healthy eating habits

The Messy Side of Clean Eating

Food can be complicated these days.

We are bombarded by messages about what's healthy and that can change on the daily. First, fat's bad...no wait, carbs are bad, fat is great, don't eat carbs just bacon and butter...all day...oh, but not coconut oil, it's the devil! Ok...maybe they don't say all that, but they might as well, at least then we'd know how whack those headlines are! So what are you supposed to eat to be healthy these days?

In the midst of all the noise, a lot of people have adopted "clean eating." Great. Reduce chemicals and highly processed food. That makes sense. And it does, but with all good things, balance is still needed and people can take it too far.  And that's where orthorexia can sneak in.

The National Eating Disorder Association states that someone who has "an “unhealthy obsession” with otherwise healthy eating may be suffering from “orthorexia nervosa,” a term which literally means “fixation on righteous eating.” Orthorexia starts out as an innocent attempt to eat more healthfully, but orthorexics become fixated on food quality and purity." (https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/orthorexia-nervosa)

So how do you know you're dealing with orthorexia?

  1. Your gut nags at you sometimes when you're quiet and dialed in and whispers that something is off. Maybe even now you're fighting that voice or wanting to click to the next blog.
  2. Clean eating has taken priority over other values and goals and commitments. Maybe you don't go out with friends as much. Maybe you lie or make excuses to avoid situations where it's not organic or clean food. Maybe you're more focused on the food than the fun or connection in life.
  3. You're dealing with anxiety. Managing food or making sure you only take in clean foods makes you anxious. Or you have extreme anxiety or guilt over eating something non organic.
  4. Food takes on value and dictates your value. Food gets judged as "good" or "bad". And since you are what you eat, you label yourself "good" or "bad" based on what you eat. Maybe you've become judgy of others who don't eat like you. Maybe you punish yourself by being mean or super restrictive if you stray from your rigid rules.

Being healthy means being mentally healthy too. If the way you're managing your physical health is impacting your mental health, we can help. Contact me today. You're worth it!

Food for Thought: Eating Disorders and Relationship Patterns

I've heard it said that "how you do one thing is how you do everything." Patterns we build permeate our lives. In my work with people with eating disorders, I have seen that people's relationships with food are often similar to their relationships with people. If "how you do one thing is how you do everything", then it follows that it would be helpful to notice relational patterns, put them in line with values, and capitalize on the potential for that change to influence other aspects in your life. Sometimes when you move social relationships towards values your relationship with food shifts as a byproduct.

Anorexia Nervosa

Relationship with food characterized as: avoidant, fearful, rigid, insufficient, shame around size and hunger.

How do those patterns show up in relationships? Maybe you isolate or avoid people or avoid situations (likely ones involving food, but probably others as well). Maybe you have social anxiety. Maybe you are rigid with socializing and keep a tight schedule or get nervous as plans change or interactions aren’t neat and tidy. Maybe your social interactions happen infrequently or are surface level and don’t sustain the human need for true connection. Maybe you are scared that being in relationships will feel suffocating or heavy or cause discomfort so you avoid them. Maybe you have a fear that you will be too much or need too much and end up people pleasing or keeping a distance in an attempt to stay small.

Bulimia Nervosa

Relationship with food characterized as: conflicted, chaotic, secretive, shame based.

How do those patterns show up in relationships? Maybe you seem to have a lot of conflict in relationships. Maybe you struggle with boundaries and when to say "yes" or "no" or "I've had enough". Maybe you experience extremes in relationships of being very close then very distant. Maybe you have guilt and shame over what you want or need or have done in relationships. Relationships may scare you and you struggle with keeping them in balance and tolerating the discomfort they can sometimes bring.

Binge Eating

Relationship with food characterized as: lacking boundaries, lacking sense of control, soothing or escapist.

How do those patterns show up in relationships? Maybe you struggle with knowing how much to give in relationships and end up people pleasing or going past your limits with relationships. Maybe in relationships you feel like you don’t have a voice or that voice isn’t respected when you set boundaries or express needs. Maybe you have a difficult time being alone and find people to fill your time, even when you know those people aren’t "good" for you. Maybe you have codependency traits and regulate your mood through focusing on others.

These lists aren’t exhaustive by any means and don’t account for individual differences. My intention is simply too spark curiosity. It’s not helpful to judge or justify patterns. Better to simply observe and then do what you can to align food and relationship patterns with long term goals and values.

If you notice that you resonate with any of these food or relational patterns, we are here to help. Please reach out by phone or online and we will be happy to talk with you.

Conversations with Helpers and Healers: Clara Wisner, Certified Nutrition Therapy Practitioner

I am fascinated by the connection between our physical and emotional wellbeing.

In this interview, I talked to Clara, a Denver based nutrition therapist, to chat about her views on food and health and how she empowers herself daily to live her best life.

  1. How do you work to help people feel better physically?
    • I am a certified nutrition therapy practitioner so I work with clients who have a range of different health symptoms and complaints.
    • Having a highly clinical education in nutrition, I blend this scientific knowledge of biology and physiology, with my deep and personal understanding of the emotional components of dietary and lifestyle change. By blending the clinical with the energetic, I create customized nutrition and lifestyle programs that facilitate true mind-body transformation for my clients.
    • On a physical level, I work with people from the perspective that their symptoms are clues to the physiological imbalances taking place in their body. Instead of trying to mask symptoms with whatever means possible, I figure out the root cause of my clients’ health issues. I do this by using my clinical training in, and deep understanding of, human physiology and nutrition. With this knowledge and experience, I address the specific nutrient imbalances, body systems failures, hormone disparities, and energy production issues.
    • I find that as I teach people how to support their bio-individual bodies through real food, good quality sleep, joyful movement, proper digestion, and stress management techniques their physical symptoms start to disappear.
  2. As you help people feel better physically, what impact do you see that having on their mental health and relationships?
    • It’s difficult to say what happens first: the physical improvements or the mental and relational improvements.
    • I believe deeply (and my experience working with people speaks to this) that the mind and body are connected. I think of real health as having four sides: physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental. If we don’t look at, and address all four sides of this ‘total health box’, then we will never be able to fully heal.
    • With this belief driving every customized nutrition and lifestyle plan I create for my clients, I see my clients’ physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health improving all together, as one. They are all interchangeable.
    • For example, when you start to feel more energetic because your physiological energy production is unhindered by toxic foods, then it becomes easier to think more positively about moving your body. When you move your body in a way that feels good and energizes you, you’re more inclined to feel more emotionally stable. When you feel more emotionally stable you are more likely to pursue personal development and activities that give you a sense of purpose and connection.
    • This is just one simple progression that could begin by simply by eating in a way that makes your physiology more efficient and conducive to easy energy production.
  3. What's something you've learned about wellness that they didn’t teach you in school?
    • I’ve learned that real health success stories come when a person stops trying to find the answers to their health problems outside of themselves, but, instead, starts to rely on their body’s own signals to determine what is good for them and not good for them.
    • Admittedly this takes some coaching (that’s what I’m good for!) and time to deconstruct old habits and learn your body’s language again. But learning your body’s language, trusting it to tell you when something is off, and having the commitment to make a change when your body does give you that sign, is the most powerful tool for your health.
  4. If you could suggest one thing for my readers to do to help them live their best life, what would that be?
    • I would suggest to your readers that they create a morning routine.
    • A morning routine can be the first baby step that leads towards huge habit shift in the long run. It’s a commitment to starting each day in the same, grounding way.
    • Commit to waking up a set amount of time before you have to leave for work or before your kids wake up and drink some warm lemon water, do some stretching, meditate, eat a breakfast full of protein and good quality fat, then drink your coffee, and get ready for you day.
    • This is just an example, you can do anything that works for you and makes you feel sane, grounded, and cared for. The power in a morning routine is that it sets the stage for your whole day and makes it many times more likely that you will stick to healthier habits if you don’t feel rushed, out of control, or frantic.

Like what you see? Contact Clara at:

www.clarawisner.com

clara@clarawisner.com

720-202-2326

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That's Not Paleo

The paleo diet is about getting back to doing things how our ancestors did them. Great concept, but, thanks to marketing and bro-science, it may have led some people astray.

Just like with the Paleo diet, I believe we should be mindful of eating processed, packaged foods. I think we should be thoughtful about eating nutrient dense foods and not just eat whatever hyper-palatable shit pops up in front of our face. But at the same time, I don’t think we need to be food phobic and weigh and measure food, including every grain of quinoa, count every calorie we consume, and eat exactly the same meals day after day. That’s not what the cavemen did. They didn’t prove worth or exert control by being restrictive or disciplined with food and they probably didn’t freak out about how a night of consuming bear, berries, and beer around the campfire would fit into their prescribed macros. Cavemen  ate to survive and have energy to do tasks. They ate communally and were grateful for food.

I also believe in a healthy exercise regimen. I think we should move around, run, and lift heavy things to stay healthy and fit. Cavemen did those things to provide food and shelter and to play, not to punish themselves,  to compensate for the food they ate, or to compete to the point of injury. They probably didn’t say "well, my garmin says I ran five miles at 10mph yesterday to catch that deer, so today I have to run at least that far and I need to run it faster."

Several of the clients that see me for eating disorder therapy reported their eating disorder started innocently, in the name of going paleo. It then blossomed and was concealed in the context of restrictive diets and excessive crossfit workouts. Without a solid sense of self we can find identity in diet and lifestyle trends. Without mindfulness and ability to trust our intuition we can fall prey to relying on rigid rules, restrictions and regulations. The Paleo diet goes bad when we focus on  "WHAT cavemen did" and forget  "WHY caveman did it". They did it probably for two reasons: 1. Survival and 2. Community. If your diet and exercise are not helping you live your best life and connect with your family and community, it might be worth looking at it and asking yourself "what would a caveman do?"

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or think you might be on the brink of an eating disorder, call us and we can help you work through it.