Many people turn to food for comfort, consciously or unconsciously. For example when they’re facing a difficult problem or feeling low. Eating can be a way to suppress or soothe emotions, such as stress, anxiety, boredom, sadness and loneliness.
Some higher calorie, fatty and sugary foods have seemingly addictive qualities. After eating chocolate your body releases endorphins, giving you a natural high, boosting your mood.
Food can also be a distraction. If you’re worried or anxious, eating comfort foods makes your thoughts focus on the pleasant taste. Unfortunately, afterwards the anxiety returns plus the additional guilt about overeating.
Although emotional eating can make you feel better, it’s a temporary fix and leads to eating too many high-calorie foods. The good news is you can take steps to regain control of your eating habits.
Are you really hungry? If you ate recently and don’t have a rumbling stomach, you’re probably not. Try a glass of water instead.
Know your triggers. Keep a food and thought diary looking at how you feel when you eat. Look for patterns that reveal negative eating patterns and triggers. For example do you eat more after a bad day at work?
Try distraction techniques – Take a walk, watch your favourite film, listen to music, have a warm bath, read or call a friend.
Limit your comfort foods, out of sight, out of mind! Keep a selection of healthier snacks around such fresh fruit, low fat yoghurt or plain popcorn
Eat a balanced diet, with regular meals. If you’re not eating enough you are more likely to give in to emotional eating.
Exercise regularly and get adequate rest. Your mood is more manageable and your body can more effectively fight stress when it’s fit and well rested.
If you slip up, forgive yourself and start fresh the next day. Try to learn from the experience, and make a plan for how you can prevent it in the future.
This week it’s Eating Disorders Awareness week (see the Beat website for more). A topic very close to my heart. I have worked in the field of eating disorders for about 7 years now.
Remembering back to my first few days in my NHS post I was pretty petrified! What was I going to say to someone who was refusing to eat? How could I help? How much of a challenge was this really going to be and was I up to it?
7 years on I’ve completely fallen in love with working in this field. It’s flipping hard work most of the time, but it’s so rewarding too. I’ve met some amazing people who have shown such strength and grim determination. It hasn’t always been enough and it certainly hasn’t always been a happy place to be, but it is a job that makes me thankful for my life and my health almost everyday. Most of the people I’ve worked with have talked about a raging battle going on in their mind, to me that’s one of the key challenges – how to overcome this battle.
My approach to working in Eating Disorders has been to celebrate the small successes, however small. There have been moments when I have literally jumped up and down in excitement when a client has managed 1 mouthful of a slice of toast. In fact I feel like celebrating all over again now – WOOHOO! If that doesn’t make you excited then a career in Eating Disorders probably isn’t for you 😉 In my job I have to be empathetic, caring, patient, calm, focused and have attention to detail, but also direct, firm and in charge. To my clients I am the authority on nutrition and I have to show I know my stuff or they aren’t going to trust me. Fortunately for me, this has all come pretty naturally. I’m not sure my husband would say I’m a naturally patient person, but put me in front of a client with an Eating Disorder and suddenly I am.
Recovering from an Eating Disorder takes courage, tenacity and TIME. There is no quick fix. Living with someone who is recovering is amazingly hard too. If you know someone who is struggling then be patient with them and be kind. Try not to tell them they look like they have put on weight or that you’ve noticed they are eating more. Just support them quietly and gently, ask them if/how they need support. Give them time. It takes time to become ill so it will take time to get well also. Lastly remember that just because someone is a normal weight does not mean they are all better.
It’s wheat free, gluten free, vegetarian and vegan and baby friendly too, but is it tasty? OH YES. This is one of those meals that I hadn’t made for ages, I tend to get into a cycle of making certain meals and forget about all the others that are out there. Suddenly seeing the bag of red lentils in my cupboard and the random veggies lying around my brain pinged into recipe action and I remembered this gem…so here it is for you to also try.
We all love this recipe in my house and find it a great substitute for a meat bolognaise. Plus it’s easy to make.
If you have a food processor (I can’t live without mine) chop 1 onion and 3 cloves of garlic in it. Now add in a pile of veggies, most will work. I always use carrots and some form of peppers, this time we had 4 carrots, 1 courgette, 1 green pepper and a handful of mushrooms. I’ve used celery, leek, kale and cabbage in the past too. A great recipe for using up leftover bits and past their best veggies. Chop all the veggies finely in the food processor (or by hand) and heat a tiny drizzle of oil in a pan. Simply add the veggies to the pan along with some lentils, I’d say about 2 cups of lentils for 4 people. It should look a little like this:
Throw in a tin of chopped tomatoes and then half till the can with water and add that too. Now the fun part – customise this as you want to. I add in seasoning, mixed herbs, bay leaves, balsamic vinegar, tomato puree and whatever else I have to hand. Here it is in the pan.
Let it simmer for 30-40 mins gently or until the lentils are cooked and serve with pasta. It was quite literally yummy. Give it a go and please let me know how you get on.
A big nutrition story hit the headlines this week, an expose on nutritional therapists. It makes for a very interesting and scary read…
Medical experts were sent undercover as patients to 15 nutritional therapists. The results were worrying. About half of the nutritional therapists gave advice that could have endangered the health of the patient. Shockingly one patient was advised to put off radiotherapy for her cancer and use diet alone to rid the body of cancer, completely unproven to work. Other symptoms described by patients highlighted potential serious illnesses and these were not picked up by the therapists. Non-evidenced based tests were used to diagnose illnesses (hoolding liquids in your mouth, iris patterns)
What this highlights is the need to always check that your nutrition professional is kosher. Nutritional therapists are NOT the same as dietitians. Dietitians have a title that is legally protected, they must hold a dietetic qualification and will have undergone at least 3 years of training. You can check that your dietitian is who they say they are by looking them up on the Health Professionals Council website. Registered nutritionists should also have at least a degree in nutrition and be registered with Nutrition Society. Anyone else may not be giving out evidenced based, safe advice.
This week Dietitian UK won a Small Business Sunday (#SBS) Award from Theo Paphitis from Dragonʼs Den. This is a weekly competition on Twitter. Small Businesses send a tweet saying what they do and Theo chooses 6 businesses which he then re-tweets to all of his followers. This week I decided to join in the fun and was absolutely pleasantly surprised to WIN.
I’m very excited to see where this may lead and hope it not only helps my business but that it boosts the profile of other dietitian’s too.
Dietitian UK is a small, local business, based in Southampton, Hampshire that works with companies, businesses, community groups and individuals with the aim of giving sound, effective nutrition advice to improve health. Work includes private consultations, menu redesign, recipes, product work, leaflets, PR and media work.
Priya is a registered dietitian with a passion for nutrition, she loves to inspire change and creativity in eating. With her experience and a fresh approach Dietitian UK can help you and your business.
This year has been an odd Christmas for sure…. my husband has been working, pretty much all of the festive period. True some of that has been from home, but it’s been a very bitty and odd time. However having a 1 year old and having a great love of Christmas myself I’ve tried to make the most of it. Money is tight at present, so we’ve gone low key on presents and high key on a few quality foods that we all love (including the little one). One of those being cheese:
Being wheat free, we’ve not got into the whole mince pie, yule log and sweet treats, but what I did do was make a wheat free Christmas cake. I used plenty of dried fruit, rice flour and a little alcohol of course 😉 covered the cake with marzipan and icing. It turned out pretty well and is mighty tasty!
Most of our meals have been planned to work around the event of my husbands on-call phone going as we sit to eat (it always happens that way!), so easy to keep warm or not needing to stay warm. We had a paella for Christmas dinner and have had some lovely chilled meals of cold meats, cheese, salads and crackers/oatcakes.
My healthier take on flapjacks are well known by my friends, I’ve almost always got a tub of them on the go. They got me through the long early days of breastfeeding and are now enjoyed by 1 year old too. In fact she absolutely loves them. So today, when she was struggling to sleep and I was unable to bake during her naptime I decided she may as well help me. This turned into a really fun learning experience for us both.
I weighed out the oats and sultanas and Kezia enjoyed playing with the dried ingredients, especially as she was able to sneak a few sultanas! She also liked watching me measure out the sugar, honey and margarine.
Then came the bananas, amazingly none of these went into Kezia’s mouth, she spent some time transferring the bananas from one bowl to another and watched as I mashed them. I left her a little in the bowl to play with being an interesting texture and tasty too 🙂
Stirring all the ingredients together was a lot of fun, although the spoon was probably a bit too large! It was a pleasure watching Kezia have a good go at mixing and seeing the look of satisfaction on her face.
I was allowed to place it all in the baking tray and of course Kezia then was left with the empty bowl and spoon, which she instantly started to scrape with her fingers….finding the leftovers showing it’s a natural reaction to lick the cake mixture off the spoon 😉
Finally we had time for more mixing practice at super fast speed!
What are your favourite recipes for cooking with children? Any tips to pass onto me?
Do you need to lose some weight to improve your long term health? Made a New Years Resolution to get into shape? Have you cycled through numerous diets and not had much success, or put back on all the weight you lost a few months later? Do you struggle with comfort eating? Priya can help.
Dietitian UK has a special offer on in 2012, specifically designed to help you Slim Down and Sense Up – slimming down those bodies and building up your nutrition sense. This offer can carried out by Skype or in person.
This package includes:
3 x 45 minute one to one weight management sessions with Priya – registered dietitian and fitness instructor
Email support between sessions with tips, recipe advice and meal planning help as well as motivation and positivity to boost you on your way.
Each session will include invaluable advice on eating, cooking, recipes, meal planning and exercise. Some behavioural therapy techniques will be used to help you change your habits. There will the opportunity for a weigh-in, for body fat analysis and waist measures.
Let Priya help you become healthier and happier in 2012.
Having recently had a baby, nutrition and breastfeeding has been one of those topics I’ve been keeping on top of. I didn’t have much baby weight to lose but wanted to make sure I got back to a healthy weight whilst looking after my baby and providing good quality breast milk. Here’s a round up of my research and top tips.
Make sure you drink throughout the day. It can be easy to forget when you are running round looking after a baby! My top tip is to have a drink of water every time you breastfeed and to keep bottles of water next to the chair/bed where you usually feed. The best way to tell if you are well hydrated is to look at your urine! If it looks dark or too yellow then you need to drink a bit more. Aim for 2 litres or so a day.
How much should I eat?
Although your body needs some extra calories in order to produce milk this isn’t an excuse to eat cake all of the time 😉 I know it’s tempting!
You will probably have laid down some fat stores in pregnancy and the body will use up those if you let it. Eating too many high sugar, high fat snack will not help you shed those pregnancy pounds. The best advice is to eat according to appetite. I had to snack during the nightfeeds in the early days of mummyhood but now I’m back to a normal intake of 3 meals 1-2 small healthy snacks a day with the occasional treat of course! Make sure your diet is well-balanced including:
Plenty of fruit and veggies
Wholegrain carbs such as wholemeal bread, pasta, rice, potatoes
Lean protein including fish, chicken, beef, pork, pulses and beans
Dairy foods a few times a day – milk, yoghurt, cheese.
If you are finding it hard to get the time to cook then sandwiches, beans or egg on toast and jacket potatoes cooked in the microwave are quick and easy choices. Another top tip is to cook and freeze meals. I always cook double when I make up things like a chilli or fish pie then I have an instant home cooked meal for later in the month.
Are there any foods to avoid?
Most foods are absolutely fine. It’s best to limit oily fish to 2 portions a week and fish such as shark, marlin and swordfish to once a week. This is due to the pollutants that can build up in them.
Take care with caffeine as this will pass into your milk to the baby. If possible stick to decaff tea and coffee or limit yourself to 2 cups of caffeine a day. The same can be said with alcohol, it will pass through to the baby. It’s advisable to drink very small amounts perhaps 1-2 units once or twice a week.
Peanuts should also be eaten with caution if there is a history of nut allergies in the family.
Exercise is absolutely fine as long as you have been cleared by your GP at your 6 week check. Take things slowly and build up your strength and fitness over time. Walking with the pram is a great way to do this and I found it wonderful for getting the baby to sleep as well! I built in a 30 minute walk every day around the time I knew my baby got sleepy. As time goes on you can start to think about increasing things and have a look for ways to exercise with other mums and babies. There may be post natal exercise classes around (for example I run a post-natal pilates class, see: www.pilateswithpriya.co.uk). I also found that I could exercise with the baby in a sling doing squats and lunges or I now have the baby playing on the floor or in her door bouncer whilst I workout. She thinks it’s great fun to watch or even join in!
Freelance Dietitian specialising in helping those with Eating Disorders and a Media Spokesperson for the profession.