Picky eating is one of the top reasons families set foot in my office. I wish the solution was quick and simple, but the reality is that it's not our job as parents to "get our children to eat." Instead, it's about helping kids be confident around food and learn how to interact with it.
My work in Autism was a happy accident. In 2008 I attended a lecture by Elizabeth Strickland - a dietitian specializing in Autism. I was fascinated by the complexity of the condition and the powerful impact that nutrition had on physical complications for children and adults. After graduate school, I had the honor of coordinating research for the Autism Treatment Network (ATN) and the Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health (AIR-P). My time spent among these experts enriched my practice in so many ways, it only seems fair to share a few tidbits.
We are all born intuitive eaters (with the exception of rare genetic disorders / medical conditions). Meaning, we eat when we're hungry and we stop when we are full. We eat the amount that our bodies need. But as time goes on, many lose connection to that skill. So why does it go away and how can we get it back? Can food ever be "just food" again?
Intuitive Eating is the gold standard of healing for people struggling with their relationship with food. But contrary to what some believe, it is not about just "eating what you want, when you want." Instead, it's about understanding what drives you to eat and how to decide whether or not to honor your hunger.
I straddle two worlds in my professional life. On one side, I specialize in manipulating and challenging bodies as a personal trainer and athlete - helping people move better and farther. On the other, I help people heal their relationship with food and bodies- calming internal criticisms and rigid food/movement beliefs to find a place of balanced living.
One might argue these worlds don't blend. Admittedly, sometimes I feel at odds with myself. Athletes and fitness buffs are bombarded with messages to ignore their bodies - challenge themselves, go beyond their comfort, and crush their bodies. While my eating disorder world argues movement should only be reserved for joy. But can their be joy in athletics? Or is it just a place of punitive manipulation?
We all want to be happy with our food and “eat well.” However that means something different to everyone – eating for a health goal, in alignment with our spiritual/cultural values, and/or in relationship to our taste preferences.
But eating well isn’t simply a choice. If it were that easy, we’d all be doing it! Other circumstances and situations can make it hard. Many people “make the decision” only to find it hard to make it last more than a meal or two. What gives?
It’s the time of year we like to be scared – we seek out scary movies and play amazing tricks on our loved ones. For most, it’s temporary and (mildly) entertaining.
Since it’s the season of fear, it feels right to talk about the use of fear in health counseling and health communication. Fear often feels like the easiest tool to motivate a client. But does it work? And for how long?
DISCLAIMER: The information presented here is meant to be for general education. If you want individual guidance to reach your unique health goals, please contact me or a local dietitian directly
Dietitian, personal trainer, mother, wife, runner, and triathlete staying healthy one bit and bite at a time