By Alex Raymond, RD, LD

I’ve been all about “cleaning up your Instagram feed” recently.” Sure, social media can be a breeding ground for comparisons. But, I do think if you’re following positive, non diet accounts they can be a tremendous support in helping you heal.

Below is a list of some of my favorite Instagram posts recently!

I understand that different things work for different people. Here are the posts that I like. But you do not have to like them. Who you follow is up to you. I recommend following some of these people. Also, I recommend “diversifying” your feed. Follow a bunch of different people who offer unique perspectives to recovery, HAES and food.

  1. Emily Fonnesbeck, RD. @emilyfonnesbeck_RD.

2. Ivy Felicia. @iamivyfelicia

3. Haley Goodrich, RD. @hgoodrichrd

4. Summer Innanen. @summerinnanen

5. Megan Jayne Crabbe. @bodyposipanda

6. Lauren Newman, DI Intern. @gofeedyourself_

7. Marci Evans, RD. @marcird

8. Anti Diet Riot Club. @antidietriotclub

9. Fiona Sutherland, RD. @themindfuldietitian

10. Vallery Kallen, RD.@nourishedmindbod

11.  Cinta Tort Catro. @zinteta

These Instagrams and posts are so positive. Also, they are wonderful examples of encouragement you can add to your newsfeed. In addition, removing accounts that promote harmful messages is so beneficial. Unfollowing these negative accounts is a form of self-care. Lastly, what you see on a daily basis, or however often you check your social media, effects you more than you think. Creating a newsfeed bursting with messages of support, optimism, and love can have such a positive mental impact. Also, if you need any suggestions of accounts or any input on overall self-care, please contact me at alex@empoweredeatingblog.com.

The post Top 11 Fave Instagram Posts Recently appeared first on Empowered Eating.

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Strategies from Clients on Vacationing with an Eating Disorder
It’s almost summer!  This means events such as vacations, camps and other outdoor activities going on during the warm months. For someone with an eating disorder,  this can also be a time of stress and anxiety. Going on vacation with an eating disorder can present many challenges. These struggles may be unknown to someone not struggling. The truth-of-the-matter is being in a different environment is daunting to someone in recovery. You are surrounded by people with limited alone time. There are often body image triggers present. Beach-ware is an intimidating factor. In addition, those struggling are exposed to different foods that may not be currently in their daily routines. These are all real concerns for those who are working to gain peace with the mind and body from eating disorder thoughts.
A primary focus during sessions with clients in the weeks leading up to summer are surrounded by conversation about vacation preparation.
Many times with clients, we discuss strategies on how to combat potential triggers. I would like to share some of these on the blog!
1. Plan ahead.
While this seems to be a common theme for many clients, I believe it is particularly important when going on vacation! Talk to your family and friends about what is on the agenda. Especially consider activities and meals.
  • Will you be renting a house? Will you be cooking some dinners at home or going out to eat for most/all meals?
  • What type of cuisine will be available? Will it be mostly “safe” foods or “challenge” foods?
  • How active will you be on this trip? Is it important to pack extra snacks?

    Dinner for the whole family

    2. Food Challenge. 

    Depending on where you are in recovery, this also may be a good opportunity to set a goal to complete a food challenge. Perhaps trying a food you have not tried in a while. Go to a restaurant. Even considering letting someone else prepare a meal for you could be a challenge to accept while on vacation. Talk to your dietitian to see what makes sense for you and your recovery. This change in routine may be a good time to try something new.

    Complete a food challenge

    3. Prepare Fun Activities. 
    Before going on the trip, talk to others involved about some things you want to do while there. Plan some activities that you would enjoy doing. Plan events that will allow you to have some fun outside of what may be stressful meals. For example, if it’s a beach vacation, you may not enjoy laying on the beach everyday. Research the area and see if there is a day where you can find an activity everyone may enjoy. There are always other ways to enjoy time with family. Play games! Go putt putt golfing. Drive go-karts. Shop. Go on a hot-air balloon ride. Go parasailing. These fun activities will help to reinforce the reason we are here- and that is to enjoy time away spent with the ones we love!

    Fun activities for the family

    4. Pack comfortable clothing.

    Make sure to pack clothes and bathing suites that feel good, make you smile and fit comfortably. This is a time to relax! Use the time to focus on the ones we love who are around us.

    Pack plenty of comfortable clothes

    4. Bring projects to work on and books to read.

    Make sure to block off some time to decompress by yourself, if this is something you enjoy. Time alone is always a good time to process. Take a little time to breathe and prepare for more time with the family. This is especially important if you are sharing a house or hotel with other people. If you thrive on having time alone and down-time have a few options you can do. Read a good book. Use a coloring book. Listen to some music.  Work on any sort of project that makes you happy.

    6. Set an intention for the trip.

    Setting an intention for a trip provides purpose and focus to what there is to appreciate and receive from the time away. Perhaps an intention might be to spend time with a family member you are not able to see often. Practice meditation. Try something new.  Create lasting memories. Focus on thankfulness during this time. Whatever the goal of the trip may be, discuss with your treatment team ahead of time and create a visual list that you can bring with you. Read it each morning to help set focus for the day. Journaling may also help to refocus and jot down thoughts about how each day has been during the trip.

    Set an intention for the trip

    7. Reach out for support.

Let your treatment team, friends and family know how they can help you while you take a vacation. Have a conversation with your spouse, mom or dad about how they can best help you if you run into any challenges during the time away. Having a strategy in place ahead of time can help tremendously if you struggle while you are there. By putting these practical tips into place, it makes for difficult situations to be so much more enjoyable while away!

If you desire any additional support and encouragement while preparing for vacation, please click here or call (240)-670-4675 to schedule an appointment today! 

Blog originally written by Kait Fortunao Greenberg, CEDRD, RDN, LDN. Edits by Alex Raymond, RDN, LDN and Kara Meyer, Student intern

The post Vacationing with an Eating Disorder appeared first on Empowered Eating.

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By Rebecca Bitzer, MS, RD, LD, CEDRD

I recently read a few posts on a National Eating Disorders forum about Lagom.  

Having never heard of Lagom, I quickly googled it, then found a few books at my local library and read up on it.  This Swedish concept means “not too little, not too much, just right”. The comments on the forum were about the challenge of eating enough to avoid a binge but not too much which you might consider a binge. This is a tricky concept because “just right” does not mean perfect.  Just right means learning to pay attention to what your individual body needs and sometimes actually eating a bit more than you need and sometimes a bit less. Ideally eating becomes “just right” as you learn to navigate what works best for your body and under which circumstances.

The tricky balance of honoring your body, your nutrition and your recovery is often a long and windy road.  

What I liked about these books is the way that they looked at how to balance not only eating, but all of life in a way that best suits you.

How can Lagom help find the art of balanced living?

Not only balanced eating, but also balanced living.  I found the books to be interesting (although possibly a bit triggering for some) so I thought it might be valuable to outline some of my favorite takeaways from the books on Lagom.

1. Values:

If you think having more will alway make you happier, you will probably never feel like you have “enough”. How can you re-examine your values and focus on being with people you love and doing things you love? This makes me think of quality instead of quantity which also focuses on intention and mindfulness with eating and life.  

2. Nature:

 I love this quote about the importance of connecting with nature. It reminds me of the importance of slowing down and being present in the moment. My favorite way to stay connected to nature and live in the moment is to go hiking in the North Carolina mountains. Climbing the mountain on fairly rough terrain means that I have to pay attention to each step that I take.I have been climbing black mountain since I was a child and it always brings me a wonderful sense of peace and family. My family vacations there every year. My grandparents and great grandparents have been vacationing there for the past 100 years.  

3. Early Bird:

A University of Toronto study showed early risers are happier than night owls. Getting up early has its benefits:

Fewer distractions

Time for exercise

Time for breakfast

4. How to Save Money like a Swede: The book includes a big list on ways to save money.

My favorite 3 are:

To get rid of unwanted clutter.  Take all your unwanted clutter to a consignment shop or have a yard sale for a little extra cash. Also, if you are in the simplified mindset of avoiding too much stuff, you will save money by avoiding buying things you may only want for a minute and focusing on things you really want/need.

Use your local library instead of buying book.

Invite friends over instead of eating out

5. Fika: The next tip also relates to eating.

 Take time to have coffee and a small sweet with a friend. This focuses on the importance of relaxing and connecting. Connecting is key with other people and also connecting with your body’s needs/wants when it comes to food and hunger/fullness levels.

6. Friends:

I loved this section on four easy ways to spend time with friends:



Waffle afternoon

Bonfire (my favorite is eating s’mores)

7. Children’s activities:

The book includes a list of impromptu children’s activities. I remember once hearing that people have the most vivid memories of family meals, family vacations and being outdoors.  I definitely believe being outdoors is good for your heart and soul. The most clever activity I saw listed was to run through the alphabet and collect small pieces from the wild starting with different letters. This seems like fun for all ages!

I hope this give you some ideas of ways you might want to have more balance in your life.  Balance does not only refer to eating, it encompasses all aspects of living.

What is one way you might want to explore a new way of balancing life or eating?

For more support finding balance with your eating,  reach out to me at rebecca@empoweredeatingblog.com.

The post Lagom and Eating Disorder Recovery appeared first on Empowered Eating.

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By Alex Raymond, RD, LD.

Fun fact about me. I love public speaking. But I used to be completely terrified of it! I don’t know what possessed me to do this… But, it was my freshman year of college and I decided to sign up for this program where you gave health/wellness presentations to UMD students. I don’t think I realized that I would have to give these said presentations in front of 100+ lecture halls! It totally pushed me out of my comfort zone. And now, I actually enjoy speaking in front of large groups.

Alex doing a cooking demo- which definitely takes public speaking skills

I recently gave a presentation to therapists titled “Practical Approaches to Treating Eating Disorders.”

As you may or may not know, eating disorder work is a very niche group. I love working with this population and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. But, it’s important to know that it’s not for everyone. For example, just as I love eating disorder work, working in the kidney disease population is not for me. I find it quite confusing and I have a ton of respect for dietitians who do that work! There are many therapists out there who do amazing work with their client and they don’t have adequate training in ED. Either they aren’t often exposed or they having gotten training.  I was appreciative of the therapists who came out to my training. Many of them had seen an influx in clients with eating disorder symptoms and they wanted to know how to best support their clients. Even if best supporting them meant referring out.

1. Ask yourself, is eating disorder work right for me?

Like I said, it’s not for everyone! And that’s totally fine. It doesn’t have to be a good fit for you. Marci Evans, a dietitian in Massachusetts, created a quiz for health practitioners to take in order for them to see if ED work is a proper fit. You can find the link to the quiz here. If it’s something that interests with you, I encourage you to get additional training. Training is very necessary working with the eating disorder population. Many health practitioners in the ED field also get supervision from colleagues who may have more experience, so they are able to get support and feedback.  

Dietitian Marci Evans has a great quiz on working w eating disorders

2. Get the family involved.

Many individuals who are struggling with eating disorders either do not want to get help or they are afraid to get help, just as this may be the case with other mental illnesses. I have had so many clients come into my office with food struggles who are fearful of admitting they are struggling because they don’t know what will happen next. Getting the family involved and helping them to understand the severity of eating disorders (both the emotional and the physical piece) is so important. Often times, it is the family members that encourage their loved ones to get the support they need to recover. I encourage you to have appointments with family members along with your client. I also strongly recommend that family members attend their own support groups. We have a loved one group that meets twice a month in our Columbia office.

3. Separate your client from his/her eating disorder.

Remember, your client is not his/her eating disorder. What does this mean? It’s the idea that the eating disorder (or ED) is a separate mindset/voice from the recovery mindset. The “ED” voice bullies the client into negative and hateful thoughts about him/herself. However, clients who are recovering do have some thoughts that are positive and focused on recovery. It’s helpful to bring out those thoughts and challenge the ED voice. I recommend reading the book Life Without ED by Jenni Schaefer to get a clearer picture of what this looks like.

4. Understand that eating disorders have serious medical complications.

It’s so important to make sure that an eating disorder client is medically stable and that you are checking in with behaviors that may cause medical complications (purging, restricting, over exercising… to name a few). I recommend to have a doctor with ED knowledge on board whom the client can see on a regular basis.

5. Listen.

All of us want to be heard and understood. Sometimes, the most helpful thing you can do for someone who is struggling with an ED is to listen to their worries and concerns. Ask more questions and make them feel validated and understood. As with most (if not all) mental illness, it can feel like a lonely place. Someone with an ED wants to be heard. The more you listen, the more information you can gather to offer support/advice the client may need to move forward in recovery.

Want more information like this? Stay tuned. I am working on creating webinars for RDs, therapists, RD2Bs and other healthcare professionals to learn more about identifying and treating individuals with eating disorders. If you’d like to learn more, please contact me at alex@empoweredeatingblog.com.

For more information or tips contact these Empowered Eating Dietitians

The post Basic Tips for Health Professionals Treating Eating Disorders appeared first on Empowered Eating.

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Family Based Treatment (FBT) for Eating Disorders with Support from a Registered Dietitian Eating disorders are serious, life-threatening illnesses.

They  affect both the person suffering as well as those closest to them. With treatment, true recovery is possible. This is especially true when intervention happens early.  Intervention and therapy works best when consistent, and eating patterns are normalized. It is imperative to have a strong team in place. Teams often include a dietitian, therapist, and doctor. In many cases, loved ones are also a huge part of the support team. The treatment of an eating disorder can be lonely and stressful for the one who is effected and the family.  Fortunately, we are here to give you support during this process. We will support you every step of the way. Our goal is to provide guidance and wisdom throughout every phase of recovery.

While there are various types of clinically proven treatment methods for eating disorders I wanted to share with you an intervention called Family Based Treatment (FBT).

FBT is also known as the Maudsley Approach. It is defined as “an intensive outpatient treatment where parents play an active and positive role in order to: help restore their child’s weight to normal levels expected given their adolescent’s age and height; hand the control over eating back to the adolescent, and encourage normal adolescent development through an in-depth discussion of these crucial developmental issues as they pertain to their child.”

This approach works well for younger children and adolescents who are living at home with their parents.

For sufferers, negative thoughts lead to extreme measures taken involving food the “Eating Disorder Brain”. This has the power to take over and negatively impact the decision- making process. This tends to be extremely stressful when an individual is solely responsible for their own recovery. While the ultimate goal is to have the young person take eventual ownership over the recovery, early intervention strategies with the help of a team of healthcare professionals and the families can make all the difference in long-term success.

Feelings and emotions associated with eating disorders

Phase I of FBT

Phase 1 is the weight restoration phase. Parents are responsible for making the food decisions. They help to get their child free of the dangers of malnutrition and low weight. As you can imagine, this is a lot of stress . It is hard work for the parents. Our team of dietitians are dedicated to making this recovery strategy as effective and easy for the parents as possible.

Phase II

Phase II of FBT is returning “control” over to the adolescent. This means slowly allowing your child to make decisions when it comes to food. They may be able to start serving themselves or choosing what to have at lunch.

Phase III

Phase III is centered around establishing a healthy adolescent identity.

You can find an in-depth description of this process from the Maudsley Parents site. This site is a wonderful resource for  parents of eating disordered children. It explains this process and how to navigate the unknowns during the recovery process.

Here’s how we have helped families over the years with successful recovery using Family Based Treatment:
  • Providing families with easy-to-follow meal plans. We  including portions, recipes, and timing of meals. This is everything you need in great detail to aid in proper caloric intake.
  • Grocery lists and meal prep strategies to help stay organized. Lists will help you have everything you need for your child’s recovery
  • Detailed list of snack ideas for both at home and non-perishable ideas for outside of the home.
  • Specific strategies to help make meal time less stressful. wWhat you can say to your child. How you can model recovery-style eating.
  • How to incorporate your loved one’s siblings or extended families during this journey to foster appropriate nutrition for all.
  • Options for take-out and restaurant eating.
  • Most importantly, 24/7 support for families to call or text their Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian (CEDRD) with questions or concerns when loved one is struggling.
Let us know how we can help you with Family Based Treatment to help your loved one recover with an eating disorder. We offer both in person and virtual session for clients and families (together or separate) to help make this process as easy as possible.  Please click here or call (240)-670-4675 to make an appointment. We have a loved one support group that meets in our Columbia office. If you would like to attend, please email Alex at alex@empoweredeatingblog.com.  This blog was originally written by Kait Fortunato Greenberg, CEDRD, RD, LD. It was edited by Alex Raymond, RDN, LDN and Kara Meyer, Student Intern.

The post Family Based Treatment for a Successful Recovery appeared first on Empowered Eating.

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By Alex Raymond, RD, LD

Picture this. You take your child into his or her yearly physical. Overall, your child is a happy and healthy young kid. You may or may not have any concerns about your child’s health, but of course, you are anxious to hear what the doctor has to say. It turns out that your pediatrician thinks your child “should lose some weight” or “should watch what he/she is eating.” You may or may not be surprised by this, but still, something stung deep inside. Worried about if your child is “overweight” or if they will start “gaining too much.” At that moment, maybe it makes sense to start cutting back on the sweets and to monitor your child’s portions. After all, you don’t want weight to be a “problem” for your child, so it’s important to start instilling those healthy habits at a young age.

Stop. Take a breath.

This type of scenario has been happening more and more in my office. And, I can certainly understand why parents may want to try to control what their kids are eating. Maybe you’re worried about your child’s weight because you don’t want them to grow up in a larger body. Maybe you had the experience of growing up in a larger body and remember being horribly teased and bullied. Which is terrible. Kids can be so mean. Maybe you are getting pressure from a pediatrician, other health care professionals or messages from the news or media. Maybe your child has expressed to you that he or she feels uncomfortable in his/her body and you just want to take that pain away. Maybe you’re thinking, “well if I don’t control what my kid eats, he/she would just have sweets all day long and no fruits of veggies!”

Encourage nourishing foods and everything in moderation, don’t try to limit a child’s diet.

Whatever the reasoning, yes, I can completely and totally understand why you may want to manage what your child is eating. I am here to tell you that there is another option. Trying to control your child’s eating and weight is not the answer. In fact, it will backfire. And here’s why…

1. Increase Cravings

Taking a food away from someone, whether it’s a child or even an adult, actually increases cravings for this food. If I told you that you could never have oranges again. Or that we were going to not buy oranges anymore. Or that oranges were a food for a special occasion. You would probably be really excited whenever you could eat oranges. Maybe even over eat them because you rarely get to have them! I bet your craving for oranges will even increase. We’ll get into what to do about this later in the blog. I just want you to keep in mind that taking a food away or controlling the amounts of certain foods will backfire in the long run.

Principle: If someone told you you absolutely couldn’t have blueberry waffles, it makes you want blueberry waffles eve more.

2. Bingeing/overeating.

Similar to the increase in cravings, it’s possible they may binge or overeat these foods when they become available. They may consciously or subconsciously have the mindset “well, I’m not sure when I’ll have chocolate cake again, so might as well eat as much as I can.” Also, sweet/salty foods (foods most individuals tend to “overeat”), taste good!!! So, if you’re child isn’t used to have these types of foods, again they may binge on them. Children are very driven by taste! If you feel that your child is already bingeing/overeating, this behavior may stop once all foods are legalized. However, it could also be a sign of an eating disorder, so please pay close attention (without making comments!) to see if your child may need more support in this area.

1. Good foods/bad foods dichotomy.

ALL foods can be part of a healthy diet. Thinking otherwise is a black and white way of thinking. If you tell a child, “you shouldn’t eat that” or “that’s not good for you,” or more blatantly, “that’s a bad food.” This sets the child up for feeling guilty or bad about themselves for eating said “bad food.”

Every food has some benefit, there are no “bad” and “good” foods

4. Sneaking foods.

Trying to limit or control your child’s eating may result in them sneaking foods. This is because they feel guilty about having a certain food and do not want you or anyone else to see they are eating it. If your child has already sneaking foods, this behavior may stop as all foods are legalized.

So then, what do you do about it? Below are some tips on how you can support your child in growing up with a healthy relationship with food.
1. Change the language.

Think about some of the ways we talk about food.  “Ice cream, that’s no good for you.” “Veggies are super healthy!” “ Look at you eating that chocolate cake! I wish I could have some, can I have some chocolate cake?” “Won’t french fries make you gain weight? You shouldn’t eat them too much.” Here’s the deal. Saying these things about foods. 

2. Treat all foods the same.

Cupcakes aren’t any more special than a cucumber. Don’t talk about how special eating a cupcake is without also talking about how special eating a cucumber is. We have this tendency to get really, really excited about eating sweets and salty foods. Which I totally understand. I love eating donuts and will always be excited if a donut is put in front of me. But, if a child is constantly getting those messages he/she will put certain foods up on a pedestal. So, when appropriate talk about how special all foods are.

3. Model behavior.

If want your child to eat veggies, but you don’t eat veggies, chances are, your child isn’t going to either. If you want your child to have a healthy relationship with desserts, show them what that’s like. Make sure to eat a wide variety of foods in front of your child so he/she can observe what normal eating is like. If this is something you are unsure about or struggle with yourself, that’s okay. You might want to consider seeing a dietitian to learn more.

4. Have a variety of foods in the house.

I encourage parents to have all types of foods available to eat at home. If you refrain from buying “fun foods,” chances are, when your child is exposed to them at other places (think birthday parties, schools, grandma’s house…), it’s possible them may “overeat” them a bit. If they are able to have them at home, these foods will eventually just become a normal, boring food. Now, your kids might like certain foods more than others. I think it’s okay for you to guide them and say something like “Hey, you’ve already had X food today. Variety is a very important part of the diet, why don’t you try this?” Make to to say it in a matter of fact tone.

5. Division of responsibility.

This is the idea that you decide the what, when and whereof eating. Your child decides whether they will eat what is served and how much. For example, you can serve steak, broccoli and mashed potatoes. You can put your child’s serving on his/her plate, in the kitchen at 6:30pm for dinner. Your child then gets to decide whether or not he/she will try all the foods and which foods. Maybe he’ll only have a couple bites of the steak and finish all the mashed potatoes and broccoli. And that’s okay. Refrain from encouraging the “clean plate club” or “eating all your veggies.” This will separate your child from hunger/fullness signals and make them resent eating veggies.

To sum up and answer the question, “What to do about your child’s weight?”

Well, you can only do what you can control. Keep in mind that you cannot control their appetite, you cannot control whether or not they’ll like a food, and you cannot control their weight. BUT, you can continue to feed them a variety of foods, including, but not limited to, desserts, proteins, fruits, grains, dairy products, veggies, and any of their other fave foods. You can allow your child to regulate their hunger on their own and decide how much and if they want to eat what you served them.

If you would like to meet with a dietitian to get advice about talking with your child about food and nutrition, call our office at 240-670- 4675 or email us at alexandra@empoweredeatingblog.com

The post What to Do If You’re Concerned about Your Child’s Weight appeared first on Empowered Eating.

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By Alex Raymond, Rd, LD and Caroline Best, student intern

As a junior in a dietetics programs, I’ve started to move into taking more nutrition education courses. After your first year or two in the program filled with science and nutrition classes, courses that teach you how to best interact and educate nutrition patients are integrated into your schedule.  A patient approach we’ve spent time learning about is the weight inclusive approach.

So what exactly is the weight-inclusive approach?

It is the belief that when provided with access to health care that is non-stigmatizing.  Each individual does have the ability to maintain a healthy body. And achieve a state of well-being independent of their weight.   The approach moves away from placing blame on the individual for being unable to lose weight, and it instead blames the weight loss process. It  allows for a decrease in weight stigma and body shaming. The focus is on an overall improvement to psychological well-being.  The weight-inclusive approach does not just apply to those who work as dietitians or in the nutrition field.  It applies to everyone within the health care community including therapists, MDs, PAs, and everyone else.

So why is the weight inclusive approach being taught as the standard for patient care?  

The big reason is that it decreases body shaming. The goal is to reduce negative self-image in patients. Weight can be impacted by involuntary and genetic environmental conditions. These conditions can outweigh voluntary lifestyle choices. Therefore, promoting the public health message of “maintaining a healthy weight” causes these individuals who are unable to reach their weight loss goals (or better yet, society’s weight loss goals) to feel helpless, shameful and negative about themselves and their body. 

In addition, the weight-inclusive approach is linked to eliminating weight cycling and unsustainable weight loss.

What is weight cycling? Basically, another word for yo-yo dieting. The idea of losing the weight on a diet, and then gaining it back after. Then losing it again, then gaining it back…etc. The majority of individuals who take the initiative to lose weight are unable to maintain their lower weight. About 80% of people regain at least part of it within the year. 95% will regain in about 5 years. This leads to frustration and lower self-image . As well as a slowed metabolism, making weight loss (the original goal) being all the more difficult.

In addition, there is absolutely no evidence that shaming someone for their weight helps them improve their health.

BUT there is tons of evidence that focusing on health independent of weight does lead to healthier habits. Based on current evidence, any sort of shaming language from any medical professional is absolutely inappropriate, and even detrimental, to use with a patient

Lastly, the weight-inclusive approach reduces the risk of eating disorders.

The rigidity needed to retain a weight suppressed state may cause individuals who lose weight to develop eating disorders upon breaking t the diet. Very rigid dieting tends to be disrupted by episodes of binge eating.  This can further lead to episodes of purging to counter weigh for the excess calories.  A relevant statistic here is that 81% of 10-year-olds admit to dieting, binge eating, or a fear of getting fat. And we are now seeing eating disorders in children as young as five years old.

There’s obviously a difference in understanding a method and putting it into practice. So as one learns more about the benefits of using a weight-inclusive approach, the next question is how to best implement it.

The Weight Inclusive Approach: Encouraging moderation and nourishing habits to all people

Follow the Health at Every Size (HAES) model which:
  • Rejects basing health on weight, BMI and size and the myth that weight results only from personal choices
  • Depends- on evidence that weight results from uncontrollable environmental and genetic factors.
  • Appreciates -that bodies are naturally of different sizes and shapes.
  • Addresses– the importance of improving health care access for everyone.
The HAES Principles:

These are the HAES principles as defined by the HAES website. We  strongly encourage checking the website out for more info, https://www.sizediversityandhealth.org/content.asp?id=76.

  • Weight Inclusivity: Accept and respect the inherent diversity of body shapes and sizes. Reject the idealizing or pathologizing of specific weights.
  • Health Enhancement: Support health policies that improve and equalize access to information and services, and personal practices that improve human well-being, including attention to individual physical, economic, social, spiritual, emotional, and other needs.
  • Respectful Care: Acknowledge our biases. Work to end weight discrimination, weight stigma, and weight bias. Provide information and services from an understanding that socio-economic status, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and other identities impact weight stigma, and support environments that address these inequities.
  • Eating for Well-being: Promote flexible, individualized eating based on hunger, satiety, nutritional needs, and pleasure, rather than any externally regulated eating plan focused on weight control.
  • Life-Enhancing Movement: Support physical activities that allow people of all sizes, abilities, and interests to engage in enjoyable movement, to the degree that they choose.
When using the weight inclusive approach there are some general guidelines to follow on what to do and what not to to.

What to do:

  •             Do encourage self-care practices and internal body focus.
  •             Encourage a positive view of the body.
  •             Help patients appreciate their bodies.
  •             Do help patients stop shaming themselves.

What not to do:

  •             Don’t praise weight loss- “Wow, you lost weight, that’s great.”
  •             Do not respond to weight gain by going straight for weight loss recommendations.
  •             Put NO  emphasis on externals and appearance.
  •             Do not show frustration when a patient fails to lose weight/gains weight.
I hope the weight-inclusive approach is going to become more widely used.

More and more evidence supports the use of the method. And the weight-inclusive approach gets rid of the outdated and incorrect idea that weight is the best measure of health. It instead focuses on health regardless of body size, which is an  approach linked to increased success and self-efficacy of patients. A final suggestions to best follow the approach is to create a non-stigmatizing environment.

For example:

  • Have furniture to fit all sizes
  • Offer medical equipment and gowns to accommodate individuals in larger bodies
  • Don’t do pubic weigh-ins
  • Educate nurses on how to respond if someone rejects being weighed
    • Remember, your patients have the right to reject being weighed at your office, please respect that.
Final Thoughts from Alex Raymond, Empowered Eating Dietitian :

I applaud Virginia Tech teaching their dietetic students about this topic!! And as wonderful as it is that Caroline has learned about the weight-inclusive approach at her school, I do want to note that this is not the norm. And we still have a long way to go in reducing the stigma in our health-care world in regards to body size. Weight-focused approach is still the focus unfortunately. If you are a health-care provider reading this blog, I strongly encourage you to educate yourself on the HAES principles and how you can treat your clients without focusing on weight. Some of the advice given to people in larger bodies would NEVER be given to someone in a straight-sized body, in fact, it may even be considered disordered behavior. Regardless of someone’s body size, they deserve quality care, compassion and respect every time they walk into your door.

If you have any questions about the weight-inclusive approach, please use the resources on our blog or contact dietitian Alex Raymond at Alex@empoweredeating.com.

The post The Weight Inclusive Approach appeared first on Empowered Eating.

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The Role of the Dietitian in Recovery from an Eating Disorder An eating disorder is a serious illness. It many times includes medical and psychological complications.

Many individuals may not see eating disorders as a mental disease, but they certainly are. It cannot be helped. It is not just a matter of eating foods in significantly large quantities or avoiding foods altogether. Development of an eating disorder is not anyone’s fault. Eating disorders occur due to a number of things. Factors involved are  genetics, past experiences, trauma, and/or abuse. As eating disorder dietitians, we are truly passionate about helping individuals overcome this debilitating condition! Full recovery is possible. Freedom is available for anyone. Through the process of recovery, it is crucial that an individual works with a team of experts in the field, including a dietitian.

Experts offer individualized guidance to help one find freedom from food fears.

As Eating Disorder Registered Dietitians, we have extensive training working with clients struggling with this terrible disorder. We take our role as a part of the treatment team very seriously. We all are so fortunate to work with a strong team members in other professions. Our team includes therapists, doctors, psychiatrists, and counselors to help in the treatment of this serious illness.

Empowered Eating Team

One important thing to note is that unless our brains and bodies are adequately nourished, therapeutic and mental health treatment will not be as effective. Recovery is dependent upon achieving adequate nutrition.  We work to restore a weight appropriate for the individual. Eating disorder complications such as gastrointestinal disturbances, lowered heart rate, low blood sugars, amenorrhea and low bone density can all be addressed with appropriate food intake. Food is the necessary medicine our bodies need. We are here to help you on your journey to recovery.

We understand how overwhelming and difficult this journey is and we have found ways to tackle this together, one step at a time.

Our specialty includes an individualized approach to working with those currently struggling with eating and body image. Meeting a client where they are at currently is one of the most important aspects of what we do. Our goal is to build mutual trust, openness and vulnerability between patient and clinician.

Here is what you can expect from working with an Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian:
  • Assessment of clinical nutrition needs
  • Create a meal plan together that will allow for adequate intake and help build a healthy relationship with food.
  • Learn about fears and goals to work toward so we can help during the journey to finding freedom is our top priority.
  • Address symptom use and triggers, ranging from constant dieting, hiding food, eating in secret, self-induced vomiting, laxative use, excessive exercise, frequent bathroom trips after eating, etc.
  • Discuss weight and body image concerns.
  • Provide education on all the different food groups and their role in the body
  • Take away the element of surprise with different signs and symptoms experienced in recovery.
  • Discuss the role of nutrition related to both physical and mental well being.
  • Work through food challenges together.
  • Help fight eating disorder thoughts.
  • Collaborate with treatment team to provide comprehensive care.

Bagels! Photo: Alex Raymond, RD

For more inspiration, here are some stories of “how a Registered Dietitian changed my life”.

Blog originally written by Kait Fortunato Greenberg, CEDRD, RD, LD. Contributions by Kara Meyer and edits by Alex Raymond, RD, LD.

If you believe you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, please reach out to us. We are here to help. Our phone number is 240-670-4675 or you can visit our contact us us page.

The post The Role of the Dietitian in Recovery from an Eating Disorder appeared first on Empowered Eating.

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