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What Does it Mean to be Healthy? (Repost!)

**This post was written by and re-posted from: Cara Lisette of Cara’s Corner

We are bombarded with images of ‘health’ everywhere – social media, supermarkets, television, billboards. 

Being healthy is wonderful, and I do believe health is something people should hope to be. But what is ‘healthy’? Is it clean eating and raw foods and ultra marathons? Is it flatlays of avocado toast and juice cleanses and leg days?

I’m saying no.

Health does not stop and start with your body, but it is influenced by your relationship with your body, and how this impacts your mind.

Health isn’t just about eating your vegetables and drinking enough water and going to the gym. Don’t get me wrong, I am an advocate for those things because they boost my energy levels, my overall physical health and my self esteem. But actually, having a healthy mind is just as important as having a ‘healthy’ body. And a healthy body does not equal thin, no matter what the media leads us to believe.

A healthy mind, for me, means being resilient, accepting of myself and being able to challenge my negative thoughts. I am certainly not always of ‘healthy’ mind but it’s where I try to be.

When my mind is healthy, it also means I am able to recognise when I need extra support, and to have enough self esteem to know I deserve that extra support. It doesn’t mean being happy all the time, it just means I can cope with sometimes being unhappy.

It also means that I can eat chocolate and have a glass of wine at the end of a long day. It means that if I’m tired, I can skip the gym. It means that sometimes I need that extra couple of hours in bed, and that’s okay. Health doesn’t mean rigid diets and calorie counting and strict exercise regimes and meeting your macros. It means being able to listen to what your mind and body are telling you, and sometimes they are telling you you need a rest. There are so many messages in the world that lead us to feel guilty for not conforming to binary concepts of health, or looking like people with abs having protein smoothies after their daily 6am workouts. But you should not feel guilty for doing whatever you need to do to keep yourself well – and that is personal to you.

And really, the point I’m trying to make is that this entire post is just about my idea of health. It is personal to me. You may agree or you may not, but if you have other ways that work for you, that’s okay too.

Health isn’t just superfoods and squats. It’s being kind to yourself in whatever form that takes for you.

Dating and Recovery – Your Go-To Guide

Dating can be tough. Dating in recovery from an eating disorder?

That can certainly add some layers of difficulty. Where to begin, right?!

We’ve compiled a list of perspectives to help you sort it all out.

 

Yes, Dating in Recovery is Possible. Here’s What You Need to Know.

Dating During Eating Disorder Recovery

The Secret Life of Dating With an Eating Disorder

The Challenges of Navigating Dating in Eating Disorder Recovery

 

Happy Dating! (…if and when you want to, of course!)

It’s okay if…

The emotions and thoughts you are experiencing right now….let them flow. Let them just be here for a moment while you read on.

In light of the current COVID-19 crisis, none of us have the answer for when life will return to normal and all of us are grieving the Spring time we thought we would have. It’s okay if you’re feeling angry, exhausted, trapped, relieved or rested. Any of it fits.

It’s also okay if….

  • You miss your friends and family…or you don’t.
  • You want to eat more…or you don’t.
  • You feel like you might jump out of your skin…or you don’t.
  • You need to sleep more…or you don’t.
  • You enjoy working from home….or you don’t….or you can’t.
  • You have a productive day…or you don’t.
  • You get dressed…or you don’t.
  • You feel grateful…or you don’t.

There is no right way to feel, act, or “be” right now. Your responsibility is to be true to yourself and your physical, mental, and emotional needs during this time. These needs might not look like your parents’, roommates’, friends’, etc. and that is okay!

Sometimes, it is difficult to meet our needs all on our own. Nutritious Thoughts is here to support you in whatever way possible. As we experience this crisis together, we want you to know that we provide the following services and hope to lighten the load of stress you may be carrying.

  • Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) for  chronic illness
  • Menu/Meal planning for individuals and families
  • Grocery list creation
  • Support around the following:
    • Easy meal preparation
    • Feeding your child during difficult times
    • Discussing food insecurity, budgeting, etc.
    • Body image concerns during a time of isolation
    • Emotional eating & loss of appetite concerns
    • Eating Disorders & Disordered Eating

Stay well, friends.

We stand with you and whatever you’re feeling right now.

Let us know how we can help you meet the needs of yourself and your family!

 

 

Resourcing Yourself

What does it mean to “be in your body”?

For many of us in recovery from an eating disorder or disordered eating, this question is one that we shy away from. Being in our bodies? Nah, not for us. However, being in our bodies (embodiment) may be a tool to help strengthen and expand recovery.

So, let’s ask again. What does it mean to be embodied?

Being embodied means to have the ability to listen. When we can attune to the messages our bodies are sending us, we then have the opportunity to meet our needs accordingly and to be in and with ourselves.

Becoming embodied is a process that can take a lifetime, as we are discouraged from listening to our bodies from a very young age. How do we begin this process? See the tools below that can be used to exercise the “listening muscle” and enhance our ability to sense our bodies and how they fit in the world around us.

5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Tool

  • This grounding technique helps us to orient to the world around us, which is the first step to being able to orient to the world within us (an embodied state).  Practice utilizing this tool linked above.

Body scanning

  • Body scanning is a type of meditation that invites us to notice sensations within our bodies. Practice body scanning to your comfort level using the video linked above.

Begin your journey to exploring embodiment by practicing the 5-4-3-2-1 and body scanning tools above. What do you notice about your thoughts, feelings, and sensations? What do you notice about your comfort level with yourself?

 

Stay tuned for more information about embodiment in recovery in our April blog post!

 

 

SURVIVING VALENTINE’S DAY DURING EARLY RECOVERY

This Valentine’s Day, we share a post via New Method Wellness. These words are truly a worthwhile read!

With love,

Nutritious Thoughts

“It’s a little annoying when stores start putting up Valentine’s Day decorations before it’s even January. Well, February is here already, and now the countdown has begun toward that lovely – or dreaded – Hallmark holiday. Relationship experts and addiction professionals warn about love during the first year of recovery, but when “love is in the air” and all around you, it’s hard to block it out of your mind, especially around this time of year! As you scroll through your Facebook feeds and Instagram pics, you can’t help but wonder, how would a little love hurt anyone?
WHAT’S BETTER THAN LOVE AFTER RECOVERY?
If you are in recovery, your best bet is to make sobriety the top priority on your list rather than finding love. That can be pretty hard to do when every store you walk into is full of reminders that you are single, but rest assured, you won’t regret sticking to the discipline of sobriety for the following reasons:
• Focusing on your sobriety will, in the long run, lead to healthier relationships overall, not just in the romantic domain, but also in all aspects of life
• You increase your chances of success at any endeavor if you stick with the treatment plan that you and your substance abuse counselor developed together
• You reduce your chances of relapsing by avoiding romantic distractions
• You avoid the pitfall of unhealthy relationships. If you get involved with someone during your early stages of recovery, you get addicted to the “high” of falling in love rather than falling in love with the person
• You get to exercise responsibility by not entangling others in an emotional rollercoaster while you sort out your own emotions and discover who you are.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO INSTEAD OF FINDING A NEW RELATIONSHIP?
Do what makes you happy. Fill your schedule with activities that excite you. Here are some ideas you might want to try:
• Sign up for a dance class. Tired of salsa? Try swing dancing and bring a friend with you who will be supportive of your recovery.
• Get into photography and soak in the beauty around you. Form a new habit by creating an album of memories and people you never want to forget. Appreciate beauty in all its forms wherever you go.
• Go horseback riding. Aside from letting you bond with your favorite animal, horseback riding offers you nontraditional benefits of a physical workout. It helps strengthen your muscles and improve your cardiovascular health.
• Like water? Try water sports like surfing and paddle boarding. Not only are they great for physical exercise but they’re also excellent ways to enhance your mood and reduce anxiety.
DO NOT ISOLATE YOURSELF ON VALENTINE’S DAY
It’s a well-known fact that those who have a history of addiction tend to isolate themselves, irrespective of the type of addiction they have. Case studies have shown that social isolation largely contributes to higher rates of drug use, and the maladaptive patterns developed during substance abuse negatively affect one’s existing relationships.

Reach out to a loved one. Reach out to your recovery community. Stay connected this Valentine’s Day!

Repost: Some “What Ifs” For Dealing With Fatphobia In The New Year

This blog post was written by Ragen Chastain of Dances with Fat.

“The truth is that fatphobia should never happen, and we should never have to deal with it. If and when we do, we might have to take into account how much energy we have to fight, how much power the person engaged in bigotry has over us, or other factors – including and especially for people who are part of more than one marginalized community. So these what-ifs aren’t about deciding what we will do every time, but rather thinking about the possibilities

What if we didn’t put up with body shaming?

What if we interrupted body shaming whenever we heard it – not just about our own bodies, but about any body? You could say something like “My new year’s resolution is to stop participating in negative body talk.” (If this is happening before the new year, just add “and I’m starting early!”)

What if we didn’t allow a running commentary on our body/food choices/weight/etc.

People can think whatever they want about my body, but they can’t say it out loud if they want me to stick around. One of my favorite phrases for this is “I’m going to stop you there.” You can just leave it at that and change the subject, or you can add something like “I’m not interested in people’s opinions about my body/food/weight/etc. let’s talk about something else.”

What if we didn’t buy into the thinner=better/healthier/prettier paradigm

This is a place where I think all of us can probably use some self-work. Our culture is utterly saturated with this myth and it can create fatphobia that is directed at others and/or internalized. (Often we can identify areas for work by our “buts” and our “as long as’s” for example, if we think “it’s ok to be fat but…she shouldn’t be wearing that” or “it’s ok to be fat as long as you’re healthy”) Bodies come in lots of sizes for lots of reasons and thinner bodies are not inherently better in any way, and adding healthism to fatphobia does not improve the situation.

What if we loudly defended our bodies, fixed a plate, then flipped a table and walked out?

This may not be your style and that’s completely ok. But know that it’s ok to defend your body (maybe like you would defend someone you love.) We each get to choose what we are going to allow and sometimes those choices are out of your hands, but it’s worth brainstorming the solutions that are the most “out there” including table-flipping, and leaving (with a plate, of course!)

If we want to dismantle fatphobia we need to keep asking ‘what if…’.”

Repost: the HAES® files: How We Can Reframe Gaining Weight as an Act of Self-Care

BY HEALTH AT EVERY SIZE® BLOG

by McKenna Schueler

In this ASDAH blog post, McKenna Schueler offers a compassionate framing of weight gain to combat harmful cultural messaging that glorifies weight loss while vilifying weight gain as a ‘problem’ to be fixed. Within, McKenna proposes that allowing your body to gain weight can, in many cases, be protective and serve as an act of self-care and body kindness. 

Most people nowadays have some level of awareness of what it means to pursue or engage in some form of ‘self-care’. Unfortunately, this concept which was initially rooted in self-compassion has in recent years been commodified.

That is, if you look to magazines or social media influencers to figure out what self-care is, you’ll find the concept often linked to products and services promoted as one-size-fits-all cures for any number of mental and physical ailments. If you buy this cream, or that subscription box – there’s your self-care.

This proposed requisite of having to buy a product or service to take care of your physical or mental well-being is problematic, to say the least. And it also bleeds into the aesthetic values of diet culture, which glorifies pursuits of shaping, surveilling, and shrinking the body.

Thus, it has become in vogue to find creative ways to pursue weight loss under the guise of #selfcare.

In this way, self-care begins to resemble something closer to bodily harm than body kindness. As a result of whom this media messaging typically targets, this commodified picture of self-care disproportionately reaches women; and by way of medical and institutional bias, has its most nefarious effects on women of color, food insecure populations, disabled folx, and trans folx whose bodies exist beyond the bounds of what has traditionally been conceived of as the “picture of health.”

What isn’t often broached in discussions of self-care, however, is where weight gain can fit. As a young, cisgender woman with a decade-long history of disordered eating patterns, I have had the challenging – yet, perhaps ultimately rewarding – experience of unlearning and relearning what it means to treat my body and general self with kindness.

As a result of having an eating disorder and living in contemporary American society, I’ve had a considerable amount of time to be both drawn into the alluring conception of body-shaping and shrinking as the ultimate #wellnesshack – and fight against it.

As most people who are drawn to Health At Every Size® principles are probably aware, there are many harms and health risks that can occur as a result of disordered eating. People of all sizes who engage in severe patterns of disordered eating or weight-cycling are at risk for facing both medical and psychological consequences. These risks are not limited to people who are classified by the problematic BMI calculation as “underweight.”

Weight gain is commonly framed within media and by bias-holding medical professionals as a “problem to be fixed.” But what about when weight gain is protective, and the choices leading up to them acts of self-nurture? Additionally, why must weight gain (for any reason) be moralized at all? All bodies shift and change with time; it is simply our realities as embodied creatures.

In this post specifically, I will be focusing on weight gain that occurs in response to nourishing and caring for your body after a time of caloric restriction or scarcity. Among people with and without clinical eating disorders alike, it is common for weight gain to occur as a natural response to weight suppression or recent weight loss.

Weight suppression refers to the phenomenon of your weight being below your biological set-point and can happen as a result of:

  • having inadequate access to enough food
  • chronic dieting
  • eating disorders
  • medical conditions

Side effects of medications, or significant experiences of stress or sickness, can also cause weight loss in some instances – much to the body’s chagrin.

Within the context of eating disorder recovery, weight gain can be more complex than one’s reaction to seeing a higher number on the scale. Many people (with and without eating disorders) tie weight loss or a smaller body to their identity, their sense of safety, or their value as a person. Learning to re-nourish the body in eating disorder recovery can also be physically uncomfortable, or even painful at times as a result of how the body reacts to increasing or regulating food intake.

The challenges of accepting and embracing weight gain are even more significant for people who occupy a fat body, due to the compounding pressure of messaging coming out of diet culture, biases held by treatment providers, and size discrimination. I recognize that as a person with thin privilege, I am protected from many of these compounding forces of oppression.

Then there are our friends, our family, or whomever we encounter this way or that who take the time to bemoan recent bodily changes. They have also been fed messages about what is “healthy” or “unhealthy,” or how to treat a body that is not pictured as the totally achievable health ideal.

When I propose the idea of reframing weight gain as self-care, I am not proposing that this physical change is the most important part of the body kindness process. When I talked to someone about this angle recently, they said to me: Yes, weight gain can be important for eating disorder recovery [and arguably for many people without an eating disorder], but what else does this mean?

As I understand, what accepting weight gain as a form of body kindness really means is:

  • listening to and accepting your body’s needs
  • challenging the ways we are conditioned to critique our bodies and instances of weight gain
  • challenging fatphobia’s white supremacist, ableist, and xenophobic roots
  • embracing the HAES® principle of eating for well-being, and rejecting healthism

Often lost in the continual onslaught of complaints about weight gain are how it can often come as a result of properly nourishing ourselves following sickness, stress, or inadequate access to food.

Not every instance of weight gain is something that someone is actively pursuing, and it may be unexpected. But when we become so fixated on feeding into diet culture’s vilification of weight gain, we neglect how nurturing, and how tender an act it can be to adequately feed our bodies and let them change as they may, if and when we have the resources to do so.

For people who are recovering from an eating disorder or years of dieting, this can be particularly special. It’s not easy to ignore and challenge the mainstream obsession with weight loss or ‘fixing’ our bodies. But is is an act of kindness to ourselves.

The Take-Home Message

Nourishing ourselves doesn’t have to be careful, pretty, gentle, or always even grounded in mindfulness.

Reaching for whatever it is you have available – be it an apple, candy bar, or your favorite food – and feeding yourself sends a message to your body that I am taking care of you, you deserve nourishment, and that will never change no matter how you change or grow.

So, if you would like, I invite you to frame any past, recent, or future weight gain as self-care. I’m right here with you. 


McKenna Schueler (She/Her) is a freelance/contract writer with a Bachelors of Arts degree in English and a minor in psychology. McKenna was first introduced to Health at Every Size® and the body liberation movement through the works of fat activists and radical feminist voices online. She hopes to further her education in public health and use her knowledge to help increase federal, state, and community support for inclusive and culturally-competent mental health treatment interventions that respect patient agency. In the meantime, she strives to offer words of compassion and understanding for those who can come away from her writing feeling better informed and/or comforted.

Reclaiming Your Body After Abuse and Assault

Trigger Warning: Impact of abuse and assault on physical, mental, and emotional health. Reader discretion advised.

au·ton·o·my
/ôˈtänəmē/
noun

You may ask: Where does the voice of a registered dietitian treating eating disorders/disordered eating belong in a conversation about the impacts of abuse and assault?

Our answer: Front and center.

Experiencing a loss of body autonomy through traumatic events such as abuse and assault is a topic that is becoming more openly discussed in media and research. Finally! – a realm of experiences that many (most) of us can relate to on some level is no longer “hush-hush”. With the growing amount and variety of community support for survivors, where does the non-diet, body neutral dietitian fit in?

Trauma affects everything. Survivors often experience changes in their physical, mental, and emotional health (sometimes gradually, sometimes suddenly).* Many of these changes are intricately weaved with digestive health and eating behaviors. Cue the non-diet, body neutral dietitian!

It is our hope to help survivors of trauma move forward in their healing journeys by encouraging a reclamation of body autonomy and educating on the specific ways traumatic events can alter the how we feed ourselves. This. Takes. Time. All the time one may need. Some ways in which a dietitian at Nutritious Thoughts** may support you in reclaiming your body autonomy include the following:

  • Restoration of balanced and adequate nourishment
  • Rehabilitation from eating disorder/disordered eating behaviors
  • Attunement to bodily cues (hunger, fullness, other digestive and emotional cues related to eating)
  • Creating a self-care plan
  • Cultivating a space where your voice and experience is heard and respected

If you or someone you know needs support around the topics of abuse and/or assault, please consider reaching out to or providing them with the following resources:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline – 1-800-799-7233
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline (RAINN) – 1-800-656-4673
  • Our Voice (local Western NC support!) – 828-255-7576
  • For crises, medical emergencies, etc. – Dial 911

*Details on these changes can be found via Dialogues of Clinical Neuroscience here: Traumatic stress: effects on the brain

**A registered dietitian is an important part of a treatment team for survivors with dis-regulated eating behaviors but they cannot be the entire team. Survivors deserve a team that involves multiple clinicians and at minimum, the addition of a therapist and physician.

Seasonal Self Care

Autumn is transitional.  The light reflects a bit differently on the trees at dusk, some schedules speed up while others slow down, and we prepare for the holiday season ahead.  Seasonal shifts can be a challenging time to maintain self care. In fact, for many of us, the ways in which we care for ourselves shift with the season.  Nights are longer, temperatures drop, the air becomes filled with family-focused activities, and so on.  Do you struggle with maintaining self care regimens as summer transitions to fall?  Read on for some key points to taking the seasonal shift head on and taking the pressure off of yourself when it comes to self care!

Sometimes Simple Works Best

Self care doesn’t have to be “all or nothing”.  Setting realistic expectations for yourself during more chaotic times is essential to prevent self care from feeling like a chore.  Simple self care this season might look like going to bed 30 minutes earlier, just like daylight does!  It could also be remembering to turn the crock pot on before leaving the house.  These things can (and should) matter just as much as carving out time on a sunny morning to run or booking that weekend getaway. 

Set and Keep Boundaries

Repeat after us, “You do not have to accept every invite you receive.”  Autumn is filled with fun activities and gatherings of all kinds!  While this time of year typically has something for everyone, this doesn’t mean that you have to do all the somethings at the expense of your own peace. If going to that bonfire on Friday night feels like too much, trust your gut…it’s probably too much…AND, you are empowered to say “no” to attending!

Look After Your Body

Yay, fall!  Not so “yay”  is cold and flu season.  Practice taking care of your physical body this season.  Get that flu shot, put lotion on that dry skin, stay hydrated.

Mind Your Mental Health

It’s SAD (seasonal affective disorder) season. If you feel you struggle more with your mental health this time of year, ramping up your mental health care game might need to be in the cards for you. “What more could I do?”, you ask? Here are some ideas:

  • Reach out for support – friends, family, clinicians
  • Begin a daily mindfulness practice – journaling, breathing, coloring, etc.
  • Self help – don’t knock the self help section of the book store…it’s a goldmine.

 

Wishing you all a wonderful fall season! Happy October!

 

Back to School!

We are a few weeks into the 2019-2020 school year.  With returning to school comes a set of new stressors, deadlines, and social activities.  How do we maintain recovery when taking on the role of “student”?  Eating Disorder Hope recently released an article on this topic exactly, and we couldn’t have written it any better ourselves.  Therefore, we’ve provided the article for you here in this blog post!  Keep reading for some top-notch tips on staying recovery-forward in the midst of transitioning back to school.

 

Best Practices for Returning to School

Here are the best practices for returning to school in eating disorder recovery:

Make time for recovery. Even with a busier schedule, it’s important to prioritize recovery. This includes continuing to attend appointments with your treatment team at a frequency that will continue to support your recovery. This also includes keeping your long-term health and wellness in mind in spite of the stressors that come with school.

Identify your triggers. Before returning to school, identify what may trigger disordered eating thoughts and behaviors. Triggers may be things like overhearing classmates talk about their bodies, eating with others in the lunchroom, or the amount of math homework you’ll be facing.

Have a go-to list of coping skills and self-care plans that will help you manage these triggers. This will help reduce any risk of relapse.

Develop a healthy daily structure. Finding a daily structure means finding balance. It’s having a routine that provides regular sleep and regular meals.

It’s a schedule that includes social activities that make it difficult to isolate, as well as things like making time for academic efforts to prevent school work from “building up.”

Self-care is an important part of the daily structure — as part of the best practices for returning to school, be sure to build in time each day to take care of yourself and manage daily stressors.

Get support. Know that when things get difficult, you don’t have to figure it out all on your own. Call in your support system — whether it be parents, friends, teachers, the school counselor, or a formal support group — for support around whatever is troubling you.

Many students in recovery need support around academic workload, time management, stress management, meal prep, and/or mealtime support.

Consult with your treatment team. Work closely with your treatment team to address any triggers or challenges that may arise. If you have any concerns, be sure to share them with your treatment team, as they will be able to support you and offer up individualized recommendations.

If you begin to feel like things are getting on top of you, like you’re not coping as well, or returning to old disordered eating thoughts or behaviors, it’s important that you reach out to your treatment team as soon as possible.

Special consideration for student-athletes. Work closely with your coach.

For students in recovery who are returning to athletics along with school, it’s important that your coach understands how to support you in your recovery.

Coaches should be aware of any recommendations being made by your treatment team and be willing to support you in following those recommendations.

This is important for both your short-term and long-term health and wellbeing.


About the Author:

Chelsea Fielder-JenksChelsea Fielder-Jenks is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice in Austin, Texas. Chelsea works with individuals, families, and groups primarily from a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) framework.

She has extensive experience working with adolescents, families, and adults who struggle with eating, substance use, and various co-occurring mental health disorders. You can learn more about Chelsea and her private practice at ThriveCounselingAustin.com.

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We specialize in Eating Concerns (eating disorders, disordered eating patterns, emotional eating, chronic dieting, weight & body image concerns), Nutrition for Substance Use Recovery, Nutrition for Mental Health, Nutrition for Competitive & Recreational Athletes, Chronic Health Concerns (i.e. diabetes, digestive issues, food allergies, depression, anxiety), and Gestational, Hormonal & Reproductive Nutrition.

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Who We Are

Registered Dietitians and Licensed Nutritionists located in Asheville, Hendersonville, Boone and Sylva, as well as virtually serving the entire state of North Carolina.