Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ditching Dieting with Resolve for 2012

One of my "New Year" posts from several years ago listed 10 reasons to not go on the diet for the new year.  (That might be a good one to review.)  This year I have a challenge for all of you.  Whether you have an eating disorder, disordered eating or just have a wacky relationship with food, eating, activity and body image issues, truly become a rebel against all things "diet".  One of my colleagues, Deb Burgard, made a brilliant recommendation for the new year.  She suggested that a more accurate term for the diet industry would be "weight cycling" industry.  This $60 billion dollar per year industry (latest estimate from Marketdata Enterprises) depends on people desperate to cure everything from holiday overeating, poor self-esteem, broken hearts to job loss and recession woes by cycling from one failed diet or diet product to another.

Make this year's resolve about compassion towards yourself and others in all areas.  Especially vow to change the way we talk to ourselves in judgemental and negative terms about food, eating and weight issues.  Monitor how you speak to and about others.  Don't be a "weightist".  Continue pursuing health, wellness, and moderation.  Look towards "the middle ground" ... not perfectionism.  I would encourage all of you to check out information regarding the "Health at Every Size" movement and the website

May God grant all of you a healthy, joy filled (we can have joy even when we are not happy!) and balanced new year.  May you make peace with food and find joy in eating and activity.

I will end with an appropriate quote from Mark Twain about changing habits.  I do believe that much of what trips us up as we try to find the middle ground in all of these issues does boil down to our habits.

"Habit is habit and not to be flung out of the window by any man (or woman .. my edit), but coaxed downstairs a step at a time."

Let's start stepping!  Please feel free to share how you plan on ditching dieting in 2012!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Fallacy of Relying on BMI Measurements for Health and Weight Management

The topic of "normal weight obesity" has been discussed a lot in the news lately. The results from several studies have given us one more reason not to diet; one more reason to throw away the bathroom scales. These results also reiterate that inaccuracy of counting on BMI measurements as an indicator of health and fitness.  A child with a "high" BMI might have a report sent to the parents with a "warning".  On the other hand, a child with a "normal" BMI may be given the impression that all is well despite getting no exercise and eating foods very low on the nutrition totum pole. The bottom line is that you can be at a body weight that has been deemed appropriate for your height via BMI and be obese. Without pursuing a healthy relationship with food and exercise aimed at being lean and fit, you can be at a level of "fatness" that is unhealthy; no matter what you weight or BMI registers!

There are several factors that can contribute to a high percentage of body fat. Dieting is not the solution to this dilemma. In fact, dieting can actually set your body in motion to become especially effective at storing body fat. When you consume too few calories your body actually produces extra enzymes that enhance fat production and storage. This is a biological compensation mechanism that allowed your ancestors to survive cycles of famines-feasting- and more famines. Keep working on following the basics of eating more fiber, fewer processed foods (not zero), increase intake of veggies and foods and be active.  Learn to hear and honor both your hunger and satisfied signals that might be in a bit of a state of confusion if you have engaged in dieting or disordered eating.  It takes practice and patience and you will never be perfect!!

And, remember ... always eat clean.  (Meaning .... always wash your hands and food!)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Food Cravings: Friend or Foe?

Should cravings be "controlled"? If we acknowledge and honor food cravings, does that mean that we will get out of control with our eating? Will our weight balloon up to an astonomical size? Dieting and disordered eating can lead us to the conclusion that any food that we find pleasurable must be excluded. Many of my clients have become so fearful of enjoying food that they are unable to discern between a food preference and a food fear. Recently one of my clients was talking about a delectable gourmet pastry that she used to enjoy eating. Then she quickly blurted "But, I don't like it anymore!" This same person binge eats tasteless store bought sheet cake while sitting alone at home in front of the T.V. I suggested that maybe she really does still enjoy the tasty sweet and perhaps if she had the gourmet dessert once in awhile she might be able to reduce her binge eating behavior. She looked frightened by that proposition, but acknowledged that she might be up for testing that theory in the future.

One of my clients who struggles with more of a restrictive eating disorder continues to assert that she never enjoys food of any form or fashion. She consumes the same bland, repetitive food choices day in and day out. One day I asked her why she thought God had given us taste buds. She looked at me like I was out of my ever-loving mind and said "So we won't eat poison!" I know she wanted to add "you idiot" ... but she restrained herself. Later she admitted that she is terrified that if she eats anything flavorful or gives any credence to having food cravings or preferences that she go completely ballistic with her eating.

Two sides of the same coin. These are cases of people who have bought into the diet mentality that we must deny ourselves and any food craving to stay in control of body weight, eating behavior, cholesterol, blood sugar, etc. Food cravings can be our friend. Once we don't view food as the enemy, we can learn to manage cravings in a way that we don't get out of control. As mentioned in earlier blogs, consider finding the middle ground in relationship to your food, eating and weight as a skill development; a process. Enjoy what you do eat, what you crave. We don't have to "overdo" to have a pleasureful eating experience. Learn to trust yourself with food again. Embrace the concept that no food is illegal and go from there!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Spring Break Diet

The chatter in my office of late has been about needing to lose weight for Spring Break! Dieting to "look good" in a swimsuit is a yearly ritual that many embark on each spring. Even my clients who are aware that dieting would just magnify their struggle to escape eating disorders and disordered eating are tempted to participate in this cultural phenomenon. If you ever wanted to feel like a social outcast, try taking a stand against dieting when you are in a room of sorority sisters, a ladies Bible study or a hair salon! You have this sense that you suddenly grew an extra head on your shoulders. It takes a brave woman to "just say no!"

What are you going to do to ditch dieting for Spring Break?