Tag Archive | Snacks

Peanut Butter!

To some people with an eating disorder, peanut butter is a fabulous food, and to others it is a fearful food. I am going to try to set the record straight on this misunderstood food!

Peanut butter is NOT a “fattening” food. As you all know by now, there is NO such thing as a fattening food. Foods that are high in fat are NOT fattening, they are merely a good source of fat which is an ESSENTIAL nutrient. Fat is as essential as calcium, as vitamin C, as carbohydrate, as water! Fat in food does NOT equal fat on the body.

Some of you may avoid it because it has been a binge food for you. I would encourage those of you who have had this issue to try to eat it only when you are feeling like you can eat it in safe amounts, or bring a small container of it with you to work or school etc, so it is self-limiting.

Here are the facts:

Peanuts are actually legumes, not nuts, and they originated from Brazil.

Most of the fat in peanut butter is monounsaturated, and has been shown to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. Peanut butter also contains polyunsaturated fat, which helps raise the “good” HDL cholesterol. By having this great combination of fats, peanut butter is an excellent good cholesterol regulator. Also, fats in your diet are a form of energy (second to carbohydrates), they help you make hormones, help your brain transmit messages more effectively, and they are part of every cell membrane in your body.

Peanut butter contains a good amount of dietary fiber, which helps in regulating both blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Dietary fiber also reduces the risk of certain cancers and helps you go to the bathroom.

Peanut butter is a great protein source.

It also contains micronutrients like Vitamin E, Vitamin B3, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and calcium.

Vitamin E is one of the most powerful antioxidants, which reduces the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Peanut butter contains much higher quantities of antioxidants than apples or carrots.

Vitamin B3 (also known as Niacin) is a vitamin that helps in the repair of cell DNA damage (protecting from cancer).

Iron is essential for the health of your red blood cells, and calcium promotes healthy bones and shields against muscle spasms.

Peanut butter has a fairly good amount of potassium, an essential electrolyte. Diets rich in potassium help you maintain a healthy fluid balance and offset the effects of dehydration. (Bananas are an even better source of potassium, so you might want to make a banana and peanut butter sandwich!).

One of the most interesting and unusual nutrients found in peanut butter is resveratrol, a natural anti-microbial and anti-fungal ingredient. There are studies that show many health benefits of resveratrol, ranging from anti-cancer, antiviral, anti-aging, brain-protective and life-prolonging (most of these tests have not been carried out on humans yet though.)

The next time you say you won’t eat peanut butter, remember how healthy and delicious it is! Peanut butter is also such a versatile food. You can have it creamy or chunky, natural or regular. You can eat it on a sandwich, in a celery stalk, on rice cakes, mixed in a smoothie, mixed in ice cream or yogurt, made into cookies, mixed in chocolate, or just on a spoon. The sky is the limit!

Please share some of the ways you enjoy this fantastic food!

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Holiday Parties with ED

Holiday parties can be stressful for people who suffer from eating disorders. Below are my top 10 ideas to help you negotiate through some of the difficulties you may face. Ultimately, it’s important to prioritize your self-care during the holiday season and try to make it as stress-free as possible.

  1. Try to stick with a routine of eating as often as you can. This doesn’t mean restriction; it means a comfortable yet structured way of eating…a routine. If you need to attend a party or family function, eat as normally before it as possible so that you stay as “regulated” as possible.
  2.  Before you go to any type of party, get as much information about it in a advance as possible, including what will be served, how it will be served (ie: buffet or sit down dinner) and when. This way, you can mentally prepare yourself for the food aspects.
  3. If need be, bring something with you that you are comfortable eating. Bring enough for others to share with you. It could be an appetizer, side dish, or comfortable dessert. The hostess will think you are very thoughtful and you will be more comfortable with that particular food.
  4. Inform a trusted person in advance that you may need their help during the party. Ask them to help you if you need it. Develop a “signal” that only the two of you know that means you need them. It may be that you need their help in an awkward social situation or with a food issue.
  5. Never go to a party or event overly hungry. Excessive hunger will heighten obsessions about the food and may cause you to feel “out of control”.  Again, eat on a regular schedule the day of the party.
  6. In terms of the food, do the best you can at the party. Remember, it is one meal of one day. Try not to catastrophize what you eat or how much you do or don’t eat while at the event. Once you leave the party, move past it. Try not to dwell on what you did or didn’t eat.  Once it’s over, it’s over.
  7. Spend as much or as little time at a party as you feel comfortable with. Because social events can cause anxiety for numerous reasons, plan your time according to your comfort level.  Also, try to have flexibility built into your plan in case you want to stay longer or shorter than initially planned.  
  8. Try to remember that the food is only one aspect of a party. There are other aspects that you may want to focus on. There may be one or more people there that you’d love to catch up with. There may be kids who you can play with to give their parents a break. There may be elders there who would love to share stories with you. 
  9. If someone comments to you about your eating, weight or size, try to immediately change the subject to something related to them. People like to talk about themselves. Take the focus off of you and put it onto them. For example, if someone says “Wow! You look like you lost (or gained) weight.” You could say “More importantly, how are you doing? What’s new in your life?” Also, try to realize that people who don’t understand eating disorders don’t realize that discussions about food and weight are very personal. They are usually just curious. Put a mental “protective barrier” around yourself and don’t let comments penetrate it.
  10. After a party is over, get back to your routine. End the day on a positive note. Give yourself a “pat on the back” for doing the best you could.


These are just some of the things you could do to make holday parties less stressful for yourself. Do you have any tips and tricks on coping with stressful holiday functions?  I’d love to hear your suggestions.

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As you all know, I am a nutrition therapist who specializes in the treatment of individuals with eating disorders. And as a nutrition therapist, I don’t spend a considerable amount of time “educating” my clients on nutrition. What I do is more like “therapy” around eating, food and weight. Very often however, my clients’ food choices are based on fears, diet propaganda, misinformation, myths and misconceptions.  It’s during conversations revolving around these topics that the “nutrition educator” in me comes out!

Since I have a strong background in nutrition and physiology, I thought I’d add some posts to the blog discussing specific foods, providing nutrition tidbits and dispelling some myths and misconceptions about certain foods and diets. Many of you may avoid certain foods or nutrients that you truly like but have been “brainwashed” into believing they are “poisonous”! I hope you enjoy these posts.

The first food I want to discuss is pizza. Pizza is an emotionally charged food. I can’t tell you how many discussions I’ve had over the years about this controversial “delicacy”. Most of my discussions have involved listening to and understanding people’s aversions to pizza and helping them challenge and overcome their fears of this very simple food.

Pizza is basically four ingredients – dough, shredded mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, and herbs. Yet, people describe it as “greasy, fattening, bad for you, etc”.  How could these basic four ingredients get such a bad rap? Would you feel the same if I suggested you eat a pita with 1 ounce of cheese, and a few slices of tomato? Probably not. It’s basically the same thing, just heated up! One slice of pizza is 2 ounces of dough, ¼ cup of shredded cheese and probably a tablespoon or two of sauce. That’s it. The reason it looks a bit shiny is because when cheese melts in a hot pizza oven, the small amount of oil inherent in the cheese rises to the top. 1/8 of a large pie is only about 250 calories! Pizza is a “social food” that is served at parties, at restaurants. It is a fun food!

The next time you are thinking “I can’t eat pizza. It’s so bad!” remember that it is actually good for you. It’s got protein, calcium, vitamin C, and other healthy nutrients! You can even have it topped with your favorite veggies for added flavor, nutritional value and excitement! If you are nervous about ordering a whole pie, just start off with ordering an amount you feel “safe” with and prove to yourself that you can do it!

I’d love to hear some stories from you about positive experiences you’ve had with pizza!

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Trail Mixes

Trail mix is typically a combination of some type of dried fruit, grains, nuts or seeds, and sometimes chocolate or other candy. It was originally designed to be a snack food to be taken along on hikes. It is an ideal snack food  because it tastes good, is non-perishable, easy to store, nutritious, and energy boosting!  The combination of the complex carbohydrates found in dried fruit and grains and the   mono- and polyunsaturated fats in nuts and seeds provide wonderful energy for your brain and body to help sustain you between meals.


These are some of my favorite combinations! Try them by themselves or mix them in yogurt for a yummy snack!

Dried cranberries, almonds and white chocolate chips (my absolute favorite!)

Peanut butter “Puffins” cereal, chocolate chips, peanuts and mini marshmallows

Chocolate “Cheerios”, peanut butter chips, and peanuts

Peanut m&ms, mini pretzels and raisins

Popcorn, golden raisins and honey roasted peanuts

Walnuts, m&ms, dried strawberries, and pretzel nuggets

Cinnamon “Life” cereal, dried apple slices, cashews and white chocolate chips

Fiber One” cereal, dark chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, and dried cherries

Popcorn, wasabi almonds, and garlic wheat thins

Raisins, “Go Lean Crunch” cereal, and banana chips

Sesame sticks, sunflower seeds, and wasabi peas

Granola, toasted cinnamon pecans, and dried blueberries

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