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Carbohydrates: Facts & Myths

Do you remember when fat was deemed “bad” just as carbohydrates are today? In about 10 years, society has shifted from avoiding fat to avoiding carbohydrates. With this shift, many myths about carbohydrates have emerged. Research has proven that fat is necessary for a healthy and functional body, but did you know that the same has been done for carbohydrates? This blog post will bust some common myths about carbohydrates so that you can nourish your body and refrain from engaging in diet culture.  

Myth #1: Carbohydrates Cause Weight Gain

Low carbohydrate diets are believed to be a great weight-loss method because individuals often see dramatic results fast, but what they don’t know is that their weight loss is primarily due to water loss. This is because carbohydrates are stored in the body as glycogen and glycogen holds water; thus, when glycogen stores are depleted, the associated water is also used up. However in the long-term, low carbohydrate diets are not a miracle method for weight-loss (hint: nothing is). The bottom line is that energy restriction from any of the 3 macronutrients can lead to temporary weight loss; fat and protein are simply not associated with rapid water loss. Similarly, increased energy econsumption from any of the 3 macronutrients can cause weight gain. Carbohydrates simply have a bad reputation because consuming them after restriction can cause “extra” weight gain due to normalwater retention in glycogen stores. In addition, eating carbohydrates at night does not cause weight gain as they are metabolized by the body in the same way all day and night.1So those rules about not eating after 7:00 pm? Nonsense. 

Myth #2: Low Carbohydrate Diets Are Healthier

Low carbohydrate diets are nothealthier than a balanced diet containing all three macronutrients. This is because whole foods that are rich in carbohydrates are packed with vitamins and minerals, some of which are not available in high-protein or high-fat foods. Thus, consuming a low-carbohydrate diet can lead to nutrient deficiencies in the long-term. Possible nutrient deficiencies include: B vitamins, magnesium, selenium, and fibre. In addition, low carbohydrate diets are associated with the following side effects: fatigue, poor concentration, weak immune system, constipation, mood swings, headaches, increased hunger, and bad breath (due to ketones).1Furthermore, in the long-term, low-carbohydrate diets may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer because they promote a higher intake of saturated fats and restrict whole-grains, fruit, and starchy vegetables.2

Myth #4: All Simple Carbohydrates Are “Bad” & All Complex Carbohydrates Are “Good”

Categorizing foods as “good” and “bad” is more unhealthy than a food will ever be because it can lead food obsession, stress, or guilt, which can pave the way to a darker path. We are meant to enjoy all foods. Simple carbohydrates are not “bad” just because they contain less fibre and micronutrients than complex carbohydrates.They still provide our bodies energy! It’s all about making the right choices for you and your body in a given situation. If simple carbohydrates are all that is available in a given situation when you are hungry, go ahead and fuel your body. If you have an option to choose between a simple carbohydrate and a complex carbohydrate, listen to your body and enjoy your pick, regardless of which one you choose! They will both provide your body with energy and that is the bottom line. 

Myth #5: Fruit Intake Should Be Limited Because Fruits Are High in Sugar

It is true that fruits naturally contain sugar, however, fruits are also high in water and fibre. These are all nutrients that are essential to the proper function of our bodies. Most importantly, fruits are packed with antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals. There is no need to limit fruit consumption as part of a nourishing diet. Fruits are a great snack, meal compliment, and even dessert!

Everything we have discussed today shows that carbohydrates are an important part of a nourishing diet. In fact, carbohydrates are so important that our bodies are capable of converting protein from the diet and from muscles into the simple carbohydrate glucose. Therefore, our bodies need carbohydrates and avoiding them brings no benefit to most people. Enjoy your favourite fruit, bread, baked good, or pastry and ignore the myths diet culture has created around you! 


References

  1. Fleming, K., & CCI. (2018). Carbohydrate myths & facts. In Centre 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-%2006%20-%20Carbohydrates%20Myths%20and%20Facts.pdf.
  2. Sports Dietitians Australia. (2009). Low carb diets for weight loss in athletes. In Sports dietitians. Retrieved from: https://www.sportsdietitians.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Low-Carb-Diets.pdf.

Am I Covered for RD Services?

Did you know that many employers cover (or partially cover) services by a Registered Dietitian through their employee health benefits plan or employee assistance program? Additionally, if your employer does not cover dietitian services, you are encouraged to request your employer to add them. Many health insurance companies have this option, but sometimes employers opt out of adding these services to your plan1. There are also government-funded services that may be available to you such as those through Family Health Teams, Community Health Centres, Diabetes Education Programs, Hospitals, and Long-Term Care Residences2. It’s always a good idea to find out what is available to you and explore your options. You may be able to get assistance through a variety of avenues that you weren’t previously aware of.

We looked into some common places of employment in the London area that offer a health benefits plan that includes coverage for Registered Dietitians. There is also coverage available to students. Firstly, we have Western University. Health coverage plans are different for both undergraduate students and graduate students, as well as for staff and faculty members3. This also includes Western’s affiliates. The undergraduate health benefit plan is through USC and covers 100% of costs for Registered Dietitian services up to a combined maximum for various health practitioners of $500 per student year4. There is also a convenient button to link to resources to find a local dietitian on the USC benefits webpage. For graduate students, their health benefits are through Society of Graduate Students (SOGS) and cover 80% of costs but have a maximum of $500 per year solely for dietitian services5. For staff and faculty members, we found that it varies by department, but we can imagine there would be reasonable coverage in these plans as well. You can check your specific coverage based on your department by visiting https://www.uwo.ca/hr/benefits/your_benefits/index.html. International students and employees have separate coverage through UHIP, and supplementary coverage can also be purchased6. We encourage looking into precisely what is covered in your specific plan, and what is available through supplemental health insurance as well. Contacting the university can shed some light on the particular options that are available.

We also found some excellent health plans that although the exact details are confidential, might have coverage as they seem to be competitive and sufficient. These include benefit plans through the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA), which has health insurance through Desjardins, the London Health Sciences Centre, which has an extended health care plan that includes counselling services and health and wellness programs, and the Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation. We also found that the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario offers coverage for dietitian services7, and an accurate description of benefits for the Ontario Teachers Insurance Plan can be accessed by signing in to the member log in available online8.

Lastly, the Consulting Dietitians Network completed a poll in 2015 that gave insight to companies that they believed to their knowledge included dietitian services in their plans, and the following, among a few others, were included in the list9.

  • Banks – TD, CIBC, RBC
  • Canada Post
  • Global News
  • Loblaw Companies Limited
  • Sobeys
  • Telus

There are surely other employers out there in addition to the ones mentioned here that also offer this type of coverage. Of course, it is always best to view your particular health coverage plan through your school or employer for the most up to date information, but we hope that upon reading this we can help make more people aware that there are coverage options to be explored, and that there are resources available to them.


References

1. Dietitians of Canada (2018). Retrieved from: https://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Find-A-Dietitian/Search-for-a-Dietitian.aspx

2. College of Dietitians Ontario. Retrieved from:https://www.collegeofdietitians.org/public/nutrition-services.aspx

3. Health and Wellness at Western University. Retrieved from: https://www.uwo.ca/health/shs/services/insurance.html

4. USC Student Benefits. Retrieved from:https://studentbenefits.ca/my-coverage

5. Society of Graduate Students. Retrieved from: https://sogs.ca/healthplan/

6. University Heath Insurance Plan. Retrieved from: http://uhip.ca/Enrollment/PlanDetails

7. ETFO Employee Life and Health Trust. (2018) Retrieved from: http://etfo-elhtbenefits.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/ETFO-2018-19-BAAG-ENG-FINAL-1.pdf

8. Ontario Teachers Insurance Plan Login.  https://planmemberlogin.otip.com:4433/login/Account/Login

9. Dietitians of Canada (2017). Retrieved from: https://www.dietitians.ca/Downloads/Public/Case-for-Extended-health-care-coverage-f.aspx

To Exercise or Not To Exercise

When considering whether it’s a good idea to add or re-introduce exercise into the recovery process, it’s important to reflect on a variety of things. These include: a)what the motive is for wanting to exercise?, b) are we are in a physical state that can handle exercise?, and b) what our experience has been with it in the past? Is exercise something we have used previously as a way to compensate, burn calories, or avoid feelings, and if so, how does this relate to how we feel about it currently? What kind of exercise are we interested in trying?

Perhaps we view exercise as s a variety of methods of movement, all of which we enjoy doing, or maybe we long for structure and control and think we ‘have to’ exercise. Of course, being active can relate to wellness and an overall nurturing lifestyle, but it ultimately depends on our relationship with it. It can also be a hindrance to eating disorder recovery if we don’t recognize that exercise is sometimes used as a tool to compensate for something else1. Becoming more aware of how we feel about exercise and what drives us to want to participate in it can help us to discover whether it is something positive in our lives or whether it is something that is negatively affecting us. Our team here at change.creates.change created an algorithm as a starting point to guide you through the decision process.

Algorithm.png

Remember that this is just a guideline. In any case, it is important to discuss options with your healthcare team and decide together what is best for your individual needs. We might all need something different. Generally, it’s good to focus on movement that brings us joy, as opposed to a structured regime. Finding an activity that involves a group social setting can be beneficial to our well-being and foster connections, and also helps if we’re at risk of over exercising and in need of support from others, as well as a timeline of when it’s appropriate to stop.

Alternatively, participating in an activity with a friend or loved one that can help to support our needs might also be beneficial. We want to encourage listening to our bodies’ cues (such as when we are tired,) as opposed to exercising for prolonged periods of time. If this is something that is still difficult to do then perhaps you can establish a (short) time frame with your team and set a timer for when to stop2. It can also be helpful to focus on activities that are more mindful such as going for a walk outside in nature or practicing gentle yoga. Finding a variety of activities that are truly enjoyable is key, as well as learning to let go of the activities that aren’t.

It’s crucial to determine that it is medically appropriate to exercise before trying to implement any new activities. If an adequate body weight is not being maintained or signs of heartbeat irregularities are present, exercise should not be introduced as it can put us at risk3. We must make sure that we are cleared to exercise by our doctor and talk about it with our treatment team before beginning any form of physical activity. Additionally, we need to ensure that we are consuming enough calories to support exercise. Putting out more energy for movement requires that we put more in to fuel our bodies so we want to be sure that we are at a stage where we are consistently meeting our nutritional needs. Allowing others to help and support us in this process can enable us to create a safety net of trusted people that we can turn to if we need help. Overall, if iexercise is something that is going to be fun, like trying new activities or engaging in activities in a group setting, then this type of movement can be a good thing and improve overall wellbeing and quality of life. Just remember that every individual is different, and how exercise fits into our own lives is not going to be the same for everyone. Each journey is unique and should be treated as such.


References

1. Danielsen, M., Rø, Ø., Bjørnelv, S. (2018) How to integrate physical activity and exercise approaches into inpatient treatment for eating disorders: fifteen years of clinical experience and research. Journal of Eating Disorders, Vol. 6Retrieved from: https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.proxy1.lib.uwo.ca/pmc/articles/PMC6154924/#CR16

2. Cruze, R. (2016) How to find balance with exercise in eating disorder recovery. Retrieved from: https://www.eatingrecoverycenter.com/blog/2016/08/24/how-to-find-balance-with-exercise-in-eating-disorder-recovery-robyn-cruze

3. Murray, E. (2018) Eating disorder recovery: when can I exercise again? Retrieved from: https://themighty.com/2018/03/eating-disorder-can-i-exercise/

The Body’s Built-in Safety Nets

Our bodies are capable of amazing things, and there is a lot going on in there to keep us alive and attempt to make sure that we are functioning at our best. When we upset the optimal levels that our body needs to function, there are coping mechanisms that take place as built-in safety nets to help us survive. There are also specific things that happen in the presence of an eating disorder, and some of these can be exhibited as signs or symptoms to warn us of the underlying issues. For example, in times of starvation or malnutrition, when we are not getting enough energy through calories consumed, our bodies attempt to slow down metabolism in order to conserve energy1. One of the ways that the body accomplishes this is by lowering its’ body temperature. Blood circulation is decreased, and blood is conserved around the internal organs for protection, which causes a lack of warm blood flow to the extremities of the body such as the hands and feet. The blood that is sitting in the extremities gets cold due to the lack of circulation, and thus causes the hands and feet to feel especially cold. Another reason for always feeling cold is the loss of the body’s insulating layer of fat, which is normally used to keep the body warm2. Individuals with eating disorders sometimes explain feeling cold often and this is why it occurs. If this is something that is happening for you or a loved one, it’s important to speak with a health care professional to let them know. Our bodies have a specific temperature range where they function optimally, and a lower temperature range can lead to dangerous health complications.s

Other adaptive changes that the body makes in times of stress can include a reduced respiration rate or hypotension (low blood pressure), which are both also due to the slowing down of the body’s metabolism to conserve energy3. There can also be growth of a fine hair on various parts of the body in an effort to keep the body warm and insulated and try to regulate temperature. This hair growth is referred to as lanugo4. With all of this being said, when these warning signs appear it is extremely important to seek help from a professional before trying to reintroduce a higher calorie intake. The reintroduction process needs to be gradual to avoid refeeding syndrome, where your body cannot adapt quickly enough to the change and cannot cope properly. After prolonged starvation, the body shifts to get energy from different places, and is potentially deficient in essential vitamins and minerals. When refeeding, the metabolism can overwork itself trying to make up for lost tissues and it can be difficult to adapt again to a new change5. Consulting with a physician or dietitian first can help to make personal recommendations while also monitoring nutrient levels and maintaining safety above all in the recovery process.


References

1. Gaudiani, J.L. 2015. Why feeling cold can be a dangerous sign in anorexia nervosa. Retrieved from: http://www.gaudianiclinic.com/gaudiani-clinic-blog/2015/12/21/why-feeling-cold-can-be-a-dangerous-sign-in-anorexia-nervosa

2. Eating Disorders Glossary. Hypothermia (low body temperature). Retrieved from: http://glossary.feast-ed.org/3-treatment-medical-management/hypothermia

3. Ahacic, J.A. 2016. Nursing made incredibly easy! Vol 14-2Retrieved from: https://www.nursingcenter.com/cearticle?an=00152258-201603000-00007&journal_ID=417221&issue_ID=3331856

4. Mascolo, M. 2018. Anorexia recovery and overcoming physical side effects of an eating disorder. Retrieved from: https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/information/bulimia/anorexia-recovery-and-overcoming-physical-side-effects-of-an-eating-disorder

5. Grubiak, K. 2018. Restoring nutritional health in anorexia nervosa recovery. Retrieved from: https://www.verywellmind.com/restoring-nutritional-health-in-anorexia-nervosa-recovery-4115081

 

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

 

Sick Day Management: How to Stay on Track With Recovery When You Have a Cold

Over the winter months, we welcome frigid temperatures, frequent snowfalls and of course, cold and flu season”. During this time, we begin to experience a weakened immunity due to the change in weather, the lack of sunlight and shorter days.1Certain measures can be taken to avoid getting sick, such as frequent hand washing and getting the flu vaccine.2It’s also helpful to  get adequate sleep, stay hydrated and nourish our bodies with food.

Sick day management can be challenging. You may be experiencing fatigue, congestion,  and a lack of an appetite.3When we’re not feeling so well, it’s normal for our appetites to be suppressed. Our days may feel dull and dragged out and our energy levels lower than usual. During recovery from an eating disorder, this can become more challenging and requires extra attention to stay on track with recovery.4Efforts should be made in order to consume a sufficient amount of energy required for eating disorder recovery and also to recover from the cold or flu. Since hunger cues may be affected, without proper attention an individual can easily under-eat, become dehydrated and as a result prolong their sickness and regress in their recovery.5

When we are ill, our body’s defense army will work extra hard to attack the virus impairing our wellness. This is why maintaining regular eating habits and nourishing our bodies is crucial to repairing and strengthening our immune system. It can be beneficial for individuals in eating disorder recovery to practice mechanical eating during times of sickness. Eating based the clock, every 2-4 hours, will help meet energy and micronutrient needs despite feeling unwell.5Intuitive eating should be avoided as appetites tend to be suppressed during times of sickness.

Since we know that the common cold can diminish our hunger and speed up satiation, an easy way to manage our energy intake during recovery is to choose more nutrient dense foods and drink energy rich fluids5. A simple way to add extra energy to our meals and snacks is to use full fats in recipes and meals, such as rich cheeses, full fat yogurts and heavy creams. Increasing the nutrient content in beverages is highly recommended and can be accomplished by replacing water with milk, soda or fruit juices..Choosing to make soups and smoothies when we are feeling sick can also been a good choice rather than consuming heavy meals when our appetites are suppressed. Finally, staying warm and scheduling in adequate time to rest is imperative for your body to heal sufficiently.


References

  1. Influenza (Flu). (2018). In Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season.htm
  2. Allan, G. M., Arroll, B. (2014). Prevention and treatment of the common cold: making sense of the evidence. InCanadian Medical Association journal186(3), 190-9.
  3. Influenza (Flu). (2018). In Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/coldflu.htm
  4. Karges, C. (2016). Dealing With Sickness: Maintaining Recovery During the Holiday Season. In Eating Disorder Hope. Retrieved from https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/blog/dealing-with-sickness-maintaining-recovery-during-the-holiday-season
  5. Leech, R. M., Worsley, A., Timperio, A., & Mcnaughton, S. A. (2015). Understanding meal patterns: Definitions, methodology and impact on nutrient intake and diet quality. In Nutrition Research Reviews,28(01), 1-21. doi:10.1017/s0954422414000262

 

 

 

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.