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What is Gentle Nutrition?

What is Gentle Nutrition?

By Alex Raymond, RDN, LDN I’ve been getting a lot of questions from clients about intuitive eating. I think this concept sounds both appealing and overwhelming as people progress in building their relationship with food. Why appealing? Because intuitive eating promises food freedom. It’s a way to trust your body to tell you what it needs. Whether that’s food, water, sleep or other forms of self care. Why overwhelming? Because intuitive eating has no rules. In order to be an “intuitive eater,” one have to live in the grey are of nutrition. Meaning, letting go of controlling food and body and the thoughts that there is a right or wrong way to eat. Here is what I have been hearing:       Well, if I eat intuitively, I’m afraid of eating “too much.”       What about nutrition? You can’t just eat whatever all day long.       I’ve been struggling with my ED for so long, how can I just flip the switch and eat intuitively?       What if my body changes when I listen to its signals? I very much appreciate these questions. This whole concept of intuitive eating, and what it actually means, is confusing and often times scary. Let me tell you, it can be difficult to begin to listen to your body if you’ve spent so long trying to fight it. Give yourself a bit of compassion during this process. First off, let’s start with a definition of intuitive eating. An intuitive eater is a person who “makes food choices without experiencing guilt or an ethical dilemma, honors hunger, respects fullness and enjoys the pleasure of eating.”  I also think it’s...
5 Self-Care Focused Apps

5 Self-Care Focused Apps

By Caroline Best ( Student Intern) and Alex Raymond, RD, LD. I totally admit I’m that person who comes home to visit and gets heckled by their parents for checking their phone too much. While I completely acknowledge that spending lots of time scrolling through twitter or Instagram (TBH me most nights before I fall asleep.) can be distracting and not the best for mental health, there are ways where you can use your phone and apps for mindfulness and self-care. Now, disconnecting from technology is absolutely a great form of self-care. And I recommend everyone try it out. I did a weekend without my phone and a week without social media once. It cleared up SO much time for other activities and felt great. However, if you’re like me, with work and various other commitments, its pretty realistic to assume you’ll have your phone near you a big chunk of the day on most days. There are a few apps I’ve gotten into that really help me practice little moments of self-care throughout the day. 1. Aloe Bud I LOVE this one. You schedule pop up reminders for yourself. I use it to remind myself to drink water throughout the day (not my strength). To take medication. And I have two little *breathe* reminders where I take 5 minutes to just chill and focus myself. It’s so easy to get caught up in a busy work day and forget to do the small things.  This reminds you to take care of yourself with cute sayings. My favorite is when it reminds you to drink ” You gotta nourish to...
Health at Every Size and Weight Stigma

Health at Every Size and Weight Stigma

By Alex Raymond, RD, LD. As some of you may know, Bobbi and I presented to the University of Maryland senior dietetic class. We actually spoke on their last day of their class, Issues and Problems in Dietetics, which is the “capstone” course. Rebecca taught the class and had a TON of guest speakers ,who are “rockstar” dietitians. Anyway, Bobbi and I presented on the Health at Every Size ®  (HAES ®) approach and weight stigma. We chose this topic because its not commonly addressed. But its SO important.  We strongly believe the lack of discussion of this approach is one of the top 5 “issues and problems” in not only the nutrition community, but also the health community. At the beginning of the class, I asked the students if they ever learned about the  HAES principles, and they all shook their heads no. I wasn’t surprised. I am a graduate of UMD and everything I learned about the HAES approach in school was through my own research, most of what I learned was really post-grad (again through my own research). To be clear, I received a wonderful education from Maryland, I’ m a nerd and absolutely loved all the science courses. However, I’m not condoning the fact that it’s not uncommon for nutrition classes to have a very weight loss centric approach. The vast majority of dietetic programs (and health field programs in general) are focused on weight  as an indicator of health. They teach that weight loss automatically equates to improved health. And this is something that totally needs to change. Why? Well, 95-98% of diets fail....
Being Mindful about Mindful Eating

Being Mindful about Mindful Eating

By Caroline Best, Student Intern, and Alex Raymond, RD, LD. Mindful eating or Intuitive Eating have become such buzzwords this past year.  On Instagram, health blogs, and many other forums it’s almost hard to not to see the terms.   And I’m all about it.   Mindful eating focuses on purposely paying attention to your eating–that includes hunger and fullness signals, what you’re truly in the mood to eat and what type of food makes sense to have in that moment.  I absolutely love this movement because mindful eating focuses on respecting what your body needs.  There is no stipulation of diet rules or categorizing foods as bad or good.  And to me, it signals hope for changing the way we address food and health. There is so much evidence that traditional dieting not only doesn’t work, but how it can be emotionally draining and damaging. An article in Psychology Today titled “Why Diets Don’t Work…And What Does” by Meg Selig summarizes a lot of this evidence really well. The article describes how most diets “don’t work”, but also goes on to discuss the psychological impacts of dieting, such as an increased risk of disordered eating, mental stress, and taking the joy out of eating For something like intuitive/mindful eating to have become so popular means there is starting to be some recognition that restrictive attitudes toward food aren’t helpful or healthy.  I’ve seen this on many non-diet Instagram accounts and non-diet bloggers.  Mindful eating is so many wonderful things. It is centered around valuing your body and honoring your hunger and fullness and what you need to maintain your...
Talking to Young Women About Body Image

Talking to Young Women About Body Image

By Caroline Best, Christin Hensley, and Ivy Devadas (Student Interns) and Alex Raymond, RD, LD I don’t remember a ton from middle school aside from not liking math class and going to Starbucks after school on Fridays. But one of my clear memories from 13 is from the doctor’s office. The nurse weighing me made a comment about making sure to not gain to much weight during puberty. It was a little comment. But it felt so negative. And to this day I still remember how uncomfortable it made me.   I don’t know a single person who has felt 100% positive about their body image 100% of the time. Body image is a complicated, ongoing, personal experience. It is further complicated by the fact that we are constantly bombarded with messages of an unrealistic view of what “attractive” looks like.   This post focuses on messages that tend to focused on young women. However, we absolutely acknowledge that young men are exposed to plenty of harmful messages as well. While body image is complicated for everyone, women in their pre-teens and teens are targeted especially heavily with SO many problematic, degrading, and unrealistic messages about body image.  The language you use when talking to young women at a time when they are forming their ideas about the world, about beauty, and about themselves resonates more than you think. What might seem like a little comment about how your “new diet” is making you feel great about your legs or an opinion on how good someone looks after they’ve lost/gained weight contributes to forming ideas that there is *a way*...
Self-Care Tips for When Your Schedule Changes

Self-Care Tips for When Your Schedule Changes

By Caroline Best, Dietetics Student Intern. Contributions by Alex Raymond, RD. Last week, I took my spring finals. I celebrated finishing my last exam with ice cream and a 2 hour nap and it was honestly a great afternoon. After finals, I was staying in town to watch my roommate graduate and I was excited about all of this new free time. However, a few days into my break I was really tired and confused about why. I was sleeping in. AND taking naps.  My time was spent mostly with friends. Compared to my past weeks of intense school commitments, my first week of summer was a breeze. I felt like I should be bursting with energy. However, once I considered my dramatic routine change my exhaustion made a lot of sense. Throughout the course of the semester I woke up around the same time. I ate my meals around the same time. I had pretty set routine of when I exercised, relaxed, and studied. Then summer started and with that came the physical and mental effects of changing up a schedule. Your body will most likely  “notice” when your routine shifts.  I was doing pretty much everything on a different schedule than what I was used to and my energy ended up a little wacky. I listened to what my body was trying to tell me and practiced a little self-care to help reestablish my energy. I specifically wanted to write about the fatigue that can accompany routine change because Summer tends to come with schedule shifts for many people. School lets out. Kids may be home for...

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