A Letter to My Client: November 13th, 2018

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I have many old emails to my many clients throughout the years at Nourishing Minds Nutrition. These are letters of encouragement in someone’s journey to intuitive eating and food freedom. I have decided to release these (without client identifiers, of course!) in hopes that others can find them helpful. Even though they are specific to a specific client, I hope they prove to be insightful and inspiring for anyone else going through this process. Please be aware these letters are not intended to diagnose or treat. Please work with a practitioner if you are wanting specific one-on-one help. You can always reach out to us at Nourishing Minds Nutrition.

Hi friend!

I was sitting here reflecting on your struggle with exercise and food this week.

I wanted to send you this email to encourage you and build you up and remind you that you are stronger than you think you are. And while it may seem easier to just revert back to your old ways… have hope and stay strong! Don’t take the easy road out right now. It will pay off in the long run- I promise. Remember, the end goal here is freedom. And that means not feeling like you need to restrict or deprive. That means having a good and peaceful relationship with yourself. 

You will certainly still have negative thoughts- and that is okay! Negative self talk and old emotions and habits are not going to go out the widow overnight! The thing is- you do not have to act on or BE those thoughts. They do not have to become your reality. You can have them, acknowledge them for what they are, and then dismiss them with the part of you that is full of sympathy, grace and self love. Eventually, those thoughts will come to you less and less.

xoxo

meg 

A Letter to My Client: October 30th, Part II

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I have many old emails to my many clients throughout the years at Nourishing Minds Nutrition. These are letters of encouragement in someone’s journey to intuitive eating and food freedom. I have decided to release these (without client identifiers, of course!) in hopes that others can find them helpful. Even though they are specific to a specific client, I hope they prove to be insightful and inspiring for anyone else going through this process. Please be aware these letters are not intended to diagnose or treat. Please work with a practitioner if you are wanting specific one-on-one help. You can always reach out to us at Nourishing Minds Nutrition.

Read Part I

Now, as far as the food things go....

NO MORE PICKING! haha. If you find the urge to pick at something- I don't care what it is... Get yourself a plate or a bowl or whatever, and actually serve yourself some. Then, ENJOY THE HELL out of that food. There are no more good foods vs bad foods here. Moving forward, there is just FOOD. You do not need these moralistic labels on food in order to "eat well". I promise you, when you get to a healthy relationship with food, your body will naturally gravitate towards what makes your body and your mind feel well! You don't need to manipulate yourself into eating certain things. So now moving forward, I want you to try your hardest and be very intentional about not attaching your morality to food. God never ever intended food to serve that purpose - he did not design it to play into our holiness or worthiness! Diet culture did that. Well NO more for you! Moving forward, I want you to allow yourself the innate human right of eating without self judgment. 

Don't be fearful of eating in between meal! Or even of eating right after you have already eaten. If you continue to not allow yourself to enjoy these foods when you want them, you will continue to reside in pseudo recovery. Your body and mind still need to be reassured that they can eat whenever and whatever they want. 

Even if you do not feel "physically hungry" at the time... I DON'T CARE!  Your body and mind are not on the same page yet due to years of under eating… they will be eventually... but not yet- so for now, you MUST eat when you want to. Not just when you deem you are "physically hungry" or when it is “appropriate”. Do NOT make this the hunger / fullness diet. 

Also, when you eat meals, I want you to check in and ask if you are still hungry... are you satisfied? Does food still sound good...? Then get some more!!! Give yourself that option! Remember, we can't eat the same thing every day. That leaves no room for intuition and the changes in our body that happen every single day. A huge part of recovery is eating meals that FULLY satisfy. 


Now as far as exercise goes right now, this week- I want you to check in with yourself more often. Continue to develop that internal conversation- how is your body feeling? Our society praises this "push through" mentality. It praises this "kill yourself to workout" mentality. Well, that is NOT serving anyone and directly goes against our body’s intuition! If you feel like you need to do a certain movement or exercise- first, ask yourself WHY you are doing it. Check in with your motivation. Does it feel good to do this movement? Do you have enough energy? Is it going to serve you by making you feel stronger, more flexible, empowered, etc? Then, make your decision.

 If you choose to honor your body by not exercising, be at peace with that decision!! Your tendency right now will be to attach judgment to that decision. NONE OF THAT!!! You made a decision based off of your intuition. Be happy with that. Be proud of that. Be at peace with that. Know that it was the RIGHT decision and exercising when  it does not align with you does not serve you. Nothing should make you feel otherwise. If someone else is going on a walk or moving their body in some way- THAT DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE TO. 

Which brings me to another point- what hobbies do you have outside of exercise?? Let's talk about it next time. 

Okay... that's it for now!! You are amazing!!!!

xoxo,

meg

A Letter to My Client: October 30th, Part I

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I have many old emails to my many clients throughout the years at Nourishing Minds Nutrition. These are letters of encouragement in someone’s journey to intuitive eating and food freedom. I have decided to release these (without client identifiers, of course!) in hopes that others can find them helpful. Even though they are specific to a specific client, I hope they prove to be insightful and inspiring for anyone else going through this process. Please be aware these letters are not intended to diagnose or treat. Please work with a practitioner if you are wanting specific one-on-one help. You can always reach out to us at Nourishing Minds Nutrition.

Hello, friend!!!

I had such a great time talking with you yesterday! I’m so so excited about our work together and the life and food freedom ahead of you! It’s not all going to be super smooth sailing- but you know this! It’s going to take work, but I know you’re ready for it and we'll get there!!
 

We covered a lot of things yesterday, so I like to send an initial recap email to remind you of all the things and the goals we can work towards this week and through the next 3 months. 
 

First, one thing I forgot to say yesterday- but surely you know…. no more myfitnesspall!!! Quit that s***!!! You don't need any more of that negativity in your life.  ;)
 

Calorie counting dies hard... but it really does die. I know the numbers are still subconsciously in your head, but the more you refuse to count or let your mind go there and the more you begin to see food as something to be enjoyed, the more those silly little numbers just fade off in the distance. 
 

The most important thing I want you to implement this week is - a solid morning routine! I'd love for you to spend at least 15 mins doing this. You can play around with what you enjoy over this next week and moving forward! It can consist of meditation, prayer, journaling, just sitting in silence, reading, drawing, ... whatever. But, I want your focus to be to foster your intuition. Turn inwards. How are YOU feeling. Dive into scripture. Pray for a strengthened relationship with the holy spirit. Because like I said on our call- in doing that, you are strengthening your relationship with yourself. The holy spirit IS your intuition! IT'S SO COOL. 

A lot of recovery is about turning up that female intuition and energy. Cultivating trust with ourselves and our bodies again. Using calories and formulas and plans to tell us what we should be doing is easier - but this is not how we were created to relate to food and therefore, it comes with consequences. Controlling the food- as we both know, is a symptom of something deeper. It is a symptom of anxiety and the fear of loosing control. Manipulated our food and our weight gives us the false perception of being in control. 

During your quite time, pray and ask what is in store for the day. Ask that the Holy Sprit would give you the strength to think about things other than food and exercise. That your mind would be filled with other things- with things that are worthy of thinking about and things that give you life and purpose. 

Write down your intentions for the day. Visualize your day and what you will do. Visualize and FEEL your relationship with food. Remember your values and how a disordered relationship with food or one's self does not fit into this. 


Then, write down 3 things you are grateful for. They can be serious or silly! Make this a habit! 

Part II of this email next week! 

I Recognize My Own Thin Privilege: a letter to my marginalized bodied friends

I  can shout self love and body acceptance from the roof tops all day every day…  and I do. 

I can talk about how much I love my body these days. I can talk about how I overcame my eating disorder and how I don’t just respect and trust my body… but adore it. I can talk about how I don’t restrict or under-eat or over exercise anymore and how I’ve made peace with myself. 

And these are great things and I never want to negate them. They were HUGE successes in my life. Especially in light of diet culture and societal expectations. And I know many others share the same struggles and victories that I do. Let’s celebrate that and continue to spread this message of body positivity, self love, and intuitive eating to all. It’s life changing I tell you. 

But that is not the purpose of this post. 

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There are some things that I cannot speak to or pretend to fully understand. Because some may say, “Good for you, but you live and have always lived in a thinner body. You do not have societal discrimination working against you all day, every day.”  

And to that, I say, “Touché.”

With this post, I simply want to acknowledge my own privilege- even in my own struggles. I live in a thinner body… and that, ladies and gentlemen, is a privilege in an of itself. 

I never ever want to pretend that I can empathize with or understand the struggles of someone living in a larger body. Not because they should struggle- but because society continues to suppress and stigmatize larger body types.  I want to openly acknowledge the biases and ignominy that marginalized bodies unjustly endure on a daily basis due to the current paradigm of fat-phobia. I want to acknowledge that I can never pretend to know the full extent of the body positivity movement as it was meant to be. 

 

Because the body positive movement was not created for me or those ascetically similar to me. And that’s okay! Thinner body are shown in a positive light ever place we turn- TV, magazines, clothing sizes, social media etc. Even the structural landscape of our world is catered the thinner body type. Thin bodies are celebrated everywhere. I didn’t necessarily need a body positive movement in order to be more convinced that my body was okay and that I should love it. I needed (and experienced) a self revolution- not a societal one. 

But you know who is deserving of a societal movement? You know who is deserving of a movement that challenges the current societal paradigms around body size? You know who needs to be celebrated and told- YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL and are deserving of self love exactly as you are. You do not deserved to be stigmatized or treated or thought of differently or led to believe in any way that you are less deserving of respect, adoration, and love.  It is those who live in marginalized bodies.

Even as a person in a thinner body, I feel the weight of fat-phobia. None of us are immune to this. Even though I have not personally been a direct victim of societal fat-phobia, I’ve been a victim of my own internalized fat-phobia. (In the form of an eating disorder.) This has shaped the course of my life and the person I am today in a very big and real way. If this is the case for me and others similar to me, can you imagine the burden that those who live in larger bodies bare? 

Because for someone in a marginalized body, it is not just their internalized fat phobia that they have to overcome in order to extend self love and embrace body positivity, but they have to continually refute and battle societal expectations that are telling them that they are wrong for being the way that they are. 

Hear this: we have all been brainwashed to believing that thinner equates to healthier, better, and more “ideal”. Diet culture, fat phobia, and the social “ideals” … they are all interconnected. They are all barriers to progress and paradigms that need to be acknowledged and broken down. These barriers leave us short sighted and subconsciously full of prejudice. And for those live in marginalized bodies, they lead to wrongful shame and judgment.

This is HUGE issue. Our socially conditioned fat-phobia is so ingrained that the majority of us do not even recognize it. It is so ingrained in our psyche that it affects almost every aspect of our lives and how we think about and perceive ourselves. Even the wellness community is dripping in unacknowledged fat-phobia. Heck, even my profession is! The current paradigms is that- if you have extra weight, it is right to want to loose it. Our profession is taught to calculate the “ideal” body weight of an individual and help people get back to this “ideal’ weight by restricting calories. THIS IS DIET CULTURE. THIS IS FAT-PHOBIA. 

What about individual set points? What about genetics? What about the fact that some people live in larger bodies- and that should be celebrated! Why are we trying to extend our fat-phobic preferences and change that?! Why are we extending judgment to marginalized bodies and just assuming that they should want to loose weight?! Who are we to calculate someone else’s “ideal” body weight?! To use a calculation to determine what your body should be doing in this way is just asinine. What about self compassion and body diversity? What about individuality? What about the fact that someone’s body weight is not in any way a reflection of their self worth? 

What if instead of extending our own biases and judgements, preconceived notions, and meal plans, we started to challenge the paradigms that cause us to think so narrowly? What if we all acknowledged and taught that:

Self love and intuitive eating is attainable for all people in all bodies. 

My biggest fear is to water down the body positivity movement. I am not a marginalized body. I do not need society to celebrate thinner bodes any more than they already do. I do not want to take ahold and claim a movement that was not mine to begin with. But I do, my marginalized friends, want to have a voice along side yours because I do not feel that the oppressed should have to defend themselves alone- when the is at large- a societal issue. I want to help speak on your behalf and do what I can in my small way to break down down the current paradigms around fat-phobia and spread the message of fat acceptance for all people in all bodies. 

I’m not saying that we are not all deserving of this body positive movement! Not in the slightest. No one is immune to diet culture or body shame. We all have our own struggles and every one of us are victims of fat-phobia and societal “ideals” and expectations. We all stand to benefit from this movement and this message because thick or thin- we all have internalized fat phobia that needs to be addressed and broken down. 

But I want to write this…. maybe more as a self reminder… or maybe as a letter to my friends who live in larger bodies. That I SEE YOU. And your struggle is not lost of deaf ears. I am not so ignorant to not recognize my own privilege.  Even though I have had my own struggles, I cannot say that I’ve had the same experiences of someone is a larger body. I never want to speak out of place or speak louder than my friends in marginalized bodies but I just want you to know that I am on your side. I am for you and I will do what I can to propel this movement forward. 

EVERYONE IS DESERVING OF SELF LOVE. EVERYONE HAS THE RIGHT TO LIVE WITHOUT SOCIETAL JUDGEMENT AND OPPRESSION.

Thoughts on Anxiety and Eating Disorders

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Anxiety….

Let’s talk about it. 

How are you dealing? 

I’m talking about the type of anxiety that is crippling. The kind that adds a layer of depression and sorrow. The type that causes you to live in fear of the “what if”. 

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this post… but I do want to talk about anxiety as it relates to an eating disorder (at least mine).

Anxiety was a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Growing up I had a lot of irrational fears and dark thoughts. I feared I was going to get kid napped or my parents were going to die. I had anxiety about societal expectations… anxiety about weight gain. I knew that a “thigh gap” was “idea”… and I remember the exact day and moment in high school that I looked in the mirror and saw my thigh gap was gone. And I felt disappointed at myself and fearful that I was ugly.  

Unfortunately, I carried this anxiety with me into my college years.

Anxiety caused me to do a lot of irrational things and make poor decisions. If you’ve read my other posts, you know my top priority in college was certainly not “wellness”- despite being in school for nutrition. (The irony… I know.)

Anxiety controlled my life and was the driving factor behind almost everything I did: my intense study schedule, my lacking sleep schedule, my extreme workout schedule, my calorically sparse diet, my social life etc. All of these things were driven by anxiety and fear. 

What drives you? What motivates you? Is anxiety the captain of your life? If so… then I submit that you have given away your ability to make decisions based on what you truly want. Your judgment is clouded with the fog of fear. You are robbed of your ability to truly enjoy anything without reservation. There is always an underlying uneasiness. There is an intensity in your soul. An intensity that never quiets down. 

Peace? What is this peace you speak of? What is joy without reservation? 

WHAT IS HAPPINESS APART FROM THIN-NESS?

Ahhhh… there it is. I thought that if I was miserable, at least I could be thin and miserable. I thought - if I don’t have control of the other areas of my life, at least I can have control in this one. If I cannot deal with my thoughts and fears of failure, then at least I’d have one source of my anxiety under control. I can’t fully control everything else… but I can control this one.

Unfortunately, control cannot fix anxiety. On the contrary, in my experience, control only perpetuated my anxiety. Even the idea of loosing control was terrifying. To try to control your anxiety by tightening the death grip you have on your life is an oxymoron. It does not work. Trust me, I’ve tried. That day will come when you don’t have full control anymore- when someone throws a wretch in your plans. When you boyfriend calls to say y’all are going to eat with friends- during the time you are going to work out. When you go to a party and they have only have “junk” food to eat. When you go on vacation and you are out of your own routine. Control does not ease the pain of anxiety- with food, weight, or anything else in life. It might place a Band-Aid on it- but it does not give you true peace- only the illusion of it. This will quickly come to light when the inevitable happens and you are placed out of control. At this time, the anxiety will be amplified. The tighter your control, the bigger the fall. 

With food, control only leads to a “loss of control”. Has anyone else struggled with binge eating due to restriction? In this case, you have control until you don’t anymore. At the point of binge eating, not only have you lost control… but you are completely out of control. This is what control does- we forget how to cope with life when things are not exactly as we have them planned. When our calculations and lists to do not add up, we loose our minds. 

This is why in my opinion and experience, controlling methods like Weight Watchers and the MyFitnessPall app do.not.work. Yes, they may work, in that they allow you to have the tremendous illusion of control… but they only give you a dependence on something apart from yourself. They lead you to feel out of control without them. Is that really even true control? I submit it is not. Yes, you are using them to control… but you yourself are not in control. 

When is someone “in control” when it comes to food? I submit that it is when one eats intuitively. To be in control when it comes to food is to not control at all! You have to release your mind from the burden of manipulation and you must rekindle that beautiful relationship between body and soul. When you relinquish control of food, then you take away the appeal of the “forbidden foods”. When this happens, the appeal of all the “bad” foods goes away. They no longer have that forbidden allure. They no longer entice you to come hither and eat all the things. When this happens, your mind no longer has to practice self control… because your body intuitively does not always crave those things. If you take away the issue… then it is a non-issue. But get this: you first have to allow yourself to be “out of control” to be “in control” . This means you may over do it the first few or the first few hundred times… but eventually that “honeymoon” phase of food WILL go away. Without you having to practice self control. 

To put anxiety behind me… I had to learn to relinquish control. I had to learn that life was better lived without maintaining a constant death grip. Without living in fear of the future or the “what ifs”. Life is unpredictable and unexpected- that is the beauty of it! This is the nature of life. You have to choose to embrace it, or live in fear of it. 

I for one am done living in fear. I want to pursue what sets my soul on fire and what fulfills my inmost being. I may fail and run into road blocks along the way… but there is progress in the regression. 

By letting go of control, I have experienced more freedom than I ever have. To learn to be at peace with things outside of your control is one of the greatest life tools. My mom has always told me: “it is what it is”. That phrase has always sent me into a rage… I was always like “WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?!” It implies that what happens happens… and we can’t do anything about it but accept it. As much as I hate it sometimes, that is true. Life is always going to throw curve balls but we cannot go on living in fear of them. They will happen… and we have to be flexible enough to dodge them or we have to be strong enough to heal from them. Either way, living in fear of them only cripples us and hinders us as we go through life. 

I know I'm not alone in this struggle. I know my story is not unique. I would love to get this conversation started, Are you struggling? Have you overcome? 

Practically speaking, things like morning routines, journaling, and meditation have all helped me in this learning process… but that is for another time.

Why I'm Not Quitting Sugar

Okay.

This is a post I’ve been wanting to sit down and write for a while now….

But I had to been in the right head space. Alas, I believe I am in the perfect space of being low key worked up but also chill. #wine

I titled this post “Why I’m not quitting sugar”. I am not writing this post because I need to defend myself, but because I want to reach a subset of women and men who have unwittingly created food fear in their own lies. People tend to see what someone else is doing in their "diet" and they automatically use that to make judgements on their own. This should not be the case. 

 

Rule rules rules. People love the damn food rules for the sake of "wellness”. People love to create a problem when there isn’t necessarily a problem. People love to demonize things and beat themselves up thinking they can do better and by golly they better “detox after the weekend”. They better “pay” for that. They better get their body “back on track”.

Now I will have to say, there is a time and a place for detoxes and sugar cleanses and the like; however, the majority of the girls I know and my own clients do not fall into this category of needing to “detox” from or quit anything. This is who I am writing this post for.

Another side note: Quitting certain foods does not automatically make you “cleansed”. Detoxes should involve encouraging your body’s natural detoxifying pathways. Detoxing can be done effectively if you support the liver in phase 1 and 2 of the detoxification process. This can be beneficial at times and for therapeutic reasons. But alas, this is not what I am addressing in this post.

Apart from a legitimate food sensitivity, allergy, or legitimate therapeutic reason, creating more rules and guilt and thus, morality around food is not necessary. I would even go so far as to say that it can be detrimental to your mental wellbeing. I see it over an over again- girls who are already struggling with developing a good relationship with food and their bodies thinking that they are doing something wrong and thus, feeling guilty for not “quitting sugar”.

Again. I get it. I know. Wellness is my jam. Sugar is not great for hormonal regulation, inflammation, and all that jazz. But oh my gosh… lets keep it all in perspective! Let’s remember that our emotional and mental wellbeing is arguably the first priority. If you’re worried about eating fruit, honey and even sugar … then I encourage you to take a long, hard look at your relationship with food. Ladies (and men): There is nothing wrong with enjoying sugar- of any form, without feelings of guilt. There is nothing wrong with “indulging” over the weekend without feeing the need to “detox” and extend certain diet parameters when the new week starts. Again, there is a time and a place for “detoxing” and sugar quitting, but when it comes as a detriment to your relationship with food- now is not the time. In my previous job, I worked with people who were downing 2 liters of soda every day… those are the kind of people who would benefit from an immediate sugar detox. I wouldn’t blink an eye to that! But to my ladies who are trying to heal their relationship with food and their bodies: please know physical healing and well-being does not have to come at the cost of mental sanity.

Why do I feel so passionate? Because I’ve been there. I’ve been scared of food to an extreme degree. I feared a lot of food— but probably sugar most of all. But I don’t any more. I use to think: I can’t eat sugar or it will negate my workout. Or, I can’t eat sugar or I will gain weight. Or, I can’t eat sugar because of inflammation and insulin. But guess what? I don’t think like that anymore because it was detrimental to me and unnecessary for me to put parameters on my diet. When I gave myself permission to eat, then I found I did not intuitively crave allllll of the sugar. So for me, creating a food rule around sugar actually made my crave it more. I don’t fear of weight gain with my sugar intake. Again, I’m not going crazy, but I eat “sugar” probably every single day in the form of something: be it a cookie, chocolate, wine, cocktail, honey, fruit… you name it. And guess what? I am physically well. Even more than that, I am emotionally well. I feel better than I ever have and THAT is what is important to me. Food is not driving me mad. Food is not my obsession. Food is just food. It is a joy… it is not an obsession. This happened when I learned to leave the food rules and the black and white/polarized thinking behind. This is the great thing about intuitive eating: You may indulge over the weekend, but then Monday comes around and chances are you will automatically tend towards the greens and such without setting up parameters for yourself. No need to punish yourself… just listen to what your body craves.

I think valuable intuition for anyone to have is knowing what is appropriate for them and what is not. For me, with a history of an eating disorder and extreme obsession with food and detoxes, unnecessary (non-therapeutic) food rules simply DO.NOT.WORK.FOR.ME. Well, I take that back… they work for me in the way that I do them and I do them well. When I make my mind up to do something, I will do that thing at any cost. But guess what? I’m a miserable person when I do that. I know myself well enough to know that if I ever restrict or create food rules for myself, then I crave those things all the more. It drives me mad and I feel suppressed. I feel a slave to food again. Any kind of rule, as well intentioned as it may be, is off limits for me. I don’t allow myself to go there anymore. I lived as a slave to food for so long that I’m just f******** over it. OVER IT.

Now hear this: I know quitting sugar and all works for some people. I know that it is necessary for some people. I understand breaking the cycle of sugar addiction and regulating hormones. TRUST. I get it.

@@But hear this: just because someone else is doing something for their own “wellness”, it does not mean you should.@@

What someone else is doing does not apply to you. If you fear that you are not doing something right because you are not creating food rules for yourself- whether that’s concerning gluten, sugar, alcohol, carbs etc, then I challenge you to step away from outside influences for now. Be kind to yourself and remember: you know you best. Do don’t think you are doing some sort of disservice or detriment to yourself by not eliminating this or that.

Just to reiterate: when I stopped creating food rules, the appeal of the foods I was scared of decreased tremendously. When your mind is not fixated on this thing that you cannot have, then you are free to actually decide what foods you truly enjoy and what you do not enjoy. You’ll find that while you may crave all of the donuts or all of the bread at first… those cravings eventually subside. The “honeymoon phase” goes away. You realize you don’t crave those things as often as you thought you did. It is a beautiful thing. (Read more about the journey to intuitive eating here.)

Furthermore, when there are no unnecessary food rules, you eliminate the possibility for guilt to sneak in. You eliminate the possibility for food to have morality around it. Food should not have guilt or shame attached to it. I lived in that space for too long and I am so so passionate about getting others to this same place of food freedom. When you have created unnecessary food rules for yourself, if you fail… guess what… there is guilt. That is what rules do. They create guilt and shame when you do not adhere to them.

Again, I feel like keep having to come back to this place: truly, some people need to abstain from food for medical and therapeutic reasons. I work with women who have to do this and we are careful to honor their physical needs but also ensure we do not damage their relationship with food. It is truly a delicate balance that requires you to place yourself in the right headspace.

My purpose in writing this post is to reach a certain target audience who are unnecessarily limiting their food choices for the sake of “wellness” at the cost of their relationship with food.  I believe our bodies and minds would be better served by making intuitive eating and a traditional food diet our priority. This way, our bodies are in a place to tell us what the truly need. In this way, there is no need for food parameters. You do not have to be out of control when it comes to food. That is the beauty of intuitive eating- it gets you to that place of food peace and wellness without having to compromise in other areas of your life. Because guess what? Sometimes I crave all the fruit… all the chocolate… and all the wine… and that is okay. I honor that shiz. #teamnofoodrules 

Honesty Hour: My Journey to Finding Balance with Exercise 

To be honest,

The last thing to go for me was exercise. That is, my unhealthy dependence on it. I was “recovered” but I held a death grip on exercise for years because it was my security blanket. It made me feel comfortable. 

Did I ever want to change this? No. Not in the least. That was one place I was not willing to go. 

Plus, I had let go of my obsessive food ways… what more could my body possibly want from me?!

A lot more. My body wanted more freedom. More flexibility. More breaks. More love. More rest. For years I did not listen. 

Now I will have to say: My exercise journey has come a long way. A LONG way. You can read more about my journey here. I use to be a cardio bunny. These days I do mostly weight training with some HIIT. I workout in the gym 3-5 days a week verses the 7 days a week in the old days. Nevertheless, when your body wants rest… it wants rest. It doesn’t matter how many “rest” days you had. When you feel a rush of panic when you don’t get to workout when you had planned… time to check yourself. 

This was me. I’ve been guilty of over working and over exerting my body because I thought “gains” were more important than rest. Habits are great, but when they lack flexibility without mental stress, they are more like potentially destructive obsessions. I, for one, am all about less stress in my life, and if I’m stressing out about something that is suppose to reduce overall stress and contribute to wellness, then what is the point?

What did I fear would happen if I skipped a day or two? What about if I skipped a week? Rationally… I’m not sure. I guess I thought I would gain weight… my muscles would atrophy… my metabolism would crash. Of course, all of this is irrational. I know my body- OUR bodies, are much more resilient than that. But I was too scared to try it out. I had finally reached this point in my wellness journey where I felt… wonderful. And happy. I was honoring my hunger, not worrying about my weight, not stressing about calories— I had made it: complete food freedom! But in the fine print, I believe I had a clause that said: “dependent on that you do not skip a planned workout”. 

I was subconsciously continuing to live in shackles. This time it was gym shackles. Not that I was technically working out too much… but that skipping a gym session was non-negotiable. I had no flexibility in my routine without suffering mentally by stressing out over it. 

I am happy to say today that those shackles are truly gone. How did I finally shake it? 

I went on a trip earlier this year that did not allow me to workout for over a week. Did I freak out? Yes. Was it challenging not to beat myself up over it? Yes. My mind ventured to all of the extremes (as I tend to do). But through that experience, I realized this: 

Just like when recovering from an eating disorder, it is imperative that you challenge yourself to do things you are scared to do.In some instances it might be food related. In this instance, it is exercise related.

@@Breaking out of your comfort zone is the only way you will ever become comfortable with what is currently uncomfortable for you. @@

The more you bend your own rules, the easier flexibility becomes. You will also most likely find what I found: NOTHING CHANGES. My assumptions of what would happen to my body were wrong. I realized that if I can skip over an entire week without working out with no consequences, I can most certainly provide myself more grace in my everyday life.

@@Flexibility does not break you. Flexibility allows you to enjoy life more fully without holding yourself to rigid standards. @@

Flexibly reduces the stress you have when you do not always meet your intentions. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: extremist thinking robs us of joy. If we are too busy trying to be perfect, we miss out on the good. We do not have to be perfect. Our bodies are more flexible and resilient than we give them credit for. In fact, sometimes the best thing you can do for you body is to do nothing at all. 

Intuitive eating goes even further- to intuitive living. That includes intuitive moving. If your body asks for rest- be sensitive to that. Honor that. If your friend asks you to go get a drink during happy hour when you were planning on working out… HONOR THAT S*** TOO! This “no excuses” mentality gets a lot of us in trouble. It creates more stress in our lives and detaches us from what our body truly needs. The body recognizes stress as stress- it does not differentiate just because it is exercise. If your body is beat down- honor that. And rest. Doing this will support your adrenals and modulate the stress response in your body. A healthy stress response lays the foundation for hormonal regulation. And hormones lay the foundation for weight maintenance, your sleep cycle, your menstrual cycle (ladies), your mood… you get the idea.

Well that was a tangent…

Anyways, this past week I was blessed enough to have the opportunely to travel again- this time to Ecuador. Between travel and being sick when I got back, I’ve only worked out once in the past 18 days. Yes, I am ready to get back to my gym routine… but wow! When I was in Ecuador, any guilt from not working did not burden me. How liberating! I believe I have finally learned to honor my body by allowing it to have times when I do not “work it out”. While yes, exercise will always be a habit for me, I want to relive myself of that burden when I need to so that I can focus on other things I love- like travel! Just like life and wellness isn’t all about the “clean eats”, its not all about exercise either. 

Rest days (or weeks) and self love are not mutually exclusive. 

What about you? Do you have struggle with finding that balance with exercise? Have you found balance? How did you do it? 

*************

If you are struggling with finding balance with food and exercise, reach out! I work with clients to achieve food freedom while also pursing wellness in my private practice, Nourishing Minds Nutrition.

Join our Nourishing Minds Facebook Tribe here!

What I Ate Wednesday... But has clean eating gone too far?

 MMmmmmmm... inflammation.

MMmmmmmm... inflammation.

Hi everyone! 

I’m taking a break from my normal WIAW posts and writing something a little different. 

Something that’s been on my mind.

So this past Monday, the hubs and I went to a certain store in Tampa. When we were done, it was late so we decided to eat dinner there. We ended up at the Green Lemon in SOHO. Even though it was 10pm at night… the place was packed! They even had a DJ! I turned to my husband, “It is a Monday night right?!” Turns out it was also #NationalTequillaDay. Haha. Go figure. And it was also happy hour all night. Freak yeah! So in honor of tequila, we we partook in a Margarita. 

(Gr. All my pics were insta stories and I forgot to save them. -_- ) 

We also ordered avocado fries. (DEAD.) Blake ordered fajitas and I ordered a Fiesta Bowl.

When our food came out, I realized my chicken was fried- instead of grilled like I had assumed. Did I have a mental breakdown? No. Would I have had a mental breakdown in times past? Yes. I would have insisted Blake trade chicken with me. (Ew that was painful even to type.)

But what would the “clean eats’ police think!? What will my instagram friends say?! What about clean eating?! What about the inflammatory oils?! WHAT ABOUT INFLAMMATION!!!!

I care not. 

Does this make me a hypocrite? No. Look: I’m all about clean eats, but when it interferes with your ability to live normally and enjoy the finer things in life (like a chill evening with your husband), thats when I have a problem with it. When we take it so far that we have fear in food and consider things like fried chicken a “cheat” or a “slip up”, we got it all wrong. No, I don’t eat fried chicken every day, but when the opportunity presents itself, I’m not going to throw a fit over it. Life is about living in the gray area, friends. Freedom in food is not putting more labels and morality behind the thing we eat.

@@Freedom in food is eating as well as you can most of the time and then enjoying the rest without fear.@@

I’m kind of sick of people taking clean eating and just RUNNING to the hills with it. “Clean eats” are not all there is in life. And heck- I’m a dietitian… clean eating is kind of my job.  

I think we can get to the point on social media where we are doing ourselves and others more of a disservice in this area of food and wellness. I submit a new trend: #reallifefood. Because real life: food is not always going to be squeaky clean. Nor should it be. Not all food has to be “nutrient dense” to be healthful. According to my girl, Victoria, some food is beneficial to your soul. (I concur). That is arguably just as important. When we create this community of healthy food and “no excuses” mentality, then we subconsciously attach judgment to food. Many people on social media are impressionable and when all they see is salmon, avocado, kombucha and collagen all day… eating something of “lesser” nutrition value can create fear, guilt and shame. These things should never be attached to food. Food is not meant to be an extension of your conscience or morality. 

And I’m guilty of this myself- being too much about the “clean eats”. I’ve made it a resolution of mine to post more off my real life food on my Instagram and blog. Because in real life, I don’t just eat “clean”. Sometimes I live it up! Do I abstain from enjoying chips and salsa or drinks with my friends on the weekends because I’ve analyzed the nutritional capacity of these things and found them lacking? No. I partake and enjoy the community around these glorious, God given foods. 

One of my wise clients said to me yesterday: 

@@Wellness is an idol... to what end?@@

So much truth. When will the madness stop and when will we start to recognize that clean eating is not all there is in life. Let's not let the pursuit of something noble spoil everything. Is it really a nobel cause in that case? 

Whose with me?!

Thoughts? Let’s talk in the comments below! 

If you are struggling with finding balance in food, reach out! I work with clients to accomplish freedom in food while also pursing wellness in my private practice, Nourishing Minds Nutrition.

Join our Nourishing Minds Facebook Tribe here!  

An Open Letter to All Males Struggling with an Eating Disorder or Disordered Eating

 John.

John.

Dear male, 

I want to say I’m sorry. I never ever want to discredit or not recognize the struggles you feel in this area. Of course, I have never done this intentionally- but I do fear I may have done so unintentionally. I understand that you- like women, are not immune to societal pressures. Because I am a woman- I gravitated and resonate with women and their specific struggle and so I tend to to address them with the majority in my words. But please never ever think that I do not believe my words or the struggle apply to you as well.

I would be doing a huge disservice to the EDO (eating disorder) and EDO recovery community if I did not recognize our male counterparts. I love the strong community that women have built around themselves but let us not hype ourselves up so much that we exclude and further damage and isolate others. Males in this struggle need just as much love and support and encouragement as women do and unfortunately, their support community is much less. Let us all welcome each other with open arms. 

Unfortunately, EDOs are often wrongly stereotyped to a certain subset of women… I’m sure we are all well aware of what that is. But the wrongful pressures of society do not discriminate between race, age, or gender. We are ALL susceptible to the pressure of societal “expectations” and “ideals” to look a certain way. 

There is a huge cultural movement- body positive. This is an incredible thing. However, it is geared largely toward the female population and I feel this is unfortunate. Because the cultural female “ideal” is so extreme, it often overshadows the fact that there are unrealistic physical expectation for men to reach as well. To not think so would be ignorant. Do you think our boys and men are immune to this message? No. I say it again: Men are not immune to societal pressures or the development of disorder eating or eating disorders. Our men and boys are in dire need of the body positive, intuitive eating, and self love messages just as much as our girls. But because there is a smaller subset of them or because there are existing stereotypes about EDOS, their cry for change and for help is not as loud. I believe men are often stereotyped to be rough, tough, no body image issues, no feelings, no emotions… etc. All of these things may be true for a subset of men (hah), but the rest of them have actual emotions and actual feelings. They want freedom from food and body shape ideals just as much as women do. Unfortunately, men, do not get the support and comradely that women often have and they are left out of the grassroots societal movements in this area.

This topic is extremely close to my heart as I have had and have men in my life who struggle with body image issues, disordered eating and even eating disorders. It breaks my heart. The person who changed everything for me was a male. (Read his story here.) Unfortunately, he passed away. But I want to honor him in every way I can and in everything do. It would disrespectful for me to not recognize his struggle as just as valid as my own. 

Women, don’t we all just want grace? Don’t we all want to celebrate the fact that there is beauty in every one of us and that we don’t need to reach this arbitrary pinnacle of “perfection”? Don’t we all want to tear down these body “ideals” and replace them with individuality? Then we need to extend the same grace and message that we want for ourselves and our daughters to our boys and men. This body positive moment is a two way street. If we are to change the societal ideals it is gong to involve both males and females working together. We can’t just demand change in this area like its strictly female struggle. It’s not. 

This body positive movement is great. This ED recovery community is wonderful. But again: let us not leave behind our male counterparts. Let us bring them into our community and love on them. Let us be open minded when we talk and in the conversations we have. Let us not add to the stereotype that eating disorders are a female disease. 

I for one, will be more careful with the words I write and the pronouns I choose. I never want to be insensitive, exclude, or undermine the male struggle. I encourage everyone to do this same.

Let’s get this conversation going. 

Thoughts? Feelings? Let me know in the comments!

As usual, let me know if you have any further questions about my journey and experience with recovery, If you feel like you need additional support in this, I work with clients one on one in my practice- Nourishing Minds Nutrition

Eating Disorder Recovery: The First Step to Intuitive Eating

Intuitive eating is all the rage right now. It is a huge wellness trend that is sweeping the nation.

THIS IS INCREDIBLE.

I think women (and men) are finally fed up with being told we that need to follow diets and food rules to maintain our weight. I think we are realizing the truth: we are in fact, not out of control when it comes to food! Or at least, we don’t have to be. And the method we use to contain ourselves does not have to be restrictive. On the contrary, it can be the most liberating thing ever. Giving your body complete control by eating intuitively- that’s magic. Intuitive eating is founded by honoring our cravings with a whole, real foods diet. It is founded in eating to nourish our bodies- not in restricting calories. It is founded in honoring our hunger and satiety cues. Nothing is off limits. Nothing is restricted. You merely let your body guide you to the foods that it needs to be fully nourished and fully satisfied.

Unfortunately, many of us have become incredibly disconnected with our own bodies. In this case, our minds take over and tell our bodies what to eat and when to eat it. Diets and the food manipulation mindset have stripped away the innate wisdom we have to determine the right food choices. This makes intuitive eating difficult and downright impossible. 

The point of this post is to give hope to those who are discouraged or frustrated by this concept intuitive eating – particularly, those who are in the clutches of or recovering from an eating disorder. I feel like I am doing this population a huge disservice if I merely say, “Yea! Just eat intuitively! It’s great!” without giving merit to their frustration and guiding them in what to do about it. Because trust- I’ve been there. So with the rest of this post- I discuss the very first thing I did to start my journey to intuitive eating.

If it’s not already clear- learning to eat intuitively has changed my life. I now consider myself an intuitive eating dietitian, but it hasn’t been an easy or quick journey to get here. (You can read about my journey here.) I learned to ditch the disordered, manipulative eating behaviors and eat what and when I effing want. Everything I say here is based off of my own personal experience. I juggled extreme restriction and binge eating during my EDO, so the journey to intuitive eating may be different for you. However, I believe there are many out there who are in my old shoes. I hope this resonates with you.

So here it is: Begin the journey to intuitive eating by eating what you do not want to eat. Say whaaaaa? I know I know. This goes against the premise of intuitive eating and I believe this is why many are left feeling frustrated and defeated when they try to jump straight from eating disorder to “intuitive eating”. If you have not already begun the process of recovery, what you want to eat at this time can be translated as: what your eating disorder wants you to eat- not what your body truly needs. Your eating disorder will tell you to eat more broccoli, or celery, or egg whites. It will tell you to eat less or to eating everything in the house in one sitting. None of this is intuitive eating. It is simply impossible for one to go straight from disordered eating to eating intuitively overnight- so do not expect this out of yourself! You will only feel frustrated and disappointed. However, this is what you can do to empower yourself and start your journey to recovery and to intuitive eating: 

Don’t eat what you want to eat- eat the foods that you have placed “off limits”. In this way, eating can be scary, confusing and frustrating because there is an internal conflict between what your mind wants and what your body needs. But friends, do not think that there are certain expectations that you have to reach during this first step. Just take it day by day. Every day, challenge yourself to eat a new food that was previously off limits. Or maybe just eat more of a particular food. For example, if you usually to have one slice of toast for breakfast- have two instead. If you were use to eating PB2, challenge yourself to eat real peanut butter. For me, this was the very first step to intuitive eating: eating what I did not want to eat- but what my body and soul needed to be healed. I began by eating foods that I considered to be “fattening” or “off limits” or “trigger foods”. This included things like peanut butter, oatmeal, bread, egg yolks, chips, and actual milk instead of almond milk. I began by creating small challenges every day to eat a little more or to face a food fear. The only way you will be able to get to that place of intuitive eating is by eating foods that nourish and satisfy your body and by eliminating the fear around food. So, I challenge you to challenge yourself. Food fear and intuitive eating are mutually exclusive: the two cannot exist together.

Tackling food fear can be a daunting process. This stage can be extremely frustrating, confusing, and evening saddening. It can lead people to believe that intuitive eating is hard. It can cause people to give up and revert back. But remember: this is not intuitive eating- this is the journey to intuitive eating. And yes, it sucks. But take heart, friends: it gets better! The more you face your fears, the easier it gets. The more you shut down your eating disorder thoughts and desires, the more your true needs can shine through. Daily successes will amount up to huge forward motion and progress over time. As food fears subside, your mind will get out of the way and it will become easier for your body to communicate with you. Your body will learn to communicate and your mind will become more receptive to listening.

Eventually, as you eat more calories and more nutrient dense foods, your metabolism will speed up and your body will become receptive to this new normal. Your hunger cues will become more pronounced- learn to honor these. Eat when you are hungry and do not relish it or ignore it. Hunger is a physical manifestation of your body’s need for energy. It is talking to you- listen to it. Eat slowly and mindfully. Taking note of how the food tastes and feels in your mouth. Relish every bite. Eventually, you will begin to sense and honor your satiety cues as well- even to previously “triggering” foods. Yes- you may go over board a few times- or even many times, but have grace with yourself. This is a part of the process- it does not mean you should restrict that food. On the contrary, if you have a tendency to binge on a particular food, you should eat that food more often. Once your body realizes that it can have said food whenever it wants, the urge to binge eat will wane and eventually, it will be gone all together. (I wish someone had told me this years ago. This truth would have prevented a lot of heartache and late nights of self-loathing.)

Hunger and satiety cues are the most basic, fundamental commutation between your body and your mind. As you grow in your confidence with these, you will become more sensitive to other signals as well- such as cravings for specific nutrients or micronutrients. But again, this is certainly a process that takes time.

So alas friends—take heart! I and countless others have found such freedom in intuitive eating. The first steps to getting there are not easy- but don’t give up or mistake the journey for the destination. Have grace with yourself and take it day by day.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments section! How did you begin your journey to intuitive eating?

Have questions about intuitive eating? Ask below!

If you want one-on-one intuitive eating coaching, I am now accepting clients at my practice, Nourishing Minds Nutrition. Email me with any questions: hello@rootforfood.net

 

 

How to Love Yourself in a World that Makes Self Love Hard

IMG_4690.JPG

How do we grow to not care about the opinions of others when it comes to our own bodies?

I am not about to say anything profound or unheard of… I am not about to blow your mind.

I am just giving my own two cents on this question that haunts so many. This insight has come from my own experiences and my own journey to body acceptance. It is my hope that it inspires and guides you in your journey as well.  

For many years, I found my identity- my happiness and my joy (or lack of), in my physical appearance. If someone said I looked thin: *happiness*.  If I thought I looked fat or ugly (which was 99% of the time… ): *depression*. (Did I ever experience true happiness or joy in these things? NO. Appearance based joy is not true joy.)

Of course, I do not have it all figured out yet. I am still not numb to the world’s opinions or “ideals”. In a world where skinny, fit, “perfect” women are everywhere you turn…. I feel you, ladies.

I still feel the feels too.

What is different now is that I do not let someone else’s opinion of me define my worth or create my joy. Let me reword that: I do not let society’s “ideals” determine my own. I do not let society’s “ideals” define my own worth.

To get to this place, I have applied the following principles/practices to transform my mind and my opinion of self in relation to the world.

 

1. Challenge the expectations. Think long and hard about the expectations you have for yourself. WHY? Why do you have these certain expectations? Why do you feel looking a certain way is more desirable and thus, something to be sought after? What expectations do you have of others? Do you hold them up to the same set of standards?

You know what I’ve realized over these past few years?

The more we have grace with others; the more we will have grace with ourselves. Take a long hard look at yourself. Do you judge others for their appearance? This can be tough think about. No one wants to think of themselves this way. No one wants to be shallow. But when you confront your expectations and get real with yourself, you can point out their flaws and begin the process of tearing them down. To initiate change, we women must grow to support and build each other up. Not compete against or put each other down.

Of course, we all have different Gods. I am of Christian faith, and one of my most favorite verses is 1 Samuel 16:7b: “People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

I think the principle of this scripture applies - regardless of your religion. It is that beauty comes from the heart, ladies. What a wonderful principle for womanhood. Think about it. Let it sink in. Damn- what a relief! Our appearance does not define us. Not in the least. To grow a beautiful soul: what a more worthwhile endeavor.

What if we all had grace with one another instead of measuring each other up by the net worth of our own skin? Honestly, I feel like the economy would collapse because women would be too busy being badass unicorns instead of buying all of the beauty products, weight loss supplements, and the newest fashion.

So my first recommendation is to have grace the others. I believe that the first step in loving yourself is practicing by extending that same grace those apart from you. Do this long enough and it translate to your relationship with yourself. Don’t hold others or yourself up to a certain worldly standard of physical “perfection”. Because who are they to determine "perfection"? 

2. Change your vernacular. Replace negative self-talk with positive words of affirmation. Here this: the more you say something- the more you believe it. So talk sweet to yourself. Tell yourself how good you look! This is not cockiness. It’s confidence… and confidence is sexy. When you manifest something- you become it. When you talk down to yourself all the time, you will become low in self-esteem and uncomfortable in your own skin. When you complement yourself, you will radiate confidence. Confidence is beautiful.

3. Get naked! Okay- this one sounds odd, but hear me out. I use to be so ashamed of my own skin. Seeing myself naked in front of the mirror was painful. I was ashamed of me so I made it a point to be fully clothed all of the time- even when I was alone by myself. I spent very little time undressed. What I’ve learned: if we are going too be confident and comfortable in our own bodies, we have to do things that make us hella uncomfortable at first. So get naked. I challenge you to sleep naked, get up in the morning and do yoga or stretch naked, walked around the house naked, drink your coffee naked. (Just remember to shut the blinds!)  Replace your quick shower with a long, luxurious bath once a week. All of this will seem uncomfortable and foreign at first, but embrace your body in this way and it will become easier and easier. Your body will grow less foreign to you. It will be harder for you to resent it when you become comfortable and familiar with it. You will grow to be more and more comfortable and confident in your own skin- clothed or not.

4. Appreciate curves for what they are. All women are lovely! Just because one woman does not have any body fat does not make her any more or any less of a women. In the same way, just because one woman has body fat does not make her less of a woman. If you are the proud owner of some body fat- embrace it, lady! For you, this is a mark of womanhood. It is in no way a reflection of your worth or self discipline. We women are all created so uniquely different and for there to be one “ideal” for all women is asinine. Why are we all striving to be something we are not? Why are all women trying to achieve one “ideal”? I guess it is inherent human nature. Our mentality is that the grass is always greener. Well guess what?! Your grass is green- you just don’t realize it. Find value in your own lawn. 

5. Find your identity in something apart from yourself. Here this: if you find your identity in your physical self - life will suck. Just saying. Gravity and the aging process is a very real thing. So think long and hard: what is it that you live for? What is your purpose in life? What are your passions? Pursue these things with all you have. Can you imagine- chasing after life without being trivial about food and your body? All that time you spend obsessing could be channeled into a much more worth while endeavor: to pursue our passions and our callings in life. Being successful means different things to different people. Find what makes you tick. Find what sets your soul on fire and chase after it.

Unfortunately, women often confuse their identity with something that it is not. You are your soul. You are your heart. You are your sprit. You are not your body. Our bodies are mere skin and bones that host our being. That is a weird and abstract concept- but it is true and thinking of it this way reminds me that who we are on the outside is not the whole story.

6. Find soul activities. What do you do in your spare time? What do you do for fun? I feel obligated to mention here: many women abuse working out. I know- I’ve been there. When working out isn’t fun for you- time to lay off and incorporate some other activities. Find a hobby that is fulfilling and gratifying. Guess what? Burning calories is not the only worth-while investment of time. Paint, blog, write, rock climb, Frisbee golf. Find something you can do that is fun and fulfilling for you. These will bring you more joy that you realize.

7. Journal journal journal. Feel all the feels. The current ones, ones that come up, and feelings from the past that are un-dealt with. The more you are open and honest with yourself- the better. The point of journaling is to express yourself. To talk through the emotions: the good, bad, and the ugly. Journaling allows us to be real with ourselves. Are there inner struggles or past experiences that you have not dealt with? Time to deal with them. Doing this will free you up to live fully in the present. It will allow you to channel your emotions appropriately and allow you to express them in healthier ways than taking them out on your physical body. Journal daily and finish each entry with three things you are grateful for. Gratefulness goes a long way when It comes to your relationship with yourself. It changes your heart. It puts everything into perspective. It reminds us how good life is- even when we feel sad and defeated.

 

Like I said- this is nothing insanely profound. But self-love was not intended to be profound or unusual. Self-love should be inherent in all of us. In a world that has made self-love hard, let us defile the odds. Let us all have grace with each other. Let us all have grace with ourselves. Begin to apply these principles, and I promise- your priorities and view of self will begin to change. And that, friends, changes EVERYTHING. 

If you have a principe or practice that helped you get to the place of body acceptable and self love, I'd love to hear about it! Please comment below.

If you feel like you need more guidance in the area of food and body image, please message me. I work with disordered eating and eating disorder clients via my practice- Nourishing Minds Nutrition

 

The Mindset for Recovery: How I Started the Process

I’m writing this post as a follow up to my previous post. I have received some emails asking how I actually started the process of recovery from an eating disorder. Of course, what I’m about to say is all inspired from my own experience and what worked for me. Everyone’s situation is completely different and unique to them based on their specific disorder, weight, BMR, where they are mentally etc. What worked for me might not work for you. However, if you’re sick of living a slave to food- it is possible. I finally got it in my mind that I didn’t want to eat that way forever- I was tired of being a slave to food and I was ready to stop abusing myself. I saw a friend who had recovered and it inspired me to do the same. He encouraged me to start my recovery process by gradually increasing my calories. However, I didn’t do this systematically with formulas and calorie counting. While yes, calorie counting and tracking was still subconsciously taking place at that time, I tried to separate myself from those thoughts and not put any weight into them. I started by making myself eat more and fighting my ingrained tendency to eat less. I gave myself permission to eat the things that I always said were off limits like oatmeal and peanut butter. I tried to honor my hunger instead of relishing it. In the beginning I was still eating way under what I should have been eating at that time, but I was eating a lot more for me.. and it was a gentle and gradual way of re-introducing myself with food and the feeling of being full and rewiring my relationship with these things.

Just eating more calories isn’t going to fix an eating disorder.

I had to fix the root cause of the problem- which was my relationship with food and my body. This is why I didn’t force myself to reach a certain calorie number or what not— in fact, I had to force myself to do the opposite and not count calories. In hindsight, this was one of the best decisions I made. I allowed myself to give into my food cravings and tried not judge myself for them. This is the foundation for eating intuitively so I believe this is a good place to start if you can. For me, trying to “recover” using exact calories and formulas would have been a loosing battle. Letting go of the need to track was liberating and so incredibly necessary. Scary? Heck yes. But I had a trusted person helping me through this process that would always remind me how little calories actually mater and now much NUTRITION actually does matter.

Calories are vital to life. Why are we running from them?

I had lived my life trying to get below a certain calorie number each day, I didn’t want to change just to live my life trying to get above one now. Honestly, letting go of calorie counting is NOT going to happen over night. It is definitely a process when it is so ingrained in your mind. Just keep reminding yourself-- calories are mere numbers. They mean NOTHING from a moralistic standpoint. However, calories are very essential to life. If something has calories it means it gives you ENERGY. This is not a bad thing! You need energy for life- for you cells to function! For you to run and play and for your brain to think! Putting so much emphasis on calories is a sad lie we've bought into. To think calories alone can make us thin and happy is wrong on so many levels. Why do we think reaching an arbitrary number on a scale is going to make us happy!? Also, there is SO much more at play when it comes to weight maintenance than just calories. Calories do not equal fat! Calories equal energy and life. Putting so much emphasis on them is wrong on an emotional level and a biological level.

I kept reminding myself what my friend (counselor of sorts) was saying to me—eventually my metabolism will speed up again! When my body realizes it is no longer in a constant state of starvation, my body will begin to metabolize food correctly and efficiently again as fuel. In this way, calories are friends. Food is friend. Honestly, this was a huge motivator for me. I was tired of my TANKED metabolism.

Recovery is hard because eating intuitively is not possible in the beginning—we have TRAINED our bodies to survive on less. There is literally no mind/body communication- only the mind telling the body what to consume. If the communication between the two is not present, fluid and mutually respectful, then intuitive eating is not possible because your body cannot communicate effectively to the mind and the mind is not receptive to listening yet. Over the weeks and months and years I gradually increasing the amount of food I consumed and with every day it became easier and easier. The word “calorie” grew to have less stigma around it and foods become less morally charged as “good” and “bad”. Calories grew to have little meaning to me. Eventually your body will remember what it feels like to be nourished and your mind will begin to soften to the body’s innate wisdom. You become a nutrient seeker instead of calorie counter. Then you can begin to eat intuitively.

Next week I am going to address weight gain in recovery. Of course, weight gain is one of the hardest things to mentally cope with and I don’t have all the answers to any of this. But maybe in can help and speak to you where you are at.

It is my biggest passion in life to guide women along this journey to intuitive eating. If you have tried to recover over by yourself but you feel you still need to work with someone- check out my practice- Nourishing Minds Nutrition.

A Declaration of Food Convictions and Random Thoughts from a New Carnivore + Turmeric Bone Broth Stew, February 17th, 2017

My heart is greatly moved this morning. More and more… as the days go on, I am adjusting to new nutritional convictions. My way of viewing the world is changing and my way of eating is changing with that. (If you haven’t read my post about going from herbivore to carnivore… It’s here!) I am gradually coming to terms and accepting that I am inseparably intertwined with Mother Nature… with the food chain… with the circle of life. Unfortunately, when I withdraw myself- like I did for many years, there are undesirable consequences in both my own body and the world around me. Everyone wants all living things to live forever- with a happy and joy filled life. Unfortunately, this is not reality nor would it be a sustainable system. In order to have life, there must be death. In order to nourish and protect our dwindling farmland, we must have grazing animals and foster a healthy and natural ecosystem around it. Again, this includes both life and death. We are all living mater that will eventually leave our current bodies and our matter will become that of something else. Death is unavoidable so I want to do all I can to make the way I eat as humane as possible while promoting the natural way of things. 
 
First, I will continue to eat local meat. I will continue to support local ranchers and growers and keep my hard earned money away from Big Ag. We have all seen the horrors that Big Ag and CAFOs (Commercial Animal Feeding Operations) have to offer. Avoiding these meats is something that I have done for years but I am learning more and more each day just how INCREDIBLY important this. If we want change in our food systems, we MUST support those who are raising animals correctly and humanely. We must support those who are not just farming one animal or growing one crop. This is neither a sustainable nor an environmentally favorable system. Vegans and carnivores can all agree on this: CURRENT AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES ARE NOT ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE. They are draining our resources and polluting our planet. (However, many vegans would argue that animal agriculture is wrong all together- I will address this in another blog post soon as I have done a lot of reading and research on this topic to guide my own journey.) In order to change the current food system- that of factory farmed animals, we MUST create a consumer tipping point. As consumers… money is our voice. We must SHOW the government and Big Ag that we will not stand for this kind of detriment being done to animals or to our ecosystem. It is absolutely devastating.
 
Furthermore, I will continue to grown upon my conviction of local and sustainable fruits and vegetables. Even though a food is “vegan”, it does not automatically make it environmentally sustainable and without consequence. These foods can still have positive or negative consequences and you can influences these by what you buy- from who, when, and where. For one example, a diet founded on large commodity crops and GMOs is not bloodless. These fields of corn, soy, wheat etc. are filled with little creatures that are then killed when the tractors come plowing through. Bees and bugs and butterflies are also killed due the heavy spraying of pesticides. The natural ecosystem and biodiversity of the soil is extraordinarily compromised as round-up is continually sprayed. It leaches and binds to minerals and thus, degrading the nutrition of our foods even more. With the same crop grown year after year and the lack of animal agriculture to re-inoculate the soil (since they are majority in CAFOS), we are basically raping our soils of all they have to offer. The amount of land that is available for growing crops is dwindling due to the lack of bio-diversity in our soils. This kind of big, non-organic mono crop method is another huge issue that must be addressed and spoken against from all parties. 
 
This is why I think food dogma can be more devastating than helpful (at least one of the reasons…). Everyone gets to busy waging war on each other and pointing fingers that we are distracted from the bigger issue. We can all unite on the fact that the current agricultural system is not sustainable and must be changed. Regardless of food convictions, we can all work together to bring about change if we put our biases aside. 

TURMERIC BONE BROTH STEW

This stew was super easy… And you probably do not need a recipe for it. But never the less…. Here it is.
 
I made this stew in three separate steps. White it was very easy, it took about 4 days to prepare all of the components. I like this stew because all of the components are kept separate until right before consumption. This is primarily because I don’t love left over cooked vegetables… in any form. Roasted, soup, steamed.. whatever. With this method, I just made the vegetables as I desired and added them to my already made base. I can also adjust the amount of bone broth I used in each serving- depending on my mood.
 
If you have not made bone broth before… It’s the easiest thing in the world… so don’t be intimidated! Here is your chance!
 
STEP ONE: Make the bone broth.  There are many methods for making bone broth…. But this is what I do because it is the absolute EASIEST. I don’t roast my bones before hand… I don’t add vegetables… I just get straight down to business.
 
Ingredients/Equipment: 

  • 3 to 4 pounds meaty bones (I use local beef bones. If you go to a store, you can usually fine bones designated for this purpose- called broth bones or stock bones.)

  • Pink Salt, 1 tbsp

  • Apple Cider Vinegar, ¼ cup

  • Crock-pot

Method:
 
Simply add the bones, garlic, vinegar, and salt to the crock pot. Fill with enough water to cover the bones. Cook on low for 48-72 hours. Check the slow cooker occasionally, skimming off any foam that collects on the surface and adding additional water as needed to keep the ingredients covered. The bones will also start to crumble after very long cooking. You will know when it is done with the broth is dark and flavorful. Strain the broth through a mesh strainer. I usually pour mine into mason jars and allow to cool at room temperature and then refrigerate. As the broth chills, the fat will rise to the top and solidify- you can scrape it off and use it for cooking or discard.
Broth will keep refrigerated for 5 days or frozen for up tot 2 months.
 
STEP TWO: Make the stew meat! This method is excellent for those tough cuts of meat because you’re going to cook it for a long ass time.
 
Ingredients:

  • 4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

  • 2-3 pounds beef stew meat

  • ~32 oz beef Stock (not your broth!)- just enough to cover the beef!

  • 2 bay leaves

  • Pink salt, 1 tbsp

  • Ground black pepper

Method:
 
Again, simply add all of the ingredients to the crock pot. Cook on LOW for 10 hours or on HIGH for 6-7 hours. Add more stock as needed.
 
STEP THREE: Make the turmeric veggies! You can do this 30 minutes before serving. I just prepared enough for 2-4 servings because like I said, I don’t prefer “left-over” veggies. I already have the broth and stew meat ready, so this is easy to do before dinner throughout the week! You can really do any vegetables you want… but this is what I did:
 
Ingredients: 

  • Leeks, cleaned and sliced, ½ cup

  • Onion, ½, chopped

  • Butternut Squash, 1/2 cup, cubed

  • Zucchini, ½ cup, cubed

  • Carrots, ½ cup, chopped

  • Oregano, 2 tsp, dried

  • Paprika, 2 tsp

  • Ghee, 1-2 tbsp

  • Turmeric, 1 tbsp

  • Ground black pepper

Method:
 
Add ghee to a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add onions and leeks. Cook for a few minutes. Add butternut squash, and carrots. After a few minutes, finally add the zucchini, oregano, and paprika. You can add a tablespoon or two of water intermittently to help with the cooking process. Once done, stir in the turmeric, and fresh ground black pepper.
 
Now you have all the components of your meal! To prepare a serving, scoop desired amount of stew meat with the stock into a bowl. Add ½ cup of bone broth and desired amount of turmeric veggies. Heat stove top or in the microwave. Top with fresh oregano. 

Learning to Eat Intuitively: My Struggle to Start Eating Meat Again, January 5th, 2017

I’m sitting here this morning a little bit distraught. And truthfully, I have been distraught over the past few months.
 
I’ve lost it.
 
I lost a lot of what I considered my identity.
 
I no longer don’t eat meat. In other words, I now eat meat.
 
While this wasn’t a lifelong decision, it was dietary convictions that I followed on and off throughout my life and most recently, cultivated alongside … Instagram. Around the time I start my Instragram account @root_for_food, I also stopped eating meat again. I grew into this identity as a plant-based “chef”. My real life day job was even catered around plant based cooking. People in the community knew me as such. This is how I knew myself. It was something I became confident and secure in. I was good at vegan cooking and I was comfortable with my decision not to eat animals. It all made sense to me.
 
After all, everything I knew about animal agriculture on a large scale broke my heart. (and still does). I would buy local, grass fed meat for my husband, but still abstain myself.  I knew that I could live without any other being having to die, and that is what propelled me. I love animals and I love them having the ability to live. I love that with a simple dietary change, I can save hundreds of lives- even in just one year. Something does not have to die for me to live. This brought me joy and a sense of self-satisfaction. My heart then (and still is), was to get people to eat more plants and less meat. I prided myself as a plant-based dietitian. But then everything changed.

I have been more or less radio silent on this end over the past few months. Yes, I’ve been busy with our new life here in Florida but I have also been going through this grand upheaval of my identity. What happened?
 
I started weight lifting about 10 months ago. (which has been pretty life changing in and of itself… but that’s for another time). All of the sudden, I woke up craving (and I mean CRAVING) things like meat loaf and bone broth for breakfast. Nothing else would satisfy me completely- despite my efforts. The mere thought of a piece of salmon would make my mouth water. The food I was making for Blake was nearly driving me mad.  What was happening!? Why was this happening to me?! I felt so guilty. I tried to ignore these cravings and move on.
 
Now, I also pride myself as an intuitive eating dietitian. Ignoring these cravings was essentially ignoring my body’s plea for more nutrition- a different nutrition that plants could not provide me. And thus, I was 100% going against my other conviction to eat intuitively. I was torn as to what nutritional conviction to stick with. Then I found the Balanced Bites podcast.
 
To be honest, my decision to not eat meat was never ever a nutritional decision. I am quite unconventional in my beliefs as a dietitian and I believe things like saturated fat and cholesterol not to be our nation’s problem. (Um hello sugar and fat free junk and hydrogenated oils and more sugar and fake food like substances everywhere.) On the contrary, I think they should be embraced while things like low fat milk, and industrialized seed oils should be shunned. But I digress. Like I said, my nutritional convictions were not nutritionally based- But environmentally and ethically based. The case to not eat meat is a very compelling one. I know this. 
But alas, I found the Balanced Bites Podcast. And they echoed everything I knew to be true about humans and their need for saturated fat and animal protein, plus so so so much more. Its like a light bulb went off in my head. A bright, and very painful one. I realized that I could not pride myself as a holistic, intuitive eating, real food dietitian and yet remain so ignorant as to believe most humans can and should survive on a strictly plant based diet- despite our innate need to be part of the food chain. I began to eat meat again and suddenly, all my cravings went away.  Physically, I felt strong and fulfilled, but emotionally I was broken.
 
This realization and new found conviction broke my heart. It left me feeling very unconformable and at a loss of what to do in the kitchen. I had developed this entire identity on vegan and vegetarian cooking. I felt guilt. I had 19K people on Instagram following me thinking me to be a “plant based dietitian”. What will they think? Will they be mad? Disappointed? Upset? Will they say hurtful things?
I do not believe I am alone in these feelings of guilt when I comes to dietary convictions. And I think this is very unfortunate.  I whole-heartedly believe in encouraging everyone to intuitively eat and to eat the highest quality of food that they can. I believe in ethical and humane raising of animals and the sustainable growing of plant foods. I believe now that my decision to not eat meat was essentially doing nothing to battle what I believe to be the biggest and most devastating problem in our modern food system- commercial animal feeding operations. Doing nothing puts my money nowhere. I was silent. And in the world of food, MONEY IS YOUR VOICE. On the contrary, buying from local farmers who are humane and raise their animals with respect puts my money to what I believe in. It contributes to the consumer tipping point. Something needs to change. Big Ag needs to be stopped. And this can only be done by taking our money away from them and putting it to small, family farms who do things the old fashioned way. Truly, it is an investment. It is more expensive. But ask yourself- why is this product more expensive? Do some research. And suddenly you will find yourself making scarifies in other areas to make it happened. It is THAT important.
 
Diane and Liz’s (from Balanced Bites) philosophy on food really challenged my thinking on a lot of things. As if I wasn’t left field enough as a dietitian…. I have gone through a few stages of my nutritional believes. First, it started in nutrition school in undergrad with conventional dietary wisdom.  I bought into this for a few years until I actually started teaching a nutrition class at a culinary school. I started reading and researching nutrition on my own and discovering what I truly believed. What I found turned my world upside down. My mind was blow to the nutritional darkness I had been living in. Once again, as my nutritional philosophy continues to evolve, my mind is blown. But man, is it exciting! This is why I truly love nutrition and this field. It can be so frustrating but so rewarding at the same time. I could go on about why I believe meat and animal products to be an essential part of a healthful diet (FOR MOST PEOPLE- some people can thrive on a plant based vegan diet, but not most in my opinion...), but we’d be here all day. Plus I believe my badass friend and business partner at The DiehaRD Foodie is going to be making this case in an upcoming blog post….  So we will all wait in anticipation for that! Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading. Writing this has been therapeutic. And honestly I’m hoping this helps me to get my mojo back. I have felt lost on Instagram and in the kitchen and I would love some guidance if anyone has any to offer. Trying to find yourself is sometimes painful but I know I am so much more of a dietitian for it.