During these uncertain times, we are here for you from the comfort of your home! We offer virtual sessions through our simple-to-use HIPAA compliant platform.
We know that being stuck at home can place a strain on your relationship with food, and maybe add a little stress to your recovery. Let us help you, and walk through this time together. You don’t have to face it all alone, and this can be an incredible opportunity for growth.
If you’re struggling with an autoimmune condition and want more tools and strategies to stay healthy, we’d be honored to help you develop an anti-inflammatory plan to optimize your health! There are many strategies we can use to reduce inflammation, and the burden on your immune system, through nutrition.
Don’t hesitate to contact us with questions or to set up an initial virtual appointment! We are here to help you.
What comes to your mind when you think about food? I bet if I asked that question to 10 different people, I would get 10 different answers. For me, I think of feeling satisfied, energized, and the many good memories that I have with friends and family where we all enjoy a hearty meal together. However, a few years ago that question would have caused a spike in my heart rate because truth be told, food was a source of major internal struggle and anxiety for me for a long time. Maybe you can relate!
It all started with a diagnosis. As a 10-year old, being diagnosed with celiac disease helped me understand the effect food could have on my body, and how changing what I ate and sticking to a strict gluten free diet for life would allow my gut to heal. At the same time, I was training as a high-level gymnast, which only spurred on my natural tendency to be a perfectionist. It took a couple more years before I made the decision to quit the sport I loved because I knew I couldn’t sustain that level of activity for much longer with how my body was barely holding up. Autoimmune disease, even in a well-controlled state, plus high intensity training don’t make for a great combination in an adolescent body!
What transpired next is common for many “retired” athletes to go through. When I quit gymnastics, my body changed quite a bit. It very suddenly changed from a compact, well-conditioned “machine” if you will, to that of a normal pre-teen starting puberty. As I entered my high school years and played other sports, I noticed there were times where I just felt completely out of control with food. I was eating what I thought was too much, and I noticed I was gaining weight and losing the level of muscle tone I always had as a kid.
This sparked an intense desire to learn all I could about food so that I could feel my best and perform well! My solution was to restrict and count calories, but those good intentions spiralled into obsession once I realized how well I could control the way my body looked by sticking to the numbers in my head. At least, IthoughtI had it under control. I ended up going on a restricting/binging/purging (with exercise) rampage and only allowing myself to eat certain foods that I deemed were the best for me. I would severely restrict my sodium, fat, and sugar intake, only to then binge on salty, fatty, and sugary foods because I had deprived myself so much. One of the biggest consequences from this season was that, not only did I ultimately become overweight after being underweight for so long, but some of the foods I would binge on were contaminated with gluten. This set off an inflammatory reaction in my gut that I am still working on healing to this day. I never sought professional help, mostly due to pride and shame, and for fear of being given a “label” or needing to go to therapy. If I had, after all these years of studying nutrition, I believe I would have been diagnosed with “Eating Disorder Not Specified.”
During all of this, my faith was the anchor that eventually got me through, in addition to learning about proper nutrition and intuitive eating. I can now say that by the grace of God I experience a peaceful relationship with food and I have found freedom from it all! That being said, as I look back on that painful and growing time, if I reached out to a professional and received the help I needed, I believe it might have allowed me to work through things in a healthier way and save me from some of the struggle. Accountability would have also made a huge difference.
Why do I share all this with you? First of all, because this story is too common, and I hope we can change that. I also want you to know that I understand. I understand how difficult it can be to have to completely change your eating habits and how tricky gut health and inflammation can be. I understand not liking what you see in the mirror and not knowing how to change it in a healthy way. I understand weight struggles. I also understand the how burdensome an unhealthy relationship with food can be!
I did things the hard way. Instead of seeking help from a professional, I decided to go through five years of school and clinical rotations, mostly because I loved learning about it and wanted to help others live healthy lives, but also partly so that I could help myself. This ended up working out well, and has given me the opportunity to be passionate about what I do and help people who might be going through a similar experience! My desire is to help you not struggle as much as I did and restore a healthy relationship with food, regardless of your health circumstances! Food should be fun, even in the face of a Crohn’s diagnosis or an eating disorder.
Contrary to what many believe, Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are not the food police! I can at least speak for the ones I know. We are NOT about shame. We are about freedom! Most of us have had our own struggles with food in one way or another, and have chosen a career path where we can empathize and compassionately help others through their nutrition journey! Our desire is to help people live a life where food is put in its proper place – to heal, fuel, and bring people together – and takes up just the right portion of our thoughts and time! And hopefully, you can answer the question “what comes to your mind when you think about food?” in a more positive way!
Even though Valentine’s Day has already come and gone, there is still a reason to celebrate and wear red because February is American Heart Month. So, let’s show a little love to our hearts this month!
Heart disease is the most prevalent chronic disease in America. It is also one of the most preventable diseases! As many people know, lifestyle is a main contributor to the development and worsening of heart disease. The good news is, there are many delicious foods that contain nutrients that can benefit your cardiovascular system! These nutrients include:
Monounsaturated fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids
Antioxidants: Vitamins C, E, beta-carotene, and phytochemicals
For those of you who don’t know what to do with this information, let me translate these nutrients into specific foods you can add to your grocery list for more heart healthy meals and snacks!
Monounsaturated fats are found in:
olives and olive oil
avocados and avocado oil
peanuts and peanut oil
other nuts and seeds
When monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) replace saturated fats in our meals and snacks (think olive oil replacing butter), the MUFAs can help lower overall blood cholesterol levels, as well as LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides.
The major Omega-3’s, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can be found in high amounts in:
oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines)
fish oil capsules
There is another Omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) that can be found in:
walnuts and walnut oil
Small amounts in certain vegetables
These Omega-3’s are correlated with a lower risk of developing plaque in your arteries. ALA is known to be anti inflammatory. Overall Omega-3’s are seen as protective to your cardiovascular system!
Soluble fiber can be found in foods like:
The fleshy part of an apple
This type of fiber acts like a sponge by helping pull blood cholesterol into the stool as a waste product to be eliminated! It can also help balance blood sugar levels. Another amazing fact is that even though humans can’t digest fiber, the helpful bacteria that live in your gut can! These bacteria then produce products like acetate, propionate, and butyrate which are fancy terms for fatty acids that can help prevent cholesterol formation and repair any damage to the heart caused by high blood pressure!
The fourth group of heart healthy nutrients is antioxidants. The antioxidant Vitamin C can be found in:
High Vitamin E foods are:
Leafy green vegetables
Beta Carotene is found in:
Orange foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and apricots
Leafy green vegetables
Certain phytochemicals called catechins and polyphenols are powerful antioxidants for the cardiovascular system and are found in foods like red grapes, red wine, green tea, berries, apples, cherries and tart cherry juice, and dark chocolate. Antioxidants help decrease inflammation and lower oxidative stress.
You may have heard of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets, which are commonly recommended as heart healthy eating patterns. This is because both recommend foods that contain high levels of the nutrients we’ve talked about. They promote eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, lean meats, lower fat dairy products, nuts, legumes, olive oil, reducing sugar and sodium, and decreasing consumption of red meat. Following these guidelines will help you incorporate these heart healthy nutrients into your diet each day, helping reduce your risk of heart disease one bite at a time!
Raymond JL, Couch SC. Medical Nutrition Therapy for Cardiovascular Disease. In: Mahan KL, Raymond JL, ed 14. Krause’s Food and the Nutrition Care Process. St. Louis, Missouri: Elsevier; 2017. Chapter 33.
We are so excited to share our new blog with
you! We hope our posts will be a helpful
resource for you to learn about the latest in nutrition research, summaries and
reviews of books we recommend, as well as recipes, tools, encouragement, humor,
compassion, and tips to help you navigate your nutrition journey! To start this off, I wanted to introduce a
pretty basic concept that may be well known to some, but is a cornerstone of
how we at JR Dietetics view food and nutrition.
This concept is called “normal eating.” Ellyn Satter, a registered dietitian and
psychotherapist who specializes in eating, childhood feeding, and eating
disorders, made this term famous in 19831 and it remains well known
to this day. Here is Ms. Satter’s famous
definition of normal eating:
“Normal eating is going to the table hungry
and eating until you are satisfied.
It is being able to choose food you enjoy and
eat it and truly get enough of it – not just stop eating because you think you
Normal eating is being able to give
some thought to your food selection so you get nutritious food, but not being
so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food.
Normal eating is giving yourself
permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad or bored, or just
because it feels good.
Normal eating is mostly three
meals a day, or four or five, or it can be choosing to munch along the way.
It is leaving some cookies on the plate
because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now
because they taste so wonderful.
Normal eating is overeating at times,
feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. And it can be undereating at times and
wishing you had more.
Normal eating is trusting your body to
make up for your mistakes in eating.
Normal eating takes up some of your
time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your
In short, normal eating is flexible. It
varies in response to your hunger, your schedule, your proximity to food and
Not much more needs to be said after this! We hope as you read it, maybe for the first time or for the 1,000th time, you felt empowered to give yourself a little more grace when it comes to eating. It’s completely cliché to say that nobody’s perfect, but reallynobody’s perfect, especially when it comes to nutrition. In fact, because each body is unique, there is no “perfect” way to eat. I think it’s safe to say that we can all relate to each statement in Satter’s definition.
Now, I’m not going to suggest that some
people don’t truly struggle in some
of these areas more than others, and I think in some cases, we need help to shift
our habits and focus when it comes to food for our health and wellbeing. That is where we as your registered
dietitians come in! Most likely, the
vast majority of us have felt some shame surrounding our eating habits at one
point or another, but there is absolutely no need to feel this way! However, if some of these normal eating
patterns morph into unhealthy situations, it is okay to seek out professional
help from a licensed therapist and/or a registered dietitian like us.
I think one of the most simple and
easily brushed aside lines is the very first, “Normal eating is going to the table hungry and leaving when you are
satisfied.” Let’s be honest, how
often does that happen for you? Maybe
that isn’t something you really struggle with, but for those who find it
difficult at times to listen to their own hunger cues, I wanted to give you a
simple tool to become more sensitive to your body’s hunger/satisfaction level. It’s called the “Hunger-Fullness Scale.”
What I want you to do is picture a number
line from one to 10, where number one is “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse”
and 10 is “I am so stuffed I feel like I could burst.” At a one, you might be experiencing symptoms
of dizziness, irritability (I like to call this “hangry”), shakiness, and frequent,
intense hunger pangs. Number 10 would be
when you are feeling completely stuffed and sluggish like right after feasting
on Thanksgiving dinner. Number 5 would
be neutral, or neither hungry nor full, and you might be hungry enough to eat a
meal in the next couple of hours, or maybe a small snack in 15 minutes.
I would say it’s best for people to try
to stay within the “happy zone” of three to a seven or eight most of the time. A three means you’re hungry enough for a
meal, but you are not yet to the “hangry” stage. A seven or even an eight typically means you
just ate a meal or snack and are completely satisfied, but not stuffed. Eating to a seven can also mean you are
comfortable going three or four hours without eating. Now, as you may have put together after
reading the definition of normal eating, it would be normal to go below a three or above a seven, but to help maintain a
healthy balance and begin to understand your unique feelings of hunger and
satiety, the hunger-fullness scale can be a very useful tool! Hopefully it helps you make small, positive
changes in the way you nourish your body and listen to what it needs.