Tag Archives: dietitian eating disorder

There is no perfect way to eat

There is no perfect way to eat. The more I learn about nutrition the more I am convinced of this. The science of nutrition is continually evolving, growing and being researched. We are learning all the time and it’s a lot more complex than it looks on the surface, but also there are simple steps we can take to eat well.
 
Things are not always in your control. Our tastebuds, culture, finances and social circumstances are just somethings that can affect how we eat. The good news is there is no perfect way to eat. There are many, many ways to eat a nutritious diet. It’s not about striving to be perfect or have the best meals. It’s about eating as well as you can with what you have. No guilt. No shame. No judgment.
 
 
Our bodies change and need different things at different stages of life, often our bodies are able to adapt and help with this. As a baby, a mums breastmilk will change depending on what the baby needs.  Teenage bodies are able to absorb more calcium than at any other time of life. In pregnancy our bodies adapt and will absorb more of certain nutrients such as iron to provide for the baby and changes in the body. Isn’t the body amazing, it knows what we need better than we do. So one of my top tips is to focus on trusting your body, listening to your body and learning what your internal cues feel like. What does hunger feel like to you when you are very hungry, a little hungry and not hungry at all? What cues does your body give you about the foods it needs? Do you get cravings or suddenly feel you are drawn to certain foods? Sometimes this can be due to the nutrients in these. For example craving vegetables after a trip away when you have eaten differently, or craving salty foods when you haven’t had any salt for some time. 
 
My favoured approach in my eating disorder work is to focus on reaching a healthy state and not a healthy weight. On reconnecting with your body and not ignoring it’s signals. This can be very hard to do and a long journey. It’s not all about the numbers on the scales. Sometimes shifting the focus away from weight can make a huge difference.  There is no perfect way to eat or perfect way to recover from an eating disorder, but we do have amazing bodies that can help us discover the right way for us. 

If you need any help with this then do get in touch. 

Feelings of Fullness

“I feel full after eating a small amount”

“When I eat more than usual my stomach feels uncomfortable and bloated”

“I feel like I have a food baby”

These are phrases I often hear from clients with eating disorders as we work on increasing their meal plan. Unfortunately there is no magic cure here and it is a stage that has to be worked through. What can help is understanding what is happening.

Dietitian UK: Feelings of Fullness

The Science:

In someone who has been under-eating for some time, the digestive track slows down. As a result food moves slower through the system. That feeling of the food remaining in the stomach for a long time can be true and is known as “delayed gastric emptying”. This can also lead to a heightened sensitivity to feelings of fullness and bloatedness. It is not necessarily that you are fuller than anyone else, but you may feel that way.

If you have an eating disorder you are likely to have been blocking out those feelings of hunger and of fullness too, there is a disconnection and a loss of sensitivity to them. Fullness is regulated by the hypothalmus in the brain. 20 minutes after you eat a signal is sent to the brain. This is an easy system to overide so it needs your sensitivity. This connection has to be rebuilt and relearnt which takes time. It may feel like you cannot trust the signals the body is sending. Actually it is your reading of these signals that is the issue, sticking to a balanced, regular intake of meals and snacks will help to realign your thinking with your feelings and food.

Thoughts are powerful. If you think you should be full or are full then this can trigger anxiety leading to feelings of fullness. Try to keep mealtimes relaxed and have a period of time afterwards where you distract yourself with something like art, craft activities, phoning a friend, reading a book. It takes 20-40 minutes for the feelings of fullness to subside. 

Number 1 tip for staying on track with your eating.

Whatever changes you have decided to make to your eating there is something that can really make a difference to making or breaking that habit. 

It’s a commonly known fact that it can take 6-8 weeks to form a new habit, so if you have set yourself a healthy habit to form you need to stick with it. 

Whether you are gaining weight because you are underweight, losing weight or maintaining your weight, this applies across the board. 

I know because it is something I personally do and it is something that makes a real difference to the clients I work with. 

So here it is.

MEAL PLANNING. It isn’t rocket science I know, but it is everyday common sense science.

Dietitian UK: Meal Planning.

If you want to make a healthy change to your eating, you need to plan it into your day and week. Just deciding on a change will not make you stick to it. To give yourself the best chance to suceed you need to have the right mindset, the right food in stock, have the right time to prepare it and have the right recipe to hand.

Here is an example. If you need to increase your diet in order to gain weight, you could just say to yourself “I will eat more at each meal”. When it comes to that meal 1. Will you remember? 2. Will you have extra food to hand? 3. Will you panic and decide not to do it? Using a meal plan is a useful tool as it make you plan out exactly how you will meet your goal. So where you will increase your current meal plan and exactly what extra foods you will add in. This means you can now prepare practically by making sure you have the foods available at the right times and prepare mentally so you are focused.

If you make a plan you are more likely to stick to it than if you have no plan.

There are several ways of meal planning. Some people like to use a whiteboard in the kitchen (this is what I do), others like a notebook they carry around with them and others like a printout stuck up in the kitchen. Think about keeping your meal plan visible and available at meal times as a reminder.

Make meal planning a regular part of your week and it will really help you hit your goals.