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?
We live in weight focused society. In a typical week as an outpatient dietitian and personal trainer, I see between 20 and 30 patients a week (that’s 960-1440 / year). Most want to adjust their weight (usually down) in a quest for health [and the others struggle with disordered eating...] The majority have been losing and/or gaining weight for most of their lives. So why can’t we “get it right?”
I became a dietitian and a personal trainer because I wanted to know the “secret” to weight. I assumed there must be a reason why some people are smaller than others. But over 15 years of counseling has taught me the true secret, and it's not what I expected.
So read on to understand how food and movement affect our body and what we can do about it.
A big part of my day is explaining diabetes to patients. It's easy to get lost in the medical jargon. When you keep it simple, it's easier to understand what you can and cannot control (video below!)
Many people fear the 4-10 pm time slot. They feel out of control...a bottomless pit...helpless. How do you navigate this time of day?!
This is a major challenge for children and parents. Children want treats that let them blend in with their friends. Parents want something healthy their child will actually eat and that doesn’t take forever to prepare.
Check out my 3 part post below!
People are designed to eat every 3-4 hours. When you go more than 4 hours without eating, you tend to get overly hungry. When you get really hungry, you’re more likely to overeat. You’re also most likely to crave “junk food.” Snacks keep your hunger in check, however not all snacks are created equal.
(also published on the Cambridge Health Alliance Blog)
It’s no secret that New Englanders love Dunkin Donuts. With a shop on most corners, it’s a convenient place to grab a snack, meal, or a coffee. But how does it affect your health and what are the best choices? I took a look at their nutrition information to find the answer.*
Eggs..One day they’re hot and the next they’re not. It’s a common question in my office. Eggs are controversial because the have dietary cholesterol. However, the cholesterol you eat does not necessarily have the biggest impact on the cholesterol in your body. First, you have to understand a little about dietary vs serum (blood) cholesterol. Or if you’d rather not, skip down a few paragraphs to the nitty gritty.
This is a common question in my office, especially from people looking to lose weight and/or build muscle. While protein shakes can be a helpful tool, they’re not for everyone. To understand whether it’s right for you, consider your goals and the science behind it.
We all have a set amount of time and energy to spend each day. And we each have a choice in how to spend some of it (admittedly, some “energy suckers” are non-negotiable). It can take some serious creativity and a different thought process to spend those resources wisely.
I've been passionate about diet and exercise since I was a chubby 6th grader trying to find my way. When I discovered the magic of running and healthy food, I dreamed of a day that I could teach others my "secrets." In about 6 months, I had lost 50 lbs by eating less and running 1 mile a day. I remember the moment during a frigid fall run in 1997. With burning lungs, I finished my daily run. My mind wandered to visions of my friends and family who were struggling with weight. I thought, "It doesn't have to be hard! Just eat less and move more!" My young brain fantasized about bonding over low fat foods (it was the 90s). I just assumed people just didn't "know" what to do. Yup, I was wrong.
I assumed weight loss was hard because people didn't know what to do...
DISCLAIMER: The writing here is for informational and educational purposes only. It is NOT a substitute for individual care. Your needs may vary. or individual support, please contact a provider.
Please note it's been a number of years since I have updated these posts. The content and philosophies may have changed as I've grown as a provider. Please reach out with questions or concerns.
Dietitian, personal trainer, mother, wife, runner, and endurance athlete supporting well-being, one bit and bite at a time