a non-diet approach.  So many of my clients have mixed messages in their heads about nutrition.  I act like a guide, setting you up with information and support to succeed in reaching your nutrition goals.  Here are 5 tips for success:

1.  Sounds ironic but have a “flexible” meal plan:  You are not going to find this plan on the internet!  Everyone has different needs, different food preferences, different food “fears” and a unique style of eating.  Also, everyone has different jobs, different families, and different daily schedule.  The only way you are going to find a meal plan that works for you is to see a Registered Dietitian.  A Registered Dietitian will take all of these factors and come up with something individual for YOU.  A meal plan is a tool used to teach someone the right amount of food for them as an individual.  Together, we will assess where you are today and where you need to be.

2.  Learn nutrition facts vs. myths:  “Carbs are fattening…”, “I can’t have fruit after dinner…”, “Peanut butter is bad for me…”, “Since I had chocolate after lunch, I can eat whatever I want for the rest of the day…”, “If I don’t exercise 6x/week, exercise is pointless…” <– guess what?  These are all myths!  I find people with any eating disorder behavior are sometimes what I like to call “Chronic Dieters”, where they have run into lots of nutrition “rules” throughout their lifetime.  A Registered Dietitian will help you learn the real nutrition facts vs. myths.

3.  Monitor your feelings with a journal and write down your food choices.  When a person has an eating disorder, sometimes certain feelings like depression, anxiety, boredom, loneliness, avoidance, and/or happiness (yes even happiness!) will lead to overeating or undereating.  The first way to “figure this out” is to write down your food in a journal, and try to also write down your feelings when you are eating.  Pay attention to any times where your food intake is below or above what you consider “normal”.  This exercise will help you to start to connect the dots!  A team of healthcare professionals will take it from there…

4.  Use my hunger/satiety scale:  My clients are always given my “cheat sheet”- my hunger scale ranging from 1-10 to identify feelings of hunger/neutral/full.  Ideally you want to start eating at a place between 3-4, where your hunger starts to build up… and stop at a 6-7, where your satisfaction kicks in and you no longer need any more food to feel satisfied.  People with eating disorders may not have the same feelings of hunger/satiety (sometimes the “eating disorder voice” will kick in and go against what your body is telling you)- therefore trying to pay attention to your hunger/satiety cues will help YOUR VOICE be louder than ED.  This can also be called mindful eating.

5.  Surround yourself with support:  Getting help for an eating disorder is not easy, and recovery isn’t any easier.  Anyone struggling with any food issue (not just eating disorders!) needs the help of a team of professionals, as well as support from their friends, family, and community (whoever that may be).

Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from Eat With Knowledge!!

Holidays are not just about family, friends, and being thankful… it’s also about the food!  So how can we honor our bodies this time of year and be thankful for a healthy relationship with food?  Here are some of my favorite tips for Thanksgiving.

1.  Be mindful of what you’re really craving at the table. There are no right or wrong answers! For me, I savor the homemade food, and leave the store-bought stuff behind.  My plate is full of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and lots of homemade bread and butter! I tend to say no to the store-bought mac-n-cheese or appetizers ahead of the main meal. When it comes to dessert my plate is always filled with pie!! As much as I love ice cream, I usually say no because I have that all year.

2.  Be intuitive.  Allow your body to tell you when to stop eating, not when you think you should or when the food is gone from the plate.  Listen to your internal cues and try to be aware of the hunger/satiety cues your body gives you.  Chances are you WILL overeat at this meal but make it feel good and not too stuffed that you feel sick.

3.  1 & 2 are always easier when you eat a balanced breakfast and lunch before the big dinner splurge- you won’t be setting yourself up for a binge if you’re not absolutely starving by the time you get to the big holiday meal.

4.  Make choices that work for you and your body.  Bring something healthy to the party if you want to!  And on the flip side, if you want to indulge go for it with no guilt and shame!

5.  The most important rule- Thanksgiving is about the family, friends, and people in your life you are thankful for.  Can you add being thankful for your body and good relationship with food to the list?

Welcome to Eat With Knowledge!

We live in a world where nutrition information is everywhere, especially around “dieting”. It seems like there are “diet” messages everywhere we turn, potentially hidden in disguise! “Diets” can be addressed as such, like “Whole 30”, “Paleo”, “Weight Watchers”, or can be “clean eating” or “healthy eating”.  The problem is that diets can lead people into a cycle of restrictive eating and overeating, leading to a lot of guilt and shame.

diet

Diets emphasize too much thinking with our “head” rather than trusting our bodies when it comes to food.  95% of diets fail but leave people thinking that it’s their fault. It’s not you, it’s the diet!

This blog will allow you to come to a reliable resource for nutrition information when you might not be sure where else to go.  As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in eating disorders, I will not put you on a diet!!! I have exceptional training and education in food and nutrition and know what works for eating disorder treatment, as well as chronic dieting.  The answer is intuitive eating but what that means is different for every client.  I want to pass along my passion for nutrition and share nutrition knowledge with you!  I will provide my readers with:

  • Tips on disordered eating, eating disorders, chronic dieting, and intuitive eating
  • Topic posts about weight concerns, emotional eating, women’s health, and having a healthy relationship with food.
  • Nutritious recipes that are fast, easy, and flavorful
  • The latest research on nutrition topics

At Eat With Knowledge, my vision is simple: “Feel Fabulous About Food!”  At Eat With Knowledge, my mission is to:

-To respect all bodies and be weight-inclusive

-Enhance your physical and mental health

-Be your guide when it comes to meal planning and behavior modification

-Show you how flexibility works with food and activity

-Support you with your goals to help you feel fabulous about food

Want to ditch dieting and feel fabulous about food?

Not sure where to start?

When you sign up you'll get one of my favorite resources to give to clients: the hunger and fullness scale. Use this scale to tune in to what's right for you and your body. Or for dieticians, use this with your clients!

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