About Me

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Technically speaking, I'm a dietitian, but I see myself as a listener, a motivator, coach and teacher of nutrition. I prefer to end a busy day with a glass of red wine while chopping vegetables. Lover of almost anything pickled and fresh baked scones just not at the same time. I'm happiest when I'm cooking for people I love. Why am I so into food? Because I KNOW how much eating well can change your life. What you eat every day is going to impact your body and your mind. It's a confusing world out there - full of diet and food advice that always leaves you feeling like it's that one next diet that's going to be the weight loss answer. Stop waiting for that magic diet, and begin to take one step at a time in the right direction. I'm here to help you on your life-long journey, there's no better time to start!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Most Important Thing You May Not Be Doing

As a dietitian, there are times when I feel inundated with questions from acquaintances , family or friends. Everyone wants to know, what are the secrets to success? What are the best foods?  To be perfectly honest, sometimes these are the hardest questions for an RD to answer. Why? Because, there are no perfect foods, there is no magic answer to how to eat to look great, lose weight or get that perfect body. This blog, Not On A Diet, is about helping people move into a place where they recognize that there is more to food and feeding your body than about what happens on the scale.  I read a great blog this morning and a sentence really stood out to me. It said that we live in a world where chronic dieting and obsession about weight is accepted as the norm.  The most common things I hear.. "I want to look better, I want to be smaller, I want to lose weight.." these are all about how a person wants to improve on the outside, but what about the inside? Why are we so scale-obsessed?

I have a tip for you. Trust yourself. Try truly honoring your hunger and asking yourself to eat, freely, without deprivation or restriction of any foods. Honoring your hunger is one of the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating. Read more about Intuitive Eating by picking up the book by Evelyn Tribole. For the most part Americans, including myself, have lost touch with our natural intuition to eat what we need when we're hungry. We can thank our society's obsession with thinness and dieting. As I personally try to move away from a dieting mentality (which was ingrained in my mind since before I can even remember), I have found that this sounds easier to do than it actually is. Learning to eat mindfully happens over time, and I encourage you to remind yourself of this daily. When you find yourself labeling foods as "good" or "bad", or returning to old diet habits, stop and say "I can eat whatever sounds good to me, there are no rules, and I'm not on a diet." Then, when you eat, stay in tune with your body's signals of fullness. This may sound totally counter-intuitive, like a recipe for weight gain, but you need to trust your body.

I am on a mission to help you break the cycle, and here's how the cycle works:  Unrealistic expectations for perfection -> Negative body image -> strict rules are applied to what/when to eat -> deprivation leads to binge or "falling off diet" -> weight gain sparks more obsession and guilt -> diet ensues -> yo-yo dieting and feelings of failure.  Are you a chronic dieter? These diets are most likely just what keeps you from reaching your goals.

Eat when your body tells you you're hungry, and stop after you've had enough. After you read this, I want you to take 5 minutes and really ask yourself - are you dieting? Are you restricting? Do you over-eat during the holidays because you feel that you are not "allowed" to have certain foods at other times of the year? Holiday weight gain gets a lot of press and you are likely putting pressure on yourself to look great, or not look "too fat" when you see relatives you only see once a year. This type of obsession and anxiety can take you away from the present moment. It can consume you to the point where you're putting more energy into the food and your weight than you are into the people who surround you.  Read this great blog called "Weighless" written by an expert with many links and topics to help you get better acquainted with what it means to stop dieting: http://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless
You can enjoy real, wholesome, foods like olives, cheese, bread, olive oil and fruit without guilt.  The above is a typical spread of how we like to do it right at my house. You'll be surprised how much more you enjoy life when you're not on a diet. 

So, friends - what's the secret?  Trust yourself and your hunger; Eat freely and mindfully without rules. Incorporate healthy food because you want to and that's what helps you feel your best, not because they help you stick to your diet. When you have no restrictions your food choices become based on what makes you feel good (healthy foods!) and the physical manifestations of eating to feel good can then come as a result.

Be good to your body! Move daily and eat to live

Happy Holiday Season  - Sumner

Sunday, November 14, 2010

5 Tips to Eat Like a Registered Dietitian

It's a beautiful, crisp and sunny Southern California morning today, and I'm happy to be getting in a blog post after a hectic week prepping for the launch of the Hot Mama Workshops in less than 2 weeks!  As I sat down to write this post; however, I couldn't write a word. It's like nothing was connecting between my thoughts and the keyboard. I realized I was stomach-growling, need-to-eat something now, hungry! So here I am, after a satisfying and slightly sweet mug-full of Trader Joe's Fruit and Nut Fiber cereal with fresh blueberries and low-fat milk, I'm back with the brain fuel I need to tell you my 5 Tips to Eat Like a Registered Dietitian:

1. Plan Ahead! RDs know the importance of not skipping meals to keep your blood sugar stable and energy at it's max. Without food, carbohydrates in particular, your blood sugar may drop significantly. Carbohydrates are your brain fuel. Very rarely do I meet an RD who doesn't have some food close by, so bring snacks with you when leaving the house and always eat breakfast!

2. Eat Colorful Meals: Phytonutrients are the colorful compounds in fruits, veggies, grains, beans  and even nuts and seeds.  Packed with antioxidants, phytonutrients are your body's defense line against harmful free radicals you're exposed to daily. Dietitians try to chose meals and snacks that include a variety of colors from a wide variety of plants. This maximizes your line of defense and helps with weight management because most colorful foods are also lower in calories and higher in fiber. Eat your rainbow! Get at least one color in every time you eat.

3. Don't over-fill your fuel tank! When your car is on empty, does it do you any good to over-fill your gas tank? RDs are often skilled at estimating the amount of calories and nutrients just by looking at a food, but for many of you that's not the case. When you eat, ask yourself how hungry you are and start decreasing portions by about 1/3 of what you typically eat. Eat slowly and give your stomach 10 minutes or so to tell your brain that you've had enough. You can always have more later when you get hungry again. The bottom line: eating more than you need will result in weight gain and physical feelings of over-fullness which can make you tired and low energy.  It feels so good to only eat what you need and over time, you will lose weight at a healthy rate.

4. Choose flavor to feel satisfied: Instead of high-calorie processed condiments, add fresh or dried herbs and spices to your food to enhance every bite. Flavor makes everyday foods exciting, and it's simple to do. Add cinnamon and ginger to your breakfast: sprinkle on toast with PB, stir into oatmeal or cottage cheese and fruit or blend into a morning shake. On sandwiches I love to use whole basil leaves instead of lettuce and at dinner chop up rosemary, thyme, parsley, cilantro or chives and mix them into almost any dish to enhance flavor.  Dried herbs and spices have an incredibly high Orac value, (Antioxidant effect). In fact, cloves and cinnamon have almost 3 times the amount that Acai berry has, so what are you waiting for?

5. Eat Mindfully, Don't Diet: As the experts in food and nutrition, RDs know that dieting and depriving yourself of foods you love are not sustainable or healthy ways to lose weight. Eating mindfully, is an approach to eating that can result in greater satisfaction from a smaller amount of food. Instead of sitting on the couch with an open container or box, decide how much of  a food you're going to eat and put the box back. Try to not multi-task when you're eating (emails, tv, Facebook, work) and definitely slow down and taste your food.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"Living with an Eating Disorder is Hell, but..."

Portia De Rossi; now Portia Degeneres, was interviewed by Oprah on Monday and bravely talked through some chapters of her new book, The Unbearable Lightness.  She suffered terribly from anorexia and bulemia. Two things from that interview stuck with me the most: Portia said her eating disorder started with her first diet at age 12, but spun out of control when a friend told her she looked "like a normal, healthy woman" during a scene in Ally McBeal  in her underwear. The other statement she made that was really gripping was: "Living with an eating disorder is hell; but living every day on a diet, failing one after another, is also hell."

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I truly believe that weight management in a healthy way begins with what you say to yourself when you look in the mirror.  There have been numerous recent studies citing how early and how significantly body image can become distorted. I was alarmed to read that one study found 81% of ten year old girls had already tried at least one diet. We know that humans start recognizing their face in a mirror around age 2 and body image awareness can begin just a few short years after. 

 Today, think about how the following questions relate to you: 

Don't you need to feel good about the person you're taking care of, especially and even when that person is yourself? What is the first thing you say to yourself when you look in the mirror?  When it comes to making decisions for a healthy body and mind (like eating right and moving more) do you feel that you are worth it?

Many people (including women, men, kids and teens) are overwhelmed with the unrealistic physical expectations set by the media, fashion industry and magazines. It has been reported that within 3 minutes of reading a fashion or beauty magazine the reader begins to have negative self-thoughts. 

This is not healthy! Let's STOP the diets and start living well, moving often and partnering with food for life.   ~ Sumner

Positive Body Image is Always In Season  - tips for a healthy body image from the Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt, shared by Evelyn Tribole.

  1. Plan ahead. It’s always okay to schedule a positive body image session for a later date.  Page through your daily planner (or scroll into the future on your iPhone calendar) and jump ahead a few weeks or months.  Insert positive body image statements on random days or write down empowering statements on birthdays and special events that will help you remember and commit to appreciating your body and being “fat talk free”.
  2. Don’t forget to share. Have you seen this Tri Delta Fat Talk Free Video from the 2008 campaign?  This is powerful stuff!  Post it on your Facebook page or share it with co-workers any day of the year.  Spread the word so that you can begin building a support system of body positive people around you who also choose not to engage in “fat talk”.
  3. Speaking of Facebook…check out the Center for Eating Disorders FB page and become a fan to receive positive body image status updates, motivational quotes, and links to helpful resources and events.
  4. Reconsider monthly magazine subscriptions.  Research has shown that even just 3 minutes of looking at fashion/women’s magazines can have a significantly negative impact on our self-esteem and body image.  Similar effects can be attributed to men’s health/fitness magazines which have been shown to encourage body dissatisfaction and unhealthy weight control behaviors among males.  Consider switching subscriptions or signing up for a positive affirmation email so you get a reliable dose of confidence in your inbox instead of a monthly blow to your self esteem.
  5. Celebrate the seasons. As the season changes and autumn is here, feel the brisk air as you breathe, notice the colors of the leaves you can see, taking in all that nature can offer and remember that it is your body that allows you to have these experiences.   Start to focus on your body’s functionality more often.  In each season there are opportunities to reflect on what the body can do and its ability to maintain balance even as things change around us.
  6. Break it down. For individuals with eating disorders or severe body image distortion even just one day of “loving” your body may seem like an insurmountable or overwhelming task.  Setting goals is good but when we set goals too high too quickly we set ourselves up for failure.  If  loving your body doesn’t sound do-able at this time in your life, remember that body image is not an “all or nothing” concept.   Any changes, even small ones, that can be made to help you realize how special, unique and beautiful your body truly is can be seen as an important step forward in recovery that often leads to further acceptance of self and health.  Start with something small like giving yourself permission to accept a compliment instead of immediately trying to disprove it.  Or, you can work with a therapist to come up with a specific body image goal that’s right for you.
  7. RSVP. If you’re local to the Baltimore area, grab your friends and check out this upcoming event…”Intuitive Eating: Making Peace With Food” featuring author and national nutrition consultant, Evelyn Tribole.  This will be a fantastic (and free!) way to learn about honoring your body and ditching the diet mentality that is so often intertwined with negative body image.  Don’t forget to RSVP to reserve a seat…more info here.
What else have you tried to keep the positive body image momentum going?  Share your comments below or on our Facebook Page, and check out some of our most popular body image blogs from the past year:
Written by Kate Clemmer, CED Outreach Coordinator and  Amy Scott, CED Admissions Coordinator