(150) 5 ways to promote Food Peace in the classroom.

Ever listen to how kids and teens speak about their bodies? Have you overheard kids teasing a person because how their body looks? Wonder how young people already know those crappy diet rules? Let’s be a part of the culture change to give access to Food Peace™ to all bodies! Listen to the latest Love Food Podcast as I give my top 5 ways to promote Food Peace in the classroom.

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This episode is brought to you by my courses: PCOS and Food Peace and Dietitians PCOS and Food Peace. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how.

thirdwheelED is a social media advocacy platform that raises awareness of eating disorders in LGBTQ+ communities. Started by a queer couple whose writing addresses the intersectionality of eating disorders and body image, including gender dysphoria; a queer identity; trauma; and gender identity and expression, CJ and OJ provide a dual perspective of eating disorder recovery through the lens of a nonbinary person in recovery and of a nontraditional family carer, who just happens to also be a registered dietitian! CJ and OJ would love to work with eating disorder professionals on cultivating inclusive treatment for eating disorders in LGBTQ+ communities and are available to discuss training, webinars, and speaking engagements. You can follow them on instagram, facebook, and twitter @thirdwheeled or email them at info@thirdwheeled.com.

This episode’s Dear Food letter:

Dear Food,

Since I was diagnosed with an eating disorder over 4 years ago, our relationship went from one of anger and neglect, to one of cautious optimism. Over years of intensive work, I have slowly regained trust in both you, as well as my body’s ability to use you. Rather that defining your existence by calories, weights, and other numbers, I now see you something to be valued in your entirety. I enjoy you in social events and gatherings, as well as on my own. I’m not longer shackled by the rules that I thought I needed in order to be safe. While I am still learning to appreciate the body you gave me, I have fallen head over heels in love with the life you have allowed me to live. I never would have believed that our relationship could evolve into what it is today, and for that, I am grateful.

My question, Food, is how do I talk about you with others? I’m thinking specifically, with regards to my work. I currently work as a reading specialist at a school for kids with learning differences. My students seem to have a lot of questions about food. They comment on what they are eating as well as what I am eating. Since my work is all one-on-one, I have a lot of time to address their concerns head-on. I only have 7 students per year, and I get to know them very well. They are in middle school and high school. I want to let them know, Food, that you are safe and can be enjoyed. They don’t need to fear you like I used to. However, I don’t want to go against messages their parents’ may be sending them. If their parents tell them certain foods are off-limits, I feel like I can’t say otherwise. I tread a fine line as an educator between teaching my students what I think is true, and going against messages they may be receiving at home. Further, because this issue is so near to my heart, I find myself struggle when I hear my students agonizing over food choices. I want to help them, but I’m not sure if I would be overstepping. I don’t want to cross that boundary, especially because I do know that I have emotional investmentment, and somewhat biased opinion on the topic. I also recognize that I’m not always 100% equipped to talk about you, and I need to protect my own well-being.

I guess my question for you is, to what degree can and should I bring my knowledge of food peace to my role as an educator? How can I talk about you in a way that feels comfortable to me and does not overstep boundaries?

Signed,

Teaching and learning

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

(145) Can I eat intuitively and help my child with a diet restriction? (with Kathryn Riner)

Many on their Food Peace™ journey find it tough to raise children because of the pressure to limit certain foods or focus on weight. Even tougher when a child is placed on a restrictive diet or given a recommendation to avoid certain foods or food groups. Can you relate? How did this effect your Food Peace journey? Listen to the latest Love Food episode podcast that examines this part of the journey with special guest Kathryn Riner.

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This episode is brought to you by my courses: PCOS and Food Peace and Dietitians PCOS and Food Peace. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how. Get 30% off using the coupon code ‘lovefood’ at check out through the month of February 2019.

thirdwheelED is a social media advocacy platform that raises awareness of eating disorders in LGBTQ+ communities. Started by a queer couple whose writing addresses the intersectionality of eating disorders and body image, including gender dysphoria; a queer identity; trauma; and gender identity and expression, CJ and OJ provide a dual perspective of eating disorder recovery through the lens of a nonbinary person in recovery and of a nontraditional family carer, who just happens to also be a registered dietitian! CJ and OJ would love to work with eating disorder professionals on cultivating inclusive treatment for eating disorders in LGBTQ+ communities and are available to discuss training, webinars, and speaking engagements. You can follow them on instagram, facebook, and twitter @thirdwheeled or email them at info@thirdwheeled.com.

This episode’s Dear Food letter:

Dear Food, 

You and I have had our ups and our downs.  When I was younger I avoided you.  When I was older, I feared you.  Yet, I could never quite get over you.  You helped me connect with my children through baking and cooking.  Covered with flour in the kitchen, we created some of my favorite memories.  Then I would swear you off and eat ‘diet’ versions of you, leaving my children confused and looking for an answer.
I realized that something was wrong when my 7 year old twin girls started measuring themselves.  They would tell me proudly how they had said no to the pizza at the cafeteria and had only eaten the small salad for lunch.  I had never talked to them about you, food, but they caught on quickly.  I felt awful.  I didn’t want my children to go through the same confusion and disappointment that I felt.  This led me to my journey to finding my own peace with you, food.
After discovering intuitive eating and ellyn satter’s books about a year ago, our family has practiced the principles as we eat together each day.  We have learned how to reconnect with both nutritious and fun versions of you.  I have felt so much peace when I’ve see them eat a cookie with enthusiasm, and then reach for bell peppers with that same enjoyment.  The obsessions with weight are gone for both me and my children.  I thought we had it all figured out!
Then we hit a roadblock with you, food.  My 6 year old son was diagnosed with PANDAS, an autoimmune disorder.  He has an infection in his brain, and his body is confusing his own brain tissue for the infection itself.  After an ineffective round of antibiotics, his doctor is pushing us to go on a ‘no sugar diet’, so there is nothing to feed the infection.  This means no sugar and very limited fruits and carbohydrates.  The diet could last for months or even years.
I am happy to do anything I can to see my son be healthy again.  But I am concerned, food.  I am worried that by throwing good and bad labels into our families food vocabulary, we will undo all of our hard work. I am worried that even after my son is healthy, he will still have a fear of these versions of you.  I am worried that he will start sneaking you at friends houses or at school and end up eating more sugar than he is now (which isn’t a lot).
Yet, I am also worried that if I let him choose, he will never get better.  I have always been good at being extreme with you, food.  It seems easier just to ban everything that might be hurting him.
When I brought up these concerns with our doctor, he just seemed confused.  He said that if I have the discipline to make an extreme change, that could only be helpful to my son.
The holiday season is here and it is time to make a decision.  Is there a way to eat intuitively and follow these dietary restrictions?  If we leave weight out of it, is it still a diet?  I just want to make life a little more simple for my children than it was for me.
Sincerely,
Scared and Hopeful

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

Wake Up Weight Watchers

I have been off the figurative grid the last few weeks to reboot. And, on a whim when I momentarily had wifi, I scrolled through Instagram only to see the horrifying news:

Weight Watchers, the diet company that has already stolen so much time, money, and self-compassion from us, is giving away memberships to teens this summer. 

Why is Weight Watchers choosing to give away memberships??

To teach body dissatisfaction?

To suck more innocent children into the hell of an eating disorder?

To help teens start a life of self blame for weight cycling?

To help promote weight gain?

Diets to Eating Disorders

Too many people have told me their life long and life threatening eating disorder started as a teen walking into Weight Watchers. Often they walked in with their mothers. Or, after the recommendation from their doctor.

As fellow dietitian Laura Thomas says, “Not everyone who goes on a diet gets an eating disorder yet everyone with an eating disorder has gone on a diet.” 

We know eating disorders have a genetic link and going on a diet is all it takes to start the ball rolling for an eating disorder to be born. Think of someone with alcoholism in their family, taking their first drink and that starts an abusive relationship with alcohol. 

Teaching diets to those with the genetic disposition for an eating disorder sets them up to experience the mental illness with the highest mortality rate.

You may be saying….But, Julie, we need to worry about teens with diabetes and eating disorders are rare.

12 in 100,000 children have Type 2 Diabetes (Writings Group et al., “Incidence of Diabetes”) yet 2900 in 100,000 children experience an eating disorder*. Statistically, we need to worry more about eating disorders than increased adiposity.

You may be saying….But, we need to do something about the obesity epidemic. At least Weight Watchers is doing something.

Diets like Weight Watchers are doing something: making us sicker and they don’t work. 

Show me the data from any diet study (including any Weight Watchers research) that keeps weight off long term (that’s at least 2 years) for most people. THERE AREN’T ANY. Somehow diet companies sell a product, make 60 billion dollars a year, the product fails for most people, and the failure is PART of the PLAN. The diet companies KNOW their products don’t work and have convinced us we the people are at fault. 

You know what data we do have? That diets don’t work for most people. As Deb Burgard says, “We need to call the diet industry the weight cycling industry.” Weight cycling raises cholesterol, blood pressure, triglycerides, insulin, blood sugar. The more we diet, or weight cycle, the more we weigh.

Huh?

Diets predict weight gain and eating disorders. 

So why in all H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks can Weight Watchers sell a product to our young precious children? How is this safe? Or legal? Or ethical? Or moral?

Why are we ok with this?

I love what my colleague Rebecca Scritchfield has to say about this Weight Watchers announcement in a recent Washington Post article

How can we stop this harm?

Consider signing this Change.org plea to stop this Weight Watchers campaign.

Do you have children that you worry about their eating or weight? 

Listen to this recent Love Food Podcast episode I did with my colleague Anna Lutz. She gives amazing insight.

Are you a fat teen?

Hello. I want you to know I see you. I don’t want you to change. You are acceptable as you are right now. You deserve to feel at home in your own skin and not torture yourself with a diet. Weight Watchers is a diet that doesn’t work for most people. Did you know you can trust your body to promote health? You have hunger, fullness, and satiety that let you know what your body needs. Don’t believe any diet sheet or think following points should dictate your worth. You are worthy already. That’s the point.

You don’t need them. 

But, we need you. 

Getting sucked into Weight Watchers or any other diet will only distract you from all that you bring to this world. 

Please don’t try to shrink yourself. Take up space. All that you want and need. I want to hear you and see you.

We need you not the points.

Warmly,

Julie

Here’s the footnote in case you dig that research stuff:

*K.R. Merikangas et al. “Lifetime Prevalence of Mental Disorders in US Adolescents: Results from the National Comborbitity Survey Replication-Adolescent Supplement.” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 49, no. 10 (2010): 980-9.

3 reasons to ditch the switch witch this Halloween

On my Facebook page, a community member asked:

 What do you think about all these Switch Witch shenanigans?

This popular Switch Witch wants to rid kids of terrifying candy.

My question: terrifying for the kids…or scary for the parents?

Candy Loot
Joyfully sorting and tasting the candy.

To get us all on the same page: the witch hangs out with the family starting October 1st and disappears on Halloween, candy in tow. When the kids awaken the next day, the candy is gone yet they are all smiles with shiny new toys. Parents do not have to deal with the food fights. Everyone wins.

Sounds like a great solution, right?

Uh, no. Let me explain.

1.) Allowing Halloween candy helps your child practice how to be around all foods.

Like it or not, we live in a world with many different foods. Children are limited by what parents allow into the home and the structure they provide.

We are required by law to feed our children and that makes them grow up. They leave us for college or trade school or when we get tired of each other and they move out. And the world will be their oyster. Or candy bar.

They get to decide which foods they will have in their dwelling. Seinfeld speaks this awesome truth here:

If a child was never taught how to experience highly palatable (*I won’t use the word junk here*) food, he will learn later in life.

A young adult never exposed to fun food will have a tough time eating them without shame. Shame never promotes health.

This shame-based food relationship produces an adult who feels out of control around certain foods. For many, this develops into bingeing and secret eating. These are typical eating disorder behaviors.

Oh what a web we weave.

 

Have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help.

Listen to the Love Food Podcast now here or through your favorite pod catcher app.

2) Keeping Halloween candy out of the house has more to say about the adult’s inability to be around the food than keeping a child healthy.

Fun foods taste gooooood. And that is why we adults yearn for ideas like the Switch Witch.

We don’t trust ourselves around the food and feel shame when we can’t stop eating them.

So we avoid the candy or other yummy treats. Our solution: keep it out of the house. Then, when a special holiday food comes around (helloooo candy corn!), we feel guilt free enough to “indulge” and curse the candy when we succumb to the tummy ache alarm to stop noshing.

This is not the food’s fault.

This is the basic law of food deprivation.

When we are around a novel food, our brains light up with interest. Sometimes even obsess. ¹ When we finally allow a bite, it is always hard to stop.

Allowing Halloween candy to remain around models how we as grown ups can navigate different types of food.

Too scary? You are not alone.

There is a way to heal this. It is called unconditional permission to eat. When a person has true permission to choose any food in any amount, eating according to physical hunger and fullness cues is the norm. This won’t work if “permission” is tangled up with one of these familiar sabotaging statements:

Trick or treat!
Trick or treat!
  • I will just have one.
  • I will save up my calories to have candy tonight.
  • I will exercise off calories to have candy tonight.

When we view food choices with permission, we begin to experience healthy ways of relating to food. This concept is from Intuitive Eating by Tribole and Resch and 75+ research studies demonstrate its evidenced-based interventions to promote health. Life changing work is done within its framework. I encourage you to check it out for yourself and your children.

3) Keeping the Halloween candy around will teach your children to not let food have more power than it deserves.

Imagine if you took your child into a room full of toys and said, “Play with any toy you like….except this one.” Even if the toy is a smelly old shoe, it will cause a 30 minute temper tantrum until the child is allowed to play with it.

Go ahead try for yourself. I dare you.

Deciding which Halloween candy she enjoys.
Deciding which Halloween candy she enjoys.

Having a witch magically steal your child’s candy let’s them know these foods are forbidden. And a house that forbids food gives that food 100 times more power than it deserves.

My clients affected by eating disorders spend too much time and energy thinking about forbidden foods. To the point they will not go to parties, or on dates. Their social life suffers.

Some won’t even leave the house in fear they will have to face a forbidden food.

I appreciate this is a strong statement and my work with eating disorder clients allows me to believe it: making candy a forbidden food is setting children up to experience disordered eating pathology. And, yes, that is very serious.

Where can we find help navigating the parental decisions around Halloween candy? Ellyn Satter has the best recommendations. I reread them every year. Spend time reading her recommendations here.

And ditch that witch.

Want to find a way to treat your PCOS without dieting?

Julie wants to show you how! Get the details here.

Footnote (i.e. best part of any blog post) ¹ This may bring up food addiction for many. You don’t have to send me articles or scholarly journals on food addiction since I am keeping up with the research. Until they control for food deprivation, the research means nothing unless you are a robot without free will.

Love Food Podcast Episode 14: How do I feed my kids without passing on my issues?

 

Ep 014 Image

Raising children and all its food mess can bring up some past, somewhat resolved, bad body thoughts. Throw in everyone’s opinion on the best way to feed your children, and you may feel like you are in an eating disorder relapse tailspin. How can you provide variety and teach healthy eating without sparking that eating disorder?? Can you prevent passing it on to your children??

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Key Points:

  • We don’t cry over spilled milk in our house yet it can get under my skin.
  • When knee deep in the meal time chaos take a deep breath, step back, and know many parents are feeling this same struggle feeding their children. #TheStruggleIsReal
  • Julie’s daughter decided to go rouge with her sour cream and just about freaked Julie out.
  • With a few boundaries, our children will get the nutrients they need without having to be constantly policed.
  • Katie Holder RD rock and rolls in the meal time chaos. She provides insight to get us through.
  • Trust your instincts when something in feeding feels off.
  • Peace at meal time happens when our kids feel safe and competent with the food choices yet meal time may still feel bonkers.
  • Family style dining can promote a healthy relationship with food. Include a couple of starches, fruit, vegetable, a protein, and couple sources of fat. Plop them on the table. Kids decide how much if any they will eat of these. No pressure to eat certain foods. No bribes. No foods before others.
  • Expect food jags due to preference and appetite. At two years of age, pickiness peaks and willingness to try things changes.
  • Katie’s son didn’t eat a vegetable for a whole year…and no one took her nutrition license away 😉
  • Serve dessert at dinner not afterwards sometimes. Teaches all foods are normal and enjoyable.
  • Never force a child to eat something. Child needs to be able to have permission to not eat and learn how to say it politely.
  • Meal time boundaries help everyone. Including giving caregivers a chance to take a break. At some time we need to be able to say, “THE KITCHEN IS CLOSED!” Healthy boundaries can prevent passing on that eating disorder.
  • All those caregivers out there: you are doing a great job!

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

Thank you for listening to the Love, Food series. Give me feedback via Twitter @EatingPermitRD.