Tag Archive | Food is Fuel

Top Ten Strategies to Use at Meal and Snack Times

 

Until you are fairly far along in the recovery process, you may need varying degrees of strategies to help with your eating. Ultimately, you will be able to achieve a more peaceful relationship with food and your body, but until then, here are ten strategies to use. Also remember that you are very vulnerable to the “voice” of your eating disorder in the moments before, during, and after you eat, so mentally “arm” yourself for the possibility of hearing negative, critical, and catastrophizing statements during these times. Take your power back!

 

 

1.  Write down and use positive healthy statements for eating times, such as “I am going to do what is best for my recovery at this meal, no matter what negative thoughts I have.” “I need this food to help my body stay strong.” “By eating this meal, I am helping to gain clarity.” “There is no such thing as a perfect meal, but I will do the best I can to eat well.” “I need food for my organs to function at 100%.” “Even if I eat more than I set out to eat, I will not beat myself up because I am doing the best I can.” “Nothing bad can possibly happen to me by eating this meal right now. Only good things can result from giving my body nourishment.” “I will not base what my nutritional needs are on the negative feelings I have about my body. I will eat what I know to be the best meal for my overall health, and my psychological well-being.

2.  Try not to go longer than 4 waking hours without food. The body is designed to be fed at regular intervals and going too long without food may create heightened food obsessions, cravings, and extremes in hunger. By sticking to a fairly regular schedule of eating, you will be better able to think clearly and tune into your body’s needs better.

3.  Make sure you are in a calm emotional place when you sit down to eat. Eating while upset, angry, anxious, or in any negative emotional state can alter your hunger and fullness cues, and increase eating disordered thoughts, urges, and behaviors.

4.  If you need meal time support from a family member, friend, or other loved one, ask for it before you sit down to eat. Once you sit down with food in front of you, you are already too vulnerable. Sometimes a supportive person can distract you from the negative eating disordered voice and can help make the meal/snack a more enjoyable experience overall.

5.  There’s a saying that goes “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Try to think about what your day is going to look like in terms of schedule, activities, places you will be, and people you will be with. Think about, and plan for how you will meet your nutritional needs. You don’t have to obsessively plan everything you will eat, but be prepared for the day. Clients often say to me “I didn’t have time to eat this food or that food.” “I didn’t have time to prepare my food.” “I didn’t have xxx food in the house, so I just grabbed something at the last minute.” “I didn’t know what I wanted so I didn’t eat.” “I didn’t have anything I liked to I just ate random stuff.” “I ran short on time so I just grabbed something and ate it in my car.” These are excuses, justifications that are not putting recovery as the top priority. Decisions like these will ultimately set your recovery back. Recovery must come first, and having a plan to eat well, and often, must be priority #1.  (I am very busy during the week, and I never ever go to work or anywhere without either bringing plenty of food with me or knowing where I can buy a very satisfying meal/snack. Planning to be well fed reduces my anxiety and assures me that I will be able to meet my needs as well as I possibly can.

6.  Try your best not to multitask while eating. Even if you need distractions while eating, try to be as present as possible. The more mindful you are, the more you can be attuned to what your food needs are. Try not to eat while driving, watching TV, on the computer, or working?

7.  Make sure the meal/snack “counts” psychologically. Too often, people with eating disorders make food choices based on rigid rules, not based on what they like. If you are on a meal plan, or if you are working on intuitive eating, choose foods that appeal to you. Choose foods that you are in the mood for, not foods that you think you “should” have. Eating the same exact foods every day, eating by strict rules, eliminating certain food groups or nutrients, eating less than you know is best for you, are all forms of restriction and will potentially backfire sooner or later.

8.  Make sure you are working on incorporating a wide variety of foods and all the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate, and fat). The human body has a need for all the nutrients, to work optimally. It is best to have at least three or four food groups at meal time, and at least two food groups at snack time. By having a variety of food groups, and having foods that appeal to you psychologically (strategy #7), your body will be well fueled and you will feel satisfied. By accomplishing both physical and psychological satiety, you will also get food off your mind a bit easier, obsessions may diminish, and your mind will be freed up to focus on your passions and other pleasures. Remember though, that your eating disordered “voice” will try to beat you up for eating foods that give you pleasure. Tell that negative voice that by eating foods you like, you are getting stronger and closer to recover

9.  Eat sitting down at a table or counter, with as pleasing of surroundings as possible. Use appealing tableware, tablecloth or placemat, and utensils. It is optimal to have all the conditions possible to have a pleasant, mindful meal. You could even make your own special placemat, bowl, or plate. Try not to eat standing up. Food eaten while multitasking or standing up doesn’t “count” psychologically, sets you up for feeling dissatisfied, and increases urges to crave more food.

10.  If one meal or snack doesn’t go well, or if you have used an eating disordered behavior at any time during the day, don’t write the entire day off as a “failure”. At the very next time you need to eat, in order to maintain your structure, you have the opportunity to turn things around. Try to never, ever, end the day with an eating disordered behavior or disordered meal. Make sure you end your day doing something positive with your food. There is no stronger statement you can make regarding recovery than going to bed having done the best you could at the end of the day.

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Back to School: Recovery Focused!

For all of you who are going back to school – middle school, high school, college – there are some challenges that you may face. You want to be “armed” for these challenges and not let them hurt your recovery. For those of you who are parents of children, adolescents, or young adults with eating disorders, the following information will be helpful for you as well.

Summer, for many individuals, is a time of less structure, less pressure, and less exposure to the stress from peers. For students, it may involve a summer job, camp, vacation, a summer class or two, or just relaxing with friends and family.  Then, toward the end of August and the beginning of September, all that swiftly changes. Academic and social pressures begin again. Perhaps there is a change of school entirely, such as the change from middle school to high school, or high school to college. College students may leave home for the first time or begin living in an apartment, dorm, fraternity or sorority house.

Whichever the case is, transition back to school is a time of challenges for many students. It is especially challenging for those with eating disorders.

Structure, on the one hand, is very good for people with eating disorders. Getting back to the structure of a school day where there are specific times for specific academic and extracurricular activities, can be very comforting. The distractions that school provides, as well as the focus on new subjects, sports, and other skills, can also take the focus off the eating disorder and provide the sufferer with some relief.

On the other hand, going back to school can elicit some unforeseen stressors that can exacerbate an existing eating disorder. First and foremost, the anticipation of school (or leaving home to go away to college) will undoubtedly create anxiety. The fear of the unknown is a powerful source of anxiety. Social anxiety can also escalate. Anxiety can also relate to academics, lockers, teachers, making friends, and  living arrangements (at college). And, of course, there is tremendous anxiety related to body image, clothing, and food. I’ll highlight some of the specific stressors in my next few posts, and try to offer some solutions. Ultimately, it is important to be acutely aware that “back to school” time is a transition that individuals with eating disorders may struggle with. The issues are very real and must be handled with care and sensitivity.

The first topic I will discuss is “the lunch table” at school.

A number of my student clients are fearful of the lunch table. If you are a parent, you may be thinking “What types of stress could the lunch table create?”

Stressors that middle school and high school clients experience at the lunch table are:

  1. What should they put their lunch in – paper bag or lunch box (more typical in middle school)? Believe it or not, this decision causes an enormous amount of stress. They fear that if they put their lunch in the “wrong” container, they will get made fun of.
  2. Should they bring lunch, or buy lunch? This decision is stressful because they want to feel comfortable with what they eat for lunch, yet if their friends are buying lunch, they want to fit in. Also, there are usually lines of students waiting to buy lunch. Standing on line may be uncomfortable for the eating disordered student, as well as waiting on line creates a shorter amount of actual eating time. This can be challenging for the student who takes a bit longer to eat.
  3. If they bring lunch, what should it be and how much should they bring? Many individuals in recovery are on a meal plan that requires specific amounts of food that must be eaten at each meal. There is an enormous amount of conversation that occurs at the lunch table regarding what everyone eats. When a student eats anything that appears “different” in the eyes of anyone else at the lunch table, there is the potential for unwelcomed attention on the sufferer and their food choices. This is especially challenging when the sufferer is eating “more” than the others at the table.
  4. For female students especially, there is excessive “diet talk” at the lunch table. Comments such as “I am not eating carbs anymore.” Or “I only eat XX amount of calories a day.” Or “I have to lose XX pounds by Thanksgiving.” Or “I only eat pretzels at lunch.” This talk can trigger someone with an eating disorder, even when they are doing well.
  5. During the first few days of school, one of the biggest stressors my student clients experience regarding the lunch table is “where do I sit?” When an individual with an eating disorder has social anxiety and/or has only a few friends, and there is no comfortable person for him/her to sit with at lunch, he/she may experience an enormous amount of anxiety and may try to skip the lunch room altogether.

What are the ways to cope with these lunch table stressors?

  1. As far as the container you bring your food in, for the first few days, bring it in a paper bag (unless you know that the other students are using lunch boxes). Look around and see what everyone else brings their lunch in, and then you can re-assess whether the bag is the best choice or a lunch box. I’ve never heard of anyone getting teased about bringing lunch in a plain brown bag. Remember though, if you don’t have an ice pack in the bag, you shouldn’t bring anything that is perishable (lunch meats, fish, dairy, etc).
  2. Regarding bringing or buying lunch is concerned, keep your recovery at the top of your priority list when making this decision. If you feel most comfortable bringing lunch in order to meet your recovery goals, then bring lunch. As time goes by, and you can see what is on the school lunch menu, and you have seen how long it takes other students to get their lunch, then you can decide if you want to change your mind and buy lunch.
  3. You need to bring to lunch the amount of food that will carry you through until the next time you can eat (after school snack), or the amount of food that you and your treatment team have deemed necessary for your recovery. If you bring too little, you may struggle later, as you will be too hungry. This is true, no matter what type of eating disorder you have. In terms of what to bring for lunch, you want to bring the types of food that meet your nutritional requirements and foods that you like. If you need a supplement at lunch, you can bring it in a sports-type of bottle so that it appears like a sports drink. Try to bring foods that are “common” so as not to draw attention to your eating. I want to add here, that I understand this advice may cause some controversy. I’d love to say to my student clients to bring whatever they want to the lunch room regardless of what anyone might say, but I also want to protect them from any unwanted attention and comments. I had a male middle school client who brought tuna for lunch once and everyone at the table said “Ewww! That smells!” He threw his lunch away and ate none of it. A female high school client brought stuffed grape leaves to lunch and the others at the table commented on how “gross” they looked. She didn’t eat them and was too uncomfortable to sit at the lunch table again. Instead she ate in the nurse’s office.  You have to bring foods you like, but if there are foods that are pretty common looking, you will go unnoticed. These might be foods like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or other sandwiches, yogurt, cheese sticks, pretzels, fruit, cookies, salads with chicken and cheese, granola bars, etc.
  4. When other girls start talking about their diets, you can try your best to ignore the conversation, start a separate conversation with the person sitting next to you, or change the topic altogether. Try to sit next to a “safe” person that you can rely on to help you out. If you are being too triggered, find an excuse to leave the lunch table (and take your remaining food with you). Unfortunately, diet talk is a pastime for so many people. You will likely not be able to escape it very easily. Also, many teens “talk” about their latest and greatest diets, but most of them don’t act on them. You must do your best to tune the “diet talk” out. Remember, in recovery, you have to stay focused on your needs, not the behaviors of others.
  5. Get as much information as possible in advance of the first day of school about who you know that will be in your lunch period. Ask them to meet you outside the lunch room before lunch starts so you can walk in together. Ask them to sit next to you as well. If you don’t know who will be in your lunch period, try to find a fairly empty table and bring a book with you. If you have a book to read, you might feel a bit more comfortable. While you are sitting there, try to look around for someone you know and then move to their table if there are empty seats. If there is someone else in the lunch room that seems like they are sitting by him/herself, you could try sitting at that table. He/she might be relieved to have someone sit with him/her. Or, if you are feeling courageous, you might try to use the lunch period to meet new people and sit with people you don’t know.

Remember also to talk to your family, friends, and/or treatment team about the anxiety you might feel about “back to school”. They will surely understand and might offer some great support.

Stay tuned for more posts regarding “back to school.”

 

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Why Can’t I Just Stop?

 

“When I’m having a bad day at work, I fantasize about the food I have at home.”

“When I’m making dinner for my kids after a long day of doing a million things for them, I can’t wait till I put them to bed so I can be by myself and eat all the leftovers.”

“I look forward to the times my husband goes away on business so I can do whatever I want with food.”

“The split second I am upset, I race into the kitchen and eat, eat, eat, as though my life depends on it.”

“As I feel the anger start to bubble up, I race to the box of xxx and crunch until I feel calm.”

“On Sundays, I feel so lonely I can’t wait to dive into the xxx to feel better. Then afterwards, I feel even worse. I also feel defeated, like I will never get better.”

“I feel so overwhelmed at times, I just can’t stop eating. I’m not sure whether I am overwhelmed and then can’t stop eating or if I can’t stop eating which causes me to feel overwhelmed, or both.”

“As I am jamming my hand into the package for another mouthful, I am promising myself that this will be the last bite but I can’t stop until it’s all gone.”

The above quotes from some of my clients illustrate that an eating disorder is not about the food. It is about the “state of mind” or “state of being” that the food and food behavior accomplishes. These quotes also illustrate the urgency these clients experience when thinking about getting to use the food behavior, as well as the helplessness that they feel.

I consistently try to help my clients see the relationship between their food behavior and what they are trying to “accomplish” by engaging in that behavior. Look at the words highlighted in the quotes above:

Bad day>>>fantasize

Doing a million things>>>be by myself

Look forward>>>do whatever I want

Upset>>>my life depends on it

Anger>>>feel calm

Lonely>>>feel better>>>defeated

Overwhelmed>>>can’t stop eating

Can’t stop until it’s gone

 

If an eating disorder were just about food, these clients would be able to “just stop” doing these types of behaviors and eat without all the urgency and subsequent remorse. But, an eating disorder is a complex combination of brain “hardwiring” and chemistry, environmental and familial issues and traumas, inability to communicate and feel authentically and effectively, etc. These food behaviors are an adaptation to many things.

If you are suffering from the type of eating disorder that causes any circumstances similar to the types of scenarios mentioned above, you personally know how hard you have tried to “just stop”. It doesn’t work that way. It’s not that simple.

But, there is hope.

First off, you have to try to understand that you have a complex history of underlying issues, combined with a brain that is genuinely trying to make you feel better.  It’s not your fault that you have found a food behavior that “works” in the moment to calm you down, numb you out, or wash away the thoughts and feelings that are painful to you. If it weren’t such an “effective solution”, you wouldn’t be so urgently seeking it out. You wouldn’t obsess or fantasize about it. You would be able to “just stop.”

Second, you must be willing and able to be kinder to yourself. If a loved one were going through the same pain and suffering you were going through, you would have compassion for them. Give yourself the same compassion. Tough love or self-criticism is not only ineffective; it worsens the behaviors every single time.

Third, without judgment, you have to be willing to self-reflect about what the food behaviors are trying to “tell you”. What are they accomplishing? Insight is essential. Without it, you will continue to beat yourself up and try to “fix” the problem behaviorally. It never works.

Fourth, you have to be willing to discover and tolerate the feelings you are attempting to numb out from, without the fear that you can’t do it. This is an area where clients often ask me “how do I feel my feelings? I don’t know how to do that.” The answer is simple and complex at the same time. We know that the food behavior is designed to numb out the feelings, so by delaying using the food behavior, you will feel something. You most likely won’t be able to do this for more than a few minutes at a time. During the few minutes you are trying to be abstinent from using the behavior, you may only feel anxious and obsessed about wanting to use the food behavior, but use the time wisely to gain information about the function of the food behavior. You may want to say to yourself, “I want to eat xxx so badly right now, but I’m going to hold off for 15 minutes to try to learn something about myself. During these 15 minutes, I’m going to journal whatever I am thinking or feeling. Then after 15 minutes, if I want to eat xxx food, I will.” By doing this through repetition over time, you may get some answers and may elongate the time during which you can be abstinent from the behavior.

Fifth, take the information you have gathered and try to make some life changes with it. For example, the woman who found that she fantasized about being by herself with food, after a long day with her children, used the information she gathered to try to make more time for herself  during the day. This way, she wasn’t in such need for it at night. The client who experienced loneliness every Sunday, decided to plan an activity with a friend or at least reach out and talk to one or two people every Sunday to feel connected. By realizing what the food behavior is “telling” you, you can work on improving the quality of your life.

Lastly, seek support. Both professional and personal support will help you make the changes you are seeking. You truly cannot do this work alone.

By no means does this process change your food behaviors in a day, or week, or month. You didn’t get to where you are in a day and it will take some time to make lasting changes. It can be done though…one baby step at a time.

Through (1) understanding, (2) kindness, (3) insight and self-reflection, (4) taking time to feel, (5) making slow life changes, and (6) getting support, you will heal…

 

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What Does Recovery Look Like?

The second in the series of three questions I am asked the most is:

“What does recovery look like?”

Answer: Wow! I have changed my answer to this question over the years. In my opinion, recovery is a highly personal “picture”. Recovery to one person will look differently than to another. I’d love your answers, in addition to my own!

In my opinion, recovery doesn’t mean being a perfect eater. Recovery doesn’t mean having a preconceived body size. Recovery doesn’t mean eating to be a certain weight or size.

Recovery means consistently not using food behaviors to cope and communicate your needs and desires, because you have developed more effective healthy ways to cope and express yourself.

Recovery means never dieting.  That’s right! You can never diet again. This is such a challenging area for many people. So very often, clients say to me “Normal people diet. Normal people manipulate their bodies. Normal people overexercise. Normal people use diet pills. How come they can do these things and I can’t?”

“Normal” people don’t have a mental illness where any or all of these behaviors are symptoms of the illness, and when engaging in these behaviors are expressing symptoms of the illness and thus making it worse.

It is not “normal” to do any of those things. Just because something is common, doesn’t mean it is “normal” and it definitely doesn’t make it good or right or healthy or something to aspire to. In my opinion, recovery means not restricting, bingeing and purging, using other substances (diet pills etc), compulsive exercise behaviors, or any type of harmful behavior (even “mildly”).

Once you have an eating disorder, you are VULNERABLE to all things that “normal” people engage in related to food/exercise. That isn’t your fault. It is simply a side effect of having an eating disorder.

Even when you are in a healthy place in your recovery, certain behaviors will still put you at risk. Dieting, for example, is the number one behavior that triggers eating disordered thoughts and can be a catalyst sending you right back into your illness. So you can never diet again…ever. Recovery means redefining “normal”.

How does exercise fit into recovery? Again, remember that you are vulnerable. Exercise (even if it has never been a part of your illness) can be tricky. Everyone knows that movement is good for people. When you have a history of an eating disorder, you have to be attentive to the purpose behind the desire to exercise. If you are healthy and you exercise, you have to be cautious that the purpose doesn’t switch from being healthy to “feeding” your illness. Be honest with yourself and set healthy goals for your exercise. Make sure it doesn’t take on a level of importance where it becomes a “job” or a “behavior”.

Recovery means having a peaceful relationship with food. Food is an essential part of life, but when you are in recovery, food doesn’t occupy all your thoughts. In recovery, you think about food in a neutral or positive way. You don’t have strict black and white rules regarding food, unless medically necessary.

Recovery doesn’t mean having a perfectly happy existence. But, your worst day well will still be better than your best day sick because you won’t be sick and your life will be REAL. Life has ups and downs. Life is difficult at times and joyous at times. Your eating disorder just makes life more difficult on every level, in every way. So, without it, your life ultimately will be less difficult. You will also feel all your feelings – the positive ones and the negative ones. Your feelings are essential, and feeling themwon’t kill you!

Think of all the things you cannot do because of your illness. You will have the opportunity to do any of these things, if you choose, when you are in recovery.  It is freedom.

Recovery means practicing different forms of regular, consistent self-care. Everyone has different ideas of how they can practice this. For some, self care involves having hobbies like reading, blogging, knitting, or doing crossword puzzles. Others like to have creative outlets like singing, painting, playing a musical instrument, or other art forms. Some like listening to inspirational music every day. Whatever you consider self-care, you need to do it regularly.

Recovery is whatever you want it to be. It’s your life. Define it. You only get one life, make it the best one it can be! It’s worth going for!!!

 

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Are You a Casualty of Dieting? Tips for “Normal” Eating

No matter how many years or decades you have overeaten or how many diets have failed you, you still can learn how to become a “normal” eater—eating when you are hungry, choosing satisfying foods, remaining aware while eating and enjoying food, and stopping when you are full or satisfied.

 

Note: You did not fail on these diets. These diets failed you.

 

To succeed at weight management, you will need to:

  • Focus like a laser on eating “normally”
  • Stay persistent like a dog digging for a bone
  • Not expect overnight success
  • Switch your attention from the scale to your appetite
  • Learn effective life skills to manage stress and internal distress

 

Disregulated eaters can learn how to eat “normally.” Here are some tips to speed you on your way.

 

Using self-talk

Learn “normal” eating skills: Look in the mirror daily and tell yourself you can learn the skills of “normal” eating.

 

Think of foods as nutritional and non-nutritional: Instead of thinking of foods as “good” or “bad,” consider them as nutritional or non-nutritional, or nutritional or “fun”. “Good” and “bad” are moral terms that are best avoided in the food arena.

 

Give yourself praise: Do not put yourself down for the mistakes you make with food. Instead, lavishly praise yourself for your successes, even the tiniest ones.

 

Try a different approach: If experience tells you that diets do not keep your weight off, do not try to convince yourself that you should diet. Instead, give yourself points for trying a different approach.

 

Become your own cheerleader: Never say anything to yourself that you would not say to a young child you love, including calling yourself stupid, hopeless, bad, a failure, or worthless. Become your own cheerleader by generating positive thoughts about yourself and your progress.

 

Avoid all-or-nothing thinking: Do not use words like “never” and “always.” Remind yourself that most of life is not black and white, but gray. Think incrementally.

 

Do not dwell on untrue comments: Detoxify negative things people say about or to you that are untrue, rather than repeating them to yourself. Remember that what people say belongs to them, not to you, even if your name is attached to their words.

 

Connect to your emotions: Ask yourself often how you are feeling, so you can connect more easily to your emotions, but explore only with curiosity, not condemnation.

Stop judging yourself harshly: Develop self-compassion. Treat yourself lovingly. Practice speaking to yourself with extreme esteem.

 

Keep a positive attitude: Do not keep telling yourself that learning to become a “normal” eater is hard, because saying so only programs you to find the work more difficult. Instead, substitute words like challenging or doable.

 

Recognizing hunger

Rate your hunger: Check in with yourself often to see how hungry you are by using descriptions such as “not hungry,” “moderate,” “very,” and “famished” or a 1-10 scale.

 

Evaluate if you are hungry: Every time you think about food, ask yourself if you really are hungry enough to eat or if you actually need something else.

 

Consider having smaller meals: Experiment with eating smaller meals more frequently.

 

Think about hunger as a signal: It means that you need fuel, not that you have to go out and seek the most fantastic eating experience of your life.

 

Know what hunger means: Practice believing that hunger is for fuel and pleasure, not for meeting emotional needs.

 

Choosing satisfying foods

Choose for yourself: Do not get hung up on what other people are eating. Instead, ask yourself what you would like to eat.

 

Forget about good and bad: Remind yourself that foods fall on a nutritional continuum (high value/low value), not on a moral continuum (good/bad).

 

Make a satisfying choice: Never eat without first stopping to consider what you want. Spend time making your decision by tuning into your appetite.

 

Stay clear of guilt or shame: Refrain from allowing guilt or shame to contaminate your eating decisions. Avoid secret eating.

 

Choose foods that you like: Do not eat foods that you do not find satisfying or enjoyable. Eating them will make you think that you are on a diet.

 

Eating with awareness and enjoyment

Look before you eat: Before you eat, look at your food, its portion size, and presentation. Breathe deeply. Look again before taking a mouthful.

 

Chew every mouthful thoroughly: Chewing a lot helps to thoroughly release the flavor of foods.

 

Let food sit on your tongue: This allows your taste buds to absorb the flavor and transmit messages about your appetite to your brain.

 

Talk or eat: When you are talking, stop eating. When you are eating, stop talking.

 

Stay connected: Pay attention to your body’s appetite signals while you are eating.

 

Forget about guilt and shame: Push away guilt and shame while you are eating. Focus only on sensory pleasure.

 

Pause while you are eating: Think about how you are feeling about your food in terms of quality and quantity.

 

Know when to stop eating: Stop eating when flavor intensity declines, as it is bound to do. Do not try to polish off all of the food in front of you. Instead, aim for the moment when flavor peaks and you feel an internal “ah” of satisfaction—then stop.

 

Evaluate how full you are: Keep asking yourself while you are eating, “Am I still hungry?” and “Am I satisfied?”

 

Stopping when you are full or satisfied

Know the definitions: Think of “full” as having enough food (fuel) in your stomach and “satisfied” as reaching the high point of pleasure.

 

Quantify fullness and satisfaction: Use words, such as “nearly full,” “too full,” or “just right,” or a 1-10 scale to rate fullness and satisfaction.

 

Tell your body: When you feel full or satisfied, focus on that sensation, and broadcast it to your whole body.

 

Disconnect from food: When you are done eating, put down your utensils, push away your plate, and get up, if possible. At least mentally move on. Do whatever you need to do to disconnect yourself from the food.

 

Decide when enough is enough: Make sure you do not focus on food that is left in front of you. Recognize that you do not have to finish it or clean your plate.

 

Changing your beliefs

 

From: To:

“I need to diet to lose weight.”

“Diets do not work long term.”

“This is too hard.”

“I can learn to do this over time.”

“This will take too long.”

“If I do not change now, I will only end up back in this same place again, so I might as well get going on it.”

“Losing weight is the most important thing.”

“I will lose weight if I honor my appetite and learn to eat ‘normally.’”

“I am bad/worthless/ugly if I am overweight.”

“I accept my body as it is and still will try to improve it.”

 

Stopping emotional eating

Consider your feelings: If you have the urge to eat when you are not hungry, identify the emotion you are feeling.

 

Think of a different response: Remind yourself that feelings need an appropriate response—not food.

 

Know the emotions that trigger unwanted eating: Boredom, loneliness, anxiety, shame, guilt, disappointment, confusion, and helplessness can trigger unwanted eating. Look for more effective ways of dealing with these feelings.

 

Keep a feelings log: This will help you keep track of what is going on inside of yourself all day long.

 

Reduce stress: This will lessen frustration, helplessness, and the overwhelmed feeling you sometimes have that may drive you to eat.

 

Take care of yourself: Make sure you are taking care of yourself (with rest, sleep, hobbies, and fun) at least as well as you take care of others.

 

Learn from your behavior: If you find yourself eating when you are upset, do not take it out on yourself. Treat yourself with compassion and curiosity. Think about your behavior as a learning experience.

 

Find help: If you have a history of trauma or abuse, get help through therapy. A strong correlation exists between such a history and emotional eating and weight gain.

 

Take responsibility for yourself: Do not blame others for your emotional eating. Take accountability for your actions.

 

Build emotional muscle: Tell yourself that you can bear any emotion and practice doing so. You will find that the emotional muscle you build is amazingly strong and enduring.

 

 

References and recommended readings

Koenig KR. Nice Girls Finish Fat: Put Yourself First and Change Your Eating Forever. New York, NY: Fireside/Simon and Schuster; 2009.

 

Koenig KR. The Food and Feelings Workbook: A Full Course Meal on Emotional Health. Carlsbad, CA: Gürze Books; 2007.

 

Koenig KR. The Rules of “Normal” Eating: A Commonsense Approach for Dieters, Overeaters, Undereaters, Emotional Eaters, and Everyone in Between! Carlsbad, CA: Gürze Books; 2005.

 

Koenig KR. What Every Therapist Needs to Know About Treating Eating and Weight Issues. New York, NY: WW Norton and Co; 2008.

 

 

Contributed by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, MEd

 

 

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Donna’s Top Ten Nutrient Dense “Super Foods”

What is “Nutrient Density” anyway?  Nutrient density refers to the amount of nutrients in a particular food for the given volume of that food, nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, essential fatty acids, good quality protein or carbohydrate, and phytonutrients . So, for example, a handful of walnuts is a nutrient dense food choice because in a small handful, you will get a good amount of vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant), healthy fat and concentrated energy.

There are some foods that are nutrient dense and calorie dense, and there are others that are nutrient dense and low in calories. I had a difficult time narrowing all the nutrient-dense foods there are into one short list of ten. Unfortunately I left numerous amazing foods off this list.  Depending on your personal nutritional goals, you may want to add some of my top ten super foods to your eating plan! Remember though; don’t eat foods merely for their nutritional value if you don’t like them! Only eat foods that you find palatable and pleasurable.

Dried Fruit: There are many types of dried fruits on the market. You can try dried berries, apricots, cranberries, strawberries, blueberries and even tropical fruits like papaya, mango, and pineapple. You can give yourself a quick energy boost by eating dried fruits because they have less volume than their fresh equivalent and they are portable and non-perishable. They are packed with vitamins and minerals just like their fresh counterparts.

Nuts and Seeds: Nuts and seeds are rich in polyunsaturated fats that can be a healthy addition to your diet. Macadamia nuts, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pecans, cashews, sunflower seeds, flax seeds and pumpkin seeds are all good for you, offer a variety of flavors and can be eaten in a variety of ways. You can eat them by the handful or try nut butters made from them. Spread some apple slices or banana slices with nut butters for a nutrient-dense and energy-dense snack or make a trail mix with your favorite nuts and dried fruit. Try them in oatmeal or yogurt, on top of ice cream or a salad. Eat them raw or toasted!

Greek Yogurt: There are so many yogurts on the market, it’s hard to choose between them all. My favorite by far, is Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is packed with protein, sometimes double or triple the amount of protein in a regular yogurt. In a 4 to 8 ounce container you can get as much as 15 to 20 grams of protein. That’s almost as much as a 3 ounce piece of chicken! My favorite brands are Chobani and Fage. You can get these brands in plain as well as several delicious flavors.

Quinoa: Although not a common item in most people’s homes, quinoa is a protein-rich seed that has a fluffy but slightly crunchy texture and a slightly nutty flavor when it’s cooked. It looks like a grain, but it is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. It is an ancient “grain”, once  called the “gold of the Incas” because it increased the stamina of their warriors. Not only is quinoa high in protein, but the protein it supplies is complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids. 

Garbanzo Beans (chick peas): Even though legumes are known for their fiber, most people do not know how helpful the fiber in garbanzo beans can actually be for supporting digestive tract function. Garbanzos contain about 12 grams of fiber per cup. This type of fiber can help you regulate your blood sugar and will help lower your risk of intestinal issues. You can eat garbanzo beans plain, in soups or salads, or in the form of hummus.

Avocado:  Did you know that the avocado is often called the “alligator pear” because of its shape and the leather-like appearance of its skin? Avocados contain a great source of healthy fat as well as vitamins, minerals and fiber. They are also considered an anti-inflammatory food. You can enjoy them cut up in salads, as an addition to sandwiches or made into guacamole. Can you answer this question: Is an avocado a fruit or a vegetable?

Spinach: I feel stronger every time I eat a fresh bowl of raw or cooked spinach! There have been more than a dozen different flavonoid compounds identified in spinach that act as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agents. The vitamin K in spinach helps prevent the breakdown of bones. Spinach contains vitamin C and iron, as well as a host of other nutrients. You can mix spinach with pasta or in soups, or you can make a spinach salad and add feta cheese and toasted pine nuts.

Oats: Oatmeal, granola, granola bars made from oats, tofu/oat burgers (my own recipe) are all great ways to enjoy this grain. Oats contain a special kind of fiber that lowers blood cholesterol. Oats also help regulate blood sugar so you can feel energized for a longer period of time without suffering a low blood sugar “crash”. During the winter months, I love a big bowl of oatmeal with walnuts and blueberries and when the weather gets warmer, I love yogurt with an oat-based granola and raisins!

Dark Chocolate: Who doesn’t like to enjoy a “melt-in-your-mouth” piece of chocolate? Did you know that dark chocolate is good for your brain and can improve your mood? It is good for your heart and it also contains antioxidants that can help reduce free-radical damage. Cocoa, in dark chocolate, can also reduce inflammation. You can eat is by itself or mix it into other types of foods. Dark chocolate chips are a great ingredient in lots of your favorite recipes. My favorite is dark chocolate chips mixed into banana walnut muffins!

Green Tea: Green tea is the least processed of all teas. It has the highest concentration of “phytonutrients” and the least caffeine of all teas. Green tea is rich in health-promoting flavonoids, which play a fundamental role in green tea’s anticancer and antioxidant effects. These flavonoids are potent free radical scavengers. You can find great tasting green teas in every supermarket and health food store. You can drink them hot or iced.

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Top Ten Reasons to Eat Dessert

Definition of dessert: a usually sweet course or dish (as of pastry or ice cream) usually served at the end of a meal.

In my opinion, dessert is one of life’s greatest inventions. I have dessert every day, sometimes twice a day. I strongly recommend you challenge yourself when you are ready, and try to adopt a positive attitude toward this fantastic part of the meal! 

  1. Dessert is pleasurable, and one of life’s greatest achievements is pleasure.
  2. Eating dessert regularly gives those types of foods less power over you in the long run.
  3. Dessert isn’t poison. If you eat it regularly, it doesn’t take away the nutritional value of the other foods you eat.
  4. Dessert balances out a meal and gives “closure” to the meal.
  5. Eating dessert is an opportunity to experience different flavors and textures that you cannot get in other foods like vegetables, meats, and fruits.
  6. Eating dessert is an opportunity to defy your eating disorder, tell it who the “boss” is, and overcome the “guilt” that has held you hostage.
  7. Dessert is social. It is a good way to bond with others. There’s nothing better than going to an ice cream store and sharing the experience with a friend or loved one.
  8. Dessert can be an opportunity to be creative. You can make interesting concoctions that you otherwise may not have thought of.
  9. Dessert isn’t “fattening”. Remember, there is no such thing as a fattening food!
  10. Last, but not least, eating dessert is a recovery-focused step that will help you become victorious over all the myths and misconceptions that you have held onto while you have had your illness!
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Intuitive Eating

This topic is so broad it would take an entire book to cover all the characteristics. I just want to discuss appropriateness of this type of eating in recovery. I feel like so many of you want to try it but get worried because it is a concept that is foreign. So, first and foremost, when you are ready, you will hopefully know. Or, you and your treatment team will know. If you are not ready, there isn’t a “race” to get there. I think some people look at it as the end point of their recovery, a point of no return, and that alone brings up fear. Some people have asked me, “what if I go out of control because I can’t do it? What if I gain too much weight because I can’t trust my inner cues or they are wrong? What if I choose all the ‘wrong’ foods and then I can’t turn back? ” and the most common question is “What if my intuitive eating makes me gets me to my natural weight and it is higher than I like?”

What if, what if, what if????? All these “what if’s” are a huge obstacle but they sometimes also demonstrate a lack of readiness and fear. If you have a bunch of “what if’s” about intuitive eating, DON’T discuss it with the eating disordered part of your mind. Your eating disorder will turn it into a “fear fest”. Discuss it with your treatment team, especially your nutritionist.

If you have had an eating disorder for any length of time, your eating has been “from the neck up”. What do I mean by this? Your eating has been guided by your head only – your thoughts, your rules, your emotions, your past experiences, your disordered fears…not by your normal natural physiological mind-body cues. If you have restricted, binged, compulsively overeaten, purged, taken any appetite-suppressing substances or laxatives, overexercised, or a combination of these, you have “short-circuited” your natural means of detecting hunger, fullness and appetite. So, as a result of this short-circuiting, you will need to learn the skill that non-disordered people exhibit normally, until it actually becomes intuitive.

When are you supposed to do this and how are you supposed to do this??? It varies person to person but you can only expect to start the process when you are well-supported by your team. You cannot begin if you are at an extremely low weight or are using eating disordered behaviors regularly. You must be medically stable for a good stretch of time and should be eating consistently (perhaps on a meal plan). Also, you have to do this when you are confident that you have the ability to separate your emotions from your eating. You must also realize that you will make mistakes along the way. Sometimes you will eat too much and feel too full (scary) and sometimes you will undereat and want more (clearly a risk if you are not ready). This is an essential part of the process. No one learns how to intuitively eat “perfectly” without making mistakes.

Also, I like to look at the parallels between what you do with your food and where you are in developing your life skills as an indication of your readiness. So, as far as intuitive eating is concerned, when you are being more intuitive (guided by your gut instincts) in other areas of your life and trusting yourself with decisions regarding relationships, feelings, self-care, boundaries, etc, you will be more equipped to develop your intuitive skills regarding your eating. Overall, you will be living a more trusting relationship with yourself.

Please remember that recovery is a process (I feel like I say this so often!) and you need to know where you are in the process. I want you all to be able to trust your process and unquestionably get to the point where you can trust your true self! Just try to stay focused on where you currently are in your recovery and take the baby steps that are in front of you.

Below are the 10 Intuitive Eating Principles, by Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch, authors of Intuitive Eating

1. Reject the Diet Mentality Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. Get angry at the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all of the weight. If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better diet might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being free to rediscover Intuitive Eating.
2. Honor Your Hunger Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Otherwise you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for re-building trust with yourself and food.
3. Make Peace with Food Call a truce, stop the food fight! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing When you finally “give-in” to your forbidden food, eating will be experienced with such intensity, it usually results in Last Supper overeating, and overwhelming guilt.
4. Challenge the Food Police Scream a loud “NO” to thoughts in your head that declare you’re “good” for eating under 1000 calories or “bad” because you ate a piece of chocolate cake. The Food Police monitor the unreasonable rules that dieting has created. The police station is housed deep in your psyche, and its loud speaker shouts negative barbs, hopeless phrases, and guilt-provoking indictments. Chasing the Food Police away is a critical step in returning to Intuitive Eating.
5. Respect Your Fullness Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show that you’re comfortably full. Pause in the middle of a meal or food and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what is your current fullness level?
6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor The Japanese have the wisdom to promote pleasure as one of their goals of healthy living In our fury to be thin and healthy, we often overlook one of the most basic gifts of existence–the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. When you eat what you really want, in an environment that is inviting and conducive, the pleasure you derive will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content. By providing this experience for yourself, you will find that it takes much less food to decide you’ve had “enough”.
7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food Find ways to comfort, nurture, distract, and resolve your issues without using food. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, anger are emotions we all experience throughout life. Each has its own trigger, and each has its own appeasement. Food won’t fix any of these feelings. It may comfort for the short term, distract from the pain, or even numb you into a food hangover. But food won’t solve the problem. If anything, eating for an emotional hunger will only make you feel worse in the long run. You’ll ultimately have to deal with the source of the emotion, as well as the discomfort of overeating.
8. Respect Your Body Accept your genetic blueprint. Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size six, it is equally as futile (and uncomfortable) to have the same expectation with body size. But mostly, respect your body, so you can feel better about who you are. It’s hard to reject the diet mentality if you are unrealistic and overly critical about your body shape.
9. Exercise–Feel the Difference Forget militant exercise. Just get active and feel the difference. Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie burning effect of exercise. If you focus on how you feel from working out, such as energized, it can make the difference between rolling out of bed for a brisk morning walk or hitting the snooze alarm. If when you wake up, your only goal is to lose weight, it’s usually not a motivating factor in that moment of time.
10. Honor Your Health–Gentle Nutrition Make food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel well. Remember that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters; progress not perfection is what counts.

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Health at Every Size from NYTimes.com

Health at Every Size, an article in Wednesday’s NYTimes.com, discusses how Lent can be another time for people who are discontent with their bodies to give up certain foods in an attempt to lose weight (a diet in disguise, perhaps?).

The article goes on to discuss the ineffectiveness of dieting for long-term weight loss.  “…a weight-focused approach geared toward losing weight is — surprise! — not especially effective in either reducing the weight or creating healthier bodies. In fact, they say, such an approach can unintentionally lead to weight gain and worse health.”

Instead of using this time as one to restrict, why not use it as a time to make peace with the body you have?

http://6thfloor.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/health-at-every-size/

If you are already suffering from an eating disorder, restriction of any kind at any time of the year is dangerous and may potentially exacerbate your illness.

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Donna’s Top Ten Reasons Not to Diet

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Top Ten Ways To Eat Pretzels

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LIPIDS!!!!!

Let’s talk about LIPIDS, a misunderstood group of molecules that are CRITICAL to the functioning of the human body and are an ESSENTIAL part of your diet!

Understanding the Functions of Lipids in the Body

There are many functions of lipids in the human body. Many people tend to place a negative association with the term “lipid”, simply because it brings to mind the word “fat”. This “essential” nutrient is crucial to the intricate functioning of the body. The term lipid applies to a group of molecular structures which includes fats and oils, fat-soluble vitamins – vitamins A, D, E, and K, sterols, fatty acids, and phospholipids. Let’s take a brief look at the major functions of lipids in the body.

 Storing Energy

An important role that lipids play in the human body is to store energy. It is no great secret that the body gets most of its energy from carbohydrates, but what many people don’t know is that if it weren’t for lipids, we would have to replenish our energy reserves after every hour spent being active! Lipids make it possible to make the most out of the carbohydrates we consume so we don’t have to “use or lose” that energy. So because of lipids, the body is able to store the energy produced by the foods we eat as sort of a “reserve tank”.

Also, during all those hours of the day that you are sleeping (and not eating), your body relies on whatever fuel you have stored up during your daytime eating as the fuel it depends on. Remember, your body needs to work 24 hours a day and you only eat while you are awake. Your heart, brain, liver, kidneys etc need to be FED all day and all night long. Also, if you exercise, the fuel your body wants to use after a brief period of time comes from the fuel that is stored in these cells. If you don’t store fuel in the fat cells, your body would inevitably rely on your muscle tissue as its fuel source. And, you don’t want that to be the case.

 Cell Membranes

One of the little known facts about lipids is that they’re responsible for the protection of each individual cell. This protection comes in the form of the cell membrane. The lipids form a protective barrier that keeps the important cellular information inside the cell while keeping destructive substances out. For instance, oxygen, glucose, enzymes, and hormones are allowed to enter through the membrane while harmful chemicals are not. All this is due to the wonderful lipid cell membrane.

 Vitamins

Vitamins A, D, E, and K are known as fat-soluble vitamins because they are molecularly lipid-based. These vitamins are stored in the body’s fat tissues as well as the liver and are very important to the human body—hence the reason they are called “essential nutrients”.

Vitamin A improves eyesight. This vitamin helps our eyes to distinguish light and color, and a deficiency in this vitamin can lead to vision troubles—particularly at night time. As for vitamin D, it is essential for the absorption of calcium and phosphorous. If it were not for vitamin D, our teeth and bones would never grow to become as strong as they should be. Vitamin D also helps to fight off autoimmune issues. Vitamin E is often associated with the health of hair, skin, and nails. It also plays an important role in other areas of the body. For instance, vitamin E can both protect against certain cancers as well as improve cardiovascular and circulation health. It is a powerful “antioxidant” and as such, it boosts the immune system. It can also lower cholesterol levels. Vitamin K is necessary for liver health and also helps the blood to clot. Every time someone gets a scrape or cut, vitamin K helps the blood clot, allowing the wound to seal up and heal.

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is the ingredient that helps you make your male and female hormones. It helps separate the boys from the girls. (It is also a part of all the cell membranes.) It is an ingredient in bile (the stuff that helps you digest fats and help you get rid of waste products). It helps make a covering called the “myelin sheath” that surrounds and protects your nerves and brain cells.

Cholesterol comes in two basic forms: high density lipoprotein and low density lipoprotein, or HDL and LDL cholesterol (“good” and “bad” cholesterol). HDL (“good”) cholesterol is vital to the body as it makes those hormones and it transports the LDL cholesterol to the liver where it can be broken down and excreted from the body.  This type of “good” cholesterol is found in whole grain, fish, and nuts, and increasing these foods can actually lower LDL cholesterol levels.

Shock Absorption

A layer of fat surrounding the vital internal organs is essential as a protective mechanism against injury.

 Now let’s look at the function of lipids in the foods we eat.

  • Lipids contain more calories (gram for gram) than carbohydrate or protein, which makes them a “nutrient dense” food.
  • Lipids in food help create satiety which why you feel more satisfied and full after a meal containing lipids.
  • Some of the ESSENTIAL nutrients (essential fatty acids like omega-3s) are soluble in lipids and therefore primarily found in lipid-containing foods.
  • Essential fatty acids found in lipids-containing foods have amazing functions like improving heart health, brain health, lowering levels of blood cholesterol and triglycerides, defending against cancer, reducing inflammation in arthritis and asthma sufferers.
  • Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K are primarily found in lipid-containing foods.
  • Lipids contribute to the aroma and flavor of food.

 

Some of the best foods that contain valuable lipids are:

  • Nuts and seeds – walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds
  • Certain fish – salmon, mackerel, tuna
  • Avocado
  • Olives
  • Oils such as olive oil, peanut oil, walnut oil, sunflower oil, canola oil
  • Soy foods

So, the next time you find yourself wondering why you need lipids, aka “fats”, in your daily diet, remember that fat is a NUTRIENT. Without it or without enough of it, all these jobs won’t get done. Human life would cease without these amazing molecules!

Give your body the nutrient that makes up your cell membranes, protects your heart and brain, provides you with essential vitamins and essential fatty acids, provides a valuable energy source when you sleep and exercise, helps you make your male and female hormones, helps make food taste and smell good, promotes satiety, and provides great nutrient density. Whew!!!!  What an amazing nutrient!

After writing this post, I think I’ll go make myself a fabulous snack of dark chocolate Dove hearts dipped in peanut butter!

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Why Is This Food So Misunderstood???

How can a simple wheat product that naturally contains protein and carbohydrate, and is fortified with iron and B vitamins, (and sometimes omega-3 fats) get such a bad reputation that people avoid it like it is a toxic substance, a drug, the devil?

Pasta is such a fabulous and versatile food. I cannot understand why so many people eliminate it out of their diet. I have heard countless times that pasta is “fattening”. If I had a dollar for every time I heard a negative comment about pasta, I’d be rich.

Let’s clear up some misinformation about pasta.

  1. PASTA IS NOT FATTENING.
  2. CARBOHYDRATES (FOUND IN PASTA) ARE NOT FATTENING.
  3. PASTA IS NOT BAD FOR YOU.
  4. PASTA HAS NO “POWER”.

So why then do so many people avoid pasta? Why are they afraid of pasta?

People who don’t have the accurate information about the nutritional value of pasta “buy into” what they hear in the media and from other people who perpetuate myths and misconceptions.

Truth:

  1. Pasta is a carbohydrate containing food that also contains protein, B vitamins, and iron.
  2. Pasta has approximately 100 calories per ½ cup (cooked), similar to other grains and starches, including starchy vegetables.  

End of story.

So…why do people fear this food??? I don’t want to upset or trigger anyone reading this post, but I want to present the facts and my professional opinion, instead of perpetuating the misconceptions.

In my opinion, when “most” people eat pasta, they are eating probably upwards of 2 cups (cooked), which seems like a reasonable entree amount when you see it in a bowl or on a plate. 2 cups cooked is approximately 400 calories. Unless you eat it plain, you are probably adding some type of sauce and protein (like meatballs), which will also contribute to the caloric value of the meal. Then, you might add bread with butter or dipping oil, salad with dressing, and other components to the meal. Your meal could therefore be naturally higher in calories than the original 400 for the pasta.  So perhaps the total meal is of higher nutritional value, and then all the “blame” gets placed on this wonderful “harmless” grain.

Pasta is a versatile food. It can be combined with all sorts of proteins, cheeses, sauces and veggies. It can be added to salads. It can be eaten hot or cold. It can be an entrée or a side dish. It comes in all different shapes and sizes. There are even whole grain versions, high protein versions, and non-wheat (gluten-free) versions. If you haven’t had it in a while, you could first have it as a side dish. Or, you could sample a few bites of someone else’s.  If you are “afraid” of pasta because of all the myths you have heard or because you have had a “bad” experience with it, remember, it is just a grain. It is worth trying it again. You might actually surprise yourself and have a positive experience! Bon appetit!!

 http://www.ilovepasta.org/

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Nuts!

Who could imagine that these little bite-sized treasures could be such incredible powerhouses for your body? A handful of these gems provide the body with significant amounts of essential nutrients! They can be eaten with meals or snacks in many different ways. They are quite a versatile food.

Nuts provide protein, fiber, amazing high quality healthy fat, vitamins, and minerals, and phytonutrients. Wow! There’s a lot of goodness in such a small package. Not many foods can say that! They are not only super nutritious but satisfying and packed full of flavor. Everyone can enjoy nuts in their diet (unless they are allergic). You can eat an ounce or two of nuts per day and get all the benefits!

Nuts are so good though, that it’s sometimes easy to eat more of them then you set out to. They can be a challenging food for some people. So, try to have them in comfortable amounts at times when you feel “safe”. Try not to eat them directly out of the jar or container because it may be too difficult to determine how much you have eaten. That could be challenging for you.

Before we discuss the many benefits of nuts, let’s clear up a few myths.

  1. Nuts are NOT FATTENING!
  2. There is no such thing as a fattening food.
  3. Eating fat does not make you fat!

Remember once again that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. Nut calories are no more or less “powerful” in terms of weight than calories coming from broccoli. Weight gain results from consuming more calories than the body needs, over a sustained period of time. Weight loss comes from consuming a deficiency of calories over a sustained period of time.

Nut Facts:

  • Nuts are a good source of non-animal protein
  • The unsaturated fat in nuts can lower your “bad” cholesterol
  • The soluble fiber acts like little scrub brushes to help lower total cholesterol in your blood
  • Nuts have good “nutrient density” – more nutrition per bite than some less nutritious foods
  • Nuts can improve heart health because of the monounsaturated fatty acids like omega-3 fatty acids
  • Their taste and textures are satisfying which enables them to be eaten in a wide variety of ways
  • The high levels of Vitamin E and phytonutrients help you fight cancers and heart disease
  • They are rich in essential minerals

You may wonder “which nuts are best?” The nutrient ratio differs slightly among the different nuts, so eating a variety is the best way to obtain all the benefits that they offer!

Almonds

  • Have the antioxidant power of Vitamin E
  • Contain a natural form of the same drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s disease
  • Good source of magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron
  • Very versatile – taste great in oatmeal and yogurt or can be made into almond butter and eaten with jelly in a sandwich

Cashews

  • Have high levels of essential minerals—iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and manganese
  • A great addition to Asian salads or made into cashew butter

Hazelnuts

  • A powerful source of vitamin E and phytonutrients, associated with building a strong immune system
  • Also called “filberts”
  • Taste great in biscotti or pancakes

Peanuts

  • Highest protein content of any nut, especially satisfying and beneficial for children, vegetarians, and those with higher protein needs
  • Rich in essential minerals, such as magnesium, copper, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc
  • Rich in B vitamins and phytonutrients
  • Make a great trail mix, especially when combined with dried fruit and m&m’s

Pecans

  • Have more antioxidants than any other nut, and are used in the prevention of many diseases, including cancer and heart disease
  • Taste great candied and tossed in a salad with lettuce, pears and goat cheese

Walnuts

  • A great source of alpha-linoleic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid
  • Contain more omega-3 fatty acids than any other nut
  • Proven as beneficial for lowering total and LDL blood cholesterol levels, and reducing the risk of heart disease
  • Delicious in chicken salad, other salads, hot cereal, trail mixes, banana bread, brownies and oatmeal or chocolate chip cookies

Brazil nuts

  • Extremely high in the mineral selenium which helps the immune system fight viruses
  • May help to prevent cancer and heart disease
  • Eating just two gives you all the selenium you need in a day

Pistachios

  • Contain significant amounts of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids have been linked to reduced risk of developing macular degeneration, a condition that results in blindness
  • Can be added to muffins, pancakes, or oatmeal

You can choose nuts that are raw, dry roasted, roasted in oil, salted, honey roasted, spiced, candied, chocolate covered. Try out different types of nut butters (peanut, cashew, almond) or oils made from nuts (walnut oil, peanut oil).

Be adventurous with your nuts! Try them in creative ways.

  • Tossed in salads
  • On top of pasta
  • Mixed in chicken salad, stir-fry dishes or other entrees
  • Blended in yogurt with granola and fruit
  • In a trail mix
  • Baked in breads
  • Tossed in hot cereals

There are at least 50 different types of nuts. I bet you can’t name all of them! I know I can’t. So, maybe you could pick a few types and give them a try!

Oh…and by the way, peanuts aren’t really nuts. They are legumes (like beans). Coconuts aren’t really nuts. They are fruit.

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What is Normal Eating?

The following is a great definition of  “normal eating” written by a pioneer in the field of  “eating competence” , Ellyn Satter.

Normal eating is being able to eat when you are hungry and continue to eat until you are satisfied.  It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it – not just stop eating because you think you should.  Normal eating is being able use some moderate constraint on your food selection to get the right food, but not being so restrictive that you miss out on pleasurable foods.  Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad, bored, or just because it feels good.  Normal eating is three meals a day, or it can be choosing to munch along.  It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful when they are fresh.  Normal eating is overeating at times:  feeling stuffed and uncomfortable.  It is also undereating at times and wishing you had more.  Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating.  Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life.

 In short, normal eating is flexible.  It varies in response to your emotions, your schedule, your hunger and your proximity to food.

 Source:  How To Get Your Kid To Eat…But Not Too Much by Ellyn Satter

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