Intuitive Eating

Many of us have heard the phrase “intuitive eating” before on social media, in conversation, or, if you’re like me, from a dietitian or other nutrition and/or eating disorder specialist. But what exactly does it mean? Simply put, intuitive eating is an evidence-based approach to eating that encourages making food choices without guilt, honoring hunger cues, respecting fullness, and enjoying the pleasure of eating. It was introduced in 1995 by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch and in eating disorder treatment is considered the “gold standard” and the ultimate goal in recovery.

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The Role of a Dietitian in Recovery

Today marks the five-year anniversary since I began seeing my dietitian Betsy. It feels a bit surreal that it’s already been that long—and even more surreal when I reflect on how much I’ve grown in my recovery and my life since our first session. When I met Betsy, I was two days out of an Intensive Outpatient Program and two months out of residential care. My anorexia was still at large, dictating many of my decisions and driving many of my thoughts. I genuinely wanted to get better but when that voice was so loud and present, better sometimes didn’t seem worth the bother.

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Eating on a Schedule in Recovery

Food is fuel. Food is medicine. Most of us are familiar with the first saying, and those who have had or cared for someone with an eating disorder also know the second. Our bodies send out hunger cues every 3-4 hours as our blood sugar level drops. If we don’t take the cue and eat enough, we lose energy and aren’t as alert or focused. We start to feel sluggish, irritable, and weak. If we respond to our bodies’ need for fuel, we typically feel and behave better. It makes sense that a regular eating schedule can significantly contribute to helping our bodies and minds function at their best.

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Diet Mentality

Ah, January. The time of the year when the thrill of the holidays is over, the temperature is at an all-time low (at least in New England), and around the world, millions of people have put their New Year’s resolutions into motion. A simple google search confirms that by far the most popular resolution is losing weight, which is unsurprising considering how most societies prioritize thinness.

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Why I Became a Vegetarian

Deciding to become a vegetarian 25 years ago was an impulse decision that I have never regretted making. I didn’t like the way eating meat made me feel, nor did I like the slaughtering of animals. And so one day, while separating the raw chicken breasts in a value pack into smaller portions, I stopped and thought about what I was holding in my hands and asked myself if this, if eating meat, was really something I felt good about. My wife didn’t need any convincing and just like that, we became vegetarians. We’ve never looked back, and year by year, as the research on the benefits of living a vegetarian lifestyle increase, I feel proud of the choice that we made.

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Homegrown Traditions

My kids grew up watching their mothers haul the kitchen scraps to the compost bin in the corner of our yard day in and day out in all types of weather. They had to listen to me talk excitedly each year about the early spring tradition of digging up the cooked compost from “the pit” and moving it to the vegetable garden, followed by moving the uncooked compost from the bin into “the pit” for next spring, and finally cleaning out and repairing the bin to begin anew. The smell, the worms, the browns and greens, all of it they have heard every year for their whole lives.

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Eating Disorder Recovery as a Vegetarian

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a vegetarian. Both of my parents are pescatarian, so I grew up eating very little meat. I cut meat out altogether when I was seven, mostly for ethical reasons, then fish at age twelve, and I’ve never gone back. Being a vegetarian is all I’ve ever known, so you can imagine my surprise when my lifestyle was met with skepticism and disapproval by the doctors who treated me for my eating disorder.

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