What is Thin Privilege?

Thin privilege, related to weight bias, stems from the unrealistic ‘ideal’ of a thin body type for everyone, or for a preferred thin body type. It supports the idea that those with a thin body type have more advantages than those who do not. These advantages can be represented in scenarios such as easily finding your size while shopping at trendy stores, being offered help versus being told that nothing will fit you, not being judged by what you choose to eat, finding a place to sit on a bus or an airplane, and even finding a seat that properly and comfortably supports you. Others include not being associated with labels such as “lazy”, having more employment opportunities, receiving unbiased healthcare, and being accepted by peers, colleagues, and family members1. The adverse effects that result from those who lack these advantages can be detrimental to one’s well-being and include less engagement in self-care behaviour2. These unjust social advantageslead to not only unequal access to resources or health inequity, but also poor interpersonal relationships4.

This is not to say that judgment can’t be felt by thin individuals as well. Just because someone has thin privilege, does not mean that they feel accepted, have high self-esteem, find clothes that fit them, or necessarily have all of the said advantages noted above. This is why thin privilege can be such a contentious topic. It’s important for us to remember that no one is immune to hardship and we are each fighting our own battles. In addition, those who are thin due to serious health issues or poverty, are most definitely not privileged5. However, recognizing that thin privilege exists can help to bring awareness to the topic, and hopefully end the stigma that surrounds it. It’s crucial for us to be aware of how such biases can be harmful to those of any body weight.

One way in which we can combat this is by educating ourselves and others about the existence of thin privilege, because being aware of it can help us to be more aware of our own actions and biases as well. We can also educate ourselves and others about dated information regarding health, such as the use of BMI as a determinant of health. Fortunately, with the help of the HAES® movement, education regarding Health At Every Size is making it’s way around. It’s about time! Every body is deserving and should be treated with equal respect.

The more we know, the more capable we are of standing up to unfair practices. It’s essential that we talk to each other about circumstances like this so that we can support each other and prevent them from happening in the future. We are all deserving of equal opportunities and body equity is something that is to be celebrated. So let’s rise above and instead of judging, remember to practice love and compassion to others but also to ourselves.


References

  1. Bruce, K. (2018). What exactly is “thin privilege”? Retrieved from https://www.kristinabruce.com/blog/what-exactly-is-thin-privilege
  2. Kater, K. (2015). Hope for the future: transforming the destructive assumptions of thin privilege and weight stigma. Retrieved from: http://nedic.ca/conference/closing-keynote-%E2%80%93-april-17th-2015
  3. Bacon, Linda. (2010). Health at every size : the surprising truth about your weight. Dallas, TX :BenBella Books
  4. Nutter, S., Russell-Mayhew, S., Arthur, N., Ellard, J.H. (2018). Weight bias and social justice: implications for education and practice. Retrieved from: https://link-springer-com.proxy1.lib.uwo.ca/content/pdf/10.1007%2Fs10447-018-9320-8.pdf
  5. Nash, M., Warin, M. (2017). Squeezed between identity politics and intersectionality: a critique of ‘thin privilege’ in fat studies Feminist Theory Vol. 18. Retrieved from: https://journals-sagepub-com.proxy1.lib.uwo.ca/doi/pdf/10.1177/1350506812456461

 

Breakfast: Is it Really the Most Important Meal of the Day?

Many of us have been told since we were children that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Truth is, it’s not a myth! Eating within an hour of waking “breaks the fast” (ie. break-fast) and helps our body to wake up and get ready for the day. In order to tackle our daily tasks, we must first fuel our brains and provide our bodies with substantial energy to thrive during the day. Eating meals and snacks throughout the day not only provide us structure but also assists in the recovery process by helping our body get used to adequate nutrition again.

What does “breaking the fast” really mean? Well, during the night our bodies are in a fasted state which means that bodily processes slow down to rest. This includes our breathing, our heart rate and digestion. Upon awakening, our bodies seek energy primarily in the form of carbohydrates which is utilized to supply fuel to our brains. Further, the digestive tract begins its’ natural rhythm as it knows that food is on its way.Consuming breakfast after the night’s fast helps to regulate blood sugars and hormones such as cortisol, the “stress hormone”.By fuelling our bodies with food, cortisol levels naturally balance out and our body is no longer in a stressed state due to the overnight fast.2

Eating breakfast also helps to set up our appetite. Hunger hormones, leptin and ghrelin, are noticeably balanced after consuming a meal.2 A large piece of eating disorder recovery is re-learning our hunger and fullness cues and eating breakfast can be tremendously helpful in this endeavour. People who do not eat breakfast will often notice increased feelings of fatigue and brain fog as the day goes on.The cycle perpetuates itself, often impacting cognition and the ability to learn.4

Nutrition supports growth and bodily functions. For example, during infancy, childhood and adolescence, nutrition supports cognitive development and growth. During the later years, nutrition helps to maintain a strong immunity and maintain cognitive performance.3,5 Many studies illustrate the connection of eating a nutrient dense breakfast to increased academic performance and sustained energy. Eating breakfast also enhances concentration, memory and alertness.2,3 It provides us with the brain power to critically think and reason out outcomes during problem solving.Consuming regular meals and snacks helps in meeting nutrient and energy needs, facilitates the development of normalized eating patterns and reduces the likelihood of disordered eating.6

Consuming breakfast is one of the first nutrition goals when working with our dietitians to overcome an eating disorder.By engaging in regular eating for recovery, one will recognize and respond to their hunger cues and become more in tuned with their body providing it with sustained energy throughout the day.This is also known as mechanical eating, suggesting that individuals should eat every 2-4 hours while awake. This technique disrupts disordered eating, grazing, binge eating, purging and relieves anxiety associated to food rules.4 Committing to this nutrition goal benefits the individual by providing them with structure to their day and encourages routine to plan, prepare and prioritize meals.4 Ultimately it is protective to recovery as it allows the body to heal and repair and stimulates a positive mind set.


References

1. Betts, J. A., Chowdhury, E. A., Gonzalez, J. T., Richardson, J. D., Tsintzas, K., & Thompson, D. (2016). Is breakfast the most important meal of the day? In Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 75(04), 464–474. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0029665116000318

2.  Spence, C. (2017). Breakfast: The most important meal of the day? In International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science, 8, 1–6. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijgfs.2017.01.003

3. Affinita, A., Catalani, L., Cecchetto, G., De Lorenzo, G., Dilillo, D., Donegani, G., Zuccotti, G. V. (2013). Breakfast: a multidisciplinary approach. In Italian Journal of Pediatrics, 39(1), 44. https://doi.org/10.1186/1824-7288-39-44

4. Ferrer-Cascales, R., Sánchez-SanSegundo, M., Ruiz-Robledillo, N., Albaladejo-Blázquez, N., Laguna-Pérez, A., & Zaragoza-Martí, A. (2018). Eat or skip breakfast? the important role of breakfast quality for health-related quality of life, stress and depression in spanish adolescents.International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(8), 1781. doi:10.3390/ijerph15081781

5. B, C. (2018). The Physical and Mental Health Benefits of Eating Breakfast. In Brookhaven Blog. Retrieved from https://www.brookhavenretreat.com/cms/blog-22/item/3090-mental-physical-benefits-eating-breakfast

6. Fleming, K. (2018). Regular eating for recovery. In Center for Clinical Interventions. Retrieved from https://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/Resources/~/media/95F9A1FC3F1C4D0A92CD31B09166FDDB.ashx

 

Diet Culture in Disguise

Diet culture is defined as “a system that values weight, shape and size over health and wellbeing”. 1 It can be very difficult to spot and is very misleading.  The culture of dieting is led by an industry that claims to encompass “wellness and health”.This industry provides the means for society to internalize the thin ideal and practise behaviours that are likely to stem into social, mental and physical issues.There is a great emphasis on health and becoming the best version of oneself however, this can create unrealistic perceptions and ideologies. The preoccupation with health foods and health journeys in general is diet culture in disguise.

As individuals, we should all be aware of diet culture and obtain the appropriate skillset to be able to recognize its’ bias and translate its; language for what it truly is. Corporations have become smarter and are choosing language which captures the attention of their audience. The words “health” and “wellness” are largely misused in this industry and have negatively impacted mindsets resulting in mental and physical harm.3 There is a constant pressure to uphold the social construct of beauty that society has laid out for us with the influence of the media, role models and misused terminology.We have all become victims of diet culture when we believe that beauty is defined by perfection and that certain shapes and sizes carry more value over others.

Children as young as 6 years old have begun to express curiosity about their body weight and shape, as well as a fear of becoming “fat”. In fact, 40 to 60% of elementary school girls have become victims of body shaming and have expressed their concerns for body image.4,5 This is the age for children to grow, experience and find their voice. They are meant to carry body fat, experience growth spurts and explore their appetites. This is the face of our next generation and without proper guidance they can be easily persuaded by negative body ideals that promote negative behaviors congruent with eating disorders and body checking.6

Diet culture reaches society from every possible angle and medium. It is important to be able to identify what triggers us, then prevent the honouring and promotion of negative behaviours and mindsets. Triggers can include messages sent out by the food police mislabelling foods and shaming food groups. People are afraid of being an outcast, making the “wrong” food choices and possibly being bullied as a result.6 With this, we are not respecting our bodies and honouring our rights to nourish our mind, body and soul. When we become preoccupied with food and exercising, we then fall into the hands of diet culture.3If we try to interfere with our bodies’ natural rhythm and happy state, we are pushed away from our “set point” and damage our metabolism in the long run.7

The environment that we surround ourselves with is the best indicator as to whether one will ignore or engage in diet culture. Eating disorders stem from the environmental contribution of the sociocultural idealization for thinness. 8 It is important not to feel overwhelmed by fad diet culture and to discourage weight loss as a goal.We need to pay attention to the language that we are using. Our choice of words and demeanor can be misread and pose harm to an individual, especially if the individual is vulnerable to diet culture or is in recovery from an eating disorder.

There are certain pressures from our society to embark on a fitness journey or exercise program. Following a new year, every magazine, morning show, and advertisement focuses on the misleading ideology that health is defined by a number and size. It is a misconception that in order to be healthy, we need to be thin, exercise vigorously and encourage behaviours that can consequentially cause harm.3,6 It is important to experience autonomy and freedom when moving your body and to mitigate the stresses and pressure to exercise by media blasts.

As human beings we eat to nourish our bodies with nutrients and energy to meet our physiological needs and bodily functions. Food is meant to be celebrated; it allows us to fuel our systems, form connections and experience a level of satisfaction and pleasure.9  For decades, society has allowed food to be mislabelled into categories of “good or bad”.Many words are used in the media to suggest “good food” such as superfoods, health foods, detoxifying agents and low calorie, to name a few. By feeding into this perceptual bias, we have become consumed with diet culture and are likely to be missing out on sacral moments and pleasurable experiences.

“Clean eating” and “meal prepping” is also being taken to the extreme and being promoted to support the wellness of individuals.2,3 These are more examples of diet culture in disguise.10 Orthorexia Nervosa is described as a form of dysfunctional eating and preoccupation with healthy living. It shares characteristics with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Anorexia Nervosa.11 People who become preoccupied with healthy living usually live by food rules that involves the elimination of a food group, energy restriction, consuming cheat meals and other compensatory behaviours.10This leads to shame and guilt and welcomes an opportunity for body distortion, negative relationships with food and isolation. Ultimately, this preoccupation with food can trigger emotional dissatisfaction and pose threats to our wellbeing.11

Once we take the stance and abolish diet talk, weight shaming and unrealistic beauty ideals, we can welcome a life free of restriction and control. Diet culture can be powerful, but can be defeated as we spread awareness of diet culture in disguise and begin to refuse its’ enticing but unrealistic promises. By changing the shift of self-destruction to self-actualization, we can focus our energy on living life to the fullest and reaching our greatest potential.


References

  1. Upson, S. (2017). Diet Culture 101. In My Signature Nutrition; Nutrition Education & Councelling. Retrived from http://www.mysignaturenutrition.com/2017/05/20/diet-culture-
  2. Chiu, A. (2018). The new Weight Watchers is all about ‘wellness.’ Critics say it’s ‘diet culture’ in disguise. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/09/25/weight-watchers-rebrands-critics-say-its-another-disguise-for-the-diet-culture/?utm_term=.01023d49cd99
  3. Hesse-Biber, S., Leavy, P., Quinn, C. E., & Zoino, J. (2006). The mass marketing of disordered eating and Eating Disorders: The social psychology of women, thinness and culture.In Women’s Studies International Forum,29(2), 208-224. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2006.03.007
  4. Cash, T. F., & Smolak, L. (2011). Body image: A handbook of science, practice, and prevention. In Guilford Press.
  5. Statistics and Research on Eating Disorders. In National Eating Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/statistics-research-eating-disorders
  6. Lawler, M. & Nixon, E. J. (2011). Body Dissatisfaction Among Adolescent Boys and Girls: The Effects of Body Mass, Peer Appearance Culture and Internalization of Appearance Ideals In Journal of Youth Adolescence. Retrieved from https://doi-org.proxy1.lib.uwo.ca/10.1007/s10964-009-9500-2
  7. Set Point Theory. In Center for Clinical Interventions.(2018)Retrieved fromhttps://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/~/media/CCI/Mental%20Health%20Professionals/Eating%20Disorders/Eating%20Disorders%20-%20Information%20Sheets/Eating%20Disorders%20Information%20Sheet%20-%2024%20-%20Set%20Point%20Theory.pdf
  8. Culbert, K. M., Racine, S. E., & Klump, K. L. (2015). Research Review: What we have learned about the causes of eating disorders – a synthesis of sociocultural, psychological, and biological research. In J Child Psychol Psychiatry, 56(11), 1141-1164. 
  9. Fleming, K. (2018) Normal eating Vs Disordered eating. In Center for Clinical Interventions. Retrieved from https://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/~/media/CCI/Mental%20Health%20Professionals/Eating%20Disorders/Eating%20Disorders%20-%20Information%20Sheets/Eating%20Disorders%20Information%20Sheet%20-%2022%20-%20Normal%20Eating%20vs.%20Disordered%20Eating.pdf
  10. Fleming, K. (2018). “Clean Eating”: When “Healthy” Eating Becomes Unhealthy. In Center for Clinical Interventions. Retrieved from https://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/~/media/CCI/Mental%20Health%20Professionals/Eating%20Disorders/Eating%20Disorders%20-%20Information%20Sheets/Eating%20Disorders%20Information%20Sheet%20-%2007%20-%20Clean%20Eating.pdf
  11. Orthorexia Nervosa. In Ketly Eating Disorders.Retrieved fromhttps://keltyeatingdisorders.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Orthorexia-Nervosa-Fact-Sheet.pdf

 

 

New Year’s Resolutions: Helping or Hindering Recovery?

Following the holiday season, there comes the time of year where people tend to reflect on all the experiences and milestones that they have accomplished and begin to assess what they can change.  January 1st becomes the marked date where resolutions are made in hopes to change a habit, better yourself or make new commitments to name a few.  Many see it as an opportunity to leave certain habits or negative vibes behind and start fresh with a new year. Some may even say “new year, new me”1. This particular time of year can be very exciting but also very triggering for individuals living with disordered eating. There are societal pressures encouraging many people to become the best version of themselves1. What we hear less of is that this can backfire and cause people to make unrealistic goals or create negative mindsets. By being kind to yourself, we can choose to either make helpful, healing resolutions or opt out of resolutions altogether! Either way, we can reach our goals while embracing self-love and self-acceptance.

We have noticed that the majority of people who make new year’s resolutions strive for perfection. They make too many goals with the hopes to change old habits or make major life changes all at once1. This can be quite overwhelming! To no surprise, the University of Scranton noted that only 8% of people successfully translate their resolutions into their lifestyle while 92% fail to continue2. Why is this? When we make too many goals at once, it can be hard to keep track and sustain each goal; creating a negative attitude towards the rest. Guilt and shame suddenly overwhelm our thoughts and our abilities to succeed. Just like eating disorder recovery, making a change in life requires steps and should be regarded as a journey3.

Whether the goal is to set boundaries, practice more self-compassion, budget your money, or incorporate a new self-care activity, there is sure to be some regression and progression. SMART goals may be a helpful tool in helping you to sustain a change or successfully incorporate new year’s resolution into our lifestyles. SMART goals represents the need for goals to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time based4. It is very easy to get caught up in the pressure in making resolutions and dismissing reality. By making your resolutions a journey, you maybegin to understand the process. It it may even mean that you take a few steps back before you can take a few steps forward.

Especially around this time of year, there is a great emphasis and focus on the word “health”. A lot of resolutions stem from a negative mindset of wanting to make changes to our weight, eating patterns and body shape1. This can be triggering to many individuals, especially those who are on their journey to recovery. It is important to consider your audience when discussing anything around food and exercise to ensure you are not risking harm to your peers. We all need to be gentle with ourselves, but especially as we are in the process of healing and can be easily influenced by the negative body ideals, social media blasts and diet culture surrounding us.

It is important to be conscious of helpful versus hindering resolutions. Individuals who are in recovery from an eating disorder can be susceptible to the diet culture language and can easily fall into disordered thoughts, behaviours and patterns if they are not mindful. Over-exercising and food rules (just to name a few) can hinder recovery and cause regression. Try to be gentle with yourself, acknowledge how far you have come and embrace your accomplishments. Remain aware of your triggers and strive for a mindset that is free from restriction, rules and perfection. By shifting focus from a new resolution to the journey of recovery, it may be easier to focus on nourishing your body and make yourself a priority each and every day.

If you are someone who finds goal-setting or new year resolutions helpful and healthful, here are some ideas:

Begin everyday with positive affirmations.

Look in the mirror and remind yourself how strong, courageous and beautiful you are.  By doing this, you will begin each day with a positive mindset and know that you can overcome any challenges that you may be faced with.

Focus on your well-being.

Do something each day that you love.  Take this time for yourself to reflect and relax.  This can be as simple as reading a book, journaling, disconnecting from social media, taking a bath or baking something delicious.

Make yourself a priority.

Take charge and do what’s best for you and do not be afraid to remove yourself from a situation that may hinder your recovery.  Practise intuitive eating and self-love.

Spend time with your loved ones. 

Spend more time with family members, call a friend or plan a social gathering.  Embracing your support system will benefit your well-being and enhance your confidence.



References

  1. Bradley, G. (2018). New Year’s Resolutions That Will Actually Make You Feel Good. In National Eating disorders. Retrieved from https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/7-new-years-resolutions-will-actually-make-you-feel-good
  2. New Years Resolution Statistics. (2018). Statistics Brain Research Institute. Retrieved from https://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/
  3. Are New Year’s Resolutions helpful in Eating Disorder Recovery?. (2016). In Eating Disorder Hope. Retrieved from https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/blog/resolutions-eating-disorder-recovery
  4. Effective goal setting: applying SMART goals. (2010). In Healthcare Registration. Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com.proxy1.lib.uwo.ca/apps/doc/A234795397/AONE?u=lond95336&sid=AONE&xid=95cc921e

Hydration Nation

Did you know that several types of beverages and many different foods can all contribute to your hydration status throughout the day? This means that your daily fluid intake for hydration is not limited to just water. The daily recommendations for water are about 3.7L for men, and 2.7Lfor women; however, the amount of fluid needed each day varies between individuals and depends on various factors such as age and activity level.1Hydrating fluids can come from many different sources, as will be discussed in this blog post.

Drinking water is a great way to stay hydrated, but sometimes we may want to drink something a little more flavourful. Adding some fruits, cucumber, or mint to water can help add some flavour, but there are also several other types of beverages that can hydrate our bodies and contribute to our daily fluid intake. These fluids include: soft drinks, sports drinks, juice, milk, broth, coffee, and tea.All of these beverages are a great choice for hydration because they all have a high water content. Many soft drinks contain between 89 to 99 percent water, along with other ingredients and flavourings.2Similarly, sports drinks have a high water content and also contain carbohydrates and electrolytes that help keep the body in balance during intense exercise. Fruit and vegetable juices are composed of primarily water, unless they are concentrated. Juices also contain vitamins and carbohydrates that fuel our bodies. Likewise, water is the main constituent in animal milks, ranging from 83 to 91 percent.3Animal milks are also a good source of protein, calcium, and vitamin D. Similarly, plant-based milks, nut milks, and broth are all composed of primarily water and contain other nutrients.

There is a common misconception that coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages are dehydrating due to the fact that caffeine can induce fluid excretion. Although it is true that large amounts of caffeine can increase an individual’s need to urinate, the amount of caffeine in a regular coffee or tea is not sufficient enough to disturb fluid balance. Caffeine can cause mild fluid loss when consumed in large doses of more than 500 mg (about 5 cups of coffee).4Furthermore, the water content in most caffeinated beverages outweighs the possible caffeine-induced fluid loss.5Therefore, it is possible to enjoy caffeinated beverages throughout the day while hydrating your body, but remember, all foods and beverages fit in moderation.

It may seem as though all fluids available to us are hydrating, however, alcohol is an exception. Alcoholic beverages do not count towards fluid intake for hydration because they promote fluid excretion and dehydration in any quantity.6In addition, strong alcoholic beverages do not contain enough water to replace lost fluids. If you chose to consume alcohol, make sure to drink enough water to replace lost fluids.

There are several foods that have a high water content and can help hydrate our bodies. Many fruits and vegetables are composed of more than 80 percent water. Some examples include watermelon, tomatoes, strawberries, oranges, lettuce, celery, and cucumber. Some simple ways to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet are eating them as a snack, making a fruit and/or vegetable salad, or making a smoothie using fruits and vegetables. Both lettuce and zucchini have very mild flavours and are packed with water, nutrients, and fibre, which makes them a great addition to smoothies. Soups and yogurt are also relatively rich in water. Note that most packaged and processed foods have a lower water content in order to increases their shelf life.

Water is essential for survival. It is responsible for lubricating joints, making nutrients accessible for the body, transporting nutrients and waste, and regulating temperature.7Common signs of dehydration include thirst, dry mouth, fatigue, dizziness, confusion, and irritability.8Remember that thirst is not always a reliable indicator of hydration status, and it is possible to drink too much water; thus, sipping on beverages throughout the day is the best way to stay hydrated. In addition, eating a variety of water-rich foods, and drinking a variety of different beverages each day can make meeting your daily fluid intake more pleasurable. With so many different sources of water available to us, remaining hydrated can be easy. Carrying a reusable water bottle when going out is another helpful way to stay hydrated. With such a large variety of hydrating foods and beverages, nourishing our bodies can be simple, easy, and enjoyable.


References

  1. Dietary reference intakes: water, potassium, sodium, chloride, and sulfate. (2004). In The National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved from http://nationalacademies.org/hmd/reports/2004/dietary-reference-intakes-water-potassium-sodium-chloride-and-sulfate.aspx.
  2. Journey Staff. Why water is one of the coca-cola company’s most important ingredient. In Coca-Cola Journey. Retrieved from https://www.coca-cola.co.uk/stories/why-water-is-one-of-our-most-important-ingredients.
  3. Milk composition. In Food and Agriculture Organization. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/dairy-production-products/products/milk-composition/en/.
  4. Renn, Lisa. (2014). Does coffee make you dehydrated? InABC. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/health/talkinghealth/factbuster/stories/2014/02/27/3951831.htm.
  5. Flood, Anthony. (2018). Newsbite: pore over what drinking only coffee and tea all day does to your body. In Food Insight. Retrieved from https://www.foodinsight.org/what-happens-if-you-drink-coffee-and-tea-all-day-caffeine.
  6. Healthy hydration guide. (2018). InBritish Nutrition Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/hydration/healthy-hydration-guide.html.
  7. Mayo Clinic Staff. Functions of water in the body. In Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/multimedia/functions-of-water-in-the-body/img-20005799.
  8. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Dehydration. In Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/syc-20354086.

What is Fibre & Why is it Important?

Whenever we go to the grocery store, we see many labels on packages advertising a product’s fibre content. If we follow health accounts on social media, we’ll probably see something about fibre at some point. All of these messages about fibre can make us think that we should increase our fibre intake, but is that really true? Why is fibre so important exactly? Where can we get it? And what is it anyway? These are all questions most of us have, or have probably had at some point. This article will answer many of your queries to help you successfully and confidently increase your fibre intake.

Firstly, we need to understand what fibre is. Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that our body cannot break down into molecules that provide our bodies with energy. Therefore, fibre simply adds bulk to the food contents in our digestive tract, which keeps us feeling fuller for longer. There are two main types of fibre: soluble fibre and insoluble fibre. Each type of fibre is an important part of our diet and contributes different types of health benefits. Soluble fibre, as the name presumes, is soluble in water. This means that it absorbs fluids and turns into a gel-like consistency in our digestive tract. In contrast, insoluble fibre does not absorb water, but simply adds bulk to the foods we eat.

Fibre is found in a variety of plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Buying whole grain products or eating whole fruits are easy ways to increase fibre intake. Furthermore, adding chia seeds, flax seeds, psyllium husk, or leafy greens to smoothies is another great way to consume more fibre. The recommended daily intake of fibre for women is 25g and 39g for men1. When it comes to packaged foods, it is good to read the labels and check the percent daily value found on the right side of a nutrition label. If the daily value is at 15% or more, that product is a great source of fibre that will help you meet your daily recommendation.

When consumed in the recommended amounts, fibre brings several benefits for our digestion . Soluble fibre serves as a prebiotic3. This means that it supports beneficial microorganisms in our large intestines, which play an important role in our overall health. Furthermore, both soluble fibre and insoluble fibre can help keep bowel movements regular and alleviate constipation if consumed with plenty of water3.However, it is possible to eat too much fibre. Excess fibre can actually be harmful because it can displace the nutrients that fuel and support our bodies, as well as bind to minerals and possibly lead to deficiencies. Some signs that you may be eating too much fibre include bloating, gas, abdominal discomfort, constipation, or diarrhea.

Eating more plant-based foods can greatly increase fibre consumption throughout the day and help us reap all the benefits associated with consuming adequate fibre.Consult a Registered Dietitian to see if fibre supplements or fortified fibre products are right for you because they may cause more harm than good. Fibre consumption should be increased gradually to avoid effects such as gas, bloating, constipation, and discomfort. Fibre also traps water, so make sure to drink enough water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Regularly eating a wide variety of whole foods from different food groups, while listening to your body’s needs is the easiest way to eat more fibre. Knowing more about fibre can help us become informed consumers and help us take care of our bodies.


References

  1. Facts on Soluble Fibre. In Unlock Food. Retrieved from http://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Fibre/Facts-on-Soluble-Fibre.aspx.
  2. McRorie, J. W., & McKeown, N. M (2017). Understanding the Physics of Functional Fibers in the Gastrointestinal Tract: An Evidence-Based Approach to Resolving Enduring Misconceptions about Insoluble and Soluble Fiber. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 117(2), 251-264. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2016.09.021.
  3. Anderson, J. W., Baird, P., Davis, R. H., Ferreri S., Knudtson, M., Koraym, A., Waters, V., & Williams. C. L. (2009). Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutrition Reviews, 67(4), 188-205. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00189.x.

What is Set Point Weight Theory?

We can put so much energy into trying to attain a certain weight, through dieting,over-exercising, excessive meal prepping, over-hydration, etc. But what if our body has a built-in mechanism that naturally keeps our weight within a certain range? Wouldn’t all that energy be better spent a different way? In today’s blog post we are going to look more closely at this phenomenon known as the set point weight theory.

Research indicates that every human being has a set weight range that they are genetically predisposed to maintain1. This range is known as the body’s set pointweight. Just as individuals have a fixed height they reach or have the same shoe size for the majority of their adult life,there is also a predetermined weight range they naturally fluctuate around. One’s set point is affected by their eating habits but is largely determined by genetics; our overall build, bone structure, metabolism, and musculature1.The body goes through various changes regularly due to fluid retention, hormonal changes and medicationswhich leads to normal fluctuation within a certain range2.

So how does the body strive to stay within its’set pointweight? Just as the body has feedback control mechanisms to maintain a constant body temperature, it also has mechanisms that will help it stay within its’set point weight range. For example, if there is an increase in food intake, the body will raise its’internal temperature and increase metabolism to try to use up the extra energy1. Similarly, if there is a decrease in food intake, the body will slow down its’metabolism to try to conserve energy1. Additionally, if the body is not receiving adequate energy it will use hunger signaling as a mechanism to try to get us to eatwhile also slowing down our metabolism to conserve energy1. This is just another reason why diets do not work. The body naturally wants to stay within a certain weight range and by restricting food intake it only slows metabolism and increases hunger to combat the lack of energy. Some people may successfully be able to maintain weight loss after dieting due to the fact that they were above their set point prior to beginning a diet, but this is quite rare3. For those who are within or below their set point before beginning a diet, they will likely find it difficult to lose weight as their body slows metabolism to conserve as much energy as possible.

Set point weight theory is an important concept in eating disorders. Food restriction may cause the body to fall below its’normal set point range which will slow metabolism and increase hunger in an effort to protect us from starvation1.This will lead to an increase in thoughts of food and make it difficult to focus on other things. A preoccupation with food may cause individuals to be more susceptible to episodes of binge eating1. The best thing one can do for their body is to allow it to naturally settle into its’set point weight and avoid behaviours that suppress the body’s normal weight tendency. This is much healthier than cycles of weight loss and regain, as is common with dieting.

So how can you know if you are at your set point weight? A weight set point is not a static number on the scale; it is a range that the body normally fluctuates within. The best way to get a good idea of what your weight set point might be is to engage in normal eating and moderate exercise for approximatelyone year3. The body usually requires this length of time to settle into its natural weightbut it can sometimes take even longer. This only applies to those who have stopped growing. Adolescents and young adults are meant to have an increasing weight until their young 20s. Finding your body’s natural set point is best done through intuitive eating and gentle exercise, as mentioned above, and not using objective measures like the scale or measuring tapes.

You may be wondering how you can accept your body’s set point weight. What if it’s higher than you think it should be? Diet culture has taught us to value thinness and low numbers on the scale. It can be difficult to accept one’s weight being higher than deemed acceptable by society. You may not initially feel comfortable at your natural weight, however, this is something that takes timeand reflection. Gradually, by showing kindness towards your body, by dressing in clothes that fit you and are comfortable, and by taking care of your body, an acceptance of your body’s natural size will be fostered. Try to avoid wastingyour time trying to attain a certain number on the scale that your body cannot naturally attain. You have not failed if your weight is higher than you think it should be. Strive to take care of your body as it is by eating intuitively and engaging in gentle exercise and it will become the weight it is meant to be. Try to spend less energy focusing on maintaining a certain weight and put your energy into more productive activities, like being kind to others and creating beautiful things. Let’s not let our lives be marked by the number on the scale.


References

  1. Centre for Clinical Interventions.(2018). Set Point Theory. [PDF file]. Retrieved from https://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/Resources/~/media/6CD4432DC40649949D8B4923C725742D.ashx
  2. Eating Disorder Help. (2017, September 22).Can I Accept My Body at It’s Natural, Comfortable Weight? Retrieved November 17, 2018, from https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/blog/accept-body-comfortable-weight
  3. National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC). (n.d.). sSet Point: What Your Body is Trying to Tell You.Retrieved November 17, 2018, from http://nedic.ca/set-point-what-your-body-trying-tell-you

 

The Problem with Dieting

When you hear the word diet, what do you think of? Does the word remind you of various strategies to lose weight? Although Oxford dictionary has multiple definitions of the term, diet is initially defined as the types of food that one eats1.

Unfortunately, the word “diet” has become tainted due to the weight loss industry and diet culture in general.  Considering the amount of marketing products that use this term to describe variations of foods low in calories, it makes sense why diet has lost its initial meaning. When most individuals use the word diet, they are referring to a specific way of eating with an end goal of losing weight. Of course there are cases where certain dietary recommendations are needed, such as individuals with medical conditions – for example, dietary changes to control diabetes. However, there is a misunderstanding with the term diet, since it’s intended meaning is often lost due to how society typically defines it.

The type of diets that we are referring to here are the ones known as fad diets, that is, any short-term methods used to instil change in eating behaviours in the hopes of losing weight. These diets are often harmful and can lead to potential health problems in the future2. Due to the unsustainable nature of fad diets, individuals often regress back to old eating patterns once the goal weight is reached, defeating their purpose of starting the diet in the first place.

A common category that exists among fad diets are those that focus on a reduction in caloric intake. The less calories eaten per day, the more difficult it is to reach your nutrient needs2.  By neglecting meals, diets that reduce caloric intake run the risk of putting your body into a state of starvation. By putting your body in starvation mode, this acts to lower your metabolism with the intention of conserving energy3.

There are many diets that eliminate or significantly decrease consumption of certain macronutrients, a common example being carbohydrates. Some examples of low carbohydrate diets are the Atkins Diet, the Zone Diet, Sugar Busters and Protein Power, and the Ketogenic Diet2. A big misconception in social media is how carbohydrates are bad for you. Carbohydrates are full of B vitamins, as well as fibre. Adding fibre to your diet will help with feeling satiated, so eliminating this food group is certainly not a good idea. Carbohydrates are also our brains only source of energy, and it cannot be stored so it requires a sufficient supply to keep you going throughout the day. Carbohydrates are also our entire bodies’ primary source of energy, as it can be easily broken down into glucose which our cells require to function. Consuming such a low intake of carbohydrates may cause irritability and headaches, among other symptoms2. Your body stores carbohydrates in the form of glycogen in the muscle and liver, which attracts water in its stored state. Yes, it is certainly possible to quickly lose weight on low carbohydrate diets, but the initial weight loss is caused by water loss from your muscles and liver. If the body has insufficient stores of glycogen, your body will break down protein or fat in place of it2. Your body requires fat and protein for other uses, so this is not recommended.

There are also existing diets with low fat intake, such as Pritikin Principle, Eat More Weigh Less, and the Scarsdale Diet2. There is often the misconception that eating fat will make you gain fat, which couldn’t be further from the truth. We need fat for our body to function the way it was intended. We require fat to insulate our organs, transport our fat soluble vitamins, store energy, produce hormones, as well as many other functions2. Other common diets include meal plans consisting of ‘magic foods’. These diets claim that rapid weight loss/fat burning can be triggered through eating specific foods or specific combinations of food. Examples of these diets are the Cabbage Soup Diet, Eat Right for Your Type, the Rice Diet and the Raw Food Diet. The problem with these diets is that the rationales provided to lose weight are not evidence-based, and any claims have yet to be proven true2.

A take home message is there are no bad foods, as well as no bad food groups. The problem is that these diets do not teach individuals about mindful, wholesome eating. While it might be obvious that some foods are more nutrient dense than others, does this mean we need to exclude the foods deemed as “unhealthy”? The answer is no, we shouldn’t. Instead of dieting, let’s try to change our mindset to eat foods that we enjoy, but are also mindful of providing our bodies with the nutrients it requires. Your body takes care of the physical functions required to keep you alive, so it’s important to make sure it gets what it needs. Eating a variety of foods is the best way to ensure you are receiving enough nutrients. By incorporating mindful eating into your diet, you are taking into account your bodies signals for hunger, as well as fullness. As long as you are are listening to your body’s needs, you are treating it right.


References

  1. Oxford University Press. (2018). Diet. In Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/diet.
  2. Pennington Biomedical Research Center. (2011). Fad Diets Defined. In Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Retrieved from https://www.pbrc.edu/training-and-education/pdf/pns/PNS_Fad_Diets.pdf.
  3. Fleming, K. (2018). Why diets do not work. In Centre for Clinical Interventions. Retrieved from https://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/Home/Resources/~/media/A8C18174D9F742F9B2DDD320FC253FC0.ashx.

The Misconceptions of Emotional Eating

Emotional eating is a common phrase used in society, but what exactly does it mean? Emotional eating is the act to overeat in response to negative emotions1. Many articles online provide tips on how to stop emotional eating, as some may a feel loss of control during moments of heightened emotion. Doing a quick search online, we found that most articles have written about overcoming it, as opposed to embracing it.

First, let’s ask ourselves – why do we eat food? Although food is used primarily to provide us with fuel for our bodies, it helps us in many more ways. Food is created to bring us joy and happiness, and at times provide us with comfort. It is thought that “hyperpalatable” foods may serve to relieve stress and provide pleasure, as they often act as comfort foods2. Hyperpalatable foods are known as foods that surpass rewarding properties of unprocessed foods (such as vegetables, fruits, or nuts) by significantly increasing salt, sugar, fat, food additives, and flavor levels3. Common examples of hyperpalatable foods may include ice cream, burgers, candy, and melted cheese. Given the satisfying pleasure provided by these foods, individuals in states of heighted negative emotion are found to favour these types of foods3.

So now let’s come back to the misconceptions of emotional eating. What if we told you that in some circumstances, it can be beneficial. When emotional eating is the only coping skill available in difficult situations, it is absolutely acceptable. If you constantly find yourself trying to find ways to avoid emotional eating, stop. Emotional eating is normal, and can be a helpful tool in soothing ourselves in times of stress. Feelings of shame or guilt aren’t productive or positive responses to emotional eating. Instead, let’s try a shift in mindset.

Something to remember is that we are all human. Although we have physiological needs, we also have emotional needs. The harder you try to control and avoid emotional eating, the more it results in controlling you. Looking at emotional eating as a form of self-care may help. For those wanting to improve their relationship with food, having other alternatives for self-care may also help. Having other options is not to eliminate emotional eating, but having a selection of options is always better. Sometimes you may find that food is the best option to help you feel better, and other times it may be something else. Other ways to soothe yourself may include participating in an activity, receiving support from a loved one, or relaxing at home in front of the television.

Allow yourself permission to enjoy the foods your bodies wants without feeling a sense of guilt. Try ditching diet rules, such as calorie restricting, elimination of certain food groups, or labelling foods as “healthy” or “unhealthy”. When we feel guilty for eating certain foods, we often categorize them as “good” or “bad”. Avoiding foods deemed “bad” increases the chance of a binge2. The bottom line is that your emotions are not to blame here. Give yourself permission to eat foods from all varieties, and stop feeling guilty for the times you want to soothe yourself with food.


References

  1. Wong M, Qian M. (2016). The role of shame in emotional eating. Eat Behav, 23:41-47. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2016.07.004
  2. Yau Y, Potenza M.N. (2013). Stress and eating behaviors. Minerva Endocrinol, 38(3): 255–267.
  3. Gearhardt A.N., Grilo C.M., DiLeone R.J., Brownell K.D., Potenza M.N. (2011). Can Food be Addictive? Public Health and Policy Implications. Addiction, 106(7): 1208–12. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2010.03301.x

Book Review (Part II): “Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight” by Linda Bacon

Last week, we reviewed the first half of Linda Bacon’s book, “Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight.” Part one, “Deconstructing Weight,” was a thorough overview of both the influences on a person’s weight and the politics governing food and our assumptions about weight. Today, we’ll discuss part two of the book, titled “Health at Every Size.” Part two covers the practical details behind Linda Bacon’s Health at Every Size (HAES) Program. She shows us how we can stop trying to lose weight and instead focus on accepting who we are and living a healthy life no matter what we weigh.

The second half of the book begins with an introduction to Bacon’s own research. She performed a study comparing the best diet program possible to her HAES program. So, what were the results of her research? The Health at Every Size program showed much better outcomes than the traditional diet program! Program participants were enjoying their food, eating according to their body’s natural cues, learning to love their bodies and experiencing improvements in their health. Sound like something you want to get on board with?

In the chapters that follow, Bacon teaches you how to practically apply HAES Principles to your own life so you can enjoy the same benefits that the HAES program participants experienced. She starts by explaining how you can challenge cultural ideas and myths about weight. Then, she provides tips to help you learn to accept and even love yourself as you are, so that you can benefit from an improved body image and higher self-esteem. She goes on to give clear guidelines explaining how to be an intuitive eater, including how to eat according to your body’s physiological cues for hunger and fullness, how to eat mindfully and enjoy your food, and how to deal with emotional eating.

Bacon also teaches you how to train your body to crave healthy lifestyle habits and find satisfaction in practicing them. She provides helpful insights into how to incorporate more movement into your daily life, and she emphasizes moving for fun and enjoyment, not obligation. She even shares tips for getting more sleep and managing stress! One chapter that is particularly interesting is Chapter 11, where Bacon reveals that it is possible to alter your tastes so that you enjoy foods that are more nutritious for your body.

Ending her book as powerfully as she began, Bacon’s final chapter presents clear, feasible solutions for the central issues behind our culture’s obsession with weight. She asserts that “the most powerful force preventing change is our own internalization of the myths” (Bacon, 2008, p.263).

In addition to the twelve chapters of this book, there is also an appendix filled with useful materials and resources. It’s here that you’ll find the Live Well Pledge, HAES Manifesto, letters to copy and give to others to support you in your HAES journey, and other messages that address specific groups of people. She even includes a list of extra HAES resources to check out if you’d like to read more about the topics covered in her book.

Overall, the second half of “Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight” is incredibly helpful. Like the first half, it is saturated with scientific evidence to back up its main points, but the best part is its practicality. Each chapter is filled with tips to make improvements in your own life, as well as challenges to make changes that will benefit the greater society. Bacon’s passion shines clearly through her writing, and as you read you will quickly realize that she cares about each and every person reading her book.

To conclude, this book is inspirational and motivating, while at the same time staying grounded and realistic. Linda Bacon has done a beautiful job combining her academic knowledge, research results and real-life experience into an informative and compassionate book that offers her readers freedom and empowerment. Not only will you learn something while reading this book, but you will also be motivated to do something about what you’ve read. We encourage you to go check it out for yourself and see what you think!


References:

  1. Bacon, L. (2008). Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight. Dallas, TX: BenBella Books.