I want to talk about something that I’ve been thinking about—a lot—and that’s been bothering me…a lot. Namely, the idea that you (or anyone else) needs to change your body to meet someone else’s ideals.
One of the unfortunate side effects of living in a dieting, weight-centric culture is that much of the value of eating well and being active gets wrapped up in the question, “Will this help me lose weight?” Our bodies are complex things, and there is never any guarantee that positive inputs (nutritious food, regular movement, adequate sleep, self-care) will lead to weight loss.
“Progress, not perfection.” Three important words that I invoke pretty much daily with my patients (sometimes I use the variation “perfection is the enemy of progress”). That’s one reason why I was delighted by the Washington Post article, “A weight-loss expert changes his tune: focus on enjoyment, not perfection.”
Does your social life revolve around happy hours, restaurant dinners, lunch dates, coffee-and-pastry meetups and Sunday brunches? This can interfere with your healthy eating goals—but it doesn’t have to.
If you work outside the home, a huge chunk of your day is spent in the workplace, which makes that your second most important food environment (after your home). It’s also an environment that can be unpredictable in what temptations it sends your way. If your job is stressful, and stress makes you want to eat, that’s one more factor you need to consider.
Why is it important to be master or mistress of your food environment? To begin with, most of us lead busy lives, with multiple demands on our time. If we get hungry, and healthy food isn’t easily accessible, but non-healthy food is, guess what we’re probably going to eat? That’s right, the non-healthy, easy-to-grab food.
Last week, I was sitting with a group of my Menu for Change patients at an event, and one of my long-time patients said that whenever she tells someone about Menu for Change, they ask her, “So, what’s the diet like?” She looked at me, and we laughed, and I said, “I would rather die than put someone on a diet.” And that’s the truth. Because diets don’t work.
A handful of years ago, I read a New York Times opinion piece on how our incompetence masks our ability to recognize our incompetence. While on the surface this had nothing whatsoever to do with nutrition, it made me ponder how this might relate to eating and physical activity habits. In other words, are we prone to being victims of self-delusion?
My picks for the week’s nutrition related links, including why folic acid isn’t linked to autism, Senate makes a decision about labeling of genetically modified food, why you shouldn’t eat raw cookie dough, and a super-easy recipe for your holiday weekend. Oh, and a gnarly kitchen remodel photo!
Last week, I linked to articles about why parents shouldn’t comment on their child’s weight, and why it’s important to raise children to be intuitive eaters. Here’s why I know this to be true, both from my own childhood and from the manifestations of food- and weight-related trauma I see in my adult patients today.
In my most recent On Nutrition column for The Seattle Times, “Counting calories? Don’t put too much faith in numbers,” I wrote about how it’s useful to have an idea of about how many calories are in certain foods, but it’s not useful to get bogged down in tracking calories in and calories out. While there is a sense of security in numbers, it’s increasingly difficult to be certain of what a calorie actually means.
Default behaviors reduce the number of food choices you have to make in a day (since the average person makes more than 200 food choices a day, reducing this number is a good idea, especially since our willpower wanes as the day goes on), while delays are a way of creating space between an impulse to eat (or do) something and the final action.
More of my interviews with David Ludwig, MD, PhD, author of Always Hungry (a book grounded in the science that will hopefully put to rest the mistakes and misinformation of the low-fat era) and his wife, Chef Dawn Ludwig, who developed the easy, healthy, delicious recipes in the book.
As I discuss in my latest On Nutrition column, food waste is a big problem in this country, but so is our society’s lingering tendency to maintain membership in the Clean Plate Club. I have a few patients who told me they were raised to believe that it was an actual sin to not clean their plates.
I hope you had a great holiday weekend! My kitchen no longer looks like a war zone, I have clean laundry and I’ve swapped out turtlenecks for tank tops, so all is well in my world. (Plus, I watched old episodes of the French Chef while I was doing my seasonal closet cleanout. I know […]
Cartoon from The Boston Globe Happy Friday! In some ways, I think there was only one real nutrition story this week, and that was Coca Cola’s heavy-handed funding of “scientific research” that lays the blame for increasing obesity rates on declining physical activity. In other words, Coke can be part of a healthy, physically active […]
My husband doesn’t always like to take our golden retriever running with him, because even though Dug can run like the wind (Bullseye), he tends to get a little stubborn when running on a leash. We call him The Anchor. Still, because my husband does sometimes take Dug running, Dug has come to assume that […]
Happy Friday! It’s supposed to be a steamy Seafair weekend here in Seattle. We finally caved and bought a portable A/C for our home office, it was impossible to get any work done in the afternoon and evenings otherwise. So I guess I will be getting a lot of work done this weekend after I […]
Do you struggle with food cravings? While most people have cravings, at least occasionally, some people experience them with such frequency or intensity that it becomes a serious challenge when trying to eat healthfully. If you struggle in this way, please check out my first Food for Thought post on the Menu for Change blog.
Happy Monday! My latest On Nutrition column, “Fruit: How much should you have in your diet?” ran in yesterday’s Seattle Times, and I want to make one thing crystal clear: I’m not saying that you should not eat fruit! I feel inclined to point this out, because I received an email last week from a […]
Happy Friday! I’ve had a busy, busy week here, and am looking forward to grilling some salmon tonight then taking a little weekend jaunt to San Francisco (even though it will be 15 degrees colder there than it will be in Seattle). Here are some of the more interesting links I’ve rounded up this week: […]
Happy Monday! I’m in Las Vegas right now at the Today’s Dietitian conference, but I wanted to do a quick post to let you know about my last two On Nutrition columns in The Seattle Times (the first one came out while I was in Paris and I never posted about it). My column in […]
Happy Friday! I truly, deeply anticipate that this will be my last week of meager blogging. Next week, I’m planning to post about my new job and about the latest installment of my 2015 Cookbook Challenge. This is the first week I’ve fully merged my two main jobs, and my brain’s been a little bent […]
Happy Friday! To borrow a golf analogy, I’ve been in the weeds on a project I’m working on, thus my meager posting (didn’t help that I was battling a cold this week, too). I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, though, and it’s only a few weeks away! I did manage […]
In yesterday’s post, I shared some of Marsha Hudnall’s insights on eating mindfully during the holidays. Today, I’m sharing some of the highlights from her 5-Point Plan for Holiday Eating. 1. Give up the rules for what, when and how much you eat. When certain foods are labeled as forbidden, you want them even more. […]
It might seem that eating mindfully around the holidays is an impossible feat, when there is generally an overabundance of food at every turn, and a lot of treat food at that. In the webinar “Here Come the Holidays: 5 Steps to Mindfully Enjoying the Holidays with out Weight Worries,” (sponsored by The Center for […]
Happy Friday! Has your countdown to Thanksgiving started yet? For the first time in years, I’ll be preparing Thanksgiving dinner for two (which I don’t mind…that’s how it was for Jeff and I when we were living in Indiana and New Jersey and didn’t have enough vacation time to even consider flying back to the […]
This is my third post about last weekend’s Renfrew Conference for eating disorder professionals. If you missed the two-part post “Perfectionism and eating disorders” you can link to them here: Part 1, Part 2. Every session I attended was both enjoyable and educational, but one of my favorites was “‘Non-Diet’itians – Integrating Eating Disorders Wisdom […]
During my interviews for Sunday’s Seattle Times column, “How to help a college student with an eating disorder,” one of the most interesting areas of conversation was how parents, through their words and actions, can help their children grow up to be healthy, balanced, “normal” eaters…or not. Alas, there wasn’t enough room to include this […]
Happy Friday! I’m still getting caught up from FNCE, and floating in a haze of new information and new acquaintances. If you are an RD or a dietetics student who is reading this and who has never attended FNCE, start making plans for Nashville next year…it’s totally worth it. Part of my catch-up has been […]
Happy Friday…again. How do the weeks fly by so fast? Seattle is enjoying some classic fall weather…cool morning and evening but sunny and pleasant (low 70s) during the day. We have big plans to take advantage of Mother Nature’s beneficence and slow-barbecue a pork shoulder from Whole Foods on Sunday. I’ve got a head of […]
I mentioned a few weeks back that my partner-in-podcasting Seth Yoder and I met up over beers with Dr. Stephan Guyenet of Whole Health Source to talk about…a lot of things, primarily related to the neurobiology of weight regulation and food choices. Compelling stuff, all around. Seth has now published the podcast on his website, […]
Happy Friday! Isn’t it crazy that August is half over? With Seattle getting a bit of rain and a temperature dip back down into the 70s, it’s feeling almost fall-like. It’s also reminded me how much I love the scent of damp evergreen trees. Mmmmm…fresh! I hope you’ve enjoyed fertility nutrition week here on the […]
In Sunday’s column on the Food For Fertility program, the focus was primarily on women who need to improve their nutrition and lower their weight in order to be eligible for assisted reproductive technology, or to reduce the chronic inflammation that can interfere with ovulation and conception. However, women in this demographic are not the […]
On Sunday, I had the opportunity to get together with my sometime partner in podcasting, Seth Yoder, to interview Dr. Stephan Guyenet, who has a PhD in neurobiology from the University of Washington. He is also the author of the Whole Health Source blog, which I have been reading since the days he was still […]
Happy Friday! I’m doing something rather strange today…I’m taking a day off. We were finishing dinner last night, and I was trying to decide if I was going to go into the office (I have no patients scheduled) or just stay at home and work. My husband said, “I think you need to stay home […]
One concern about our culture’s preoccupation with weight in general, and some of the anti-fat messages that are coming out of the “war on obesity” specifically, is that they may trigger the development of eating disorders in children, adolescents, teens and adults who are predisposed to them. An interesting point mentioned in the upcoming book […]
Have you ever done a “body project”? To some extent, any diet is a body project, but I did an “official” body project four summers ago, dedicating four months of my life to an online fat loss competition. Like, one of those competitions where you post before-and-after photos of yourself wearing not a lot of […]
Happy Monday! And happy Bastille Day! If you have yet to peruse my On Nutrition column in yesterday’s Seattle Times, “Lighten up, dieters! Focus on health, not weight,” please check it out. I only do interviews for my columns on occasion, and for this one I interviewed Linda Bacon, PhD, and Lucy Aphramor, PhD, RD, […]
Happy Friday! Can you believe it’s almost July? Even though it’s raining at the moment, I’m thrilled that summer didn’t wait until July 5 to arrive in Seattle. Here are some tasty links I found this week: Does home ec class need a reboot and a revival? Is organic farming sustainable? Eight things nutrition experts […]
Happy Friday! I’m really looking forward to this weekend, which will be all about vegetables. (If I lived on Sesame Street, this weekend would be sponsored by the letter “V.”) Yes, I’ll explain in a post next week, but in the meantime…links! Food trends that have died. (No fondue for you!) Five signs you should […]
Happy Friday! If you live in Seattle, you have likely been celebrating our early glimpse of summer. It’s so nice to finally pull out the patio chairs and be able to use them! Lots of interesting nutrition-related news this week, and here are some of my favorite bits: More people seem to be ignoring (or […]
Happy Friday! Can I tell you how excited I am to finally have a weekend where I’m not recovering from jetlag or a cold? Very excited. It’s so nice to feel like myself again. I got way behind on links the past few weeks, but here are my best picks…enjoy! I mentioned in one of […]
It’s no secret that in today’s society, many people feel quite free to offer their opinions (both praise and criticism) on other people’s bodies. The targets of these often-unsolicited opinions may be friends, family, casual acquaintances or total strangers. They may be high-profile celebrities or everyday people. Some of these comments are well intentioned (“You […]
I never look a gift infographic in the mouth, so when marketing student Aubree Ritter emailed me to ask if I was interested in using this one well, of course I was. Because sometimes a smart infographic is worth a thousand words. Enjoy! Source: MPHOnline.org
Today I had the good fortune to listen to a most excellent teleseminar sponsored by The Center for Mindful Eating. Jean Fain, LCSW, MSW, author of The Self-Compassion Diet, spoke about treating eating issues with loving-kindness. She discussed research by Jean Kirsteller, PhD on the use of Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training (MB-EAT) for treatment of […]
Think you can “spot” someone with an eating disorder just by looking at them? Think again. There are individuals who meet the clinical definition of anorexia who do not look emaciated. Many people with bulimia are of average weight. Someone who is visibly overweight or obese could struggle with binge eating, compulsive overeating, bulimia or, […]
Whenever I bring up the concept of “health at every size” with someone who has just a passing acquaintance with the term (at best), it usually elicits comments along the lines of how people who embrace that philosophy have “just given up.” Well, that’s not at all what it means. In a tiny nutshell, the […]
Happy Friday! This is the first weekend that I haven’t been flying somewhere on a Saturday, so I’m looking forward to tackling some writing projects, (pre-) spring cleaning my house and doing some cooking for the week ahead, since I (sigh) have jury duty next week. In the meantime, here are some links: A fun […]
I received a good lesson in mindfulness a few weeks ago when I tweaked my lower back while lacing up my gym shoes. I knew that staying active would aid in recovery, but that the wrong type of activity could make things worse. I listened closely to what my body told me, employing a sort […]
This post is a twofer. I’m super late getting this links post out because I’ve had my nose to the grindstone studying for the RD exam (I’m about 90 percent sure I’m overpreparing, but I’m also 100 percent sure that I’d rather be safe than sorry…especially after spending $200 this morning to register for the […]
While there are some legit reasons for doing a strict detox diet (which I’ll get to), most people who do undertake such a plan don’t need to be so extreme. Remove the word detox and you get to the heart of the matter. It’s a diet…and diets don’t work for the long term. Better to […]
Happy Friday! I have had a busy, busy week, which is why I missed a post or two. Lots of studying for the RD exam, ramping up the job search, and that good stuff. I did manage to keep up with the week’s nutrition-related news, and here are some highlights: A nifty little article about […]
I was at the library the other day, and there was a copy of Love Your Life: O’s Handbook for Your Best Today–and Tomorrow on a display table with a “Check me out!” flag sticking out of it. So I did. One of the articles reprinted in the book was about the weight-related struggles between […]
Do you like to make New Year’s resolutions? I do, too, even though I know that most resolutions kind of suck. They tend to be unrealistic (“I’m going to lose 50 pounds by June 1” or “I’m going to cut all sugar out of my diet”), vague (“I’m going to get into shape”) or punishing […]
As our society moves faster and faster, our tendency to seek instant gratification intensifies. So when you hear that something as seemingly simple as mindful eating actually takes time and practice and patience, it’s easy to say, “Well, forget it then.” Especially if managing your weight is on of your priorities. But before you dismiss […]
I almost titled this post, “Oh, here we go again.” That’s exactly how I felt when I saw the news last week of the latest study to take a stand on the question of whether it’s possible to be both obese and healthy. This latest systematic review and meta-analysis, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, […]
Happy Friday! I’m in sunny Philadelphia for the annual Renfrew Center Foundation Conference, “Feminist Relational Perspectives and Beyond: Integrated Approaches to the Complexity of Eating Disorders.” So exciting! Neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt on “How obesity is like nearsightedness.” Suddenly, I’m wishing that I wasn’t such a bookworm as a small child. I’m looking forward to the […]
The conversation with a family member started innocently enough: “So, what is your thesis about?” I explained, briefly, that I was using secondary data from a larger childhood obesity family intervention study to investigate whether there was an association between parental praise for healthy eating and activity behaviors (not for weight itself!) and healthy weight […]
Happy Friday! I’m still catching up from a fabulous FNCE experience, and just getting caught up on the week’s nutrition news. Here’s some of what caught my eye: Five fabulous foods for fall (these are all regulars in my kitchen). Cricket energy bars, anyone? How to know if your Greek yogurt is the real deal […]
I’d been meaning to read Darya Pino Rose’s Foodist for months, and finally had the time recently. Even though the book is billed as a weight loss book, which gave me pause (as in, “Not another diet book!”), it also promoted eating real food, which is a far healthier option than eating overly processed “diet” […]
Even if you don’t recognize Brian Wansink’s name, you probably recognize some of his work. It’s thanks to him, and his work as director of the Cornell (University) Food and Brand Lab that we know the power of bigger plates and bowls to make us unconsciously take more and eat more food. Similarly, he and […]
Happy Friday! I’m aiming to have balance in my universe this weekend by mixing yard work and thesis work with French films and a clothing swap with some girlfriends. Magnifique! Here are some links that carry on the them of yesterday’s post: “Nutrition Q&A: Diet can get pounds off; attitude keeps them off” points out […]
Diets may not lead to eating disorders in most people (because most people, fortunately, are not predisposed to developing eating disorders), but they can still lead to a really screwed up relationship with food, our bodies and our emotions. First of all, I’d like to point out that “diet” is a funny word. To wit: […]
It was exactly a month ago when headlines started shrieking that formerly obese adolescents and teens are at high risk of developing an eating disorder. Even worse, they were less likely to get proper eating disorder treatment, because, you know, they used to be obese, as classified by body mass index (BMI) charts.* The first […]
Happy Friday! A proper fall has returned to Seattle (i.e., cooler temps, sun mixed with clouds, minimal rain) and I’m making the most of it. It’s amazing how good it feels to see the sun after five days of constant or at least unpredictible and frequent torrential downpours. Very unusual for September in Seattle! My […]
In yesterday’s post, I started talking about a teleconference with author and licensed clinical social worker Karen Koenig I listened to the other day in which she discussed seven potential areas behind the unconscious conflicts that stop us from turning our healthy intentions into lasting behavior change. Today, I’ll give a brief overview of those […]
I listened to a great teleconference yesterday from The Center for Mindful Eating on the “Seven Keys to Unlocking Unconscious, Underlying Conflicts about Food, Weight and Self-Care.” The speaker, Karen Koenig, LCSW, MEd, is the author of five books on eating, including Nice Girls Finish Fat and The Rules of “Normal” Eating (which is an […]
Happy Friday…and happy last day of summer. In case you’re curious, fall officially begins tomorrow at 1:44 p.m. Pacific Time, which will be right smack dab in the middle of a friend’s wedding reception. Jeff and I had planned to spend Sunday restoring order to the jungle that is our vegetable garden (ripping out our […]
Mindful eating can be a tremendous tool for avoiding excess food intake while getting maximum enjoyment from the food you do eat. It’s not a skill that comes easily, however. It’s much like meditation in that regard, so it’s no surprise that the two practices are heavily linked. I’ve been practicing mindful eating at home […]
Happy Friday! I swear, we are enjoying eternal summer here in Seattle, which I would be enjoying more if I wasn’t ready for fall! Still this is payback for one missing summer (two years ago) and one partial summer (last year). And now…links! Today is National Celiac Awareness Day! If you’ve had symptoms that you […]
I’m a breakfast eater. I haven’t always been a breakfast eater, though. Like many teenagers, I went through a good spell of going to school on an empty stomach, and I’ve practiced intermittent fasting (IF), well, intermittently over the last several years. But for quite some time, I’ve been a little cagey about passing along […]
Happy Monday! If you didn’t see my latest On Nutrition column in The Seattle Times, “Using the glycemic index to prevent disease,” be sure to check it out. I thought the glycemic index would be a relatively easy topic to write about, but it was not. Trying to explain glycemic index and glycemic load in […]
One reason that diets don’t work is that they promote all-or-nothing thinking. If you’re “on a diet” sometimes, then it follows that you will eventually be “off a diet.” For most people, being off a diet doesn’t mean balanced, healthy, normal eating. Why? Because diets don’t teach you how to practice balanced, healthy, normal eating. […]
Building on my On Nutrition column in Sunday’s Seattle Times, I’m going to talk a little about what coconut oil is made of. The reason for this tropical oil’s purported health benefits is not so much that it comes from a coconut, it’s about the type of fatty acids that coconut oil is made of. […]
Happy Friday. I’ve been AWOL this week, thanks to the trifecta of 1) adjusting to a new schedule, 2) a long commute to my new internship rotation via mass transit, and 3) a looming deadline for my next Seattle Times column! I did keep up with nutrition news (barely), and here are some of my […]
I spent some time yesterday catching up on the scientific brouhaha surrounding Dr. Walter Willett’s dissing of the CDC epidemiologist, Katherine Flegal,* who earlier this year published the results of a huge meta-analysis in The Journal of the American Medical Association suggesting that being a bit overweight is not necessarily detrimental to health. It’s the latest […]
Happy Tuesday! I’m freshly back from Las Vegas (and feeling fresher now that I’m out of 100+ degree temps…dry heat or not). If you didn’t have a chance to check out my On Nutrition column in Sunday’s Seattle Times, “Nutrition: Just for men,” please do. The advice is geared for men, but really, it’s good […]
[Gratuitous cat photo alert.] I chanced upon a great TED talk by Kristen Neff on “The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self Compassion” the other day. It piqued my interest because too many people engage in body bashing, either of their own bodies when they look in the mirror or pull on skinny jeans, or of other […]
Happy Friday! It is sunny in Seattle. So exciting, especially since the last two springs have looked more like winter. The dog’s getting a bath (whew!) and we’re going to do a little spring garden cleanup without hats and mufflers (whoo-hoo!). In the meantime, here are some interesting nutrition-related links from the past week: Curious […]
I’ve started to joke that the reason the stress of juggling grad school, work and a million other obligations doesn’t ever really get to me is because I just store it all in my neck, shoulders and upper back for safe keeping. Trying to schedule regular massages during the school term is impossible…fate always conspires […]
Happy Friday! As much as I loved going to New York last weekend, I’m really glad that I’m staying at home this weekend (other than helping with Saturday’s Food For Fertility class, which I always enjoy). I’ve got lots, lots, lots to do, so I’ll get on with the links: I’m really, really missing Brussels […]
I’ve been shaking my head over Ashton Kutcher’s ill-fated foray into the fruitarian diet ever since I heard that his over-the-top attempt at method acting landed him in the hospital. There are a lot of crazy extreme diets out there, but restricting yourself to one food group really takes the cake (only without cake, in […]
In the context of the ongoing media coverage about the meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that found that being overweight or mildly obese doesn’t increase the risk of death compared to “normal” weight people (yes, that would be untimely death, since we all die eventually), I’ve been thinking for days about […]
Probably the biggest bit of nutrition-related news in the last week or two has been the news that being overweight (but not obese) was associated with a lower risk of death from all causes than being “normal” weight. It made me ponder the fact that many people strive to eat healthfully only when they’re trying […]
Happy Winter Solstice! I am very excited that the days will start getting longer. Even without sun, I want more daylight! In other business, I wrote about enjoying holiday meals healthfully for The Seattle Times a month ago. Here are a few related links I’ve been collecting since them: How do nutritionists eat at holiday […]