I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’ve certainly seen a lot more “new year’s resolution” type of advice in 2021 than in previous years.
I know the diet industry always ramps up marketing for “the new year”, but in this current environment… it just feels outright sleazy. With so many people vulnerable from the chaos of 2020, it’s no surprise that mental health concerns + diet culture + stress = one big recipe for disordered eating.
Over the past few months, Eat With Knowledge has seen a rise in eating disorders in our community.
We have had more clients seek treatment from us than ever before. We actually had to start a waitlist for new clients in January while we searched for a new dietitian to join the practice! I’m so excited to announce our new dietitian next week and (finally!!) open up our waitlist for appointments.
In the spirit of the new year, I wanted to pass on the best nutrition advice from the Eat With Knowledge team.
Here are our top tips for healing your relationship with food:
- Your relationship with food may be more important for your health than the actual nutrition you get from food.
- Allow all foods that you like to eat. Give yourself unconditional permission to enjoy satisfying, comforting foods.
- Work towards variety with food. Try to maintain a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and fiber for the 3 main meals each day (that are usually recommended BUT you may find another way of eating is better for you!).
- Recognize and honor your hunger. Hunger is a signal from your body that it needs nutrition! Giving yourself adequate nutrition at regular intervals allows your body’s metabolism to work the way it should.
- Feel your fullness. If you are coming from a yo-yo dieting pattern, you may not recognize the need to stop eating until you are overly stuffed. Begin with being present and try to feel how it feels to be “comfortably full” and not overly stuffed.
- Seek satisfaction. When you allow yourself to eat what you truly crave, you feel so much more content. Honor your taste preferences and notice how they play into satiety.
- Engage all your senses. When we eat with our senses (sight, smell, touch, and taste!!) the more connected we will be to our fullness and satisfaction, thereby being less likely to eat in a mindless way.
- Practice body awareness. Take a few moments a few times each day to check in with the physical sensations of your body. Think of them as guideposts. Allow for the awareness without judgment and just notice what is going on in your physical body.
- Practice mindfulness. Recognize that you do not need to attach to every thought. If an unwanted thought arises, imagine letting it go/challenging it with a neutral thought.
- Develop distress tolerance. Learn that you are strong enough to tolerate feeling your feelings. You can cultivate the ability to sit in the uncomfortable without having to rely on a negative coping mechanism to get you through.
- When learning to tolerate distress, sometimes we DO need a coping mechanism to get us through. Begin experimenting with what will help you manage difficult situations or emotions, so you do not need to engage with eating disordered behaviors.
- Connect with your body in a joyful, purposeful way. What activity feels good to you and that you’re able to enjoy?
- Move your body if you’re able to do so. Whether you enjoy a walk or a (COVID safe) exercise class, give yourself the opportunity to feel the endorphins build up during movement.
- Practice self-care. Self-care is primary care. Sprinkle in opportunities to connect your body, mind, and spirit. It can be 5 minutes of deep breathing, journaling, drinking a cup of cocoa, calling a friend, anything that makes you happy. Know that self-care is also hard stuff too.
- Cultivate joy – find what lights you up and DO THAT!
- Remember that your body is an instrument, not an ornament. Repeat that often. Your body houses your soul and is the vehicle that allows you to move through the world.
- Create a gratitude journal for the functionality of your body. Write down the ways your body shows up for you each and every day.
- Stay appropriately hydrated. When we are working to discern our hunger and fullness cues, we want to maintain appropriate hydration so as to allow for clarity in what our bodies are asking for.
- Cope with your emotions. Know that ALL emotions are valid and “emotional eating” is a non-shameful tool in your toolbelt of resources to take care of yourself. Recognize when your “emotional eating” is really “binge eating” and seek support to have a positive relationship with emotional eating.
- Surround yourself with positive anti-diet environments. Change up your social media, read an anti-diet book (here are many to choose from!), listen to podcasts (this interview with Dan Harris and Evelyn Tribole was one of my favorite podcasts ever), and commit to taking down diet culture.
If you need help with any of your nutrition and health goals or working through this list, the Eat With Knowledge team is here for you! If you would like an appointment for March, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to see if we’re a good fit!
Jennifer is a Registered Dietitian and the owner of Eat With Knowledge in Nyack, NY. She is on a mission to help people heal from diets, and find peace and balance with their food choices. She leads a team of dietitians who support the philosophy, “Feel Fabulous about Food!”