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February 1-7 is Eating Disorders Awareness Week in Canada. To learn more about events in your community check out the National Eating Disorders Information Centre. The Waterloo Wellington Eating Disorders Coalition is hosting two events!
Guelph - Friday, February 7, Faces of Recovery
Waterloo - Wednesday, February 12, All About Eating Disorders
(Suzanne will be presenting during the evening in Waterloo)
Parenting is a highly imperfect process, one that is often thankless at times too. Feeding kids can be very challenging! There are so many variables that affect what they eat and how much. It can be disheartening as a parent to put so much effort into meal planning and prep only to be met with a response of "that's yucky!" There are feeding models out there to guide you to raise children that are competent eaters and feel comfortable with their growing body. I use Ellyn Satter's Division of Responsibility as a guide for parents and I use this with my kids too! This model clearly identifies the role of the parent and the role of the child when it comes to eating.
How does this model fit with Intuitive Eating? Intuitive Eating is an excellent framework for adults to repair their disrupted relationship with food due to diet culture, weight stigma and inaccurate health information, this may also be the case for teens as well. For children, parents &/or caregivers can role model a healthy relationship with food, their body and movement. This will allow your children to continue to enjoy food and movement and respect and care for the body that they were innately born with.
As parents, our relationship with food and our body, can significantly influence how we feed our children. At Gut Instincts Nutrition Counselling I work with parents all the time that are working on improving their relationship with food. For many, this includes untangling how their upbringing around food and family meals has influenced their eating. Because many of our clients are trying to find joy in eating for themselves and also grow intuitive eaters, free from the dangers of diet culture we have decided to partner with Pommetta Nutrition!
Growing Intuitive Eaters is an 6 week online course & group coaching program for parents ! It is facilitated by two dietitians: Suzanne Dietrich, RD from Gut Instincts Nutrition Counselling & Jay Baum, RD from Pommetta Nutrition. In addition, you will have access to an exclusive online community, where we will be available daily to answer any questions you may have!
If feeding your kids is starting to feel really challenging &/or if you'd like some assistance growing a child with a positive body image through a supportive community then check out what this course has to offer here! Official registration will take place Dec.18-Dec.24. The course will start in January 2020! This course will be priced at a much lower price point than individual nutrition counselling. Feel free to send Suzanne a message if you have any questions about the course or would like to learn more about intuitive eating.
In a previous blog on diet culture, several contributors to diet culture were mentioned. Diet culture comes from many places - the diet and “wellness” industry, the fashion and beauty industry, and often from healthcare providers.
In this post, we will look at how the fashion and beauty industry influences how we feel about ourselves and our bodies and list some places where people in larger bodies can find clothes that fit!
We are surrounded by media so it’s no surprise that it affects how we think we should look. Many of the images we see aren’t even real. Real or not, they try to define what beauty is. Marketers have greatly impacted what we think we should look like. Thanks to clever ad schemes, women are convinced we should dye our hair, shave our armpits and have long, thick lashes (but obviously, they should look natural and not have any mascara clumps). Ads work by reminding us of what we are lacking and offering a quick fix.
Unfortunately, in the fashion world, there is often only one size. Clothing is created to fit one body size and it’s not realistic for most. Even fashion models can have a hard time maintaining that body shape.
Along with difficulties finding clothing in the right size, there are cases of “plus-size” lines of clothing costing more. There is an argument that bigger clothes use more materials and cost more to make. But shouldn’t that mean that an x-small should cost less than a size M or L? It doesn’t of course. When clothing is mass-produced and materials are purchased in huge quantities, the price difference to produce a larger item of clothing is minimal. (Here)
Those words came from an inspiring session at this year's National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) conference by Dr Ben Barry . He discussed how the fashion industry has been part of creating the “ideal body.” Dr Barry is chair of Ryerson’s School of Fashion and Social Change. He asked conference attendees to consider where they buy clothes. He then asked if someone in a larger body would be able to find clothes at that store. In most cases, the answer was no. He noted that large bodies and disabled bodies are size out of fashion. He shared that "fashion can make us feel at home or outside of our bodies."
Dr. Barry is working to shift our ideas of the ideal body to include people of all shapes, sizes and abilities. He shared that "most dress forms at fashion schools only go up to a size 14." This excludes a huge portion of our population. He noted that "plus size is not plus size... it's average!" His students are being taught to create size and ability inclusive clothing! He shared that "the new fashion system should value respect and celebrate the full panorama of bodies." Keep an eye on his work as he works towards changing the system!
Check out Canada's DARE magazine if you're looking for a plus size magazine.
Mettamade - www.mettamadeinhamilton.ca
Consign your Curves www.consignyourcurves.com
Addition Elle www.additionelle.com/en
Joe Fresh www.joefresh.com/ca
Your Big Sister’s Closet www.yourbigsisterscloset.com
(Thanks to our friend Alicia Worobec, Certified Intuitive Eating Coach & Personal Trainer for her tips - check her out here!
Eddie Bauer www.eddiebauer.ca
* Many of the stores listed in the previous section also carry activewear.
Muna and Broad www.MunaAndBroad.com
Alicia Worobec also shared that “Unfortunately there still is a major gap in the market for sizes beyond 3X.” Clothing companies - we need you to do BETTER!
We look forward to the day when this is not even a post that needs to be written, where clothing is accessible for all bodies.
Because many of our clients live in larger bodies and share much frustration in finding clothing that feels good. When clothing is not available for all sizes one can easily get the message that "my body is wrong." But that is far from the truth. At Gut Instincts Nutrition Counselling we believe that all bodies deserve to be valued, are important and deserve to have access to clothing, without feeling shame.
Shame can cause one to have a tumultuous relationship with food. If you’d like help working on your relationship with food and/or your body then book a free discovery call today. If we've missed any stores that you'd like highlighted then please share with us so we can include! We’re working hard at dismantling the damage the diet culture has done to our world, things are starting to change in the right direction!
Before I continue about my beliefs around bodies and health I want to address the elephant I'm the room. My privilege. Because this affects how I work with my clients, how I learn and share what I share with you here.
I always knew I had privilege but didn't know how to articulate it. But I feel it's vital for me to acknowledge and speak about them as a human being and health care provider because we all bring different s**t to the table.
My privileges include:
I am white - which has made and continues to make many things including education, housing, food security and my ability to move throughout the world very easy. I have not experienced racial discrimination or been insulted because of the colour of my skin. But we are living in a racist society so I have a lot of unlearning to do. .
I have and still do benefit from land rightfully and originally owned by Indigenous people.
I was raised Catholic though I am not a practicing now. I have never been ridiculed or tormented or my life at risk because of my religion.
I have economic privilege. I have never experienced food insecurity or poverty. I grew up in middle class family and am part of one now. I have had the gift of education & travel because of this too.
Body privilege - I am a thin able bodied woman. I have never had to worry about:
- fitting in a seat on a roller coaster or airplane
- being trolled on social media as I speak about how all bodies are good bodies & HAES(R)
- experiencing discrimination while seeking a job opportunity or in academia
- fearing that I will not be cared for medically because of my weight
I have done nothing to earn the privilege of my thin body. Society has just given it to me. .
I will continue to be a thin ally and speak up around fatphobia.
♀️I am Cis & heterosexual. I have not faced discrimination based on my sexual orientation. But yes, at times my gender.
I have made mistakes as I haven't had the same experiences as others. But I'm continuing to unlearn and will own the mistakes when I screw up and do better.
I frequently hear stories from parents about their concern around all the candy and treats that come with Halloween. So I have two resources for you!!
1. You can check out my blog from last year How to Treat Not Trick Our Kids on Halloween - where I provide with you 5 tips on how to do this.
* Concerned about how to let your child enjoy Halloween treats?
* Trying to figure out to avoid power struggles around candy?
* Looking for some tips on how to continue to grow intuitive eaters during this fun holiday?
Join us on Oct.29 from 8-9pm for a free one hour webinar to have all of your questions answered! Sign up here! Send your questions in advance and we'll be sure to answer them!
Led by Feeding & Intuitive Eating Dietitians Jay Baum from Pometta Nutrition & Suzanne Dietrich from Gut Instincts Nutrition Counselling.
Please note that in this blog post we will be discussing weight, which we acknowledge may be triggering and sensitive reading material for some readers.
Written with contributions from Carly Werner, RD & Katie McCrindle, MSW.
Genetics, for the most part, predisposes us to a certain set point weight, regardless of what the Body Mass Index chart tells us. Some people refer to the BMI as a tool to determine how much they should weigh and/or if they are healthy. This blog will explain why this can be problematic and introduces the Set Point Theory of Weight.
What is the BMI & Where did it come from?
The BMI is a ratio of weight (kg) to height (m2). Period.
The BMI was developed by a man named Adolphe Quintlet in the mid-1800s who did not work in health at all - he was a mathematician, astronomer and statistician. He was curious about the relationship between a person’s height and weight and wanted to see what the “average” person would look like (here).
How is BMI being used?
Researchers study the relationship between BMI and many factors including mortality and morbidity. The BMI was developed as a population measure rather than an individual assessment tool (here) and should not be used as such.
Some people calculate their BMI to see if their weight is “where it should be.” It is used inaccurately by some in the fitness or health field as a tool to convey the message of what a “normal weight” is for a person. However, BMI cannot determine what a person’s weight should be. In fact, I don’t know a tool that can. We don’t know what a “normal weight” is for a person based on calculations.
The naming and use of the BMI categories are weight stigmatizing.
BMI numbers have been categorized into sections in ways that stigmatize people based on their weight. The use of terms such as “underweight,” “overweight,” “normal weight,” and “obese” are problematic. As my esteemed colleague Fiona Willer, PhD, RD shared in her podcast (here) – “it would have been a lot less stigmatizing if they were labeled category A, B, C & D.” The weight categories are completely arbitrary.
In addition, these categories suddenly changed in 1998 in the US which meant that many people fitting in the “normal weight” category went to bed one night and then work up, in the same body... to now be called “overweight!" The cut-offs were lowered by 2.3-2.5, which meant more people were not considered "normal weight." We have to remember that weight loss is big business not only in the diet industry but also in the pharmaceutical industry. These new categories helped normalize weight loss medications and bariatric surgery, which can have severe health consequences for some but profitable outcomes for these industries.
Oddly, the BMI categorizations were not determined based on the distribution of BMI’s in human, well-nourished population, but in fact, they were determined based on stats of dead men who were measured in the 1940s (here and here). In our “thin-centric society” and “thin=healthy culture” all of these terms induce judgment about one’s weight and the categories imply that many individuals are the wrong size and their body is a problem that needs to be fixed.
Because weight has been targeted as a body attribute that is personally modifiable or based on lifestyle choice there is much judgment placed on one’s weight. We don’t hear the message that someone’s feet are the wrong size!
Doesn’t BMI Determine Health Status?...NO!!
The Centers for Disease Control shares that BMI is not diagnostic of the health of an individual (here).
People of all sizes get sick. If we look at what is really making Canadians healthy and unhealthy as stated by the Government of Canada (here) it is these key factors:
Weight is not mentioned here.
We cannot assume that a person’s size is equal to a person’s risk for disease.
Doesn't a higher BMI indicate and increased death rate?...NO
In a systematic review of 97 journal articles, it was found that the individuals in the “overweight” category were associated with a significantly lower mortality rate, even compared to the “normal weight” category (here).
What is Set Point Weight Theory?
So you can see why we are calling "BS" on the BMI! Despite a widespread belief (*sarcasm* thanks a lot, diet culture!) about being able to control our body shape and size with some food and activity changes, the set point theory maintains that we actually have very little control over our weight.
Our set point weight is the weight range that our body wants to maintain - usually within about a 10-20lb range. There are mechanisms in place to keep our weight in that pre-programmed range. Think about how our bodies want to maintain other vital functions - temperature, blood glucose levels, heart rate. It makes sense that our weight would be another thing on the list.
Dieting can mess with our body’s natural weight range. Dieting (any sort of caloric restriction) feels like famine to our bodies and they adapt accordingly. Metabolic rate (the speed at which our body uses food fuel for energy) slows to be able to survive on less food. And hunger signals seriously increase. If you’ve ever been on a diet, you might notice that your sense of taste and smell are heightened. This feature pushes us to seek out food when our body believes it is scarce.
Once the famine (ie: diet) is over, the body seeks and stores as much food energy as possible in order to have a better shot at surviving the next “famine.”This is the reason that most people who follow diets end up gaining back even more weight than where they started and this higher weight becomes your body’s new set point.
How do you figure out your set point?
It has nothing to do with consulting a BMI (Body Mass Index) chart. It’s a long term process of learning to listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Your set point weight will be the range that your body naturally falls into when you are feeding and moving your body with mindfulness and when many of those key factors that influence health are in a good spot.
If you’re trying to figure what health looks like for you or you’d like to discuss these topics more we’d love to support you. We understand the pressure that diet culture can put on one through social media, the fashion industry or even friends or family members. Our job is to help you move away from inaccurate tools of health measurement and harmful ways of achieving health or a different body. We do this in a way that empowers you and your inherent value. At Gut Instincts Nutrition Counselling we like to focus on how you feel - mentally, physically and emotionally. We use Intuitive Eating through a Health At Every Size® lens. If you’re curious about our approach book a discovery call here.
I never thought the day would come when my son would be able to ingest a full peanut....but it has!! He's had multiple food allergies since he was 1.5years old. Read more if you're curious as to how this process has worked for him.
My son is now 8 years old and for the past 15 months we have been gradually introducing peanut protein under doctor (Allergist) supervision one month at a time.
Basically we started with 1mg of peanut protein which came in a capsule of oat flour that we mixed in chocolate pudding. He ate this in a hospital setting. We waited for 2 hours and there was no reaction. So daily for the next 30 days we mixed the contents of this 1mg capsule into applesauce, yogurt etc.
Not all the capsules are shown in this picture that we used but for the most part the dose was doubled on a monthly basis. He had to consume each dose on a daily basis. Each increase was done in the Allergist's (MD) office. This is very risky because an increase could cause an anaphylatic reaction. THIS IS ONLY TO BE DONE BY AN ALLERGIST (MD).
$ This is a costly process as we had to buy the capsules... over $200/month but the prices vary depending on where you live, and the MD you are working with. This service is not covered by OHIP, at least not at my son's age which makes it inaccessible for many children. ☹️ It was also not covered by our employee benefit health insurance.
So for now he is eating one peanut per day and in a few weeks we will trial 1/2 tsp of peanut butter. They are doing these trials for milk, eggs and other allergens too al around the globe.
This is helpful for us because he can now officially eat items that say "may contain peanuts." We shall see how this goes but I'm hoping he can some day eat a peanut butter sandwich or Reese's Peanut butter cup. For now we don't have to be quite so worried if someone is eating peanuts nearby or touches him with peanut oil on their fingers!
If you're curious about this ask your Allergist (MD).
Our go to resource when we have questions about food allergies and how to navigate is Food Allergy Canada - they have amazing resources and support.
If you're looking for help navigating food allergies with a Dietitian who is also a food allergy Mom and "gets it" then reach out. Starting daycare, navigating school lunches, sleepovers and helping friends/family understand can all be challenging.
Written By Suzanne Dietrich, RD & Carly Werner, RD
Whether we realize it or not, we are living in a culture full of messages about dieting and weight. Diet talk is so common that it probably feels normal, but it can be quite harmful and it is problematic.
Diet culture greatly increases the risk of disordered eating and eating disorders and puts people living in larger bodies at risk of experiencing fat stigma.
Unfortunately, there are many sources and they will be discussed in more detail in future posts.
It uses diet culture to sell their product. It loves to tell us that if only we weighed a little less, we would be happier and more successful.
Remember that this is a multibillion-dollar industry that is only successful if their products fail you.
Negative comments about weight gain at medical appointments during puberty or pregnancy are all part of diet culture. Be cautious of health care providers who claim to be on board with body positivity but also recommend avoiding sugar or starting a vegetarian diet for weight loss.
Weight loss is often recommended for disease prevention but thin people still get diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and arthritis. Not to mention the damage that weight loss, dieting & weight cycling has on one's life mentally and physically (here). What we eat, how we move, sleep habits, stress, and genetics all influence our risk for disease. These factors guide our health regardless of what we weigh.
In addition, health is mainly determined by income level, gender, access to food, safe housing, healthcare and a variety of other factors that have LITTLE to do with our personal choices. Labeling people based on size prevents them from accessing proper health care and increases their risk of facing social and financial discrimination (see here).
Pursuits such as “lifestyle or wellness” can be kind of a lot like a diet if it is for the sake of changing your body or weight. You need to do what feels best for you, and that likely will change over your lifespan. If you are looking for a different way to treat your body without all the rules and shame then reach out. We can help you wade through all of these confusing messages and figure out what health looks like for you if that is what you are looking for.
International No Diet Day is celebrated annually on May 6, 2019. It began in the UK in 1992, so this is its 27th year! This is a day to celebrate our NATURAL sizes and shapes. A day to raise awareness about the futility and dangers of dieting. Science has demonstrated that dieting can lead to decreased mental health and it is a risk factor for disordered eating and eating disorders (see here & here). We also know that the pursuit of weight loss through dieting leads to weight regain for many (here & here). Dieting, for many of my clients, has been described as a life long friend/enemy. Many have been trying to change the size of their body for 20, 30, 40 and 50+ years because of pressure put on them by others or themselves, precipitated by the billion-dollar diet industry.
I understand that dieting can serve varying functions in one's life. Only you know what feels best for you. Does dieting feel right? How does it feel when it works, when it doesn't? Perhaps the functions that it is serving can be achieved in other ways? It can be terrifying for some to think about the consequences of ending dieting. But you can still achieve good health, if that is your goal, without dieting.
It is a tough culture out there, I'm aware. I am also aware that my natural size - thin, is not one that is judged or stigmatized, regardless of what I eat, or how I move or do not move my body. This is called "thin privilege" and it is wrong. Our culture puts "thinness" on an undeserving pedestal as "thinness" is equated with beauty and health when we know that beauty and health can exist at many sizes.
We are not asked to change our shoe size so why are we asked to change our body size? Our culture does not honour or encourage body size diversity. This is not only present in the literature, but also in many personal stories I have heard from my clients reporting weight stigma from friends, family members and health practitioners in their lives. We know that this stigma can also lead to disordered eating (here) and even healthcare avoidance (here, here & here).
We can still achieve health and well-being at every size, but we each have the right to determine what that looks like for ourselves. International No Diet Day encourages Health At Every Size®, which is based on the principles of weight inclusivity, health enhancement, respectful care, eating for well-being and life-enhancing movement. A non-diet approach to health and intuitive eating have been proven to lead to increased self-esteem, decreased body dissatisfaction, improvement in eating behaviours, metabolic fitness and psychological distress (here, here, & here).
"This day is about standing up against the narrow messages of health and standards of beauty that are causing so much harm," shared my colleague April Gates, MSW from The Wellness Collaborative, in Guelph.
Locally, the Waterloo Wellington Eating Disorder Coalition will be continuing their International No Diet Day campaign by posting signs in storefronts in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph & surrounding areas. This campaign was inspired by Candy MacNeil, MSc., Psychotherapist and has been in operation for 10 years! These signs provide true messages regarding, health, beauty and size. So keep your eyes peeled for these signs or pick up a body acceptance decal at one of these stores.
Can you take a break from diet or body size change preoccupation today? Does this seem really hard? If you would like to learn more about how to explore a non-diet approach to health or International No Diet Day then let's connect.
When life deals us tough situations it's common to turn to one of the quickest, most gratifying ways to numb the emotions that arise - food. Do you eat emotionally? What does it look like for you? Does it look like eating beyond your fullness cues or ignoring your hunger cues? Emotional eating can exist upon a continuum. At one end it might be not eating at all, while at the other end it might be eating a lot. For some people where they fit on the continuum might change with the type of emotion. Read further for a fresh perspective on emotional eating.
Emotional eating can look like eating a lot or
not eating at all.
Just like our body sends us signals to go to the bathroom, go to sleep, sit down, stand up, etc., our body sends signals when we are hungry for food and when we are full. These signals can be interrupted or hard to hear when we are dealing with stress or illness. With emotional eating, one might not be able to tune into these cues because they are distracted by emotions, or they might choose to ignore them. For many emotional eating is looked at as very negative, but let's look at some alternatives here...
1. Drop the guilt & shame - Believe it or not, when a client shares with me that they have been emotionally eating I often respond by saying " I'm glad you found a way to deal with those tough emotions during those hard moments." Sometimes it is hard bring out your best coping skills, maybe eating is one of them for you. For many, a feeling of guilt or shame is attached to this emotional eating. But are self-induced feelings of guilt and shame helpful? Maybe? For most people, they are not. Can you drop the side of guilt and shame?
What about viewing emotional eating as a window of opportunity about what is going on inside of you?
2. Be Aware - Can you use these moments of discomfort as an awareness opportunity? Can you name your emotions? Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch, authors of the Intuitive Eating Workbook say that "the tendency to eat emotionally could provide you with a strange gift.... this urge is actually a voice from within." Sometimes just naming an emotion can be helpful, as explained here by Liebermann et al, 2007. One helpful way to remember this is the phrase "Name it to tame it," coined by Dr. Dan Siegel.
3. Permission to sit with your feelings - Your emotions deserve to be dealt with and your needs deserve to be met. Can you give yourself that permission? You don't need to act on these right away, even being able to sit with them and feel them can be helpful. Becoming an intuitive eater is about taking time to figure out emotional triggers. If you feel an urge to eat when you are not physically hungry or restrict when you are physically hungry - can you set the timer for 5 minutes and try to identify some of your feelings in a quiet spot? Often we don't give ourselves permission to acknowledge our emotions and they get left behind or stuffed down. If you need help with this, consider seeing a therapist for guidance.
4. Meet Basic Needs - Once you have given yourself permission to identify your emotions, figure out your needs. If your basic needs are not being met - such as sleep, life balance, nourishment from food, and stress management - you may not actually be emotionally eating - you may just be disconnected because of limited self-care. Either way, how can you meet these needs? I know it is easier said than done. Just remember it doesn't need to be perfect. Here are some questions to ask yourself....
Do you need more restful sleep?
Do you need a more regular eating routine? Or more variety in your eating? Do you need to give yourself permission to be more relaxed about nourishing and/or play foods? - Dieting or too many food rules and lead to uncomfortable hunger & fullness.
Are you feeling intellectually, creatively or socially understimulated?
Would it be helpful to spend more time outdoors?
Would you like to move your body in different ways?
Do you need more alone time or social time?
Are there maintainable boundaries that you would like to set for yourself?
Is it time to take a vacation from social media? or spring clean from unhelpful accounts?
5. Act with self-compassion
Dr. Kristin Neff, Psychologist first established the self-compassion as a field of study (here & here). The beautiful visual graphic above designed by Johnine Byrne is a great way to see the 3 principles of self-compassion - 1) Self Kindness 2) Recognizing our common humanity & 3) Mindfulness.
Research tells us that self-compassion is linked to less severe binge eating, found here (Godfrey et al., 2015) and here, (Webb and Forman, 2013). Research has also demonstrated self-compassion might be a beneficial approach for reducing body dissatisfaction and disordered eating, see here, (Braun et al, 2016).
Ultimately the question to ponder is: Is this emotional eating/or not eating interrupting my ability to live life? If so, how can I expand my coping toolbox? Intuitive Eating is a way to develop peace with food. If you'd like help starting or continuing your Intuitive Eating journey then reach out - I'd love to help you with that.
If you didn't catch me on CTV Kitchener Quick Fix@5 - check out my segment here on Emotional Eating.