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By Alex Raymond, RD, LD
I have finally jumped onto the podcast bandwagon and I love it.

It’s a great way for me to learn a ton from other professionals in the field. Especially since our world is clouded with diet and weight loss messages, I find listening to these podcasts helps me to keep from pulling my hair out. A little dramatic, but mostly true! It’s so important for me to hear the non-dieting message because these are the ideas that I truly align myself. It helps me to remember that there are other professionals who agree with me and are doing amazing things to spread this message. Here are some of my favorite podcasts. Would love to hear yours

1. Don’t Salt My Game by Laura Thomas, PhD

Laura is a nutritionist in London. She practices with an Intuitive Eating and Health At Every Size ® approach. She interviews various dietitians, therapists, and activists in the non-diet field. Episodes I recommend you check out are: 

EP70 – Body Image, Self Compassion & ‘Food Addiction’ w/ Marci Evans of Marci RD

EP64 – How to Make Peace With Food & Your Body w/ Megan Crabbe of BodyPosiPanda

2. Love, Food with Julie Duffy Dillon

This podcast has such a unique twist! Kind of like an advice column. Each episode starts with a letter to food. Julie then goes into her advice and thoughts regarding the letter. Then, the episode ends with a letter from food to the person who wrote the letter. These episodes are also about 20-30 minutes long so they are great if you just want to listen to something quick. Episodes you should check out are: 

Episode 105. “Is my Healthy Eating a Problem?”ft.  Robyn Goldber, http://www.juliedillonrd.com/lovefood105/

Episode100. “I’m tired of fighting the world to not diet. I’m tempted to try again.”  http://www.juliedillonrd.com/lovefood100/

3. Body Kindness by Rebecca Scritchfield

“Health is about being kind to your body.” Rebecca also wrote a book called Body Kindness, which is amazing. There are a ton of cool tips about being kind to your body, no matter what size you are. Rebecca is very active in the HAES community. She talks about a wide variety of topics on her podcast. Episodes to check out are: 

Episode 63. “Goal Digging for an Anti-Diet Year.”

Episode 55.”Resilience through an Eating Disorder with Christy Harrison, host of Food Psych Podcast, HAES Dietitian, and Intuitive Eating Counselor.”

4. RD Real Talk by Heather Caplan

This podcast is targeted toward RDs and RD2Bs. Heather gets real with RDs in this podcast. They talk about their careers, intuitive eating and non dieting. We also interviewed Heather for our website, so check it out here Episodes are available for download on itunes. I recommend you check out: 

Episode 6. “Rejecting the Diet Mentality.”

Episode 17. “Dieting Made Me Feel Crazy.”

5. The Recovery Warrior by Jessica Flint

This podcast is devoted to speaking about the resilience of those who are/who have struggled with an eating disorder as well as depression and anxiety. Jessica interviews other professionals on this podcast.  I especially loved this episode:

Kicking Diet Culture To The Curb and Taking Back Your Life With Summer Innanen

6.  Food Psych by Christy Harrison

This podcast is “a weekly show dedicated to helping you make peace with food and your body.” Christy talks with leaders in the non-diet, HAES, and body positive field. She starts each episode reading a letter from a client and spends time giving her personal input. With her guests, she talks a lot about eating disorder recovery, weight stigma, and size diversity. Highly Recommend you check out this episode: 

Kicking Diet Culture To The Curb and Taking Back Your Life With Summer Innanen

Do you need any help or advice in finding resources in combatting diet culture or helping with recovery? We would love to help you, call our office a 240-670-4675 for more information about our programs or email me at alex@rbitzer.com

The post Favorite Non-Dieting Podcasts appeared first on Empowered Eating.

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By Caroline Best, student intern. Edits by Alex Raymond, RD.

This semester has been one of my favorites. I’ve finally reached the point where all my classes directly relate to my Dietetics major. No more calculus or general chemistry. Can I just say it’s been way more fun to go to class when you’re passionate about all the topics. Throughout my first weeks of classes a term that kept popping up was HAES or Health At Every Size. It was presented as this new health movement, but wasn’t really explained past that. My initial reaction was “ I get this gist of this, it means valuing health at all body sizes”.  I kept seeing HAES referenced in articles and on dietitian’s social media posts. I was curious and decided to learn a little more.   

Very excited about my nutrition books this semester.

The HAES movement has SO much more depth than my original impression.I strongly suggest looking at the HAES community web page. It has tons of great information about what Health At Every Size means and how the movement got started.

“Health at Every Size is the new peace movement. It supports people of all sizes in addressing health directly by adopting healthy behaviors. It is an inclusive movement, recognizing that our social characteristics, such as our size, race, national origin, sexuality, gender, disability status, and other attributes, are assets, and acknowledges and challenges the structural and systemic forces that impinge on living well.” – excerpt from Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight by Linda Bacon, PhD

This is the mission statement of the HAES webpage.  I can’t put into words how happy it makes me.  I’ve learned time and time again in my classes and with Alex how unrealistic, ineffective and even dangerous it is to follow the idea that there’s one way to be healthy. People are wonderfully unique and part of that is health looks different on everyone. The idea that a person needs to be a specific size, eat a specific list of foods or move in a specific way to be “healthy” is outdated and just wrong. I’m so glad there’s a movement for change. 

I love that HAES challenges those who have a narrow definition of  health and automatically associate health and body size. In many of my classes we’ve learned how there are so many better indicators of health than size.  A focus on health is a focus on developing habits that make you feel good and improve your quality of life.

ANYONE can do this.

Health is trying your best to nourish your body with a variety of foods. Foods that make you feel good and that you love. Health is finding movement you enjoy.  Yes, being active is wonderful. It relieves stress, gets your blood flowing, helps digestion, and generates energy.  But whether your movement is walking, running, dancing, lifting, climbing, stretching, swimming, ( I could go on listing for 10 pages.), it’s all great. It can be yourself or with a friend. It can be at night or in the morning. For 5 minutes or an hour, there’s no “right” way to focus on your health.

Alex’s activity: Cartwheels

Caroline’s activity: chasing frisbees

A final appreciation I have for the HAES movement is that it’s a peace movement. So many diets or fitness regimens love to pick at your habits. You’re told everything that’s wrong or “unhealthy” with your body or your lifestyle. HAES is the opposite. You take a moment, accept and appreciate where you’re currently at. You make peace with the body you’re in and make an effort to treat yourself with respect, kindness, and love.

I learned about so much about Health At Every Size through the social media of HAES and non-diet dietitians. I strongly encourage you to look at the resources I listed below for more information.

  1. The community webpage,  https://haescommunity.com/ .
  2. Alex Raymond, @Empoweredeating_ on Instagram, @EmpoweredEating on twitter.
  3. Mari Evans, @MarciRD on instagram and twitter.
  4. Haley Goodrich, @hgoodrichrd on instagram and twitter.
  5. Fiona Sutherland, @FionaBodyPosAus on twitter, @themindfuldietitian on instagram.
  6. Rebecca Scritchfield,  @ScritchfieldRD on twitter, @Rebecca Scritchfield on instagram.
  7. Heather Caplan, @heatherdcrd on twitter, @rdrealtalk on instagram
  8. Kylie Mitchell, @immaeatthatblog on twitter, @immaeatthat on instagram
  9. Sumner Brooks, @intuitiveeatingrd on instagram
  10. Julie Duffy Dillon, @foodpeacerdn on twitter, @foodpeacedietitian on instagram

The post Health At Every Size, an RD2B Reflection appeared first on Empowered Eating.

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By Alex Raymond, RD, LD
Dear Dieting Industry, I’m done. If I wasn’t before, I definitely am now.

I think I was put over the edge when I had 3 different 10-14 year olds come into my office over the course of a week with early signs of the development of an eating disorder. A ten year old!! It amazes me, the great lengths you go through to make people feel miserable about themselves. To make people feel like they aren’t “good enough” until they lose weight or sculpt their bodies. Logically, it doesn’t make sense for someone’s self worth to be defined by how small, big, muscular or fat they are. But, sadly, dieting industry, you make us think that’s the case. It makes me so incredibly sad to hear not only clients, but friends and families and even health care professionals, feel that the way their bodies look has to be the very thing that makes them happy.

I’ve had clients crying in my office because they can’t lose weight. Or they were told they needed to lose weight. They tried one of your diets, then another diet, and then another, only to end up feeling more shitty than when they started. You leave people feeling completely worthless. Dieting industry, because people “failed” you, they are left feeling like in some way, there is something wrong with their character. It’s not them that failed you. You failed them from the beginning. With false promises and hope of happiness. When in reality, you were just taking the happiness away from them, little by little.

And did you know that you play a huge role in the development of eating disorders?

I’ve gotten to know so many amazing people who started on a diet to “lose weight” as an “innocent” thing. Or just wanted to eat a bit healthier.  The diet stuck, and it kept getting more and more restrictive. You left them with a full blown eating disorder.  I do have to say, all of my clients are incredibly strong and amazing, so when I see them able to fight back against your mentality, it’s wonderful. Because they’re able to stand up and say they are worth more than what their eating disorder tells them.

Encouraging words to remember!

You’ve made intelligent, compassionate health care professionals believe that weight loss will make people healthier and stronger. That weight loss is the only answer to a long and happy life. The secret that you hide so well: Weight loss is not the answer. There is so much research out there supporting a weight neutral approach to health. Additionally, even the research that mentions “weight loss” as a way to improve health is unclear.

It’s truly behavior changes that make a difference. 

We really need to take a huge step back from using weight as what defines health.

I do have to say, one positive you brought me was forcing me to take a look at the way I practice. As a dietitian, do I really want to help people achieve weight loss? Absolutely, not. I am a strong supporter of size diversity and health at every size. I could go into this, but that would be a whole other letter. So all of you reading this, if you want more information, I encourage you look up health at every size.

Dieting industry, because of you I have had clients who have felt completely dismissed at a doctor’s office or therapist’s office or dietitians office because of their size. They were told that if they lost weight, everything would be okay. Well, that’s something they have been told THEIR WHOLE LIFE. They are sick of hearing it and also it’s so not helpful. It backfires and makes them feel completely shameful. It’s so much harder to form healthier habits when you are feeling negatively toward yourself.

Have you thought about that?

Food is supposed to be something that is enjoyable and uncomplicated. But you’ve taken food and made it into the enemy. Food. The very foundation of what keeps us alive. The very thing that allows us to breathe, our hearts to beat, our brains to think, our arms to hug.

You can take amazing, intelligent, and beautiful women, and make them feel like they mean nothing because of their body size.

How is this okay? I mean just look at Oprah. Look at everything she has done with her life. A number of incredible things. And she is still fighting with her weight. Still thinking weight loss in the way to go. Still thinking she can’t be completely fulfilled unless her body looks a certain way.  

We have a tendency to believe that if you look good, you will feel good. When we as a society completely have it backwards. And that’s on you dieting industry.

You put this on us and it’s time for a change.

What if we were able to accept (and maybe even love) our bodies just the way they were? What if we were able to embrace the fact that beauty comes in all different shapes and sizes? That beauty is more than the surface? And we are more than just “bodies”!! What if we were able to unapologetically accept who we are, and instead of changing our bodies, we tried our best to simply live our lives? Think about it. I think each of us would feel a whole hell of a lot more at peace. With not just our bodies. But every area of our lives.

When my clients come in my office, I don’t label them as overweight or obese. A person with a problem they need to fix. I learn about their lives and how much they love their families. How much they care for other people and are literally willing to give anything or do anything to make their loved ones happy. I see the strength they have to come to me to get help. And be open to changing how they view food.  Many of them recognizing that something isn’t right in this world full of diets and disordered eating behaviors. And are starting to slowly come around to the idea that they are more than their weight.

Gosh, but, honestly, so many of us cannot even fathom the idea that weight isn’t important. We’ve been told the opposite our whole lives. Again, that’s all on your dieting industry. You’ve held so many women and men back from their full potential because weight and food have been holding them back. I think this is the true problem that needs to be fixed.

So what do we do about it? I’m not sure I have the answers. There are great people out there who are truly supporting the movement of size diversity and decreasing weight stigma. I know plenty of you reading are fed up with the dieting industry too.

Let’s speak up.

Use our voices or our writing or our social media platforms.  We need more people to at least be open to the idea that we are more than our bodies and we need more health care professionals to at least be open to the research that health isn’t all about weight. We need more compassion and understanding when it comes to people of different sizes. Each and every one of us has something so very special to offer the world. I truly believe that. And that last thing I want is for food and weight to hold you back from doing the amazing things that you are capable of.

I am more than happy to answer any questions you may have about  the dieting industry. Please feel free to email me at alex@rbitzer.com or call my office at 301-474-2499.

The post Open Letter to the Dieting Industry appeared first on Empowered Eating.

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By Alex Raymond, RD, LD

In my personal opinion clean eating is a socially acceptable form of disordered eating. Clean eating is not a lifestyle change. It’s a diet. I’ve been meaning to write this blog for awhile, but I was struggling with trying to find the words. I think that’s because, quite honestly, whenever I think about clean eating, I find myself getting frustrated.

Clean eating

First of all. Clean eating is not a real thing.  I’m not entirely sure how this movement started. I can take an educated guess and say it has something to do with our culture’s obsession with health. Being “healthy” is put on this moral pedestal. It’s something that is so highly valued in our society. If you’re healthy (aka fit a certain body type), you are a good person. Probably smart and successful too. (I know this not to be true, however it is subliminally ingrained in our society).

What we sometimes forget, is that many areas of health are out of our control. So many health factors are genetic. Take high blood pressure for example. I have a friend who is “normal” weight, fairly active, AND is a dietitian. She has high blood pressure. Almost every member in her family also has high blood pressure. She can limit all the salt she wants to and avoid eating out (as those foods do tend to be higher in sodium), but it might not make too much of a difference. As long a she has variety and balance in her diet, why should she force herself to never eat out if that’s something her friends do regularly enough that she would be missing out if she didn’t go?

Because we can’t control some of these health factors, as a culture, I believe we try to then focus in on the two things we can control. Diet and Exercise… Not to mention that our culture has a huge focus on thinness and fitness. Enter “clean eating.”

On the surface level. “Eating clean” sounds great! Who wouldn’t want to “be healthy?” And yes, I’m not denying that what we eat is a part of that. I am a dietitian after all. So, it is incredibly important to have a diet high in a variety of fruits and veggies, proteins, carbs, fats dairy products and “fun” foods. OH WAIT! That’s all the food we eat.

When it comes to clean eating as healthy eating, there are a few things we need to remember…
1. What does healthy really mean?

When we say “healthy” many times we completely forget the emotional and spiritual side of health.Clean eating, in some cases, can lead to a full blown eating disorder. Clean eating in many other cases, may not lead to a full blown eating disorder, but can certainly lead to serious disordered eating patterns. Eating disorder/disordered eating behaviors are mental health issues.

So, therefore, someone may be eating what the media defines as healthy (and really, who even gave them that job), but could be under serious emotional distress. It’s tough to lead a value-filled life under food rules. Plus, I would argue that eating clean isn’t physically healthy either. What if I wanted to have a donut? Could I have one once a month? Twice a week? Every day? It could be totally fine to have a donut everyday and still lead a “healthy” life. Moderation is different for everyone and it is also key to a balanced and nutritious diet.

2.  How do you even define “clean?” And is “clean” really healthy?

Eat according to your hunger and fullness cues

 As of yet. I have not really heard a defined definition of what “clean eating” actually means. “What makes a food more clean than another?” Has not been answered for me either. All I know, is that I have clients who begin to cut out food after food to have a “clean” diet. They are left with an intense fear surrounding the food that now controls their life. Imagine not going out to eat with friends. Having severe anxiety when you sit down for a meal. Not enjoying the taste of a cake on your birthday. Eating becomes shaped with rules and regulations and feeling guilty. That is no way to live. Yes, food does have to take up an appropriate amount of brain energy. I believe it is important to have a general idea of what you’re going to eat each day so you can plan ahead, grocery shop….etc. But not so much time that it’s taking over your life and eating allows for no flexibility.

Nutrition is all about balance and moderation.

You can eat all the kale you want, but if you’re not eating it with fat, then you’re body isn’t going to absorb or store the vitamin K. If you don’t have enough protein or carbs, you’re not going to feel satisfied and chances are you will be tired much of the time. Having trends like “clean eating” 100% contributes to this rigidity and shame/guilt surrounding eating. Clean eating provides more strict rules to follow. For some, this may lead down a path of a full blown eating disorder. And for most, it will prevent them from having a positive food relationship. That doesn’t sound “healthy” to me.

3. Why put a label on it?

 One of my biggest issues with health in our society is that we feel the need to label people’s eating habits. “I’m clean eating.” “I’m vegan.” “I’m gluten free.” “I’m a herbo-vego-octo-pesco-tarian.” (Just kidding). Why do we have to put a label on eating? Because once you say “I’m (insert type-of-eater here),” your eating becomes a part of your identity. And food shouldn’t be like that.  Why can’t we just accept that someone’s diet has a balance of ALL types of foods? The reality is. there is no one “right” way to eat, which I think can sometimes be scary to accept. But, cutting out foods and restricting yourself is not the answer.

4.  What will happen if you don’t eat clean/how will you feel?

This question I think is key. In my experience, I have found that when people “fall off” their clean eating patterns, they feel terrible. Like they have done something completely and morally wrong. It is not healthy to feel badly about yourself when you eat food. If abiding by the clean eating guidelines has a moral compass for you, that’s a problem. Because at the end of the day, it’s going to make you feel worse. Sure, you hear stories about social media stars (and maybe friends too) about how awesome their bodies feel eating healthily. BUT there is so much that goes on behind the scenes that they don’t tell you.

What overall changes have you made?

Sure, eating “clean” may make you feel better at first. But I challenge you to take a look and think about why it’s making you feel better… For example, maybe you’re cooking at home more to have more family meals. Or maybe clean eating has led you to eat more vegetables.  if you’re a young adult/college student, eating clean has led you to drink less alcohol. Could it be that’s it’s not actually the clean eating that is making you feel better, but that it’s the overall changes you’re making in your diet? So, it doesn’t mean you have to “eat clean” all the time! It means you can continue to make those nutritional changes AND have moderation and variety when it comes to those fun foods. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too?!

5.  What is going to make you happy?

At the end of the day, eating should not have any sort of moral compass or define who you are as a person. Fueling your body with the energy it needs is essential to your life and not something to feel shameful about! That would be like if you got mad at yourself for breathing. Both eating and breathing keep us alive and well.

It’s not the food you eat that defines you. It’s how you live life close to your values.

That doesn’t mean you have to do this everyday. Just take some time thinking about what is truly going to make you happy. Not what is going to make your eating disorder or disordered thoughts happy. You are so much more than avocado toast, kale salads and acai bowls.

I am more than happy to answer any questions you may have about restrictive eating. Please feel free to email me at alex@rbitzer.com or call my office at 301-474-2499.

The post 5 Ways to Eat Clean (Just Kidding) appeared first on Empowered Eating.

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By Alex Raymond, RD LD
If you’re one of my clients, you have probably heard me go on what I like to call a “fat rant” at least once.

And, if you’re not one of my clients, by reading this blog, you’re about the get a glimpse into this “rant.”  In my personal opinion (and many other dietitian’s opinions), dietary fats have been villainized for way too long in our society.  I have heard so many people, including family, friends and clients, tell me they buy the “fat free” products because they know it’s better for your health. Well, I’m here to tell you that “fat free” doesn’t mean “healthier.” But, I can’t blame people for thinking that. For years, food companies have been using language like “low fat” or “fat free” on labels to promote their products. It seems that phrases like that are used to indicate that their product is somehow “healthier” and therefore you should buy it. (Food companies are tricky like that with all their subliminal, yet not-so-subliminal, messaging). 

You may be thinking, “but Alex, the fats in certain foods are the “unhealthy” saturated fats, so we should probably avoid those foods, right?” I wouldn’t say that saturated fat is a “bad” fat. Yes, it is recommended to consume more unsaturated fats than saturated ones. BUT! That does NOT mean you can’t eat foods that have saturated fats in them.Even the American Heart Association says it’s okay to have some saturated fat in the diet. Also, foods that may have a higher content of saturated fats have many other health benefits. Let;’s take red meat for example. Red meat is packed with protein, iron and B12, among others. All very important nutrients that keep your body functioning. Whole milk yogurt has calcium and vitamin D (and tastes WAY better than fat free in my opinion).

Plus, if you break it down on a molecular level, the only difference between saturated fats and unsaturated fats is the number of double bonds–both are just fatty acid chains that your body will figure out how to use and metabolize.

Let’s talk about 5 reasons why fats are an essential part of your diet and why you should embrace them!
1)      Fats keep you satisfied

Fats are the glue that really holds a meal together. Having a meal with fat in it actually keeps you fuller and more satisfied. It is true that fat does take a longer time to digest, but that’s not a “bad” thing. It means that these fats will give your body the long lasting energy it needs to get you through the day, while feeling energized. Also, have you ever eaten a meal and felt like you needed to have something else right after? Maybe you weren’t still hungry, but it felt like something was missing? Usually that’s the fat. So anytime you’re thinking, “wow, I don’t feel like that was enough, but my stomach feels full/satisfied,” try next time to add a fat to it (whether that be olive oil, avocado, butter, or a glass of 2% or whole milk).

2)      Fats help with hormones

I’m not going to bore you with all of the nitty gritty biochem details. Basically, fats are a structural component of hormones–think of them as the “building blocks.” Without fats, certain hormones (aka prostaglandins), wouldn’t be able to be created. What are prostaglandins, you may be thinking. They are responsible for a very wide variety of body functions. Just to name a few:

Contraction and relaxation of muscle Dilation, as well as constriction, of blood vessels Blood pressure control Plays a role in inflammation (warns body if there is an infection)

Fats also help to control the production of sex hormones. For women, if we do not have enough fat in our bodies, our periods halt. Estrogen is the main sex hormone for women and in a way is responsible for regulating periods. So, in cases of low body fat, a woman would have low levels of estrogen and lose her period (amenorrhea).  Even if you’re not planning on having a child, this is a way for the body to signal that it’s unsafe to get pregnant. Not to mention other consequences of amenorrhea like bone loss. Additionally, low body fat can lead to low testosterone levels in men.

3)      Fats support absorption of vitamins

There are four fat soluble vitamins, A,D, E and K. Each of these play a very important role in the body. Vitamin K, for example, plays a role in blood clotting. While Vitamin A helps to maintain healthy skin and also supports eye health.Without fats, these vitamins cannot be absorbed correctly. So, think twice about using that fat free salad dressing!

Delicious Granola with nuts and fruit!

4)      Fats promote brain health

Want a healthy brain? Eat your fats. The myelin is the substance that surrounds the nerve of brain cells. This is made from fatty acids. The myelin actually helps the brain carry the messages faster and cannot be created without the consumption of fats. Additionally, research supports that the consumption of omega-3 (found in fatty fish like tuna and salmon) supports memory and the prevention of Alzheimer’s.

5) Fats insulate and protect organs

This fact doesn’t have to do with consumption of dietary fats necessarily. However, the fat on our body is important for many reasons. One of them being it actually protects the important organs (think: heart, lungs, liver, kidneys) but forming a protective layer among them. 

If you or someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder, we can help. Call our office today at 301-474-2499 or visit our contact us page.

The post The Importance of Fats appeared first on Empowered Eating.

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By Rebecca Bitzer, RD

 You are not alone. Binge Eating Disorder widely impacts individuals of all ages. Additionally, it is estimated that up to 40% of people joining weight loss programs meet the criteria of binge eating disorder. Unfortunately, dieting can often make things worse. Yes, that is correct. In fact, the worst thing you can do for yourself or a loved one is to encourage a weight loss program or diet to someone struggling with binge eating disorder. So what can you do?

 1. Educate yourself and/or your loved one on binge eating disorder.

What is the Binge Eating Disorder (BED) Cycle?

Binge Eating Disorder Treatment

Taste the Sweet Rebellion

2. Look for experts trained in binge eating disorder recovery.

First, find a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) who has been trained in the non-dieting approach or intuitive eating.  Secondly, another credential to look for is CEDRD. It stands for Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian and his credential takes years to complete. In addition to the RDN credential which takes at least 5 years to complete.  So, if your RDN does not yet have the CEDRD credential completed, simply ask if your RDN is working towards it.

3. Become aware of resources that help you recover.

First, find a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who believes in the Health at EVERY Size (HAES) approach.

So what is HAES? “Health at Every Size® principles help us advance social justice, create an inclusive and respectful community, and support people of all sizes in finding compassionate ways to take care of themselves.”

HAES includes:

RESPECT

CRITICAL AWARENESS

COMPASSIONATE SELF-CARE

4. Join a support group to help you feel less isolated. This is different than a diet group.

A support group is completely different. If there is not a support group in your area; look for online support groups.

      1. SUPPORT GROUPS:
        1. https://www.bulimia.com/topics/support-groups/
        2. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/
        3. http://www.anad.org/

If you live in Maryland, specifically near Greenbelt, Annapolis, or Columbia and we can help. We have a binge eating disorder support group as well. It’s starting in February on Thursday evenings at 6 pm.

Thursdays in February at 6 pm in our Greenbelt MD office! For more resources look at our website empoweredeatingblog.com . 

The post Binge Eating Disorder Recovery Tips appeared first on Empowered Eating.

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By Dana Magee, RD
For those suffering from an eating disorder remember:

“you alone can do it, but you can’t do it alone.”

What is meal support?

 It is not the food police, or the enforcer.  It is the modeling of healthy food behaviors, being there with your loved one, the calmness and compassion at meal times  that has the true value.  To illustrate this better I will use the model from the Skills-based Learning for Caring for a Loved One with an Eating Disorder animal analogies.  

Loved ones: Remember this is not easy.  

Have compassion for yourself, learn, ask for help, forgive yourself if you wish you reacted differently.  It is natural, typical and instinctive to a concerned and frightened family member or friend to take on one of the following roles:

Kangaroo Dolphin Rhino
You see your loved one struggling, it hurts your heart to see them in pain and you try to protect them from that pain and keep them safe as if you have them in your pouch.

The challenge with protecting your loved one from any stress or discomfort is that they do not learn to do this for themselves. It traps them in the infant role, and can exhaust you in the caregiver role.

You see your loved one in pain and you are present  there with them.  Their eating disorder is their life preserver and you are helping them to understand they can swim on their own, when they are ready.  

The benefit is that you are there to gently nudge in the direction of recovery, lead the way and model healthy behaviors, swim alongside with encouragement and even swim behind them when they taking strides in recovery.

In response to the family members pain you want to FIX it as soon as possible.  Likened to charging at the ED with logic.   

The challenge is that ED’s do not make logical sense.  This is exhausting and met with the defense of the eating disorder to preserve itself and actually strengthens ED.

How can I be a dolphin for my loved one? CALM, COMMUNICATION, COMPASSION, COOPERATION, CONSISTENCY, COACHING
Points to Remember:
  • Understand that the ED is serving some benefit to your loved one, you may be met with defenses when the ED is threatened, this is frightening to your loved one to let go of their sense of well being, power, control, uniqueness or comfort they get from the ED.
  • Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. ED’s also do a good job of masking themselves and keeping behaviors hidden.
  • Do not participate in discussions of food, calories, body shape or weight in regards to your loved one, yourself, those you know, or even strangers and celebrities.  Instead comment on their confidence, their smile, their happiness, their hard work etc.
  • Remember that eating disorders are not just about the food-the food is linked with identity, emotions, beliefs and/or values attached.  When you see your loved one struggling with an ED behavior don’t get focused on the food, instead ask how they are feeling, how you can help.  
Only your loved one can decide when to change. 
  • Some carers have difficulty tolerating the distress in their children and in doing so can inadvertently invalidate their loved ones emotional pain discount their thoughts and feelings.
  • Understand that ED sufferers tend to be over- analytical and see only detail, rather than being able to synthesis the moment into the tapestry of life.  They often are able to focus on one thing without distraction making them inflexible and rigid.  Add flexibility to other areas of life to help progress on flexibility with food.
  • Remember it is not a simple switch.  There are many steps in between on the road to doing something different.
  • Care for yourself.  Feed yourself regularly, take breaks, plan to have other family members support at different meals to prevent burning out.  This will also model self care for your loved one and allow them time on their own to build confidence.
Every mistake is a treasure.
  • Your loved one may be overly concerned about making mistakes and become trapped in predictive, effort free, cage.  If you can show that you are not frightened of admitting that you have a made a mistake you are willing to think about what you have learned from it, and that you can be flexible enough to shift your approach in the light of new learning then you are transmitting an important life skill.  “On reflection, I am sorry.”
  • Do not lock up foods- this sends the message to the eating disorder that these foods are unsafe and gives them more power.  We want to help your family member feel safe around these foods.
Guidelines at meals:
  • Eating with a family member, they also have a balanced plate with normalized portions, and can model pacing.  Meals typically last about 30 minutes.
  • Sitting at the table.
  • Eating on a schedule (allowing for some flexibility).
  • No discussion of food at the table.
  • Gentle prompting, “I notice you are struggling, I am here with you.”  
  • Meal time distractions.
  • Expect as the goal that your loved one complete at least 75% of their meal.
  • Remember you cannot force your loved one to eat. You cannot bully or bargain with them to eat.  You will get sucked in a trap by the ED.  What you can do sit there with them, distract them, sit with them if feeling overly full or uncomfortable after the meal.
After the meal:
  • It may be helpful to your loved one to distract them after the meal.  Often the ED is on full blast with blame, guilt and shame stirring and it may help to get their mind off of it.
  • If you have any concerns about the meal ask your loved one about it after the meal away from the table.  In a quiet place without distractions ask questions, calmly express your concerns and talk about what you observed
  • Do not shake off that what you observed as not being a big deal.
  • In your discussion remember that there is two parts in front of you, your loved one and the eating disorder. If you get frustrated at that process take a break it is the ED that you are fighting with, not your loved one.  
  • Think about yourself like a fly on the wall here are ways to position your thoughts with decreased room for battle with the ED.
    • “I am concerned about…”
    • “I see you think…” 
    • “Please can you talk to me about…
    • “I think you feel…”
    • “I have noticed that…”
    • Confirm you understand what they are expressing, “Sounds like this might be the way you see things…? Have I got that right?”
    • Listen without judgement, “That is not the way I see things, I accept you feel differently.”
    • “Is there anything I can do to help?”
    • Give praise, “Thanks for… I like it when…”
    • Express concern, stay calm, list concerns with compassion, “I have noticed several things which have made me worry about your health…I would like you to… If you want me to, I’d be happy to come with you.”
    • “I can see you are trying hard.”
    • “I know this is difficult for you….. And I really appreciate how hard you are trying.”
    • Do not get drawn into a dialogue about food and weight.
      • “It sounds like you are upset.”
      • “I can hear you talking to me about ED concerns.”  
      • “It sounds as if you are terrified.”
Do not get stuck in reassurance traps.
      •  People with ED have high anxiety and look to loved ones for reassurance. Providing this will only provide a temporary relief and it will soon return.  It will also prevent your loved one from learning that they can master fear and doubt.
  • “It sounds as it your anxiety is really strong.”
      • “You seem frightened”
      • “That is your eating disorder speaking to you.”
      • “Be brave it will pass”
      • “If I join in with food or weight talk I will lock you deeper into your ED.”
      • “I do not enter into discussions about food or calories,  We will change the subject.”
      • “As we have discussed speaking to ED voice is harmful”
      • “It sounds as if you might be confused about making changes…”
Take a break:
  • “I don’t think this is a good time to discuss the matter.  Let’s talk about it later when we are both calm.”
  • “We have both said what we think, now i am going to…”
  • “My emotions are too intense to think clearly at the moment.  Let’s come back to it later.”
    There may be mixed feelings about changing
    • “Part of you feels… yet part of you wants to…”
    • “On the one hand you think… and on the other hand you…”
    • “When you focus on you and the eating disorder in this moment you feel… and when you reflect on the bigger picture….”
    • “Zooming in on now, you…. And if you take the broad life perspective you…”
      Your loved one is having trouble with change
      • “You do not think you are ready to… yet”
      • “At the moment you it’s too difficult…”
      • “I have every confidence in you that tomorrow, you can make things happen differently”
      • “I was please that you tried. That means we have gained knowledge”
      • “Tomorrow is a new day- didn’t beat it this time, try again tomorrow.”
Rules for Communication
  • One person speaks at a time
  • Don’t prescribe solutions or a course of action
  • Give your loved one opportunity to talk about change and the bigger picture and encourage talk about life without the ED.  
  • Don’t order, direct, warn or threaten
  • Let your loved one do the majority of the speaking especially when talking about change
  • Do not get on a soapbox and deliver a script
  • Keep calm, compassionate, respectful
  • Focus on the positive
  • Don’t argue, lecture, persuade with logic
  • Do no assume an authoritarian role
  • Don’t make moral statements

Supporting loved ones is key to recovery. I am more than happy to answer any questions you may have about how to be offer support.  Please feel free to email me at dana@rbitzer.com or use the resources on our website empoweredeating.com 

The post Meal Support for Loved Ones appeared first on Empowered Eating.

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By Alex Raymond, RD LD
If you’re one of my clients, you have probably heard me go on what I like to call a “fat rant” at least once.

And, if you’re not one of my clients, by reading this blog, you’re about the get a glimpse into this “rant.”  In my personal opinion (and many other dietitian’s opinions), dietary fats have been villainized for way too long in our society.  I have heard so many people, including family, friends and clients, tell me they buy the “fat free” products because they know it’s better for your health. Well, I’m here to tell you that “fat free” doesn’t mean “healthier.” But, I can’t blame people for thinking that. For years, food companies have been using language like “low fat” or “fat free” on labels to promote their products. It seems that phrases like that are used to indicate that their product is somehow “healthier” and therefore you should buy it. (Food companies are tricky like that with all their subliminal, yet not-so-subliminal, messaging). 

You may be thinking, “but Alex, the fats in certain foods are the “unhealthy” saturated fats, so we should probably avoid those foods, right?” I wouldn’t say that saturated fat is a “bad” fat. Yes, it is recommended to consume more unsaturated fats than saturated ones. BUT! That does NOT mean you can’t eat foods that have saturated fats in them.Even the American Heart Association says it’s okay to have some saturated fat in the diet. Also, foods that may have a higher content of saturated fats have many other health benefits. Let;’s take red meat for example. Red meat is packed with protein, iron and B12, among others. All very important nutrients that keep your body functioning. Whole milk yogurt has calcium and vitamin D (and tastes WAY better than fat free in my opinion).

Plus, if you break it down on a molecular level, the only difference between saturated fats and unsaturated fats is the number of double bonds–both are just fatty acid chains that your body will figure out how to use and metabolize.

Let’s talk about 4 reasons why fats are an essential part of your diet and why you should embrace them!
1)      Fats keep you satisfied

Fats are the glue that really holds a meal together. Having a meal with fat in it actually keeps you fuller and more satisfied. It is true that fat does take a longer time to digest, but that’s not a “bad” thing. It means that these fats will give your body the long lasting energy it needs to get you through the day, while feeling energized. Also, have you ever eaten a meal and felt like you needed to have something else right after? Maybe you weren’t still hungry, but it felt like something was missing? Usually that’s the fat. So anytime you’re thinking, “wow, I don’t feel like that was enough, but my stomach feels full/satisfied,” try next time to add a fat to it (whether that be olive oil, avocado, butter, or a glass of 2% or whole milk).

2)      Fats help with hormones

I’m not going to bore you with all of the nitty gritty biochem details. Basically, fats are a structural component of hormones–think of them as the “building blocks.” Without fats, certain hormones (aka prostaglandins), wouldn’t be able to be created. What are prostaglandins, you may be thinking. They are responsible for a very wide variety of body functions. Just to name a few:

Contraction and relaxation of muscle Dilation, as well as constriction, of blood vessels Blood pressure control Plays a role in inflammation (warns body if there is an infection)

Fats also help to control the production of sex hormones. For women, if we do not have enough fat in our bodies, our periods halt. Estrogen is the main sex hormone for women and in a way is responsible for regulating periods. So, in cases of low body fat, a woman would have low levels of estrogen and lose her period (amenorrhea).  Even if you’re not planning on having a child, this is a way for the body to signal that it’s unsafe to get pregnant. Not to mention other consequences of amenorrhea like bone loss. Additionally, low body fat can lead to low testosterone levels in men.

3)      Fats support absorption of vitamins

There are four fat soluble vitamins, A,D, E and K. Each of these play a very important role in the body. Vitamin K, for example, plays a role in blood clotting. While Vitamin A helps to maintain healthy skin and also supports eye health.Without fats, these vitamins cannot be absorbed correctly. So, think twice about using that fat free salad dressing!

Delicious Granola with nuts and fruit!

4)      Fats promote brain health

Want a healthy brain? Eat your fats. The myelin is the substance that surrounds the nerve of brain cells. This is made from fatty acids. The myelin actually helps the brain carry the messages faster and cannot be created without the consumption of fats. Additionally, research supports that the consumption of omega-3 (found in fatty fish like tuna and salmon) supports memory and the prevention of Alzheimer’s.

5) Fats insulate and protect organs

This fact doesn’t have to do with consumption of dietary fats necessarily. However, the fat on our body is important for many reasons. One of them being it actually protects the important organs (think: heart, lungs, liver, kidneys) but forming a protective layer among them. 

If you or someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder, we can help. Call our office today at 301-474-2499 or visit our contact us page.

The post The Importance of Fats appeared first on Empowered Eating.

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